Selecting lawn care equipment can be a tricky proposition—especially if the grounds manager making the choices isn't asking the right questions. John E. Gibson, is president of the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), and director of operations for Denver-based Swingle Lawn, Tree & Landscape Care. Gibson said grounds managers are prone to a number of common mistakes when shopping around.

“They often buy the equipment based on bells and whistles, when the core job of that equipment is not the unit's strong point,” he said. “Also, they frequently go for equipment of a size that gets them either too much or too little for the job they really need.”

To avoid slipups in acquiring lawn care equipment, Gibson recommends using the following checklist as a reference tool:

  • Are you selecting equipment for a specific job or multiple uses?
  • What is the life cycle of this equipment?
  • Will changes in technology affect the future?
  • How does this equipment relate to the rest of your existing fleet—i.e. vendors you currently use for equipment, availability of repair parts, whether your in-house mechanic can fix or if it will need to be shopped out, and need for specialized maintenance tools?
  • What warranties are offered?
  • What experience do others in the market have with this equipment and its reliability?
  • What financing options are available for large equipment—should you buy, lease, or rent on an as-needed basis?
  • Gibson added that one trend in lawn care is common to most other service industries: mechanized equipment that increases production and while reducing required manpower.

    Boom mower

    The Maverick industrial boom mower lets users access hard-to-reach areas, with variable reaches from 21 to 24 feet, or 27 to 30 feet. The boxed-section contour gives the unit added strength in sections where it is most needed, and it delivers optimal strength-to-weight ratios. A computer provides simple troubleshooting from within the tractor cab. A broad range of cutting heads is offered. Alamo Industrial.

    Versatile decks

    XR-7 mowing decks offer a range of cutting options. Choose from side-discharge, mulch, or catch configurations. Operators can mow tall or fine grasses efficiently and effectively. The design minimizes clumping and buildup for optimal finished appearance and improved productivity. Other features include an easy-to-install mulch kit, 7-gauge deck plate and sidewalls and 11-gauge doubler and 7-gauge tripler (nearly ½ inch thick) at spindle mounts. The decks come in widths ranging from 54 to 72 inches. Hustler Turf Equipment.

    Zero-turn-radius mower

    The Grizzly zero-turn-radius mower offers three twin-cylinder engine options: a 24-hp Honda, or 25- or 27-hp Kohler Command Pro. Choose from a 52- or 60-inch cutting deck, with 18-position positive-lock deck lift and foot assist. The smooth-riding Big Rig seat suspension system raises for ease of access to belts, pulleys, and other parts for maintenance and cleaning. Optional attachments include two- and three-bag grass catchers, mulch kits, and a snow blade. Dixon Industries.