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Lawnmower Clinic - Hints and Tricks

Questions Every Ride-on Mower Buyer Should Ask...

Are you in the market for a Lawn Tractor? Contact us today... we know Lawn Tractors! We do demonstrations at your premises. Here are some questions you should ask yourself.

What type of transmission is best?

There are two main types of transmissions available.

Manual Drive

Manual Gear Drive
Manual gear drive transmissions control ground speed with multiple gears and require the use of a manual clutch to start, stop or change ground speed.  They are available in both 5-speed and 6-speed versions.

Hydrostatic drive

Hydro-Automatic Drive
Foot-operated hydrostatic drive controls forward and reverse speeds, allowing both hands to remain on the steering wheel; no shifting or clutching is required.

Is getting on and off the tractor a hassle?

Widebody

A high console on tractors can made it very difficult to get on and off the tractor. Step-through Design provides a low center of gravity, increased leg room, and easy on-and-off access.

Why is easy handling important?

Steering around obstacles such as trees, flower beds, or shrubs can be difficult.  Dual Independent Steering controls each wheel independently to reduce steering effort.

Easy Handling

How will I dispose of my grass clippings?


There are three options available to handle grass clippings:

Mulching

Mulching cuts the grass into fine clippings that are returned to the lawn to act as a natural fertilizer that adds nutrients to the soil. No need to dispose of the clippings because they are deposited into the lawn.

Bagging

Bagging is great for collecting grass clippings or for leaf pick-up. Ideal for those who like to compost.

Discharging

Grass clippings are uniformly side discharged onto the lawn.

What engine horsepower do I need?

Generally, the more powerful the engine, the less time it will take to mow your yard. Horsepower is also very important when it comes to getting the best performance from your tractor accessories.

What type of engine do I need?

Look for the following engine features to enhance the performance of your riding mower:

Cast Iron Cylinder Sleeve
Withstands wear and extends engine life

Overhead Valve (OHV)
Delivers more power, longer life, and improved fuel economy

V-Twin Cylinder
Offers a well-balanced engine for a smoother, quieter ride and maximum performance

What size cutting deck do I need?

The width of cutting deck needed is determined in part by the size of your lawn.

Murray cutting decks

750mm/30” Cutting Decks
Ideal for 500-2000m²

960mm/38” Cutting Decks
Ideal for 2000-4000m²

1020mm/40” Cutting Decks
Perfect for 4000-8000m² lawns

1160mm/46” Cutting Decks or larger
Handle 8000m² or larger lawns with ease

Why do I need to level my cutting deck?

To maintain a well-manicured lawn and level cut, all cutting decks eventually require adjustment.  Tool-Free Deck Leveling adjusts in less than a minute without the use of tools

Leveling of deck

 

 

 

 

 

Contact us today for a demonstration, or visit our shop to view the various options available. We have a large range of Lawn Tractors available, including the Craftsman and Murray ranges of top selling Lawn Tractors.

Brushcutter Selection: kw vs cc

"I would like a 40cc brushcutter please" At Grassnyer Kliniek/Lawnmower Clinic Pretoria we hear this on a daily basis from customers. What they do not realize is that different 40cc brushcutters could differ by up to 60% or even more in power!

Some brushcutters like the STIHL machines are designed with high performance engines, which offer lower weight, reduced fuel consumption and lower emissions.Many competitors offer machines with large cylinder displacements which have very poor specific outputs, resulting in higher fuel consumptions and higher exhaust emissions.

What at the end of the day does displacement tell you about a machines performance? To illustrate this lets use an example from the rugby field.

At what position would you most likely put a 113kg, 1.98m man in your rugby team?

Jonah

 

The great All Black Jonah Lomu was 113kg, 1.98m tall and ran the 100m in 10.8 seconds

This proves that displacement is not as important as performance, at least it’s true on the rugby field.

 

What about cylinder capacity versus Kilowatt output? Cylinder capacity tells you nothing about the performance of the motor, where as Kilowatt tells you the specific power output.

For example many 50cc brushcutters offer an output of only 1.5 kW, compared to 2.4 kW on the STIHL 50cc unit (60% more) .

It’s like comparing the Big6 2.5 liter Ford Cortina, with the new Ford Focus 2.5 liter, both great cars for their times, but vastly different in many respects.

Ford

 

The Focus has significantly higher kilowatt output and torque. Of course there’s more to consider than just power output. The newer car like the modern STIHL power products also features greater levels of comfort and safety.

Performance

Performance of course relates to productivity. STIHL brushcutters usually feature a higher blade speed with better torque characteristics than similar capacity, lower performance motors. It’s blade speed that determines cutting efficiency, here again STIHL machines often have up to 30 % faster blade speeds than competitor machines. Consider that you may be able to use 30 % less units to do the same job! Of course you would then need 30 % less operators and have 30% less associated costs i.e. wages, UIF,pension etc.

 

Or you could just do 30% more cutting in a day!

 

Similar comparisons could be made with other STIHL power tools as well.

Contact Grassnyer Kliniek/ Lawnmower Clinic Pretoria for advice on selecting the correct machine for your application.

 

Top Stihl Brushcutter deals: Stihl FS160 1.4kW, Stihl FS280 1.9kW, Stihl FS450 2.1kW


Mayford All Seasons Evergreen® Lawn Seed

Overview

All Seasons Evergreen® is a Sakata Seed Southern Africa's proprietary mixture developed specifically for the Southern African region. Many years of trials conducted at our local research station, as well as decades of field experience, have contributed to the success of this mix. This grass mixture will stay green throughout the year no matter how cold it gets! Even frost or snow won’t force the grass to turn brown (go dormant). It is also important to ensure the mixture can cope with the hot times of the year. This is why long term local experimental trials are so important. We need to be sure that this grass looks good all year round.

Mayford All Seasons Evergreen

All Seasons Evergreen® has all the advantages associated with a well formulated mixture, such as:

  • the ability to thrive in a wide variety of growing conditions, and
  • reduced susceptibility to disease without compromising on the overall uniformity of the lawn’s appearance.

The trend towards smaller gardens surrounded by high walls means that lawns often have to grow in shadier conditions than adapted for. Commonly used grasses such as Kikuyu cannot tolerate low light intensities and will die back in shady areas.

All Seasons Evergreen® is quick to establish from seed. Germination can be expected 5 to 10 days after sowing and reasonable coverage in 6 to 8 weeks. This lawn takes a few months to reach full maturity.

All Seasons Evergreen® is a “bunch-type” grass that thickens out by means of tillering and does not have any runners. The advantage of this growth habit is a non-invasive grass, requiring much less edge trimming. This also means that adhering to the recommended sowing rate is essential for a dense lawn area.

All Seasons Evergreen® is designed to grow in full sun and semi-shade conditions. It is compatible with another Sakata Seed Southern Africa's grass formulated for full and semi shade, known as Shade-Over®. The combination of All Seasons Evergreen® and Shade-Over® covers the complete spectrum from shade to full sun while maintaining a uniform appearance.

It is recommended that an irrigation system be installed when you establish an All Seasons Evergreen® lawn. Although it does not need much more water than a Kikuyu lawn, it cannot survive long periods of drought.   All Seasons Evergreen® is a permanent grass that will only need interseeding if the grass is damaged by something like a dog digging a hole or if it thins out in shady parts as a result of mowing at too low a cutting height.

All Seasons Evergreen® tolerates high traffic levels. It is used on rugby stadiums such as in Bloemfontein where busy fixtures schedule has to be accommodated. It is also used on pavements and other walkways. Most important in the domestic situation, All Seasons Evergreen® copes well with the challenge presented by kids and dogs.   There is, however, a limit to the amount of traffic any lawn can tolerate. Pathways always develop where traffic is “funneled” through a confined space and the shortest route will carry the most traffic!   In certain circumstances dog urine can burn patches in the lawn but these are easily dealt with.  

Establishment

When?

Best times are spring and autumn. Avoid very hot or very cold times of the year.   Remove existing grass If the area is in full sun and grasses such as Kikuyu were growing there before, it is important to get rid of them properly before establishing a new lawn. The underground runners of creeping grasses can be very persistent so you can’t simply dig it out. It is best to spray the existing grass with a non-selective weed killer.

Soil preparation

If the soil is dry, water the area thoroughly a day or two before you begin soil preparation.

  • Spread Super Phosphate at a rate of 50 g* per m² over the entire area (50 g is approx. one medium sized handful). *This is a general recommendation made in the absence of a soil test.
  • Dig the area over incorporating the Super Phosphate to a depth of approx. 15 cm. At this point you could dig in some compost. This is not generally necessary and can cause problems if the compost contains weed seeds and is not well rotted. Never leave compost as a layer on top of the soil as it dries out far more easily than soil and this will not allow the seed to stay moist enough during the critical germination period.
  • Break down clods to create a fine seedbed.
  • Spread a balanced fertiliser such as 5:1:5 or 3:1:5 at 30 g per m² and rake into the surface of the soil.

Check levels by rolling the area lightly and then filling in any hollows. NB. It is very difficult to correct levels after the grass is established. Bunch grasses do not have runners, but tillers, which cannot be covered by a layer of soil.

Sowing the seed

Ensure that you have the right amount of seed, i.e. 1 kg per 25 m².

  • Broadcast the seed over the area as evenly as possible by either using the 500g or 1 kg seed box as a spreader (see instructions on box), or if the seed has been purchased in bulk bags, by spreading by hand, or using a drop seeder. (A fertiliser spreader will do, as long as you have checked that it does not crush the seed).

To achieve an even spread, split the amount of seed in two, moving up and down with one half and across and back with the other. NB You don’t need to mix the seed with anything as it is bulky enough and pale in colour so it shows up easily against the dark soil.

Covering the seed

  • Rake the area lightly (using a steel rake) so that most of the seed is covered by no more than 1cm of soil. Some seed will still be visible on the surface which doesn’t matter.
  • Seeds need light to germinate so don’t bury it too deeply. Also, don’t cover with a layer of compost as it dries out too easily and may influence the germination success of the seeds!

Compacting

It is essential to compact the area lightly. If you don’t have a roller, then use something like a drum on its side or simply trample lightly under foot. This step is very important as it bring the seed into direct contact with the moist soil, reduces wash-aways, and initiates capillary action (the movement of water upwards through the soil profile).

Watering

Keep the area moist at all times for the first two weeks. By then the seed will have germinated and watering frequency should be reduced. You may need to water more than once a day. Avoid puddles

Maintenance

Mowing

Start - When grass is 9 cm long. Set the mower at its highest setting (no less than 6cm).

Height - Sunny areas 2 to 5 cm (4 to 5 cm recommended as lower heights necessitates twice weekly mowing).

  • Semi-shade 5 to 7 cm (the shadier the site, the longer the grass has to be).
  • 1/3 rd RULE - Never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade at a time.

Frequency - Generally once a week (more frequently if cut shorter than 4 cm). Approximately once every three weeks in winter.

Type of mower - Rotary mowers are best for this type of grass (Reel type mowers can’t be set high enough).

Irrigating

Installation of an irrigation system is recommended especially for sunny sites. It does not need much more water than the average grass, but it cannot be allowed to go brown (It doesn’t have storage roots /stems like Kikuyu).   At maturity, irrigate 25 - 30 mm per week in summer (2 or 3 times a week). In very hot weather syringe lightly at noon and 10 - 15 mm per week in winter (1 or 2 times a week).   Once the grass has an established root system, the frequency of irrigation should be reduced. You should irrigate thoroughly 2 or 3 times a week making sure that the water gets down at least 6cm. Irrigating daily, but too lightly usually results in too much moisture at the surface and not enough in the root zone.   The best times to irrigate are at night or in the morning. The worst time to irrigate is in the evening, because this extends the “Dew Period”, and keeps the leaves wet for too long a period. This can cause problems with fungal diseases. However, if the evening is the only available time, then it is better to water then than not at all!   When it is very hot, you can reduce heat stress by “syringing” the grass. This is a very short irrigation cycle (a couple of minutes) that cools the grass leaves down.   Hot, dry times of the year will necessitate an increase in irrigation. Dry areas will be stressed and more susceptible to disease.   Sunny areas of the garden need more water than shady areas. An irrigation system with different zones to accommodate these differences is an advantage. Otherwise supplementary irrigation in the sunny parts will be required.   The top of extreme slopes dry off very quickly.   Check that your irrigation system is delivering evenly by placing containers of equal size randomly on the lawn, and observing the difference in water volume after an irrigation cycle.   Don’t over water (especially in the shade). Avoid puddles.   The grass needs water when it is has a blue-ish tinge and the leaf blades curl inwards.

Fertilisation

50 g (approximate one handful) per m² of 5:1:5 or 3:1:5 four times a year (e.g. Jan, Apr, Jul, Oct). Don’t forget the April application to avoid brown tips in winter. Slow release formulations are recommended as lawns do best when fertilised little and often.

Pests and Diseases

Take careful note of the symptoms, i.e. spots on leaves, size and location of patches etc. and phone us or speak to a specialist in this field. Remember that insects and fungal diseases know nothing about straight lines, so if you see straight lines look for a man-made problem!   Healthy, actively growing lawn is less susceptible to everything so don’t skimp on fertilising (you can’t avoid regular mowing!). Good air flow reduces humidity and helps to avoid disease (watch out for this in shady areas). Don’t over water or underwater — both cause stress to all grasses.

Dog urine

Dog urine can sometimes cause scorching. This is more common with spayed bitches and in very hot weather.   If a brown patch develops, pull the dead grass out, loosen the soil a bit , sprinkle some seed (available in small Top Up packs at most nurseries), cover with a thin layer of soil (just scratch it in) and trample lightly under foot. This is less of a pain than continuous edge trimming Kikuyu, as long as you aren’t trying to keep four Alsatians on 100 m² of lawn!

Traffic

This grass tolerates traffic very well. It is even used on rugby fields! However, where traffic is excessive the pressure can be reduced by setting paving stones or sleepers into the grass and just mowing over the top.

Weeds

The best way to avoid weeds is to have actively growing grass forming a dense canopy that does not allow light through to the soil surface. Fertilise and mow regularly and you will literally “cut out” the majority of problems. Ask a specialist before spraying a herbicide.

Aerating and Top dressing

Spiking or hollow tining: Use a garden fork or tining fork on highly compacted areas. Push the whole length of the tine into the soil and lift slightly to get good water and air penetration.

Top dressing: Never cover this grass with a layer of soil or compost! The grass will die.

Mayford PRINCESS Cynodon dactylon Lawn Seed

Overview

Princess has excellent turf qualities. This is a fine textured Bermuda hybrid, which compares excellently and is on par, with vegetative propagated Cynodon hybrids and is finer than Kikuyu.   Princess is even more dwarfed with an upright growth habit, providing a dense stand that tolerates low mowing (minimum 5mm). Summer leaf density is high compared to seeded varieties and similar to the vegetative varieties. Due to good wear tolerance the turf can withstand high traffic levels and will recover fast from damage.   Princess has good drought resistance with decreased water usage (19% - 29% less than other Cynodon varieties). It adapts to varying soil conditions and at maturity needs approximately half as much water as Kikuyu does to survive. Princess exhibits the highest percentage recovery rate of all the tested varieties from drought due to less leaf wilting. Recovery from drought induced dormancy is also fast.  

Mayford Princess

Establishment

When?

Spring and summer in frosty areas. In frost free areas, all year round, other than the coldest times of the year.   Remove existing grass if the area is in full sun and other grasses were growing there before, it is important to get rid of them properly before establishing a new lawn. The underground runners of creeping grasses can be very persistent so you can’t simply dig it out.   It is best to spray the existing grass with a non-selective weed killer.

Soil preparation

  • If the soil is dry, water the area thoroughly a day or two before you begin soil preparation.
  • Spread Super Phosphate at a rate of 50g* per m² over the entire area (50 g is approx. one medium sized handful) *This is a general recommendation, made in the absence of a soil test.
  • Dig the area over incorporating the Super Phosphate to a depth of approximately 15 cm. At this point you could dig in some compost. This is not generally necessary and can cause problems if the compost contains weed seeds and is not well rotted. Never leave compost as a layer on top of the soil as it dries out far more easily than soil does, and will not allow the seed to stay moist enough during the critical germination period.
  • Break down clods to create a fine seedbed
  • Spread a balanced fertiliser such as 5:1:5 or 3:1:5 at 30 g per m² and rake into the surface of the soil.

Sowing the seed

  • Ensure that you have the right amount of seed, i.e. 1 kg per 100 m².
  • Broadcast the seed over the area as evenly as possible by hand, or by using a drop seeder (a fertiliser spreader will do, as long as you have checked that it does not crush the seed).
  • To achieve an even spread, split the amount of seed in two, moving up and down with one half and across and back with the other.
  • The seed is very small so you can mix it with sand to bulk it up.

Covering the seed

Rake the area lightly (using a steel rake), so that most of the seed is covered by no more than 1 cm of soil. This seed needs light to germinate so don’t bury it too deeply. Also, don’t cover with a layer of compost as it dries out too easily and may prevent successful germination!

Compacting

It is essential to compact the area lightly. If you don’t have a roller, then use something like a drum on its side or simply trample lightly under foot. This step is very important, as it brings the seed into direct contact with moist soil, reduces wash-aways and initiates capillary action (the movement of water upwards through the soil profile).

Watering

Keep the area moist at all times for the first two weeks. By then the seed will have germinated and watering frequency should be reduced. You may need to water more than once a day. Avoid puddles.

Mowing

Start

  • When grass is 50 mm long. Set the mower at its highest setting (no less than 32mm).

Height

  • Sunny areas 5mm to 32mm (lower heights necessitate twice weekly mowing). 1/3 rd RULE - Never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade at a time.

Frequency

  • Generally once a week (more if cut shorter than 20mm).

Irrigating

This grass can be maintained without an irrigation system. A shortage of water will result in the grass going dormant (brown). If water remains unavailable for a protracted period the grass may die.   Although this is a relatively drought tolerant grass at maturity, it still needs regular watering during establishment. Irrigation can be reduced once the root system is established.

Fertilisation

50 g (approximately one handful) per m² of 5:1:5 or 3:1:5 three times a year.   Slow release formulations are recommended, as lawns do best when fertilised little and often.   Pests and Diseases Take careful note of the symptoms, i.e. spots on leaves, size and location of patches etc. and phone us or speak to a specialist in this field. Remember that insects and fungal diseases know nothing about straight lines, so if you see straight lines look for a man-made problem! Healthy, actively growing lawn is less susceptible to diseases and insects so don’t skimp on fertilising (you can’t avoid regular mowing!)   Good air flow reduces humidity and helps to avoid disease. Don’t over water or underwater – both cause stress to all grasses.

Traffic

Where traffic is excessive the pressure can be reduced by setting paving stones or sleepers into the grass and just mow over the top. This is a creeping grass and possess the ability to cover bare patches.

Weeds

The best way to avoid weeds is to have actively growing grass forming a dense canopy that does not allow light through to the soil surface. Fertilise and mow regularly and you will literally “cut out” the majority of problems. Ask a specialist before spraying a herbicide.

Aerating and Top Dressing

Spiking or hollow tining: Use a garden fork or tining fork on highly compacted areas. Push the whole length of the tine into the soil to get good water and air penetration.  

Top dressing: Creeping grasses may be covered with a layer of soil or compost. This activity is primarily done to level areas.