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12/2/2008

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Options Abound for Lawn Mower Attachments

Compiled by FacilitiesNet Staff

Decks are the most obvious lawn mower attachments for use with mowing vehicles and tractors. Operators can mount decks in front of or under a piece of equipment, or workers can pull the deck behind a vehicle.

Rotary mowers range in width from 36 inches to 25 feet. Many decks are winged to provide flexibility and efficiency for mowing larger areas. Some have independent floating decks or articulating decks for better cutting quality on slopes and uneven ground.

Gang-reel mowers attach to a tractor and are ground-driven. They can be efficient for cutting large areas that do not require the highest-quality cut, but they can provide a quality cut if the grass is not too tall.

A flail mower also is pulled behind a tractor and is power-take-off driven. This mower is useful in rough areas, tall grasses, weeds, brush, or naturalized areas, such as prairies and wildflower meadows. Flail mowers are available in widths up to 25 feet.

Each year, manufacturers improve deckquipment and add features to enhance quality, durability, safety and efficiency. One such improvement is quicker, no-tool adjustments of cutting heights, which workers can change from 1.5 inches to 6 inches in seconds. Mowing height can be critical to the turf’s health and appearance. On sites with varying types of grass with different cultural needs, a deck that operators can change easily is very valuable.

Decks with mulching kits can decrease the need for bagging. These mowers cut grass blades into small pieces left on the lawn, saving bagging time and disposal costs. The units also can help with leaf cleanup.

Using a mulching mower to chop leaves makes them suitable to disperse on the lawn, as well as easier to bag and haul. Floating decks and decks with extra rollers or larger-diameter caster tires can prevent scalping and smooth out bumps when mowing uneven ground and shorter grass.

Beyond Decks
Other lawn mower attachments include snow blowers, blades, trailers, rotary brooms, debris and leaf blowers, vacuums, bed shapers, aerators, dethatchers, line trimmers, pavement edgers, stump cutters, sprayers, and spreaders.

Accessories include a variety of tires for various terrain, roll bars, light kits for working in the dark, hour meters to help track routine maintenance, hitch kits for pulling trailers, and canopies or cabs to protect operators from the elements.

It is essential when specifying lawn mower attachments that managers pay close attention to compatibility between attachments and the equipment that carries them. Manufacturers can guide managers in identifying lawn mower attachments they can adapt to a department’s existing fleet. Some lawn mower attachments are particular to a specific model from a manufacturer, while others are compatible with several models. Also, some lawn mower attachments, such as aerators and spreaders, are universal, meaning they are compatible with most name-brand equipment.

Ensuring an attachment delivers the intended benefits to the organization goes beyond simply using it. Proper inspection and maintenance are vital components in its success.

When workers share equipment, it is easy for one to let others assume responsibility for routine maintenance and fixing breakdowns. To avoid scheduling conflicts, one person should take responsibility for the equipment, and anyone wanting to use it must check it out. Often, several workers share utility tractors, mowers and lawn mower attachments.


Sources:
Grounds Attachments: The Tools of Productivity by Cathy Walker
Equipment Options to Maximize Mowers by Dan Hounsell
Mowers & Tractors: The Power of Accessories by Cathy Walker



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