Reviews: Bobcat Zero Turn Mowers

Reviews Bobcat Zero Turn Mowers

There are four Bobcat zero turn mowers to review. This includes the Procat DX, the Procat, the Predator Pro, and the FastCat. They have a mower for everyone—residential, light commercial, and heavy duty commercial.

The Bobcat company was one of the original pioneers in the lawn mower market throughout the 80’s and 90’s. Despite their decades of experience making mowers, they face stiff competition today from other brands ZTRs.

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Bobcat Zero Turn Mowers

What do you think of the Bobcat Zero Turn Mowers?

Be honest and tell us about your experience with this brand mower. Compare it to other ZTRs. And tell us if you a landscaper, mechanic, dealer, homeowner, etc.

Best Treatment for Chinch Bugs

Best Treatment for Chinch Bugs

The best treatment for chinch bugs include removing the thatch layer, insecticidal soap, or insecticides.

Description of Chinch Bugs

Adult chinch bugs are so small (1/5 inch) and inconspicuous that they can destroy a lawn right under your eyes. They have black bodies and white wings. There is a distinctive triangular marking on each of the wings.

Young chinch bugs are similar in shape to the adult, but are red with white stripes on their back.

These pests thrive in hot, dry weather, becoming active when temperatures are in the high 70’s. They occur throughout the country, but are the worst in the Midwest, East, and South. They particularly enjoy St. Augustine grass. In the Northeast, they prefer Kentucky Bluegrass and red fescue.

Symptoms of Chinch Bugs

Symptoms of Chinch Bugs

Chinch bugs do their worst damage in the heat of the summer—in August and early September. They suck the juices out of the stems, crowns, and blades of grass, leaving large, circular patches of yellow to brown damaged turf.

These pests are generally the most common in the sunny parts of the lawn. The affected patches often first appear near sidewalks and streets. They eventually spread outward into the rest of the lawn. The yellowish spots show the greatest damage at the center, where the chinch bugs congregate.

 

Identification of Chinch Bugs

Get on your hands and knees and examine individual blades of grass that have turned yellow in distinct circular patches. Chinch bugs are about the size of a ladybug.

Water Trap Diagnosis – Push a bottomless coffee can about 2 inches deep in to the soil where the grass is beginning to turn yellow. Fill the can with warm water. The chinch bugs will float to the top in 10 minutes or so. Repeat this test several times in different areas of your lawn. If you estimate (based on the average results of your tests) that there are 15 to 20 chinch bugs, treatment is needed.

Solution to Chinch Bugs

Solution to Chinch Bugs

Chinch bugs thrive in conditions of excess thatch, too little water, and too much or too little nitrogen. Therefore, the best treatment for chinch bugs includes the following:

  1. Remove Thatch Layer. Eliminating thatch will improve drainage and fertilizer penetration into the soil. It will also expose chinch bugs to their bird and insect predators.
  2. Insecticidal Soap. It is commonly mixed with water and poured on the lawn where pest problems are suspected. Such a soaking irritates any pest insects near the soil surface, driving them upwards into the grass blades to escape the moisture and dry off.At the soil surface, chinch bugs are vulnerable to attacks by predator birds or a landscaper’s rake.

    The major ingredients in commercial insecticidal soap are fatty-acid salts. Because these salts are nontoxic, they are safe for use on lawns.

  3. Insecticides. Garden centers sell insect controls under different brand names. The most common ingredients include propoxar, isophenphos, diazinon, chloropyrifos, or NPD. Follow the label carefully.

If you want to make sure you are getting the best treatment for chinch bugs, have a local lawn treatment company handle it. I like how you can sign up online for a free estimate.

Backpack Leaf Blower Reviews

Backpack Leaf Blower Reviews

It is never an easy decision which brand to buy. These backpack leaf blower reviews will help you decide by comparing the top brands.

Backpack Leaf Blower

Since I am on a permanent quest to find the best and most powerful blowers to use in my lawn business, I have tried all of these brands for at least one season. All are pretty good. Therefore, in addition to these backpack leaf blower reviews, consider dealer support,resaleability, and standardizing your equipment.

Dealer Support

This is important because even the most reliable blowers occasionally require a repair. Even if you are mechanically inclined, it’s not worth having the blower if you can’t get parts for it. Dealer support varies by location.

Resaleability

The best resale values go to Redmax, Echo, and Stihl, followed by Shindaiwa, then Kawasaki and Maruyama.

For homeowners, who only use the blower once a week, resaleability may not be as important. For them, any of these backpacks should last years with the proper maintenance (ie: changing filters, spark plugs, winterizing).

For Landscapers or other heavy duty users, resaleability is very important. Repair costs can quickly add up even for the most dependable blowers. Therefore, the most cost effective way of owning the latest blower is to…

  1. Buy new.
  2. Keep until the warrantee runs out.
  3. Sell on Ebay. Since it will still be on the newer side, you can still command around 60% of the original price. This is assuming you put some effort into cleaning it up. Wipe it down with WD-40 (light lubricating oil) for a real shine. A few nice digital pictures go a long way. Most used equipment pictures on Ebay look like garbage, so that is your competition.

Standardizing Backpack Leaf Blowers

I often hear guys brag about how they will run their equipment into the ground before buying something new. But the goal is to blow off the property quickly and avoiding frustration in repairs and repair bills.

Standardizing Backpack Leaf Blowers

Like most landscapers and property managers, my ultimate goal is to standardize all my equipment. It is important to standardize because…

  1. Less spare parts you need to keep on hand (ie: spark plugs, air filters). Keeping spare parts for different machines gets expensive and your garage fills up quickly.
  2. You become familiar with common problems particular to that machine. You can fix things on the spot.
  3. You and/or your employees become experts at operating that particular model.

What is Fertilizer Runoff?

What is Fertilizer Runoff

Fertilizer runoff occurs when the ground gets more water than it can absorb and it washes away. This is bad because it can contaminate water sources with undesirable algae and weeds.

How do you prevent fertilizer runoff?

How do you prevent fertilizer runoff

  • Use a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer. They provide a more controlled release of nitrogen, which limits the amount that leaches into groundwater.
  • Use iron over nitrogen. Iron promotes the same greening effect as nitrogen. Less nitrogen minimizes the amount that may leach into the water supply.
  • Choose the proper spreader. For more control near water supply sources and storm drains, use a drop spreader.
  • Calibrate your spreader correctly. Read the label on the bag.
  • Time your applications. Do not apply fast acting fertilizers before a heavy rain. Minimize spring fertilizer because water tables are usually higher in the spring.
  • Minimize fertilizer on slopes.
  • Hire a professional. If you don’t have time to do it yourself, have a local lawn treatment company do it. You can sign up online for a free estimate.

Tips for Lawn Care Help

Tips for Lawn Care Help

Most homes could use a little lawn care help. Putting a little effort into your grass is an easy, inexpensive way to increase the value of your home. After all, a well-manicured lawn is the crown jewel of curb appeal…

Weed Control

  1. Do Not Scalp Lawn.
    • People tend to scalp their lawn so they can mow less frequently. Big mistake. Scalping will require more lawn care help in the long run. Grass cut too short will absorb less sunshine though its leaves, hurting its ability to survive and defend itself against diseases and insects. Sunlight can more easily penetrate what’s left of the lawn, providing an ideal environment for weed seeds to germinate.
    • Mow on the high side. A higher cut helps ensure a deeper root system. Never cut more than 1/3 of the grass blade during a mowing. The remaining 2/3 will develop deep roots and spread out, eventually creating a dense, healthy turf.
  2. Leave Grass Clippings on Lawn.
    • Grass clippings less than 1 inch filter down to the soil surface and decompose quickly. These clippings provide several benefits when left on the lawn: they shade the soil surface and reduce moisture loss due to evaporation. In addition, decomposing grass blades are a valuable source of plant nutrients.
    • Longer clippings do not provide any lawn care help. They tend to remain above the lawn where they appear unsightly and can shade or smother the grass beneath. These clippings need to be removed to avoid both unsightliness and lawn damage.
  3. Change mowing pattern.
    • Start at the 12 o’clock position and mow to the 6 o’clock position. Next time, begin at the 9 o’clock position and mow to the 3 o’clock position. This prevents turf and soil compacting and wheel patterns from forming in your lawn and gives it a nice stadium look.
  4. Fertilize
    • At a minimum, fertilize 3x/year–Late spring, Early Fall, and Late Fall.
    • At a maximum, fertilize 6x/year–Early Spring, Late spring, Late Summer, Early Fall, Late Fall. Avoid a fertilizer overdose. Too much of a good thing can be harmful.
  5. Weed Control
    • Control weeds early. Apply herbicide to grassy weeds, such as crabgrass, in the spring, and to broadleaf weeds, like dandelions, in the fall.
    • Do not use pre-emergent weed control at the time of seeding because it will negate any grass seed that hasn’t germinated. This is a common mistake. Wait until the new grass is mowed three times before applying a pre-emergent herbicide.
    • If you don’t want to handle pesticides or aren’t getting the results you want, have a local lawn treatment company do it. You can sign up online for a free estimate.
  6. Keep Beds to a Minimum
    • Beds require a lot of maintenance—weeding, edging, trimming back overgrown plants and shrubs. Too many beds scattered throughout the property begin to look cluttered.
    • A bed bordering the house is usually sufficient, unless you have a boatload of time and energy to keep up with the maintenance. Keep it simple. Manicured. When in doubt, put lawn where there was a bed.
  7. Water deeply, but infrequently for established lawns.
    • This trains roots to grow deep in the soil for strength. Deep roots help your lawn better survive a hot dry spell.
    • Water early in the day to avoid evaporation. The sun will be up shortly to dry the lawn’s surface, minimizing moisture-loving diseases.
    • Over- watering wastes money and resources and is bad for the grass. Waterlogged soil is the breeding ground for summer lawn diseases.
    • It is really worth having underground sprinklers if you don’t already have them. Lawns with sprinklers always look amazing. Get an quote from a local sprinkler company. You can sign up online for a free estimate.

Leave Grass Clippings on Lawn

John Deere Zero Turn Mower Review

John Deere Zero Turn Mower Review

The John Deere zero turn mower (900 Series Model) was compared to other top brands in the following categories…

John Deere Zero Turn Mower

The 900 Series model is a much improved version of the 800 Series. This was a much needed move by John Deere since the 800 Series fell short of expectations.

Cut: Rating A

The 7 Iron deck cuts very well. However, the mulch-on-demand deck does not cut quite as well, but still leaves a respectable cut.

Durability: Rating B+

Although relatively new, the 900 Series appears to be a long lasting ZTR.

Handling and Balance: Rating A-

This machine handles much better than the 800 Series. The hydraulics are smooth and not jerky. Holds hills well.

Available Accessories: Rating A-

John Deere is a big company and they do offer a lot of accessories. They have improved their bagging system, making it more commercial quality.

Maintenance and Ingenuity: Rating A-

Mower has been simplified in many ways. Not a high maintenance machine. Very well thought out.

John Deere ZTR Mowers on Ebay

John Deere ZTR Mowers on Ebay

Here are the John Deere zero turn mowers that are currently listed for sale on Ebay. I’ve found some great deals there. And I’ve sold a ton of old equipment through it.

If you aren’t already a member of eBay, you need to go to the registration page before you can bid, buy, or sell anything.

Identifying Lawn Problems

Identifying Lawn Problems

Identifying lawn problems can be difficult for even seasoned landscapers. It is likely that your lawn problem will belong to one of these categories: Insects, Lawn Disease, Weeds, Moss, Moles, or Drainage Problems.

1. Insects

  • Easy to identify. Visible on surface or visible after rolling back a bit of grass.
  • Common ones are grubs and chinch bugs.
  • Animals such as skunks, raccoons, birds, and moles start digging up the turf to feed on them.
  • Usually affects large, widespread area.
  • Treat with insecticide. Take precaution for yourself, children and pets.

Insects

 

2. Lawn Disease

  • Harder to identify. Need a microscope to see the responsible fungus, bacteria, or virus.
  • Circular or irregular patches of browning grass.
  • Generalized thinning and browning in various parts of the lawn.
  • A common lawn fungus is mushrooms.

3. Weeds

  • Most common.
  • More than just a visual nuisance because they also compete with grass for water, nutrients, space, and light.
  • Flourish in scalped lawns. Mow higher.
  • Easily treated with herbicide labeled for that weed. Read labels carefully.

4. Moss

  • Often grows where grass cannot, forming an erosion control that’s green and requires no maintenance.
  • Lawn moss is better than bare soil, so judge your area. If you determine that grass cannot survive, then leaving the moss may be a better choice.
  • Usually caused by acidic soil (low ph) or not enough sunlight.
  • Killing it is an easy task. Most garden centers carry Moss-Be-Gone, etc. However, trying to grow lawn moss is quite difficult, so be sure that eradicating it is your best choice.

Moss

5. Moles

  • Entrance holes resemble miniature volcanoes
  • They leave little tunnels all over the lawn.
  • There are several ways to get rid of them.

6. Drainage Problems

  • Too much or too little water can be a problem

When people can not pinpoint the problem, they often end up doing more harm than good. If you want expert advice, ask a local lawn treatment company. You can sign up for a free estimate by filling out an online form.

Echo Backpack Blower Review (751 Model)

Echo Backpack Blower Review (751 Model)

The Echo backpack blower was compared to other top brands in the following categories…

Echo Backpack Blower

Weight to Power Ratio: B

A good powerful blower. However, at 25lbs it should be more powerful. While blowing harder than the Redmax 7001, it falls short of the Redmax 8000.

Comfort: B

At 25lbs, the Echo 751 is as heavy as the Redmax 8000. If you are strong, the weight shouldn’t bother you. Just be realistic in accessing yourself.

Durability: B+

A tough unit. Tried and true. The Echo has been on the market for several years and no real issues to speak of.

Ease of Start: B+

Easy starting. Due to its size, it does require more of a tug like the Redmax 8000. Remember than you are cranking an engine with over 60cc’s.

Value for Money: B+

Usually sells for $400-500 depending on location. A good value with a reputable company standing behind the unit.

Echo Backpack Blower Review

Echo Backpack Blowers on Ebay

Here are the Echo backpack blowers that are currently listed for sale on Ebay. I’ve found some great deals there. And I’ve sold a ton of old equipment through it.

If you aren’t already a member of eBay, you need to go to the registration page before you can bid, buy, or sell anything.

Commercial Push Blowers Reviewed

Commercial Push Blowers Reviewed

It is never an easy decision which push blower to buy. Each manufacturer claims to be the best and most powerful by far. These reviews will help translate these claims into real world experience.

Commercial Push Blowers

Push blowers are really the work force / backbone of big cleanups. Back pack blowers are great for cleaning in tight areas like walkways, beds, etc. However, nothing beats a push blower for moving large amounts of leaves and debris over vast areas.

These blowers have various sizes and engine options available. Blowers of 10hp and above are best suited for contractors or those with large areas to clean. For homeowners and small property managers, 10hp and less should suffice.

Getting Rid of Lawn Weeds

Getting Rid of Lawn Weeds

Getting rid of lawn weeds is a never ending battle for most homeowners and lawn companies.

What is a Weed?

A weed is any plant growing out of place, where it is not desired. Most weeds possess a vigorous capacity for growth and survival under adverse conditions.

Sources of Weeds

Most lawn weeds result from seeds deposited in the soil long ago. Some seeds may remain inactive for 50 years or more, then spring to life under the proper conditions of warmth, light, and moisture. These weeds generally germinate and mature when the soil is cultivated, or when bare spots develop.

Topsoils, manures, and compost usually contain an abundance of weed seeds. A new crop of weeds can be expected whenever these additives are used.

Weed seeds can be transported from place to place by many methods. Dandelion seeds can be carried many miles by the wind. The sticky seeds of Buckhorn and Plaintain are transported by clothing and animals. When the Oxalis weed is disturbed, its ripe seedpods explode and throw their seeds many feet. Thus, bare spots, or thin turf offer a continuous source of weed infestation.

Sources of Weeds

Most Common Weeds

You don’t need to be a botanist to be able to classify and identify which weeds are in your lawn. The most important distinction is between broadleaf and grassy-type weeds. This is important for determining the timing for control and which herbicide to use.

Common broadleaf weeds include the dandelion, plantain, clover, chickweed, buckthorn, dichondra, ground ivy, oxalis, knotweed, purslane, and prostate spurge.

Most grassy looking weeds are either crabgrass, nutgrass, goose grass, dallies grass, or annual bluegrass

Most Common Weeds

Getting Rid of Lawn Weeds

There are four general methods of weed control—cultural, mechanical, biological, and chemical.

  1. Cultural control involves proper lawn maintenance. This includes mowing high and frequently, fertilizing at the correct times of year, watering your lawn deeply and infrequently, using grass seed suitable for your area, and reseeding your lawn every fall.
  2. Mechanical control is the manual destruction of weeds. Weeds can be pulled out by hand or with a tool that reaches down deep to remove the root as well. Unless you only have a few weeds to pull out, I do NOT recommend this method. It is too labor intensive.
  3. Biological control is the use of natural enemies of weeds. Insects and other small animals that eat certain weeds may be used. Bacteria and other tiny organisms can be used to spread disease among specific weeds. Sometimes a certain amount of watering can be an enemy to weeds.
  4. Chemical control is the most effective method of getting rid of lawn weeds. Herbicides can be either selective or non-selective. Selective herbicides kill the weeds, but not the grass. Non-selective herbicides kill all plants which is perfect for spraying patios, walkways, gravel driveways, sidewalks, and very carefully in plant beds.

Getting Rid of Lawn Weeds

Most landscapers and homeowners use a combination of cultural and chemical weed control to achieve their desired lawn.

Weeds are persistent. If you get tired of battling weeds or don’t want to be exposed to pesticides, have a local lawn treatment company take care of it. I like how you can sign up online for a free estimate.