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New Toy...Need Some Advise


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Post your lawn care and landscaping pictures. Also show off your stuff: Lawn care trucks, trailers, equipment, mowers, signs, marketing material, shops, lawns, toys, projects etc....
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  #1  
Old 08-29-2009, 10:17 AM
Seann
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Default New Toy...Need Some Advise

Just rec'd my first zero turn. ran it around the yard a couple times. this thing is cool, fast and definatley touchy. Any tips to make my learning curve go a little faster? I plan on doing my own lawn with it the rest of the year to get used to it, then customers next spring.
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  #2  
Old 08-29-2009, 01:59 PM
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My best advice:

#1 Learn to make the straightest possible lines when you mow. Anyone can run a mower, but not everyone can make a lawn look professional, nice and neat.

#2 Practice your turns at the end of your rows. Keep in mind that if you just "spin" around, you will risk damaging the turf. If you keep mowing in the same direction everytime, you will have dead spots where you turn around. Next time it rains, go out the next day and get the feel of turning on wet turf. It's a whole nother world!

#3 Keep your blades as sharp as possible. Your speed will be affected by how sharp your blades are.

#4 REMEMBER! It's not how fast you mow, it's how nice you mow! Too many people get these zero turns and think they have to do it "FAST". The customer doesn't hire you because you're the "fastest" lawn service. They hire you because they want a nice and neat job! Don't get caught up in the hype of "I have to get it done fast because I have a zero turn mower" The only thing you'll get accomplished is a crappy job...just done faster!

Kendrick
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Old 08-29-2009, 02:17 PM
Seann
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Thanks for the advise Kendrick. What is the best when to turn at the end of a run? Manuel says to make a "Y" at the end. Lawn is wet today, mike give it a shot. A few say 4-5 mph is about as fast as you need to go on a straight away. Ill send some pics from my first run to see how i did.. If they are too bad you wont see them LOL. but you'll know how i did. Again, thanks for your input
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Old 08-29-2009, 08:36 PM
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Hey Seann
Your turning will depend upon how wet the turf is. Sometimes in a drought the turf can be just as slick as when it's wet. If conditions are normal, and the turf is thick, you can usually get away with doing a 180 degree turn. However, if the turf is wet or even moist, what I do is when I come to the end of a row, I will make half of my turn while moving forward, and then finish the turn in reverse. (turn while backing up) I've found that this keeps from leaving those perfect little circular "mud doughnuts" in the turf, and still leaves you in perfect position for your next row. I must admit though, that there are going to be times and situations where you won't have a choice but to spin a 180 due to obstacles. Your best bet is to just practice with your mower. Each one is different and what works for one, may not always work for another. I have a 60" deck on my Exmark which makes things considerably tighter for me opposed to someone with a much smaller deck. What size is your deck by the way? Oh, and don't be ashamed of your first few lines! The lines you see on this forum are from people who are used to their machines. You aren't, and by showing us your "true" first lines, we might be able to better help you out with any issues or questions.

Kendrick
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Old 08-30-2009, 07:38 AM
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Didnt take any photos, but believe me when i saya I think i did a ok job. Lines came out fairly straight. I went at a snails pace which helped. The mower is a 48". After i got done with the front i went into the back and got a little ****y...didnt take me long before i turfed it. about a 1' diameter mud hole' not pretty. My biggest adjustment seems to be where my back tires are on turns. I want to get the deck as close as possible to obstacles then i find my wheels riding up on mulch and corners of the patio and such. I may need to weed wack out a little more and take wider turns going into corners? I would love to go out again today but we just got an 1" of rain over night. Thanks again for your help Kendrick.
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Old 08-30-2009, 07:53 AM
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One other thing to consider before you start your lines is to mow a couple of passes around the perimeter that way when you turn at the end of a line you have some room and your turn will not be as apparent in the lawn.
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Old 08-30-2009, 09:08 AM
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I made 1 pass around the outside when i started. When i finished I went over the outside again to see if i could clean up the line a little and it worked pretty well. My striping kit will arrive next week which should really help with that perimeter cut. May also expose my inexperience with the straight line as well. At least i have a couple of months to experiment
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Old 08-30-2009, 06:51 PM
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#3 Keep your blades as sharp as possible. Your speed will be affected by how sharp your blades are.
I think this is something that is often misunderstood, could you explain to us how your speed is effected by the sharpness of your blades?
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Old 08-30-2009, 09:49 PM
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Hey Steve

I would be happy to explain this to the newbies. First of all, the difference between a regular riding mower and a zero turn is the fact that on a zero turn, the blades are set to spin much, much faster. That's why we're able to mow at speeds much greater than a normal rider. When your blades are dull, they can't keep a nice groomed cut at a higher speed, thus your ability to go fast AND maintain a nice cut is cut down considerably. Your mower is still able to mow fast, but your cut looks like crap. I run into this frequently with my gator blades. They are getting quite a bit of wear and tear on them and they won't hold an edge very long at all. And anyone that owns a zero turn can tell you that getting to your blades can be a challenge..especially if you are like me and don't own a fancy mower jack. I have to use a come along from my roll bar on the mower to the tow hitch on my truck to tilt the mower up on it's rear.
I am a freak when it comes to my customer's lawns and I maintain a high standard of keeping the grass cut at an even level. If my blades get dull, they get sharpened immediately. I usually sharpen them every other week. I'd like to do them once a week, but just don't have the time. If you want to succeed at this business, you have to set your standards higher than the other guy.
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Old 08-31-2009, 12:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve View Post
I think this is something that is often misunderstood, could you explain to us how your speed is effected by the sharpness of your blades?
Quite simply put, as a blade gets dull, the quality of cut is reduced dramatically. When a blade is sharp, it cuts the grass. When a blade is dull, it literally "tears" or rips the grass off.

This does several things:

1- The finish appearance is much less professional. The lawn will have a shaggy and unkempt appearance. The ends of the grass will tend to be frazzled and torn. The grass will not necessarily be cut even either.

2- It is unhealthy for the grass due to bruised and damaged ends that are a result of the dull blade ripping the grass off. I suppose in its own way, this is very similar to damaged and frayed hair ends though this is not due to bad shampoo quality. lol

3- It is harder on the entire mower system. The blades, bearing assemblies, bearing housings, belts, and engine.

4- Because of #3, it reduces your mower life. Extra wear on your blades. extra stress on your belt will cause your belt to break prematurely. Extra pull on the blades places undue pressure on your bearings and bearing housings. All of this places undue stress and pull on the engine. This causes the engine to wear out prematurely and require premature servicing.


Here is a website with an explanation about damaged grass due to dull blades and has photos of damaged grass and what grass is supposed to look like when cut by a sharp blade.

I will have to try to find or make a pic of a overly dull blade and why it actually takes more to sharpen it in the long run than if you sharpened it regularly.


Steve I hope this answered your question.
Eli
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