Picking up Nickels
My thoughts on saving, investing, and cutting expenses.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
DIY Golden Striper Lawn Striper Build
I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the past couple of months trying to get my lawn looking like it used to, which has included watching several videos on the Grass Daddy YouTube channel. I was particularly impressed by the heavy duty boat roller-based lawn striper he reviewed here, but I was surprised to learn that the starting price for an appropriate-sized unit for a lawn tractor like mine was nearly 300! I found some info online about people building their own boat roller-based stripers (see here, here, and here at lawnsite.com for inspiration), but there wasn’t really a single source that had detailed info about sizing, sourcing parts, measurements, problems encountered, helpful tips, detailed cost breakdown, build steps, etc. At that point, I decided it might be fun to build one and share my experience to hopefully help others and minimize the experimentation and guesswork a project like this typically ends up causing people like me.
- Build a high quality striper for less than the ~300 starting cost of the commercial unit
- Use reasonably priced and readily available components that are easily acquired by the average person
- Use only basic tools and construction techniques without resorting to specialized skills like metal fabrication, welding, etc.
- Provide a detailed breakdown of parts used, where to get them, and what they cost
- Be able to mount the striper to my tractor without drilling any additional holes in it
- The striper should work with my tractor when either the mulching kit or the grass bagger is installed
- Share specifics of my build to hopefully help others avoid guesswork and mistakes that I encountered
Note: I’ve never seen a lawn striper like the one reviewed by Grass Daddy in person and have no idea about the specifics of their design and construction. This build is based on research I did at lawnsite.com followed by trial and experimentation with components that I was able to easily find locally and online.
This striper is primarily made out of strut channel (similar to pieces of a large heavy duty Erector Set) along with specialized strut brackets and mounting hardware. Oddly, I didn’t find a good online source for strut-related parts, so I bought all of those materials at Lowe’s and Home Depot. While the strut channel was the same price at both places, I did find that the strut brackets and mounting hardware were slightly cheaper at Home Depot for some reason. If you decide to order online from Lowe’s or Home Depot, you can save a few bucks by using the ebates.com portal (1% at Lowe’s) or the plenti.com portal (1% at Home Depot, 1% at Lowe’s). Please note that the strut channel brackets have pre-drilled holes ready to accept standard 1/2 hex bolts, so they along with 1/2 nuts, bolts, and washers will be used extensively for this build.
The other main component used were Yates rocker/wobble rollers (typically used on boat trailers). These are the small rubber wheels that actually roll over the grass blades and bend them in the desired direction to create the striping effect. The wobble rollers are the most expensive components to source, and the best deal I found was from easternmarine.com, although I bought from their eBay store because the shipping and handling charges were more favorable for my zip code. As with Lowe’s, you can also save a little by using the ebates.com portal (up to 2% at eBay). Another technique I often use to save money when buying on eBay is to wait for a targeted eBay Bucks promotional email. In this case I bought the rollers after I was offered 8% of my purchase in eBay Bucks. Please note that 5/8 inches is the smallest shaft size that the Yates wobble rollers use, so we will be using a 5/8 axle for this build.
I should also note that I also bought a few parts at my local Tractor Supply Co. I found that browsing through the hardware in their store helped me come up some good ideas for mounting the striper to my tractor.
The general rule of thumb is that the combined width of the rollers (the striper width) should be approximately the same as the distance between the centers of each rear tire since the rear tires will already be compressing the grass blades anyway. For my John Deere lawn tractor with a 38 mower deck, that distance is about 27. I will be using Yates 530R-5P wobble rollers for this build, which are 5 tall and 3 wide, so I decided to use 9 rollers (9 x 3 = 27) for my setup. Of course, there will also be additional space overhead on the axle for brackets, washers, and PVC spacers, so I would approximate that with the width of an additional 3 roller for a 30 striper width ((9 x 3) 3 = 30).
To accommodate that 30 striper width, I know I will need an axle slightly longer than that to account for the 5/8 screw collars used on each end of the axle to keep all of the components in place. I would estimate that at ~1 for each end of the axle. Therefore, an axle approximately 32 long should handle a 30 striper with an extra 1 on each side (30 1 1 = 32). This axle sizing estimate assumes that four strut brackets are used to attach the axle to the strut channel. If larger striper widths are desired, the use of four strut brackets should scale to configurations with additional wobble rollers without issue.
Similarly, the strut channel doesn’t have to be as long as the 30 striper width because it only needs to hold the strut brackets in place (since the axle is directly connected to the strut brackets). I estimated that the strut should be one 3 roller width shorter than the 30 striper width so that the end of the strut channel would approximately line up with the center of each outer roller. In my case, that would be a 27 (30. 3) strut channel length. However, the slots cut into the strut channel are 2 on center, so I rounded my strut channel length up to 28 so that I would be able to cut it centered between two slots.
The following estimates should give you a rough idea of what you need to buy for your particular setup. However, I would highly recommend doing a axle test build of all of the rollers, spacers, washers, and screw collars BEFORE cutting your axle or strut channel to size. Please be sure that you’re satisfied with how everything fits on the axle and how the strut brackets line up on the strut channel before you cut anything:
With that in mind, here are the actual values from my build:
I will separate the parts list into two sections, Striper Body Parts (which everyone would need for the build) and Striper Mount Parts (which are mower-specific):
- (1) 10′ SUPERSTRUT 1-5/8-in x 13/16-in Gold-Galvanized Half Slot Channel Strut: (Item #20281). 20.74 The frame of the striper. I had to buy a 10′ piece, and only ended up needing about half of it. Also available at the Home Depot (SKU #863322) for 20.74.
- (1) Hillman 3-ft x 5/8-in Hot-RolLED Weldable Steel Metal Round: (Item # 216209). 10.32 The axle of the striper. If you need an axle larger than 36, something like the 8′ 5/8 grounding rod at Lowe’s (Item #70861) or Home Depot (SKU #676837) could be a possible solution.
- (1) Charlotte Pipe 1/2-in x 10-ft 315 Sdr 13.5 PVC Pipe: (Item # 23987). 2.02 This pipe is used on the 5/8 axle as spacers between wheels and brackets. Standard 1/2 Sched 40 PVC pipe won’t work since the inner dimension is smaller than the 5/8” axle. However, the inner dimension of the 1/2” SDR 13.5 PVC pipe will work just fine. To be 100% certain, verify that the 5/8” axle fits inside the 1/2” PVC pipe in the store when you buy it. Again, this is a 10′ piece of pipe, so I had quite a bit left over.
- (4) Hillman Standard (SAE) Hex Bolt 3/8 x 3/4: (Item # 61832). 0.12
- (4) Hillman 3/8-in Zinc-Plated Standard (SAE) Nylon Insert Lock Nut: (Item # 63405). 0.18
- (8) Hillman 0.375-in x 1-in Zinc-plated Standard (SAE) Flat Washer: (Item # 63308). 0.14
- (4) Hillman 3/8-in Standard (SAE) Split Lock Washer: (Item # 63410). 0.20 This common 3/8 hardware is used to fasten the top and bottom pieces of strut channel together.
- (16) Hillman Standard (SAE) Hex Bolt 1/2 x 1: (Item # 61834). 0.39
- (16) Hillman 0.500-in x 1.37-in Zinc-plated Standard (SAE) Flat Washer: (Item # 63309). 0.20 This common 1/2 hardware is used to fasten the strut brackets to the strut channel.
- (8) Superstrut 3.5” x 4” 4-Hole 90 Degree Angle Strut Bracket. Gold Galvanized: (SKU #236244). 2.58 Used to connect the axle to the strut channel and to connect the mower to the striper. Also available at Lowe’s (Item # 45685) for 3.26. Note: Always connect the shorter 3.5 end of the bracket to the strut channel! This will provide additional clearance for the wobble rollers as well as provide the mount hardware with a slightly longer reach to the mower.
- (4) 1/2 in. Superstrut Channel Spring Nuts (5-Pack): (SKU #798602). 5.03 Used with the common 1/2 bolts and washers from Lowe’s to fasten the strut brackets to the strut channel. Also available at Lowe’s (Item # 598780) for 5.18.
- (1) 5/8 in. Zinc-Plated Cut Washer (25 per Box): (SKU #330847). 6.47
- (3) Everbilt 5/8 in. Zinc-Plated Cut Washer: (SKU #668192). 0.33 These (28) 5/8 washers were used on the 5/8 axle between wheels, brackets, and PVC spacers.
- (2) Climax 5/8 in. Bore Zinc-Plated Mild Steel Set Screw Collar: (Internet #203025026). 1.45 Used on each end of the 5/8 axle to hold everything together. These were only available as a ship to store item when I bought them, but I later found them sold in a two pack at Tractor Supply Co (SKU #119528099) for 4.99. Alternatively, something like these 5/8-Inch Axle Cap Nuts could be used instead.
From easternmarine.com (via eBay store):
Final Striper Body Parts Total: 166.21
As stated earlier, one of my goals was to be able to mount the striper to my tractor without drilling any additional holes in it. As luck would have it, my tractor has two 1/2 mounting holes on the rear of the machine that are 18 1/2” high with a distance of 12 1/2” between them.
- (8) Hillman Standard (SAE) Hex Bolt 1/2 x 1: (Item # 61834). 0.39
- (12) Hillman 1/2-in Zinc-Plated Standard (SAE) Nylon Insert Lock Nut (Item # 63406). 0.24
- (12) Hillman 0.500-in x 1.37-in Zinc-plated Standard (SAE) Flat Washer: (Item # 63309). 0.20
- (12) Hillman 1/2-in Standard (SAE) Split Lock Washer: (Item # 63411). 0.22
- (4) Hillman Standard (SAE) Hex Bolt 1/2 x 1 1/2: (Item # 61832). 0.12 This common 1/2 hardware is used to fasten the various strut brackets together.
- (6) 7.25 Superstrut 4-Hole Flat Straight Bracket, Gold Galvanized: (SKU #236504). 2.02
- (1) Everbilt 1/2 in. Yellow Zinc Grade 8 Flat Washer (3-Piece): (SKU #368555). 0.94 I also used one additional 1/2 washer from my spare parts stash. Since the mount hardware is pretty mower-specific, I didn’t worry about accounting for the cost of this part.
- Optional: (2) Climax 1/2 in. Bore Zinc-Plated Mild Steel Set Screw Collar: (Internet #203025022). 1.21 Originally intended to be used with the Arnold wheel bolts from Tractor Supply Co mentioned below. As with the 5/8 screw collars, these were also only available as a ship to store item when I bought them. They are also sold in a two pack at Tractor Supply Co (SKU #119529899) for 4.99.
- (2) CountyLine Adjustable Clevis Pin, 1/2 in. x 2 in., S175007TSC: (SKU #183333399). 2.29
- (2) CountyLine Hairpin Cotter Pins, 1/2 in 5/8 in., Pack of 2: (SKU #183341499). 1.29
- Optional: (1) Arnold ASB-150 Universal Wheel Bolts: (SKU #444118599). 2.99 Originally intended to be used to mount the strut bracket to the mower. I ended up going with the clevis pins since I thought they were a better solution.
Final Striper Mount Parts Total: 35.60
Total Striper Cost = 166.21 (striper body) 35.60 (striper mount) = 201.81
The numerous combinations of potential mount hardware configurations make that part of the cost a bit fuzzy. The mount holes on my tractor were at a height and distance away from the striper that required quite a few strut brackets and the 1/2 hardware to fasten them together. Because of that, I would imagine my particular mount configuration would tend to be on the expensive side. Cost-wise, ~200 does still seem a bit pricey for a DIY build, but it is roughly 100 cheaper than the commercial solution.
Assemble the Golden Striper:
FWIW, I call this the Golden Striper due to the gold-colored galvanizing coating on the strut channel and brackets. 🙂
- Hacksaw to cut strut channel and 5/8 axle
- File/sandpaper to clean up burrs on cut metal edges
- PVC cutter/saw for 1/2 PVC spacers (I have a BrassCraft T438)
- Drill and 5/8 step drill bit (I have this Neiko 10193A set) to enlarge 1/2 strut bracket holes to 5/8
- Hex keys: 4mm and 1/8 hex keys to fasten set screw collars
- (2) 3/4 sockets/wrenches to assemble 1/2 strut hardware
- (2) 9/16 sockets/wrenches to assmeble 3/8 hardware connecting strut channel pieces together
- Optional: WD-40. Each piece of the strut channel and brackets had hard to remove UPC decals. WD-40 does a great job of removing them and any adhesive residue left behind.
I used three different size spacers in my 9 roller/30 striper configuration:
- (4) 1 1/2” spacers between wobble rollers
- (8) 5/8” spacers next to 90 Degree Angle strut brackets
- (2) 1/2 spacers next to each of the outside wobble rollers
Please note that each additional wobble roller added will require a corresponding 1 1/2 spacer (9 rollers requires 4 spacers, 10 require 5 spacers, 11 require 12 spacers, etc.).
-Enlarge a 1/2 hole in four 90 Degree Angle Strut Bracket brackets to accommodate 5/8 axle size:
Use a drill and the 5/8 step on the step drill bit to enlarge the 1/2 hole closest to the end of the longer (4”) arm on four of the 90 Degree Angle Strut Brackets. Once completed, the 5/8 axle should fit through this hole and rotate cleanly on all four brackets.
I recommend a test build of the 5/8 axle before cutting it to size.
This is what the parts placement for my 9 roller/30 striper configuration looked like:
R = Yates 530R-5P wobble roller (9x) W = 5/8 cut washer (28x) B = 3.5” x 4” 90 Degree Angle strut brackets (4X) 1.5 = 1 1/2” PVC spacer (4X) 5/8 = 5/8” PVC spacer (8X) 1/2 = 1/2 PVC spacer (2X) C = 5/8” collar (2X)
5/8 PVC Spacer Next to a Strut Bracket:
1 1/2 PVC Spacer in Between Wobble Rollers:
When you are comfortable with your axle layout, cut the axle to size with the hacksaw and cleanup burrs with a file and/or sandpaper. As mentioned earlier, I cut my axle to 31 7/16” for a 9 roller/30 striper.
-Cut the Strut Channel to Size:
Assuming you have an assembled axle at this point, I would put the built axle next to the strut channel to verify that the estimated length from step #3 above still makes sense. When you’ve decided on the appropriate strut channel length, use the hacksaw and cut two pieces to the same length (centered between two of adjacent slots) and cleanup burrs with a file and/or sandpaper. As mentioned earlier, I cut my strut channel to 28” for a 9 roller/30 striper.
When the strut channel is cut to size, assemble the two pieces back-to-back with the four sets of 3/8 x 3/4 bolts, flat washers, lock washers, and lock nuts. For maximum adjustability, I fastened them on the two outermost and two innermost slots of the strut channel since they act as stops for the strut channel nuts we will be installing later.
-Attach the 90 Degree Angle Strut Brackets to the Strut Channel:
Use eight sets of 1/2 x 1 bolts, flat washers, and strut channel spring nuts to attach the axle strut brackets to the strut channel. To ease assembly and help the strut brackets slide smoothly in the channel, I used a pair of pliers to remove the spring from the spring nuts.
Similarly, use eight sets of 1/2 x 1 bolts, flat washers, and (despringed) strut channel spring nuts to attach the shorter (3.5) end of the remaining four 90 Degree Angle Strut Brackets to the opposite side of the strut channel as pictured. These brackets are used to attach the striper to your mower and should slide smoothly through the channel so that you can adjust them to fit your particular equipment. FWIW, my roller as pictured below (displaying the range of mount bracket positions) weighs in at 34.6 LB:
-Assemble the Mount Hardware:
To attach the (6) 7.25 4-Hole Flat Straight Brackets to the striper, I used eight sets of 1/2 x 1 bolts, flat washers, lock washers, and lock nuts for the two strut bracket connections and four sets of 1/2 x 1 1/2 bolts, flat washers, lock washers, and lock nuts for the three strut bracket connections. This hardware added an additional 6 LB of weight to the striper, for a total weight of 40.6 LB.
-Attach the Striper to the Mower:
Finally, I used the 1/2 clevis pins, flat washers, cotter pins, and optional set screw collars to attach the completed striper to my tractor. I had originally bought the set screw collars to use with the Arnold wheel bolts I found at Tractor Supply Co, but I ended up using them as spacers since I had them on hand. The mock up in the picture below uses the 1/2 hole in my tine dethatcher to stand in for the mount hole on my tractor and the 1/2 hole in the piece of cardboard to stand in for the hole in the strut bracket:
The installed mount hardware:
The installed striper (with mount brackets centered on the striper and all bolts tightened):
This varies greatly due to type of grass, mow height, sun angle, etc., but here are some pictures of how this striper has performed for me with some early tests on my cool season lawn:
All in all, I have to say that I enjoyed working on this project and have been pleased with the initial results on my lawn. The 201.81 total cost is nothing to sneeze at, but this is a very solidly built heavy duty piece of equipment that weighs in at nearly 41 LBS. I don’t even notice it’s on there when mowing, which includes turning, backing up, and going up and down hills with no issues or damage to the grass.
I hope people find this helpful and welcome all Комментарии и мнения владельцев, questions, and suggestions. Enjoy!
Cicada Killer Control: How to Get Rid of Cicada Killer Wasps
Cicada Killers, also known as ground digger wasps, are a common wasp species encountered by homeowners, especially those living in the warmer parts of the country. Cicada Killers can be alarming to see at first glance because they look like an over-sized bee flying around in yards or gardens. Due to their size, Cicada Killers are often mistaken for the European Hornet and, most recently in the U.S., the Asian Giant Hornet.
Cicada Killer Wasps are named after their tendency to hunt down and kill Cicadas and Locusts, paralyzing them with their stingers and carrying their bodies down to their underground holes to feast upon.
Though not as aggressive as wasps and hornets, Cicada killers will sting as a last resort out of self-defense if disturbed. Combine their large scary size, their ability to sting, and their habit of digging unsightly holes in yards to nest, this pest can be quite troublesome to deal with.
Our DIY Cicada Killer Wasp treatment guide will show you exactly how to get rid of a Cicada Killer Wasp infestation easily. Follow the steps below carefully and use the recommended products to the side and you will be guaranteed to make drive Cicada Killers out from your yard.
Encountering a Cicada Killer Wasp can be frightening and for good reasonthey are huge! Coupled with their menacing appearance, it’s easy for any home or property owner to be concerned. But if you’re not sure you are seeing a Cicada Killer, here are some things you can look for to help you with identification.
- Cicada Killer Wasps can grow to as big as 1.5 to 2 inches in length.
- Cicada Killers have a black body and a bright yellow stripe around the abdomen.
- They have large brownish-orange wings and large bulging red eyes.
- Cicada Killers are also known as Ground Digger Wasps because of their tendency to live in holes they make in the ground, where they live and nest.
- Cicada killers feed on plant nectar and not other insects or organic matter.
- Cicada killers are solitary ground-digger wasps, meaning they nest alone in underground burrows.
Use the description and image above to help you in identifying Cicada Killer Wasps on your property. If you are having trouble, reach out to us and one of our pest control experts will help you to properly ID the pest as well as offer you product recommendations for control.
Where To Inspect
Cicada Killers like to hang around in backyards, flower beds and grassy areas, which is why homeowners frequently run into them. However, the presence of Cicada Killers may not indicate that a nest is in the area. Cicada Killers like to burrow their nests in the ground, especially in sandy soils.
What To Look For
Look for Cicada Killer Wasp themselves or Cicada Killer Wasp nests. It may be helpful to observe their flight tendencies. If you find one, follow it closely and they may lead you to where their nest is if it is set up in your yard. Cicada killer nests are tunnels that are dug in the ground. They will appear as a hill of dirt with a 1 to 1.5 inch diameter hole in the middle that they use as their entrance. Once you have identified their nests you’re ready for treatment.
If you are up to the job, it’s best to gear up and have protective clothing and gear on to keep you safe from potential harm. To get rid of Cicada Killers Wasps, figuring out where they are nesting and treat the hole directly with Sylo Insecticide.
Remember to first read all product labels and follow the application instructions on these labels, and stay safe by wearing personal protective equipment.
Step 1. Direct Nest Treatment With Sylo Insecticide
AmazingChina: Drone Torches Giant Hornet Nest
Sylo Insecticide is a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide that contains the active ingredient Cypermethrin and serves as a good contact insecticide that will effectively kill Cicada Killers. This chemical is a residual insecticide and should be used if you have located the nest so you can spray directly inside the tunnels. The chemical traces allow the larvae to get killed as well.
You will use a 0.25% emulsion (1.3 fl. oz. per gallon) of Sylo Insecticide in a sprayer with a gallon of water to spot treat the nests you have located, making sure to apply to all of them in one visit. Locating the nest and treating it directly is vital to successfully controlling the Cicada Killers as the product will not work as a spot treatment if you can’t find the nest.
To treat Cicada Killer Wasp burrows, place your sprayer on a pinstream setting and then spray at a low-pressure. Spray a small area of the solution around the entrance of the burrow and then apply the Sylo Insecticide directly into the nest. Cicada burrows can run up to 5 feet in length and 15 inches deep underground, so spray the hole thoroughly.
You should apply the insecticide preferably in the evening time as this is when it is most likely that all the adult Cicada Killer Wasps are inside. Proceed with caution and have on protective long-sleeve clothing as there is a chance Cicada Killers may come out and try to sting you.
How to Kill Wasps the Easy Way
After successfully getting rid of Cicada Killer Wasps from your yard, you want to make sure they don’t make a return. Chances are, Cicada Killers may have laid eggs before succumbing to insecticides and soon the eggs will hatch, bringing on a new generation of Cicada Killers creating problems. Also there may be Cicada Killer Wasp pheromones left behind that may draw other Cicada Killers to your property.
Some cultural practices you can implement to reduce Cicada Killer Wasp populations and discourage them from your property is to:
- Properly maintain your lawn to promote thick, dense turf.
- Water your lawn deeply with 1 to 1.5 inches of water.
- Put out mulch of at least 3 inches under shrubbery and in your garden or flowerbeds.
- You can also try mowing the lawn on a higher setting of 3 to 4 inches as tall vegetation is unappealing to Cicada Killers and will make them less likely to dig a nesting tunnel in your yard.
- If visible tunnels pop up, apply Sylo Insecticide directly to these tunnels as soon as they are spotted.
What are Cicada Killer Wasps?
- Cicada Killers are a large wasp species that are harmless to humans but can be annoying to have flying around your home and garden.
- They get their name because of their tendency to target and kill Cicadas for a meal.
How To Get Rid of Cicada Killers
- Our top recommendation for treating Cicada Killers is to locate the Cicada Killer Wasp nest and apply Sylo Insecticide. Locating the nest and treating it directly is crucial as spot treatments or spraying in general areas where Cicada Killers have been active is not effective.
Preventing Cicada Killer Reinfestation
- To prevent Cicada Killer Wasps, keep your lawn turfgrass long during the active periods when Cicada Killers arrive in the summer to discourage them from digging tunnels. Water your lawn frequently and mow at a height of 3 to 4 inches to promote well-nourished turf and strong roots that will make it difficult for Cicadas Killers to burrow through. Any tunnels that are formed should be immediately treated with Sylo Insecticide.
Cicada Killer Control
When treating for Cicada Killers, it’s important to track down the nest. If you do find the nest, wait until the evening when all these Cicada Killers are resting to perform a direct insecticide treatment with Sylo. Be careful though because they might come out and try to sting you during application.
Explore Riding Lawn Mowers
A complete lineup of zero-turn mowers, lawn and garden tractors, and electric mowers, all featuring the strength and durability that bring your lawn to life.
Lawn Garden Tractors
Built in America since ‘61 and backed by the industry’s strongest warranty, Cub Cadet® lawn and garden tractors all come standard with the strongest cutting systems for mowing performance, refined ergonomics designed around you and an array of attachments and accessories for year-round versatility and utility.
Designed with strength, comfort and the ability to get the job done 50% faster than riding tractors, each Cub Cadet zero-turn riding mower is engineered to handle a range of terrain and cover up to 5 acres, with steering wheel options that increase ease.
Electric Riding Mowers
We took the proven strength and performance of our gas-powered machines and combined them with a powerful and convenient lithium-ion battery to create electric lawn mowers with no power fade and reduced noise for a more enjoyable ride.
How to Choose a Riding Lawn Mower
With so many options and features available on riding lawn mowers, how can you make an informed decision about what type of mower to buy? There are two popular options when it comes to riding lawn mowers, both of which provide all-season functionality:
Most lawn and garden tractors look like a traditional riding lawn mower and have an engine mounted in the front and a steering wheel that steers using the front wheels, like a car. Some have the engine in the back with a simple steering column in front, allowing for increased viability and increased maneuverability for the driver. Zero-turn riding mowers pivot on the rear wheels, meaning there is zero-degree turning radius, and the mower can actually spin in a circle to cut one area or maneuver around obstacles.
Zero-turn riding lawn mowers are available in both gas-powered and electric.
Types of Riding Mowers
Looking like the stereotypical riding lawn mower, a lawn and garden tractor is the best compromise between performance and cost. Much smaller than zero-turn counterparts, they’re easy to store in a garage or a shed and have plenty of power and maneuverability for small to medium sized yard, all without breaking a sweat like you would with a push mower or walk-behind mower.
Garden tractors look very similar to a lawn tractor or traditional riding lawn mower, however they are usually a bit larger due to their more powerful engines and transmissions. This added power allows for more utility work and ground-engaging jobs, such as use with plows and other attachments. The added weight of a garden tractor also makes it better on hills, but it will have less maneuverability than a lawn tractor.
Zero-turn riding lawn mowers
If you have a large yard, or a yard with a lot of obstacles and tight corners, a zero-turn riding lawn mower is the right mower for you. Zero-turn mowers are available with a wide range of deck sizes and turn more quickly than both lawn and garden tractors and walk-behind mowers, meaning that mowing your lawn will take about half the time with a zero-turn riding lawn mower. Zero-turn mowers come with a lap bar or steering wheel control. Lap bar steering is the most common way to steer, while steering wheel control has little to no learning curve and is needed for mowing along the side edges of slopes and hills due to increased control in the front wheels.
Gas mowers vs. Electric mowers
No matter whether you decide on a tractor riding lawn mower or a zero-turn mower, either can be purchased in either gas or electric. Our electric mowers have a cutting time of 1 hour or more, making this the ideal choice for small to medium sized yards. If you’re environmentally conscious, or live in a city with noise ordinances, place your trust in one of our electric riding lawn mowers. With no spark plugs, fuel, or oil changes, electric mowers require less maintenance than their gas counterparts.
The Best Riding Mowers for Different Yard Types
Small to Medium Yards
For small to medium yards, both lawn and garden tractors are recommended. These are two high-performing, yet cost-effective options for those who don’t want to hassle with a push mower. Lawn tractors and garden tractors also allow for much more utility with attachments like snow blowers, leaf collectors, and pull carts.
Medium to large yards
As the yard and the mowing job gets bigger, it’s worth considering additional options other than a lawn and garden tractor. A zero-turn riding lawn mower will allow you to get the job done faster and with more maneuverability.
Yards with obstacles
For yards with obstacles, such as landscaping, trees, rocks, and so on, we highly recommend a zero-turn mower. Trying to cut around landscaping and trees can be frustrating and time-consuming without the highly maneuverable zero-turn mower. For yards with fences, be sure to compare the deck size of the mower with the fence opening size to be sure it will fit. Even for residential homes, professional mowers can be a great option, as they’re designed for spaces with landscaping and other obstacles. With professional and commercial models, you also have different configuration models, such as stand-on and stand-behind mowers with excellent maneuverability.
If your yard has a notable incline or decline, there are a couple very important factors to consider: traction control and stability. Meeting these needs will allow you to safely negotiate your yard’s hills and slopes. For sloped yards, you should consider a steering wheel zero-turn as the steering wheel provides more control when mowing along slopes, compared to lap bar steering.
Types of Attachments for Riding Lawn Mowers
There are a variety of attachments for your riding lawn mower to make your lawn care a breeze: Baggers. Double and triple baggers are available for all models of tractor and zero-turn riding mowers. Baggers collect the cut grass from the discharge for easy disposal.
- Snow blowers. You can attach a snow blower to the front of your tractor and turn your riding lawn mower into a riding snow blower. They have an auger that feeds snow into the discharge, moving the snow away from walking or driving paths.
- Snow cabs. Snow cabs are like tents that attach to your mower and cover the top and sides so you can plow or snow blow without getting covered in snow. These can also be used in warmer months to help prevent bug bites.
- All-season plows. Plows are available for tractors and zero-turns, and can push dirt, snow, or gravel. There’s no discharge with a plow attachment, just pushing to displace.
- Mulchers. Mulchers take the grass clippings that usually come with cutting grass, and instead of collecting the grass from the discharge chute, the mulcher cuts the grass into fine pieces, which falls into the soil and breaks down, giving nutrients back to the soil.
- Striping kits. On zero-turn mowers, you have the option of adding a striping kit. This adds those classic manicured stripes into your lawn while you cut.
- Leaf collectors. With a larger chute, a leaf collector picks up leaves and debris from under your mower and collects it all into a bag for easy disposal.
- Pull carts. These attach to the back of your riding lawn mower, allowing you to transport tools, soil, or mulch.
Attachments are available for lawn tractors, garden tractors, and zero-turn riding lawn mowers. Be sure to check specifications on the attachments you’re interested in to see what mowers it’s compatible with.
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Striping Kit for Lawn Mower: Is it Worth It?
For lawn aficionados and artists, a well-striped lawn is a sign of skill, and often status. For years people thought only golf courses and baseball fields had the know-how to create beautifully striped grass, but with a striping kit for lawn mower models that range from riding to walk-behind, you can create stunning stripes in your lawn.
That idea that only professionals can create epic lawn patterns in grass turned out be a big misconception when, in 2001, David Mellor, the Director of Grounds at Fenway Park, published a book of his professional knowledge in the topic.
The secret turned out to be far simpler and easier to attain than most people knew. With a simple trick and some practice, anyone can create lawn a beautifully manicured lawn, and if you’re a lawn care service, this is a major selling point.
The Basic Science Behind Lawn Striping
There’s some simple science behind lawn striping. Plants, like leaves and grass, have a waxy side called a cuticle that they use to help retain and direct water to their roots.
Every blade of grass in your lawn has this, and it’s the key component to lawn striping. The waxy cuticle reflects light differently than its paler opposite side. The striping effect is caused by bending the grass in opposite directions.
This works best on colder temperature grasses, which retain more liquid and bend better, and it shows up best when grass is tall enough to bend with at least a 2-inch height. At a lower height, the effect would be muted.
Striping Your Lawn: The Basics
Striping your lawn requires mowing around the perimeter of the lawn to make a working zone, which you use to make turns using a Y-turn to make consistent parallel lines.
A simple stripe pattern is done by turning around and cutting a straight line in an opposite direction from the adjacent line.
To make a grid pattern, go over the lawn again from the opposite side, perpendicular to the existing stripes.
It’s also possible to make a diagonal-pattern striping by using the same principle as the grid pattern but angled to the edges of the lawn.
Using a Striping Kit for Your Mower
For best results, attach a striping kit to the back of your mower. A striping kit is a weighted bar that drags behind the mower to further press down the grass, bending it further to reflect light most starkly. You don’t need a striping kit necessarily and will get some effects just from the safety strip at the rear of a standard mower but investing in one will makes your lines crisper and clearer.
Any hardware store will sell a kit, and depending on what you want, they’ll range from 10-15, upwards of 100 and beyond. The simplest kits are typically heavy rubber mats that drag along the ground. Some lawnmowers’ safety strips are pre-equipped with these as a standard feature, making striping simply a perk.
The most expensive kits look like a line of wheels or a cylindrical bar that trails behind the mower. There are many DIY options available. It’s easy to attach your own rubber mat to the back of a mower, or to drag a PVC pipe capped at both ends and filled with either sand or water.
The Best Kit Depends On Your Mower
You’ll have to make some considerations depending on the type of lawn mower you have.
Obviously a zero-turn or tractor mower will have more expensive striping kits by upwards of a factor of 4, just due to their increased size.
The zero-turn equivalent of a 100 striping kit for a walk-behind mower costs almost 400 in its larger equivalent.
budget options are available, and depending on your usage, may be the better choice.
It makes more sense for a lawn care company to buy a premium striping kit. As a professional, you’ll use it constantly as part of your business. For homeowners, I recommend choosing a less expensive model to get started. They work just fine for most smaller yards.
In all cases, you want to make sure the width of the kit is compatible with your mower. Be certain you can line up your striping kit while cutting your grass.
The most important thing to consider when buying a striping kit for lawn mowers is the width of your mower and buying a lawn mower striping kit that’s the same width.
DIY Lawn Striping Kits?
A DIY lawn striping kit is easy to assemble for almost any model lawn mower. You just need to build it to match your mower’s size.
Be as creative as you’d like by crafting one out of PVC, some old rubber mats, or even sandbags.
As long as its heft drags behind the mower as you cut your grass.
Ryan Knorr has a great video about striping kits you can check out:
That simple change will already make a difference in the look of your lawn. That’s because lawn striping increases your overall lawn health. Low spots form in your grass when taller blades block sun access to shorter blades. By alternating the direction of your mowing, you increase the sun absorption for your lawn, leading to more pristine uniformity.
My one word of advice is to change it up with each mow. Don’t always mow or stripe your lawn in the same direction. It’s much healthier for your lawn to take different routes across your lawn each time you mow. It can help prevent soil compaction, and allows your grass to thrive.
If you’ve attempted lawn striping with little success, try altering the height of your mower. Cut your grass at a 2-4-inch height, or treat your grass with a fertilizer.
But you’ll need a healthy lawn before you achieve the results you want. Once you have that down, you’ll find a striping kit will make all the difference.