New Maintenance Business Mower Advice

Hi guys my name is Lee and after 15 years of working in various aspects of horticulture I am going to start up my own garden maintenance business. I have £1200 redundancy money to buy equipment with. I know thats not a lot and I can spend a bit more if I have to but would ideally like to stay within that budget. My main problem is that initially I will be using our Ford Fiesta so the first mower needs to be light & portable. I would ideally like to go all cordless - strimmer, hedge cutter & blower will probably be cordless whether I buy them at the start or later down the line. I quite like the looks of the Viking cordless mowers and petrol wise Honda Izy looks suitable apart from not being good in the wet. Mulching would be great with my lack of van. The gardens will be small to medium, I am unsure if people will want stripes or not but to be honest I may have to forgo a roller until I can buy a second mower & van!

So my question is really should I spend most of my budget on a mower and go without some of the other kit to start with or get a cheaper mower and start out with blower, strimmer & hedge cutter? I would prefer to buy new really. Quality of cut is important to me. I am RHS qualified and hope to be able to charge towards the higher end of the spectrum when I am established.

Sorry for such a broad question, I have used the search to look at other posts. Perhaps if people could state what their ideal setup would be for starting out I could see how much extra I really need to spend.

Any advice much appreciated.

Many thanks 

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        • Thanks John. I now have several large gardens to see this week so I will hold off on the mower until I find out more. I'm still tempted by the Echo, the Stihl seems to have a lot of fans too. I need to have another hold of them both before I buy. I would value balance and lightness highly as I feel I could do a better job with the one that's most comfortable.
          Thanks again for your advice.
  • PRO

    Lee, given the reviews/comments on the new Hayter 41, I'd be confident it will give a good finish and be superior to a £400 machine. It's just that it's an area where you can compromise being a single user. The cobra 46 with roller weighs less and performs well. Likewise you'll find a 4 wheel 3 in 1 18" mower with mulch plug for around £350. Also you could use the money left over to buy a used £200 machine from a dealer to complement as backup in smaller size.

    Anyway, all this kit talk is great, but have you thought about how you are going to get customers. Any money saved can be spent on marketing.

    • The Cobra is amazingly cheap. I think they had one in a shop in Horsham. I will take a look.
      I've had quite a lot of interest using Facebook but I've contacted a local printing company about doing some flyers.
  • Hi Lee. Hope all your plans are coming on well. I just wanted to give advice based on what I would do. I've had loads of good advice on here including from many of the people in this thread so i'm definitely not saying anybody else is wrong or I think I know everything or anything of the sort, just what I would do personally. 

    Personally I would not have the Cobra mower as my main mower. I have a Cobra roller mower as my second machine and I really like it, I use it probably 2-3 times per day on my really small jobs and it's great. However I definitely would not use it as my main mower even if I was just starting out. It is slow and, more importantly to me, has no commercial warranty. That Hayter you are looking at has a 2 year commercial warranty which would give me peace of mind. Also it will be noticeably quicker and almost certainly give a better finish. I'm not pro Hayter, my main mower is a Weibang, but of the two options I would get that Hayter over the Cobra.

    Also regarding mowers, I often see comments on here by fellow gardeners saying that they have never been asked to stripe a lawn etc. I think that comes down a lot to the area you are working. Some areas people don't seem to mind not having the stripes. I can only base it on where I work and round here (edge of Cheshire just south of Manchester) 90% of the gardeners use roller mowers and the majority of my customers would not be happy if I didn't stripe their lawn. So I think that is something you'll have to gauge as you go, but my own personal choice is to use a dedicated roller mower.

    Finally, I own the Echo hedge cutter you're thinking of getting. I've only been using it around 6 months so cannot comment on long term reliability, but so far it has been an absolute pleasure to use.

    Hope all that is of some use. As stated, not trying to argue with others, just simply my own experience and preferences. All the best.

    • Thank you Jonathan that's really helpful advice. I've just emailed the dealer to say hold off on the mower until I've seen the first few jobs. It seems a really solid mower I'm just a bit worried it's a bit small. Problem is until I can get a van a bigger roller mower is going to be tricky getting into a car.
      I think in West Sussex where I live people like stripes but I will know more when I've visited the first few jobs on Friday.
      Still torn between the hedgecutter - gonna have a hold of them hopefully after work to see which one I feel more comfortable using.
      Thanks again for the first hand knowledge. This really is a great forum.
      • PRO

        You might want to also have a look at the Honda HRX 476, roller, about 42kg.

    • PRO

      I second this, Lee, I use a Cobra as a second machine, and it is really useful for small lawns where its short handles are a boon, but no man enough for big lawns

  • PRO
    Personally I think you should go with whatever your gut feeling is when it comes to the machines you purchase, Have a plan and don't be swayed as you will only get a couple of months down the line and wish you had stuck with your original ideas for machines. On another note, yes it is a good idea to only purchase machines as you need them and are going to work with them, however the basics are a must no matter what you choose to do, Mower, blower, strimmer and Hedgecutters are basics, you can't start a business without these tools... good luck
  • PRO

    I think your main issue is not what the kit is but (a) how to get customers and (b) juggling everying in and out of the back of a fiesta. Would find a way to fix the vehicle issue asap and spend money there.

    • PRO
      I agree with the vehicle issue.

      You'll manage I'm sure but when I had a large estate for a while I struggled with space when I needed everything with me. The car would have crap all over everywhere with grass blowing around!

      Anyway, I'm new to all this and wish you the best of luck.

      Buy stuff when you need it and buy quality. I bought secondhand when I started out and while it got me up and running, there was a time when I had breakdowns and it was a dreadful time, soul destroying.

      I run a Weibang 56, Stihl hedge cutters, Stihl large strimmer and Husky small (its crap) and a Mountfield blower which isn't powerful but has got me going and has been faultless.
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