In this article I am going to introduce you to a new mower and a better way to mow lawn.
My philosophy on mowing my lawn has always been, “If I can’t mow it in an hour, it’s time to get a bigger mower!” I know that many of you too are looking for a better, faster way to mow your lawn. You like the Craftsman Tractors for dependability and ease of use but they just aren’t fast enough. Even with the new Excellerator it still takes you hours every week to mow your lawn.
You want something faster, a mower that will cut your mowing down to a reasonable time.
So you started looking at other options. Sears Craftsman, Toro, Simplicity, and Cub Cadet have all been advertising zero-turn mowers as the answer. You been told a zero-turn mower will reduce your mowing time by up to 50% over a conventional yard tractor like the YT 3000 and YT 4000.
But, you’ve also heard that zero-turn mowers are hard to learn, those big levers scare you, and then ……………… Consumer Reports came out with the article in May 2009 “Hills pose a risk for some riding mowers” and effectively stated that consumer zero-turn mowers can be uncontrollable and probably unsafe on hills over 10 degrees.
Consumer Reports is right. Their findings are not new. They are just the first to stop “walking around the elephant in the middle of the room.” Some of the zero-turns on the market just have more problems than they eliminate. The commercial lawn care owners have known this for years. I was one of the first to use zero-turn mowers and it took me a good 5 years to finally find mowers that would mow well, turn well, and mow on slopes. I can tell you many horror stories of the zero-turn mowers that I’ve pulled out of ponds, and up-righted them after they tipped over. I’ve owned a couple of models that damaged more turf than they mowed. In particular, the consumer versions of zero-turn riding mowers all have problems. Unless your lawn is basically flat, your turf is thick and well maintained, and someone teaches you how to drive them, the consumer zero-turns like the Craftsman ZTS6000, Cub Cadet residential, and the Husqvarna Zero Radius Turn Mower will tear up about as much lawn as they mow.
One other problem with zero-turns that no one talks about………The ride. Residential zero-turns in general will mow faster than a conventional mower, but the usually have smaller tires and weigh more. Most have no suspension and no springs under the seat. Some have a pivoting front axle to take out some of the jar but if you can mow at 4.5 mph with the machine you are constantly being bounced around. The bouncing is severe enough that most women have to wear a sport bra just to feel comfortable when mowing. If you use the mower for more that a couple of hours when you get off your back hurts and you are stiff and sore.
So what’s the answer?
The mower in the video you just watched is called a stand on mower. Specifically a Toro Grandstand. Stand on zero turn mowers are very safe, very easy to use and many times more productive than any other type of mower.
Mower users are slow to change and using standon’s is no exception. Not matter what the idea is, it seems to take years before a product becomes popular enough to be picked up by the large mower manufactures. It has taken over ten years for the big manufactures like Toro to finally start producing innovative stand-on mowers.
What makes them safe:
Stand-on mowers are unique because if the operator gets in trouble, for example, on a steep hillside, he just steps off and the mower shuts down. In contrast, the operator of a zero turn riding mower is confined by a seat back, sometimes arm rests, and the operating levers, all of which make it more difficult to exit the mower in an emergency situation.
Stand-on mowers actually handle hillside cutting better than a lawn tractor. The operator becomes a part of the weight distribution factor, because she can lean into the hillside for sideways mowing and lean forward or back when mowing up or down the hill. The operator platform (where the operator stands) actually lowers the center of gravity, making stand-on mowers relatively stable. “We like to say the operator is ‘plugged in’ at the feet, not the seat,” says Bill Wright of Wright Manufacturing. I have found that stand on mowers like the Toro Grandstand, Wright Stander and the Great Dane Surfer (not the Super-Surfer) are just as stable on slopes as the dedicated slope mowers like the KutKwik and the Deweze.
Stand-on mowers typically come with a suspension platform. The platform helps to absorb a lot of the bumps and bounces when cutting over uneven terrain. It is also very easy to flex your knees which further reduces the bumps. Standing up is a lot less tiring than sitting down and mowing. In addition, the suspension platforms now are designed with enough room so you can shift your feet from time to time. Specifically the Toro Grandstand has a large padded, and suspended platform that makes the machine very comfortable to use.
What makes them easy to use?
Operating a stand on mower is very similar to using a residential self-propelled walk-behind mower. The controls are very intuitive and it just takes a few minutes to learn to drive.
Looking at the picture to your left, place your hands on the red bars. Use your thumbs to control the forward speed with the black bars. To move in reverse just move your hands to the black bars and pull back. To turn you just move one black bar more than the other. It is very easy to zero turn and the controls are close enough together so you can easily operate the mower with one hand to move branches out of the way or scratch your nose. After you use the levers for just a few minutes the control becomes very intuitive and within no time you are mowing like a pro. All current stand-on mowers have a stationary bar above the dash for operators to hold onto, which also makes fingertip control of forward/reverse and speed levers more steady.
(All photos are from the Toro website.)
What makes them more productive?
I know you are used to sitting down while mowing, but it is really much more comfortable to stand and ride. It is much easier to stand and let your knees and the suspension platform absorb bumps and ruts in your lawn. You can shift your weight in the turns and lean forward and back depending on the terrain. You don’t feel confined and your back does not have to absorb any bumps and jars. Stand on mowers like the Grandstand have pads that you can lean against and it’s very similar to using a bar rail. I have found that using a stand on mower is a LOT less tiring than riding a lawn tractor with no suspension, a residential zero turn with no suspension, or a commercial zero turn with a suspended seat.
You can easily cut more lawn per hour with a 48 inch Toro Grandstand than you can with a 54 inch Craftsman GT 5000 Excellerator. Why, because the mower is much mower agile. The mower really shines when mowing around obstacles, landscape beds and trees. The feature I like the most with stand ons is the ability to duck under tree branches. It is much easier to duck than to have to lean out of the way using a conventional rider or zero turn mower.
You can also lean into turns. Whipping around beds and making zero-radius turns are effortless and actually fun. With a rear control stand-on like the Grandstand it is easy to watch your pivot wheel (the inside wheel on a turn) and keep it from divoting your lawn.
With stand-ons it is a lot easier to stop and jump off to pick up trash, move the sprinkler hose, or the kids toys. Just being able to get off and on quickly can save you a great deal of time over a conventional rider or zero-turn.
I have spent so much time operating stand-on mowers that I could go on for pages about how operator comfort is the key to this type of machine and how much more productive they are compared to any other type of mower. Stand-ons are by far the most productive mowers available today. If you have a large lawn it is well worth your time to study and try this type of mower.