The best mower for your lawn care business is the one that leaves your customer’s yard looking great in the shortest amount of time.
Of course, there are a seemingly infinite number of other factors to consider when buying a mower, but the purpose of this article is to help you “cut out” the noise (see what I did there?) and be confident in your decision.
Let’s take a look at some mowers and their different applications.
Commercial Push Mowers
If you plan to do residential lawn care, commercial push mowers are a cost effective and versatile tool to help you efficiently complete jobs and start building up revenue.
Your first instinct might be to grab a 30-inch mower to cut down on job time, but consider the properties you are currently maintaining. Subdivisions with smaller lots typically have A/C units that might obstruct anything over 25 inches.
And while a mower with a wider cutting width can help you finish jobs faster, is it something you can comfortably operate over the course of a day, week, or season?
Most push mowers come equipped with their brand’s version of “Self-Propelled Technology,” but heavier models can be difficult to turn and maneuver in small lots. If Mower A is 250 lbs lighter than Mower B, I might consider taking the option that will save my back and knees in the long run.
Recommended Commercial Push Mowers: The 30-inch Toro TurfMaster HDX and Exmark Commercial 30 X Series are reliable and competitively priced mowers that will save you a LOT of mow time. For smaller yards or yards with access/obstruction issues, Toro and Exmark also offer commercial 21-inch models.
Once you, or Mother Nature, decide you can’t afford to spend another triple-digit summer hoofing it behind a mower, the next natural progression is a stand-on mower. These models can range in price pretty significantly, with higher-end brands topping 10 grand, so make sure you have the yards to justify the purchase.
Benefits of stand-on mowers include that they make trash pickup easier and the higher perspective can help you identify mower-damaging debris before it ruins your week.
Additionally, with the high-powered motors and the added weight compared to a push mower, stand-on mowers deliver a great looking cut with significantly less mow-time per yard.
Recommended Stand-On Mowers: The Scag V-Ride II, Gravely Z-Stance, and Toro GrandStand are all great options with a variety of cutting widths (even some smaller models that fit through most gates) and reasonable price points.
Sure, a push mower could knock out a 2-acre property, but would you ever want to do another yard in your life? The only way to go for large residential yards and commercial grass-cutting is a zero-turn mower.
Take a load off, get comfy and shaded, and get ready to mow a while. These babies are made to purr, so be careful using a zero-turn on small residential properties.
There are a few models that might fit through smaller gates, but the added weight can take a toll on your gas costs and can leave ruts in residential yards that will take more of your time to repair. I typically don’t worry about the bells and whistles, but if you have properties large enough to justify spending $10-20K on a mower, you’re probably going to want a comfy seat and easy access to your trash bucket.
Recommended Zero-Turn Mowers: Toro Z Master and Scag Turf Tiger II are two of the most popular models of zero turns for a reason. Reliability. They both offer a variety of configurations, powerful motors, and excellent warranty packages that will protect your purchase until you can recoup the cost.
Not only can lawn tractors knock out large properties in no time, they are extremely versatile. They come with adjustable mowing decks and most models have towing capabilities and custom attachments for other landscaping jobs like dropping soil or dethatching large areas.
One area of opportunity with lawn tractors is turn radius. You will likely need to make up for missed areas with a significant amount of weed trimming, and if I maintained mostly small property (quarter-acre or less), I think I would opt for a push mower or stand-on.
Recommended Lawn Tractors: Husqvarna and Cub Cadet have low cost, reliable lawn tractors that are great for regular use. Oh, and don’t forget John Deere. The larger the properties you maintain, the more you might consider investing in attachments and increased cutting width.
Battery-Powered Commercial Mowers
Battery-powered commercial mowers??? Well, yes. Here’s why: Think of all the benefits we have discussed for the mowers so far, and add the benefits of reduced noise and lower gas costs.
Electric mowers have become a must-have option at most equipment dealers these days (especially in California – see our California Green Lawn Care Law article). From push mowers to zero turns, there is a battery-powered option for every size yard and a battery-powered model from almost every commercial brand we’ve discussed.
The biggest thing to keep in mind is charging. Consider how long you will need battery-powered mowers to operate and consult your dealer about options to add charging rigs to your truck or trailer to make sure you can stay out on the job all day. General rule of thumb: Buy a few extra batteries just in case..
Commercial Mowers Buyers Guide
Whether you are a lawn hobbyist or a lawn care professional, everyone loves buying new toys for the yard. When you decide to take the leap and start your own lawn maintenance business, the decision of “which mower to buy…” can also cause some pros a lot of stress.
Here are a few things to consider that will help you make the best equipment-buying decisions and avoid long-term buyer’s remorse.
- How many yards/properties am I maintaining per day?
- What size are the majority of my yards? Small residential or big commercial?
- How many crew members per job? Are you a solo operator?
- What size are most of the gates that allow me access to my customers’ backyards?
- How fast do I need to complete a job to hit my targeted hourly earnings goals?
Answering these questions will go a long way toward making sure you are satisfied with your purchase for seasons to come. Reaching out to local pros in your areas is another great way to find out practical information about mowers that you wouldn’t get from quick Google searches or customer reviews.
Personally, I am a solo operator of a small lawn maintenance business with about 30-40 yards a weekend during peak season. My customers typically own single family homes in subdivisions with lots under a quarter acre. Most of the gates I use to access customers’ backyards are under 36 inches wide, and I try to complete a job in less than 45 minutes to achieve a $75 per hour earning goal.
One piece of advice I got from a local equipment dealer that always stuck with me was: “A mower is supposed to help you with jobs you have, not jobs you wish you had. It’s no use having a nice pretty mower gathering dust on your trailer.”
All that taken into account, for my purposes, a 72-inch zero-turn mower would never leave my trailer. For me, a 30-inch walk-behind mower or push mower is ideal. It fits through most gates, and going from a 21-inch to the 30-inch cutting width reduces the amount of time it takes to complete a job significantly.
Ask yourself questions similar to those listed above before you go mower shopping and the odds you’ll be happy with your purchase increase exponentially.