Should I get a walk behind mower or a stander?

Are you in the market for a new lawn mower? Have you looked at the options available to you and considered getting a stander? Here are some pros and cons members of the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum shared with us. After reading through this discussion, you may find yourself better educated on which mower type would be best for you.

One lawn care business owner wrote “what are the advantages of having a stander mower? Is it better having these than a typical walking behind lawn mower with a sulky?”

A second lawn care business owner said “I’ve never used the standers, but I do use walk behind mowers all the time. I used to use a sulky all the time until, due to the added weight from me riding on the sulky, I burnt out the transmission on my 48″ after about 2 years of use. So now I only use the sulky to ride back to the truck if I have some distance to travel. I used to use the sulky on just about every property and now I cut it back to only once or twice a week…if that.

I love the walk behinds, they get everywhere that the ztr’s can’t. I just don’t have any use for the standers and after $400.00 to replace the transmission on my mower I probably won’t buy another sulky either. I didn’t think about tranny problems when I purchased the sulky, I just though it was great that I could finally get some use for 4th and 5th gear!

It can be down right tiring though using a walk behind. One day I decided to pick up a cheap step counter to see how many miles I walked on the average day. The average total for a 5 day week was 16 miles per day! I knew it was a lot but couldn’t believe it was that much.

I guess I’m content right now with what I’ve got and the walk behind does what I need it to do. I don’t mean to put the stander down, it’s just my opinion. As for the sulky, I did mean to put that down! Just to warn everyone out there that the added weight and strain on the tranny is something you don’t think about when your trying to up the efficiency.

I also think this stander/walk behind issue is a matter of what’s available in your area. I’m more partial towards the WB because I don’t think my supplier caries any standers. I’ve seen only one other guy in my area using one and other then that everyone else uses WBs and ZTRs. I also have a lot of hills and the walk behind works great on them. One time I tried using a ZTR on one of my customer’s hills and it scared me!

About 2 seasons ago I had a customer that had a huge rear yard with a small gate so we couldn’t fit the 48” in so we had to cut an acre with 21” push mowers, it was horrible. I asked my supplier if they had a 36” WB he said no, I said ‘Well I have a huge yard and can’t fit the 48” back there’ and the guy jokingly said to me ‘Get rid of the customer!’

So I think it’s a question of preference and use, I’m sure there are going to be many advantages to both or else they would stop production. If you go with something that’s not really available in your area then you might have trouble getting parts or finding someone who is familiar with the particular piece of equipment.

If you only have the money or space for either a WB or a stander and you have a lot of open space then I would have to say stander would be the way to go. A walk behind can only cut as fast as you can walk so it’s next to impossible to get the machine into 5th gear. I still love WBs though; they are perfect for what I need them for. Now if you would have asked me a few years ago after a 16 mile day my answer might have been stander hands down!”

A third shared “when my walk-behind gave up last year I replaced it with another. I wish every day that I’d have bought a stand-on instead. I should have spent the extra $$$ but I wasn’t sure I was going to grow the business as fast as I did.

The standers are faster and stronger and come in larger deck sizes. You may just want to consider a zero-turn instead of a stander though. The biggest reason is the bagging. Standers just use the same bagging system as a walk-behind. If you’re planning to pick up leaves the zero-turn with a bagger will do a much nicer job, much faster. Much, much faster. That is the only advantage that I consider mentioning though.”

A fourth said “I am sure that there will be lots of opinions on this one and I will say upfront that much of what I am saying is just that, my opinion. I am new to the lawn care business (just starting last season) and purchased a used stander mower. It wasn’t what I was looking for originally but I am thankful every day that this mower fell into my lap.

I used to have a large yard years ago and had a 50″ ztr that I put many hours on so I do have experience with both and I can tell you (for me) the stander is absolutely the best format that I can think of comparing to both a WB and a sit down zero turn mower.

Here are some of the advantages that stand out to me:

  1. Small format - takes up minimal space on my trailer and in my garage. (Maybe even less than a walk behind with the sulky down) and my mower is a 54″. I have a full size riding mower in the space that a large walk behind would take up.
  2. Extremely fast maneuverability - A) ever try reverse on a WB? I can move in and out between bushes that are placed close together because I can back up quickly. Being fair, a previous mower I had was a belt drive so a hydro drive WB may be different. Hard to describe without experiencing it and it played no part in my decision on my original purchase. I just note it on a daily basis with the stander. I would be adding a tremendous amount of trimming in many of my yards with a belt driven WB. B) I can maneuver the stander in some really tight areas that I could not even think of with a sit down zero. I have several yards with very small fences and obstacles near the fence that I would not be able to negotiate with a sit down ZTR. Harder to explain than experience but trust me….I would have never even thought about what I am trying to describe if I wouldn’t have ended up with the stander in the 1st place. I would have been looking at purchasing a WB for those yards or push mowing.
  3. This is a production machine. I can quickly get off and back on the mower if something is in my cutting path that needs to be moved. Probably not a plus against a WB but comparable at minimal and much faster than a sit down ZTR.
  4. Level of comfort on inclines. I probably push it a little to far but I haven’t spooked myself on inclines from day one. Intuitive feeling almost immediately on what the mower is capable of and what it isn’t. I helped a buddy who has a sit down mower and I just never have acquired that level of comfort on inclines with his mower, and have helped him enough to be as comfortable as I will ever be.

I remember feeling much more fatigue when using my walk behind on my large yard than a full days work on multiple yards with the stander but maybe that is just me.

In my area the standers are much more popular with the large companies that use hired help. In talking with a lot of owner operators around here, they like to sit down and relax and I get that. Companies don’t care too much about comfort and look for production and I get that too. I really must say that I do not feel fatigue from standing at the end of the day and I am a big guy. As much as I am off an on the mower, I think I would have more fatigue just from getting up and down from a sitting position as much as I stand on and off my mower.

What I guess I am trying to say is that I feel like a stander really is a mower that allows me to have the advantages of both the WB and a sit down ZTR. I really cannot think of any disadvantages outside of initial purchase price but maybe they just haven’t presented themselves in my 1st full out season in the biz.”

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