There is a wide variety of lawn mower attachments, from blowers, brooms and blades to sprayers, spreaders and stump grinders. For the typical lawn maintenance crew, a handful really stands out for its potential to deliver essential services more efficiently.
Increase off-season utility
Scott Hord, owner of Hord Landscapes in Campbellsville, Ky., started using a dethatching attachment last year. Yes, the tool does a great job of dethatching. But more importantly, it saves a lot of time.
“We use the dethatcher with our zero-turn bagging mower, so everything gets sucked up as we go,” says Hord. Prior to purchasing the attachment, Hord used a dedicated walk-behind dethatcher. He did a great job of dethatching but left a mess all over the lawn that the crew had to deal with later. It took a lot of extra time, not to mention the fuel for the bagging mower.
Working with cool-season grasses in central Kentucky, Hord says that dethatching services are provided in the spring and fall. He prefers fall. “In the spring, dethatching tends to open up sunlight and air to expose the weeds,” says Hord.
Another benefit of fall dethatching is that crews don’t mow as rigorously. Hord can install one of his mowers with the dethatcher, which attaches to the front of the mower deck, and leave it there for the entire fall season. “The dethatcher also helps loosen wet, matted leaves,” adds Hord. “Then our bagging mower can suck them right in with the thatch, leaving the lawn nice and clean with much less effort.”
Hord realized an added benefit by switching from a dedicated cultivator to an attachment. An accessory does not have its own motor, which means much less maintenance. “The only maintenance you might have to do is replace a spring that might break,” says Hord. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the casters and other key areas maintain proper lubrication as outlined in the owner’s manual.
Fran Meister, owner of Fran’s Mowing & Snow Removal in West Liberty, Ohio, has discovered another accessory that lends itself well to the fall season. He started using a Verti-Slicer with a seed hopper a few years ago to turn one of his zero-turn mowers into a workhorse for fall overseeding.
“We love using this accessory on our small properties,” says Meister. In the past, he used a 5-foot seeder that attached to the back of a compact tractor. This obviously couldn’t work on smaller properties. For smaller properties, Meister used a 24-inch walk-behind seeder. “It was a nice machine, but it was very labor intensive to operate,” says Meister.
Meister now uses a zero-turn mower that can accommodate up to 48 inches of deck. It removes the deck and connects the 42-inch seeder, making this setup ideal for small to medium sized lawns. “It’s easy to attach to the mower and only takes about five minutes,” says Meister. “It’s also pretty easy to use for someone who can already use a zero-turn.” Application rate is set with a dial, and agitation and depth are controlled via rocker switches.
Increase productivity during the growing season
While overseeding is usually done in the fall, Meister sometimes uses his seeder attachment in early spring when the grass is still dormant. This allows him to get a little more productivity out of a mower that would otherwise sit in the shop waiting for the grass to start growing.
In Georgia, Hal Pruitt uses his mowers to do early season stubble cultivation. He straps his lightweight 30-inch rake to the back of a zero turn, and sometimes even to the back of a sulky on a mid-foot mower if yard access is very tight. Either way, the dethatcher does an effective job of getting lawns ready for the growing season.
“It’s been a great tool when renovating lawns on small lawns,” says Pruitt, owner of Cumming Lawn Service in Cumming, Ga. Then we use a stubble cultivator to break up a large part of the stubble and roots that grow on the surface.Then we go back over it with the bagging mower before aerating.
On these smaller lawns, a standard walk-behind aerator is used. On larger, more open properties, Pruitt has found a 48-inch-pull drum aerator to be a great engine of efficiency. “We just make sure it has the same type of teeth as a walk-behind tractor so we know it’s going to pull in some nice, big catches,” Pruitt explains.
Pruitt primarily uses the aerator attachment in the spring on bermudas and zoysia, then again in the fall on fescue. Maintenance is minimal as there is no engine. “You just attach the aerator to the riding mower and fill the drum with water,” says Pruitt. “We have to make sure the connection point stays lubricated, but that’s about it. Just from normal wear and tear over time, a tooth can break at some point. You can usually solder one on if you want. I just went ahead and bought a new aerator because my first one lasted 15 years.
Back in Ohio, Meister found some extra attachments that help keep some of his other mowers busy year-round.
On some properties that require rough mowing or have steeper slopes, Meister mows with an articulated 4WD tractor. To get the most out of it, he bought a handful of attachments – a landscape rake, aerator and stump cutter – to help provide lawn care, tree care and installation services while throughout the year. He even bought snow removal attachments to tackle driveways and sidewalks during the winter months.
Renting these and other accessories is something Meister would love to do more often if he could.
“Our local dealer has retired, so our nearest dealer is now a few hours away,” says Meister. “We decided to buy the accessories we currently have because renting is no longer really practical. That’s okay, because we use them a lot and they improve our productivity.
In Kentucky, Hord also uses a mower to increase productivity during the growing season. A chemical sprayer attaches to the deck of a zero-turn, allowing mower operators to act as lawn care technicians, provided they have obtained the appropriate state license.
“It’s all about time management,” says Hord. “When we have to go mow a lawn, we already have our tank mix and sprayer on the trailer. All we have to do is connect the sprayer to the mower when we’re on the jobsite and we’re good to go.
Hord’s lawn care crews always use a dedicated foot sprayer for their primary treatments. The spot spray attachment simply gives maintenance crews an efficient tool to deliver targeted applications between those primary lawn maintenance visits.
“We’ve been using this setup for about three years now,” says Hord. “If a mower operator notices something that needs to be sprayed, they don’t have to jump off the mower to get a sprayer. We use it a lot to spray fence rows and gravel areas. It saves a lot of time. »
When it comes to using lawn mower attachments, most contractors will tell you that a lot of it is about saving time. It’s also about saving money, simplifying preventative maintenance and increasing mower utilization. Above all, it is about providing better, faster and cheaper services, which benefits both the landscape company and its customers.