Should you go with a 36″ or 48″ lawn mower deck?

When your next walk behind mower choice comes down to a 36″ or 48″ walk behind, it is quite amazing how much more money a larger mower can make you throughout the year for just a little extra in purchase cost. How much more and is it worth it? That is the question asked on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum. Be sure to check and see if that larger mower will get into the properties you currently are servicing. You don’t want to spend a lot on a mower and only find out later it won’t fit through yard gates.

One lawn care business owner wrote “how does this sound for my first commercial lawn mower? I am looking to get a 36” mowing deck walk behind with a  20hp engine on it. For $500 more I have the option of getting a larger 48” mowing deck with a 26hp engine. I really think what I want is the 48” deck and don’t mind so much spending the extra $500 for it, but the question is do I need it? Most of the yards I will be mowing are in the area of 1 & 1/4 acres. I know a 48” would be better to mow larger properties but will I regret it if I go with a 36″ mowing deck?”

A second lawn care business owner said “the biggest real reason I would suggest going with a 36″ mowing deck over a 48″ deck is if you have yards with gates. Many residential gates are around 36″ wide and such a gate would prevent entry of a lawn mower that was 48″ wide.

If you aren’t mowing tight yards or yards with narrow gates, then I’d go with a 48″ deck. That 4ft width is a very popular choice because it is wide enough to handle most yards relatively quickly but still small enough to maneuver over waves in the ground without scalping scalping the lawn. As your mower gets bigger, scalping does become a bigger problem.

A 26hp engine would be ideal for a 48″ mower. I’ve used many that have been near bullet proof. One time I can remember accidentally running the mower without oil for a short time before I realized what I was doing and it was still in operation years after that incident.

Should you buy a 36" or 48" lawn mower deck?

Should you buy a 36" or 48" lawn mower deck?

Sure $500 extra is certainly a lot of money but really, in the long run, if you have the extra cash in your budget, this would be something you wouldn’t  regret purchasing. The better equipment you can get the longer it will last, the less breakdowns you will deal with, and the happier you will be with it.

A side note is to make sure, if you are buying a mower for commercial usage, that it is a commercial grade mower. Sure that sounds obvious but many try to skimp by with a cheaper consumer grade mower. You need one that is heavy duty with solid steel construction. Not something stamped out of sheet metal.  You want to see welded side skirts and coolers on the hydro pumps. Cast aluminum spindles help cut down on weight and are pretty strong. Check to see if it comes with a commercial warranty as that will be worth it’s weight in gold.”

A third business owner said “that average size lawn you are servicing which is 1 & 1/4 acres equals 54,450 sq ft. Mowing that sized area with a 36″ walk behind mower would take you about 1 hour and 30 minutes at an average walking speed. But with a 48″ mowing deck, it would take about 1hr 15 minutes to mow. That is a savings of 15 minutes per lawn. If you had 5 of these (1 & 1/2 acre) properties to mow in one day, you are talking about saving 1 hour 15 minutes!

If you charged $60 an hour to mow a lawn, you would gain over an hour more per day because of the larger mower. Multiply that $60 a day x 5 days and you could make an extra $300 a week or $1,200 a month with that larger machine!

If your mowing season lasts 8 months a year, that would be an extra $9,600 a year in income all because or a larger mower!

Once you start thinking of options in dollars and cents, your decisions tend to come a lot easier to you.”

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