Match Making

July 1, 2001
Imagine getting a vaccination with a needle three times as big as it really needed to be. Ouch! If you received that injection by a knowledgeable caregiver,

Imagine getting a vaccination with a needle three times as big as it really needed to be. Ouch! If you received that injection by a knowledgeable caregiver, chances are you won't even know he or she has even punctured your skin.

Now try mowing a one-acre lot with a wide-area mower. Doesn't really work, does it? Maybe you might get the job done in half the time, but it might not have provided the cut quality you were looking for in the smaller area.

Whether it's a needle or a mower, you need to have the right equipment to complete your job successfully. Having the right commercial mowing equipment can directly affect numerous facets of your business, including efficiency, budgeting, productivity and flexibility. The equipment options are endless so before making your purchase, take time to learn what's available and what machine fits your particular needs. Your decision can determine your success on the job.

When choosing commercial mowing equipment, there are typically five main categories to consider: walk-behind mowers, front mowers, wide-area mowers, zero-turn-radius mowers and compact utility tractors equipped with a mower deck. To help you determine your best option, here are equipment performance summaries:

Walk-behind mowers

These units are best for operators mowing smaller areas. Because they're more affordable and easier to transport than riding mowers, walk-behinds are profitable machines. There are hydrostatic and gear-driven walk-behind mowers on the market. While it might cost more than the gear-driven machine, hydrostatic walk-behinds can increase your productivity by 25 percent to 30 percent because they are more maneuverable and allow for quick direction changes.

Front mowers

Front mowers are versatile machines. They are great for operators who cut wide-open, hilly terrain and areas with lots of trimming such as roadsides, parks and large residential lawns. These mowers offer better maneuverability, visibility and cut quality than basic riding mowers. Because of the position of the mower deck, front mowers leave a smaller uncut circle of grass, reducing the amount of walk-behind trimming to be done while increasing productivity. The up-front deck design also simplifies maintenance with better access to the underside. Attachments such as leaf crackers, snow throwers, rotary brooms, front blades and mulching kits can be fitted to most front mowers.

Wide-area mowers

For operators who handle numerous wide-area mowing applications without narrow turf alleys, the wide-area mower is ideal. Most wide-area mowers are used to maintain city parks and golf courses. The main benefit of wide-area mowers is efficiency. A wide-area mower with 11 feet of cutting width increases productivity nearly 100 percent when compared with conventional 6-foot mowers, allowing operators to groom large areas in half the time. Automatic wing decks that turn “off” when raised and “on” when lowered also enhance productivity and side trimming.

Zero-turn-radius mowers

ZTRs are ideal machines if mowing includes numerous obstacles, trim work and high degrees of maneuverability. The units are often used for mowing residential lawns, cemeteries and other areas that include many trees, gates and tight corners. There are two types of zero-turning radius mowers — front-mount and mid-mount. Front mount machines are more suited for trimming highly landscaped or wooded properties. The mid-mount mower's short overall length occupies less trailer space. Its low center of gravity increases traction and heightens stability on hillsides. Different cutting deck sizes are available as well — from 48-inch decks to 60-inch decks.

Compact utility tractors

With less than 45 horsepower and a smaller overall size, compact utility tractors, or CUTs, have earned a reputation in the industry for toughness and versatility. These machines are used for jobs that require a variety of landscaping work in addition to mowing. Not only can CUTs be used for mowing, but with additional attachments they can perform loading and hauling, digging, tilling, and much more making them practically indispensable for grounds maintenance professionals. In addition to their versatility, CUTs are typically compact and easy to maneuver, making them ideal for grooming landscaped areas.

After deciding which machine fits your needs, there are still a few additional options to consider before making the purchase. Options to consider include choosing a 2-wheel- or 4-wheel-drive power unit, selecting a gas or diesel engine, deciding on a clippings disposal system, evaluating operator comfort enhancements, checking for operator safety features and choosing a manufacturer and dealer that you trust and that provide you with the parts and services you need to avoid downtime and lost productivity.

The choice of your equipment can determine your ultimate job performance and overall business productivity. So before you commit to a certain type of mower, review, evaluate and understand your options. With the right machine for the job, the appropriate attachments and options, and a reliable manufacturer and dealer, you can continue to be an expert and get your job done right.

Peña is the marketing manager of commercial mowing at John Deere's Commercial and Consumer Equipment Division, Charlotte, N.C.

John Deere

John Deere's Spin-Steer Technology (SST) lawn tractors have a zero-turning radius mower that allows the unit to turn 360 degrees in either direction. Available in two models, the SST16 and SST18 tractors are powered by 16- and 18-horsepower Briggs & Stratton V-twin Vanguard engines. Additional features include power steering and a 2.5-gallon fuel tank.
RS #406


Designed for small projects, Barreto's 918 tiller features narrow tires and an 18-inch tilling width. The 9-horsepower unit uses all-hydraulic power and does not require belts or chains. The wheel-drive motor is mounted inside the tiller body, increasing ground clearance.
RS #408

Billy Goat

The CR Series power rake from Billy Goat Industries is a compact, lightweight unit that combines all the qualities and features of the PR Series, the company says. It features a steel deck, heat-treated and tempered flail knives, and pillow block bearings. The unit's construction facilitates changeover between the flail reel and the slicing reel and is designed to reduce noise, vibration and maintenance.
RS #407


The new Merry Mac TM6B and TM7K trimmer mowers (pictured) feature a cord attachment with height adjustments and fingertip control for parallel trimming. The TM6B is powered by a 6.5-horsepower Briggs & Stratton OHV Pro engine and the TM7K by a 7-horsepower Kawasaki engine. The RT101CRL self-propelled rough-terrain mower is powered by a 10.5-horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine and cuts brush up to 1 inch thick and weeds up to 10 feet tall, MacKissic says.
RS #409

Maxim Manufacturing

Maxim Manufacturing is a distributor for Italian-made Harry Mowers. Features include three discharge options, five cutting heights, mulching capability, a cast aluminum cutting deck, ball bearing wheels and variable-speed self propel. Engine options include a 5-horsepower Briggs & Stratton or a 5-horsepower Honda.
RS #410


The F220 Honda tiller features a 2.4-horsepower overhead valve engine. The single-speed, gear-drive unit has a 21-inch tilling width (12 inches wide with outer tines removed) and weighs 52 pounds.
RS #411


The KEL26A edger features a 26 cc engine, a weighted blade and wider wheel stance. According to Kawasaki, this powerful unit edges straight and cleans through the toughest sidewalk and driveway edging jobs. Cutting depth is easily adjustable and a large, loop-style handle provides increased maneuverability. The unit has a dry weight of just over 11 pounds.
RS #412


The Professional Series FS 85R trimmer has a hollow-center drive shaft that reduces the weight of the unit and an adjustable carburetor with an accelerator pump for easy starting. Other features include a 25.4 cc engine, a fully lined drive shaft and the company's Easystart system with ElastoStart shock-absorbing handle. A variety of interchangeable gearbox attachments convert the unit into a pole pruner, power scythe, edger, gas-powered sweeper or a hedger.
800/GO-STIHL [467-8445]
RS #413

Scag Power Equipment

The Scag Sabre Tooth Tiger has a 10.5 mph ground speed and a 10-gallon fuel capacity. Powered by a 31-horsepower Briggs Vanguard engine, this zero-turn ride-on mower provides a range of cutting heights from 1 to 6 inches. Units come standard with a 61-inch cutter deck and an optional 72-inch Advantage cutter deck is available.
RS #414

Bachtold Bros.

Powered by an 8-horsepower engine, Bachtold Bros.' Whipper weed and brush cutter has a 24-inch cutting deck and easily cuts through tall grass, weeds and brush. Twenty-inch wheels have a 3/4-inch axle and are designed to travel over debris and through wet areas. Features include a self-propelled drive system, all-welded steel frame, industrial drive belt, enclosed blade housing, and hand-operated, variable-speed ground control.
RS #415