Sustainable Mowing: Taller Grass Resists Weeds
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Mowers: Mulching Decks Improve Turf HealthPt. 2: Managers Discuss Performance of Alternative FuelsPt. 3: This PagePt. 4: EPA's Exhaust-Emissions Standards
The issue of sustainable grounds operations goes well beyond mower specification. Increasingly, managers are implementing additional sustainable strategies within their departments.
Consider how short mowers cut grass. Dobbs says his department's mowers cut grass to a height of 3 to 4 inches, which is a bit higher than typically recommended.
"Taller grass can compete more strongly against weeds," Dobbs says, meaning the department does not need to use as many pesticides and fertilizers to battle weeds and keep turf areas healthy.
Also, managers increasingly are viewing equipment maintenance as a green activity because it extends the performance life of existing equipment.
"We do a lot of preventive maintenance to make sure they are running efficiently," Dobbs says. The department uses an approach called Dipstick Monday. Each week, 15 or so pieces of grounds equipment receive oil and filter checks and undergo a thorough inspection to detect and, if needed, fix problems that might hamper fuel efficiency and performance. Operators and mechanics also check mowers' grease points daily to head off potential problems.
Finally, as with equipment maintenance, training is seen as a sustainable practice.
Says Dobbs, "Training helps us preserve equipment for the future and give it longer life."