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To ride on, or not to ride on?

I've gained 4 large laws over the passed 2 years that take roughly an hour per lawn for 2 of us to mow with 42 inch push mowers , really am weighing up the pros and cons of a ride on now...would need a trailer and maybe a dedicate day to just do these large lawns ? Any advice would be great..

Steve 

Sbs gardening 

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  • Apart from just three small hand mowing jobs, all of my work is ride on. I would not want to be using hand mowers/walk behind mowers. Ride on mowers are absolutely the way to go.

     

     They are of course way faster over the ground and there is no walking involved. It’s far easier and much less of a strain.

     

    My work is a mix [isn’t everyone’s] of churchyards, cemeteries, commercial, large domestic, playing fields and other larger areas. I have two ride on machines, which whilst they can be interchanged, they do have their own strengths and particular things they excel at.

     

     Firstly there is the Stiga 740 Pwx with a Combi 100 deck. A four wheel drive machine. Superb on slopes/banks and in awkward areas. It will go anywhere and mulches perfectly. Mulching is the way to go. Do not get a machine that collects. You will spend all your time collecting and disposing of grass cuttings.

     

     My other machine is a John Deere Z535m [zero turn] 48 inch mulching deck. This is a very fast machine and ideal on certain jobs.

     

    Again, go for mulching. This is the finish these mulching machines can achieve -

     
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    10448800069?profile=RESIZE_930x

    • Thankyou for the input , those images look a great finish , do you use a trailer to transport?? What do they mulch like on wet grass? 

      I have a lot of small lawns which I wouldn't be able to use this on and those lawns are my bread and butter and biggest,  fastest earning days 

      But the larger ones I feel are way too big for me to be pushing my mower around now..

       

      Do you transport on trailer? Also I'm guessing you strim first around obstacles? What's the price of one of these please 

      • I have an un-braked trailer [750kg] to transport the mowers on. The make is Brenderup. I bought it new in early 2008. I think I paid less than £1000.  It has been very good indeed.

        You asked about mulching in the wet. Personally I avoid working in the wet as much as I can. Mulching is a bit of an art form. If the grass is long or just wet, then certain a technique/approach is needed. Basically you need to go over the ground a couple of times. So you mow, which cuts the grass, but in wet conditions it won’t mulch completely. So a second pass, usually with the deck slightly higher, will then complete the mulching.

        I know it sounds like a lot more effort, but the ride on machines are so fast that a second quick pass is not a problem. Also take into account the huge benefit of not having to keep stopping to unload a grass box and the time saved in not taking loads of grass clippings to the tip.

        Of course, pricing of work takes into account any and all techniques and time needed.

        Some of the work I do, such as the old churchyards, do not need to have a ‘no visible grass clippings’ finish. These are all on three weekly cuts. But even with rougher work and long intervals between cuts, the mulching machines will still leave very little visible grass clipping behind as compared to ‘cut and drop’. The difference even here between a mulching machine and ‘cut and drop’ is like night and day.  

        To illustrate the time savings of a machine like the Stiga 740 – about 20 years ago I had a certain council cemetery that I mowed. The finish here was specified as ‘grass collection’, so it had to be a perfect finish. I used a hand mower [collecting] on the long, perfectly straight and level rows of graves. A friend of mine used to do the larger open areas with a Ransomes 2250.

        The hand mowing could take about 4 hours with one pass. I then bought my first Stiga and the time taken was cut to thirty minutes with two passes. The finish was also far better. Still the same fee though.

        The Stiga Parks mulching mowers vary greatly in price. My 740 pwx is one of the more expensive models. List is about £7500. You should get 20% off that. But again, you should get a Stiga parks 320Pwx [two wheel drive model] for about £3200 [new]. A Stiga 345Pwx [four wheel drive – new] is about £4200 - real world prices. The four wheel drive models are worth the extra money.

        The zero turn mowers vary in price. I’ve just looked online and a Z535M like mine can be had for as little as £5200. I think because it has been replaced by a newer model that good discounts are available. Lower models are cheaper than this of course.

        Most of my work is close, regular cuts, so I tend to strim after mowing. There isn’t usually that much growth for the strimmed grass to be visible. But you could strim first if needed, or mow, strim and then nip round the strimmed areas with the mulcher.

        Always buy a hydrostatic machine, never one with gears. The out-front deck Stigas are very good if you only want one machine. My advice would be never buy a ‘Garden Tractor’ type of mower.

        This picture of my Stiga was taken in late November last year. On arrival the grass was heavy with due, as you might expect at that time of year.

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        • Thanks for the reply,  yes I also wondered about pricing the jobs,  obviously a lot faster but wondered if they charged similar to a push mower,  deffo something I'll be looking into,  thankyou for all your help , I use to mulch a large one With a push mower and it looked awful  , but it wasn't a dedicated mulch mower,  I also never take waste away, I'd rather pay for council bin on site or I pay External contractor to remove , Steve 

  • I guess ultimately how beneficial it will be for you depends on their proximity to one another, and also if your keen to obtain more large lawns.

    if you took a separate day to cut these 4 lawns would they return a similar income to your ordinary day or what would get as good of a financial return if you did them as you came to them- possibly 1 per day, along with your other work.

    with reference to their proximity to each other, I had a small ride on and a large ride on, and I found myself never being right "oh I'll go past that lawn today but come back tomorrow when I have the bigger ride on as it will be quicker"

    or 

    "we have the big ride on here today and this lawn is a bit small, or the ground is a bit damp for the big machine, so we'll do it with the push mower"

    both just eat time and we know what that means, I changed to an inbetween machine and it is far better from this point of view as it suits all. You don't want to fork out on a ride on and end up cutting one of these 4 lawns with the push mower because your passing some day at 2pm but didn't have the ride on.

    I imagine at present based on 15 cuts per year 240 man hours is what those lawns cost you. If you go down the ride on route these lawns may become an hour each for 2 people halving that time 

    hope this is only some help

    • Thankyou for the advice men 

      It's deffo worth considering,  I think if I was to get one i would like a set day to knock off all the large lawns I have,  otherwise like you say I'd just think if we're passing let's get them now ... like I mentioned my biggest  earnings are the small lawns , in and out for £20 types ...

      I'm at the point now I either take on more staff or just turn down new work 

      Thats also the next question whether to grow 

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