Hundreds of varieties of plants in the landscaping require just one type of motorized equipment to properly complete the cutting phase of maintenance operations: the gasoline hedge trimmer. There is one plant variety, however, for which the cutting phase requires the use of at least several types of gas powered machines.
That plant variety is your lawn. The most costly, most complicated, and least understood phase of landscape maintenance is lawn mowing. The casual perception by most people is that of a deceptively simple routine. What could be simpler than driving a lawn mower over the lawn?
- Because they are so costly, mowing operations must be completed as economically (quickly) as possible while assuring that the lawn looks good after the cut. Such timeliness necessitates the use of large machines. Mowing decks (blade boxes) don't bend or change width, so mower sizes must be varied to accommodate smaller to larger spaces and flat to hilly surfaces. It is often necessary to use four different (and expensive) mower types on the same property to properly complete an operation and minimize line trimming (weed eating). Line trimming is a necessary evil because, while the process puts the finishing touches on the mowing operation, the mono filament cutting line slashes the turf instead of cutting it cleanly.
- Modern rotary lawn mowers use much more durable bearings and alloy blades and spin them much faster to achieve a much cleaner cut than in decades past. Still these new blades must be sharpened frequently. In accordance with the best university data, our cutting height is set between 3.5 and 4 inches. This height helps the grass develop a deep root system and gives a better appearance to the turf. Lower cutting heights undermine carefully maintained cultural controls and unnecessarily predispose the lawn to various pest and disease problems.
- The training required to maintain and operate these machines without causing damage or injury is much more extensive than any other phase of landscape maintenance. Before an operator is allowed to drive his machine, he must understand and comply with ongoing daily maintenance requirements, from changing and setting blades and belts to the lubrication and hydraulic checks. He also learns to avoid the hazards to life and property associated with complacent operation. Once the trainee has demonstrated this degree of conscientiousness, he is deemed sufficiently reliable to use an 800 pound machine to properly mow your lawn.
© Thomas J. O'Hara, President
O'Hara Landscape & Maintenance, Inc.