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The Great Big Lawnmower Thread

  • #2
    Closed Accounts Posts: 16 ✭✭✭ aoifski


    I'd appreciate some advice about lawns and lawn mowers. We have about 1/4 -1/3 an acre of lawn. Top soil was put down when we moved in about 4 years ago, not the best stuff - quite stoney. We raked but did not rotovate it at the time, and then rolled and then sowed a lawn.

    It's ok - the surface is a bit rough still and not flat. We have a petrol rotary at the moment and it takes quite a while to cut all this grass. And it grows like wildfire in the spring/summer.

    We want to buy new rideon mower and I am all for buying a tractor mower to spin around the lawn in as little time as possible.

    My husband has gotten it in his head somehow that he wants this manicured lawn, and wants to buy a petrol powered cylinder mower - the ones used for cricket and golf greens! Believe me our lawn and surface is far from this!

    Questions:

    To get even surface with manicured lawn would we have to rotovate and completely redo the surface/soil and resow?
    Presumably a cylinder mower (self propelled) is totally unsuitable for what we have right now?
    Any tractor mower recommendations for a nice cut which will appease my husband?!

    Thanks in advance!


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Comments

  • #2


    Achieving a golf green standard is a huge undertaking and a labour of love. They use special breeds of grasses, they have carefully built foundations to ensure the right amount of moisture and drainage and they get mowed every day. Despite all the attention they still sometimes get diseases and bare patches.

    Large cylinder mowers are expensive and need much more maintenance than a rotary. They are not suitable for bumpy or stony ground or long grass.

    You need to decide if you are prepared to go to the trouble of collecting and disposing of the clippings - you will collect quite a lot off 1/3 acre.

    If you don't want to collect and don't want visible grass left lying, you will need a mulching mower. Both mulching and collection really only work well if grass is not allowed to get too long and is dry when cut.

    If you want stripes you will need a full width roller on the mower and will need to cut in a forward and back pattern rather than around in circles. This will still NOT be as good as the stripes you can get with a cylinder mower.

    Well known brands charge a premium, but you want to be sure you will able to get parts in a few years time.

    Finally, I recommend you get a hydrostatic gearbox. This allows you to change speed smoothly as you manoeuver around obstacles or edges. Manual gearboxes on ride-ons are a pain unless you have a huge open area that you will cut at the same speed everywhere. Hydrostatic is expensive, but if you can afford it, go for it.


  • #2


    get either a castlegarden or john deere ride on mower. i think all the other mowers are kind of ****. or you could just pay some other kid up the road to cut it with their own mower


  • #2


    Hey German Rocks, I think you could look around a bit more.

    Castlegarden are mostly at the cheaper end of the market, while John Deere are top notch, almost as good as Kubota.

    Other makes worth considering are Simplicity, Husqvarna and Honda, but I'm sure there must be other good machines around. Each brand will have quite a range of prices, but in general you get what you pay for.

    Unfortunately the American machines don't seem to have dropped their prices in proportion to the dollar.


  • #2


    Cylinder mowers are expensive to maintain.
    Ride-ons are expensive to maintain and you need something to get to the spots they can't reach.

    A rotary roller mower might be a nice solution.
    A 22" Hayter Harrier would give a very pleasing finish but they aren't cheap.
    You'll still get stripes and it will cut low to the ground to give a near cylinder mower finish. Versions with electric start are also available.
    Emptying the grass bag will be tiresome with any walk-behind lawnmower.


  • #2


    I bought a new Toro 40 inch ride on a month ago for €3,100 in Wexford area.
    Very happy with it so far plus I know its a good make.


  • #2


    I bought a castlegarden 13hp twin cut ride-on for 1250 with 6mths gaurantee last month to cut 3/4acre. Best move i've ever done. an hr to cut the garden and then i'm able to walk the dogs afterwards. It was taking me nearly 3.5/4hrs to cut it before that with a push mower...and i had to make sure to keep on top of it or else i'd have to cut it twice once on high and then again on low..

    I advise a ride-on without doubt. Dont bother with the mulcher just make sure it's rear discharge as the side shoot option gets clogged. After that its up to your budget. you won't get much for less than 1200 - 1600 euro. Buy from a shop if you can. You get a gaurantee on gear box & engine with new belts etc fitted on purchase. As for up-keep theres is very little... service , sharpen blades and watch the belts for wear.

    Goodluck


  • #2


    I bought a 18.5 hp castlegarden last week. 2 yr warranty, the only way to cut the grass. On a 3/4 ish acre, less house etc. Took about 50 min and it was long to start with. Say it will take about 30 min on a weekly basis from here on in. It would have taken 4 to 5 hours to do last weekend. Great investment. Its the HD190 model, list price €4,230, got it for €3,500.

    Secman


  • #2


    The nice thing about the Toro is that the Mulcher is built in so all you have to do is move a foot pedal from Recycle to Collect to switch between mulching and boxing. Very nice feature.

    It's also hard wearing with a cast iron axle unlike the plastic ones in Castelgardens, Vikings, etc.


  • #2


    I have approx 1/3 acre to cut and i bought an ARIENS mower. In fact this is the second one I bought because it is just so good.
    The ARiens is an american mower and I think the distributer is in Cork. i bought mine in Meath. The great thing about this mower is that it can do the conventional gather thing as well as throw long grass out without picking as well as a muclhing option. As you can imagine I have been mulching over the last couple of weeks. Some summers I manage t mulch all summer.
    The mower has a very powerful Briggs and Strettan engine and the deck is steel so wont be damaged by flying stones / debris that can happen to other mowers. This engine starts with one pull and my wife loves mowing with it because it is so easy to use and this is handy. It costs €1200 I think. There is a website www.ariens.com.


  • #2


    Does anyone have any experience of Jonsered lawnmowers? I was having a look at the ride-ons today.


  • #2


    One of my nighbours has one, he works in Coilte, so used to dealing with machines etc and he's very happy with his one, has it about 2 yrs now.

    Secman


  • #2


    blackbox wrote: »
    Hey German Rocks, I think you could look around a bit more.

    Castlegarden are mostly at the cheaper end of the market, while John Deere are top notch, almost as good as Kubota.

    Other makes worth considering are Simplicity, Husqvarna and Honda, but I'm sure there must be other good machines around. Each brand will have quite a range of prices, but in general you get what you pay for.

    Unfortunately the American machines don't seem to have dropped their prices in proportion to the dollar.

    A friend of mine asked me to look up information on the internet regarding importing John Deere ride on lawn mowers from the states. As you said in your post blackbox they haven't dropped the prices since the weakening of the dollar.

    I can't find any information on it but they insisted it could be done.

    By the way, the had a Husqvarna and they said that it's a bad buy. They were pouring more oil into it than petrol. Their neighbours have one too and had similar problems.

    Thanks in advance.


  • #2


    Has anyone any experience with the Mountfield ride ons that B&Q sell?


  • #2


    aoifski wrote: »
    Questions:
    To get even surface with manicured lawn would we have to rotovate and completely redo the surface/soil and resow?
    This depends on how patient you are and how good a finish you want.. you could re-do the whole thing..
    OR you could start top dressing the worst areas with a compost/sand mixture and even it out with a rake, this would take some time but avoids having to rip up and start again..


    Presumably a cylinder mower (self propelled) is totally unsuitable for what we have right now?
    If you have a bumpy lawn then a cylinder mower will not last the pace, they are designed for billiard table lawns.

    Any tractor mower recommendations for a nice cut which will appease my husband?
    There are a huge range of mowers to select from with as many features as you can afford... here's a point I'd note though.
    These aren't something you can put into the boot of your car and run 30 miles back to where you saved €50 on the purchase price. Most folks have no way of bringing one of these around..
    Unless he's a total gangster you should deal local for a mower, in the end it will need a service or repair and lots of dealers will only service mowers they sell themselves...

    I dont think any reasonably priced , non cylinder mower will give a finish like a bowling green.


  • #2


    Rather than starting a new thread thought I would ask here.

    Currently I employ someone to cut the grass but am thinking of doing it myself this summer.

    Have a large garden, brown bin is not an option for grass cuttings and to be honest I don't want to dump the grass for composting down the back of the garden. With this in mind I was looking at Hondas website and looking at mulching lawn mowers, has anyone used a mulching lawn mower and how fine does the it mulch the grass, does it eliminate the need for raking. Tks


  • #2


    Mulching doesn't work well with lush moist Irish grass.
    The machine strains to mulch at the best of times in our environment especially since it rains most of the time here in Ireland.
    mulching also over fertilises the lawn leaving you cutting the lawn more often and thatch will build up if you mulch.
    Mulching will never leave your lawn as tidy as collection.


  • #2


    hi. I went for a manicured lawn after I saw my brothers manicured lawn. He is a profeesional green keeper at a local golf club, so his front lawn looks like a brand new unused golf lawn.

    you need a number 1 lawn seed, also known as luxury lawn seeds (available in most Garden centers). You will not achieve the look without this lawn seed. Maintenance is high, the lawn must be fertilised in spring and summer. the lawn must alos be scarified in spring and autumn.

    Luxury lawns take almost twice as long to establish as 'normal lawns; so you could be looking at bare patches for a while.

    you will notice that per square meter, the luxury lawn will produce at least 1.5 times the amount of grass. Not in height but in density, so it feels like literally walking on a carpet. weed invasion is non -occurrant as the density of the grass prevents weed invasion.

    I would progressivly change my back lawn to luxury with time. be patient as the establishing time is significantly slower, but you will never see the soil again beneat the lawn due to how dense the cover becomes, unlike some hoses whose lawns are up within weeks of sowing , but you can see right down to the soil.

    Lawnmower: must never mulch it, and the cylindrical is the job. I have an ordinary honda ride on with pick up only blades, and the job is good, but not the superb nature that can be achieved with a roller.


    To get even surface with manicured lawn would we have to rotovate and completely redo the surface/soil and resow? ? yes you would, it is resowing that is required.
    alot of landscapers have no experience with luxury lawns, and my landscaper managed yo do one part luxury then one strip part in number 2 seed !! what a wally. so that part will have to be killed off and reseeded.


    A cylindriacal on what you have now will never achieve the luxury lawn look. You must have time to address and look after the lawn.


    There is one hugh advantage with the luxury lawn. If you go away for a few weeks holidays and growth is manic in summer, the luxury lawn will thicken and get taller but nothing as untidy as a number 2 seed would do.

    feeding scarifying and cutting are important. a luxury lwan will also better take droughts thana number 2 seed. I am happy with my lux lawn, it is work, buit over the years, a handfull of weed ever got established, and from the road it realy catches the eye.


  • #2


    michael196 wrote: »
    hi. I went for a manicured lawn after I saw my brothers manicured lawn. He is a profeesional green keeper at a local golf club, so his front lawn looks like a brand new unused golf lawn.

    you need a number 1 lawn seed, also known as luxury lawn seeds (available in most Garden centers). You will not achieve the look without this lawn seed. Maintenance is high, the lawn must be fertilised in spring and summer. the lawn must alos be scarified in spring and autumn.

    Luxury lawns take almost twice as long to establish as 'normal lawns; so you could be looking at bare patches for a while.

    you will notice that per square meter, the luxury lawn will produce at least 1.5 times the amount of grass. Not in height but in density, so it feels like literally walking on a carpet. weed invasion is non -occurrant as the density of the grass prevents weed invasion.

    I would progressivly change my back lawn to luxury with time. be patient as the establishing time is significantly slower, but you will never see the soil again beneat the lawn due to how dense the cover becomes, unlike some hoses whose lawns are up within weeks of sowing , but you can see right down to the soil.

    Lawnmower: must never mulch it, and the cylindrical is the job. I have an ordinary honda ride on with pick up only blades, and the job is good, but not the superb nature that can be achieved with a roller.


    To get even surface with manicured lawn would we have to rotovate and completely redo the surface/soil and resow? ? yes you would, it is resowing that is required.
    alot of landscapers have no experience with luxury lawns, and my landscaper managed yo do one part luxury then one strip part in number 2 seed !! what a wally. so that part will have to be killed off and reseeded.


    A cylindriacal on what you have now will never achieve the luxury lawn look. You must have time to address and look after the lawn.


    There is one hugh advantage with the luxury lawn. If you go away for a few weeks holidays and growth is manic in summer, the luxury lawn will thicken and get taller but nothing as untidy as a number 2 seed would do.

    feeding scarifying and cutting are important. a luxury lwan will also better take droughts thana number 2 seed. I am happy with my lux lawn, it is work, buit over the years, a handfull of weed ever got established, and from the road it realy catches the eye.

    Much of the work you outlined above would apply to all lawns, irrespective of Grade. What you refer to as "Luxury" is generally referred to as Grade 1, ie ornamental very low traffic use and yes it is more lush, but not very resilient. On the otherhand Grade 3 which is the grade typically found in many back gardens, because it has much better wear characteristics to withstand traffic from pets, children play in otherwords the typical activities one would see and do in a family garden.

    I would doubt very much that "a lot of landscapers have no experience with luxury lawns", on the contrary, the demand for luxury lawns in family gardens is low because the grade is unsuitable, and some might say that only a wally would sow Grade 1 in a family garden.

    Beautiful lawns require regular attention, and very good striping can be achieved using several means, and each has it's own advantages and drawbacks. Choice will depend on a number of factors not least the grade.

    Lush Lawn v Field of Dreams, with/out the stripes.


  • #2


    If your looking for a ride-on reel mower and your area is stoney, then a reel mower is not really the answer... Also other then the high cost of a reel mower, you have high cost in keeping your grass green and in good nick too, as with golf course who mostly dont collect on fairways, roughs, semi-roughs they have a programme in place where they spray, top-dress, scarifiers and aeration.... you need to mow every 3 -5 days depending on quick you grass gows, as reel mowers can only handle so much grass...

    You will soon find out down the line if your not collecting grass then a dead matter of matreial will set in the top soil, making it hard for water and air to get to the roots... inturn a poor looking lawn....

    Rotary vs Reels mower Good and bad points

    Rotary..

    Low running cost
    Most rotay mower Collect/mulch/discharge
    If blades are not keep sharp they can shred the leaf of the grass instead of giving a clean cut, so very important to have blade as sharp as possible at all time, (Same principle as a scissors)
    Slow to cut grass and slower if collecting grass (Most Tractor mower are from 28" to 54" in cutting width)

    Reel

    High ruuning cost
    Best possible quailty of cut
    Quicker to mow the grass (Most reel mower have cutting width of 5ft up to 12ft)
    Heavy duty that trator mower
    No belts (Most reel mowers are hydrullic drive to the reels)
    Limted cutting height most Tees and Fairways mower go from 10mm to 75mm (Also alot of work in setting units up)

    Go Rotary but what ever make you go for.... make sure you look for the following , rear collection, min 40" cut, V-twin engine (Top 3 Kawasaki, Honda, Briggs) Get a big bag...Bigger bag means lest dumping of grass,
    Hydro Drive - easyer to use and dont give trouble - wheels on deck - prices replacement parts - i have found that the cheaper mowers often have the most expensive parts and some times give more trouble.. Check review on internet on machine your like and see what other people have say about it... Check what your local dealer history is like do there have good back up service, do there stock most parts.... maybe small thing when your buying a mower but a few years down the line if your stuck for a belt then it soon becomes a big deal !

    Also you can get rotary ride-on with a roller fitted if you want that striped look

    Snapper
    RD1840 is one to note and is coming in around €5k

    Hope this helps :)

    www.seamusweldon.com


  • #2


    Hi all,

    Im completely clueless when it comes to ride-on mowers.

    Im looking for a small compact one that will do a half-acre lawn, with a few bushes and shrubs to get around, the lawn is also on a slight slope.

    So could any of you recommend a decent make and any make i should avoid, and whats with these mulchers..do they help firtilise the lawn?

    THX PJ


  • #2


    Countax, John Deere and Kubota are very good but also imo are quite expensive. McCullaugh and Castlegarden are ok for most lawns which are cut regularly-long wet grass is a nightmare with the cheaper brands. I personnally would not recommend mulching (unless you want more moss in your garden than grass!). Compost the grass clippings instead and get lovely compost for veg or flowers.


  • #2


    I heard yesterday that castlegarden make lawnmowers for 18 other co's. They are an Italian company.

    All I would could suggest is get a decent one with a bit of power.

    If I could afford one I'd buy a 2nd hand Etesia, but then you wonder how much better if at all they really are?


  • #2


    Castle Garden are good enough for the money.
    A good dealer will recomend what power you need for your site size and slope.
    Half an acre isnt alot so i think i would go with a castlegarden....anything cheaper is probably trouble.
    A good seconhand would be worth considering.


  • #2


    Go for a husqvarna lth151 have one myself, great mower. Take it easy and it has no problems blowing wet grass.I cut a lawn with mine were the grass was soaked and about 6 inches long. Took a bit of time but got it done.


  • #2


    John Derre Mulching Mower are brilliant. You don't have to pick up the grass (alot quicker) and haven't had any trouble with it, although you do pay for it


  • #2


    what do you think of this one??

    its got a collection bag, no box

    http://www.donedeal.ie/for-sale/others/885747

    or this one

    http://www.stiga-online.com/product/18/stigagardencompactev

    what hp should i be looking for?? for an half acre lawn with a slight slope and alot of shrubs to get around


  • #2


    I would not buy either of the two you linked to.
    HP imo the more you have the better. I would not buy less than 17-18hp.

    We have an acre and may need to buy a new ride on soon. Now maybe .75acre to be cut and a slope and I would prefer to get something with a 20hp ish engine.

    The side collection ones are not regarded as great in Ireland, fine for nice warm climates.


  • #2


    Ive been selling ride on mowers for years. Castlegarden are without doubt the best choice for domestic use (I sell the massey Ferguson branded Castlegardens). A half an acre is not a lot and 13.5 hp is more than adequate. My home place has 2.5 acres of grass and it as been mowed with a 12.5hp machine for years.
    The castlegarden is whats known as a rear discharge machine and its because of this that it manages damp grass better than the tube tyoe (grass doesnt have as far to travel).
    Mulching:

    Pros: Faster, great if you have nowhere to dump clippings, fertilises lawn.

    Cons: Grass must be short, and dry, mulching encourages growth (cutting the lawn more often), grass is still there and the kids will run it round the house.

    Mulching with a combination machine (ie castlegarden) will eventually shake the machine apart. The tidyest job of all is collection.

    If you do buy a castelgarden make sure it has collecting blades on it not the dual purpose ones (mulching&collecting). These blades are far far more effective at collecting grass.

    FYI A massey ferguson 2314 (40"cut, 13.5hp) sells at €2500.


    Phew deep breath needed after that.


  • #2


    Geezer1000,

    Is it possible to get domestic tractor mowers that are shaft driven rather than belt driven? Now having said that, it's a good 15 years since I bought one - it was a Countax - so maybe shaft driven ones are common now?

    Problem is, I find the drive belts stretch and slip off their pulleys, and you're left with your blade turing perfectly, but not moving forward.


  • #2


    churchview wrote: »
    Geezer1000,

    Is it possible to get domestic tractor mowers that are shaft driven rather than belt driven? Now having said that, it's a good 15 years since I bought one - it was a Countax - so maybe shaft driven ones are common now?

    Problem is, I find the drive belts stretch and slip off their pulleys, and you're left with your blade turing perfectly, but not moving forward.

    Dont know of any. The belts usually dont give too much trouble. They dont strech (as a rule) unless they are old an are on the way out. They would be more likely to break altogether.
    My ride on is 8 years old and still on original belts.


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