Many landscape contractors hang onto their machines and tools until they fail and don’t consider upgrades and options that could make current equipment more productive. Operating aging equipment is costly both in terms of repairs and downtime on job sites, and you could be missing out on money-saving technological advances in newer equipment. Keeping an eye out for ways to upgrade machines and tools still in their prime can help your company be more efficient and even expand the services it offers.
Here are seven equipment innovations, upgrades and options to keep in mind:
No.1 Stand-on mowers and mowers with fuel advances
If it’s nearing time to update your mower fleet, there are at least a couple industry trends to watch. Some landscape contractors are replacing walk-behind mowers and medium-sized ride-on mowers with stand-on mowers. Research stand-on mowers and whether they could help your crews work more quickly. Also consider mowers with electronic fuel injection and those that use propane fuel. EFI-equipped mowers can reduce fuel expenses by up to 25 percent. Calculate that reduction over your entire mowing fleet and you could be looking at huge savings. Because propane fuel is typically less expensive than gasoline, mowers with engines that use propane can yield savings as well. They also offer environmental benefits your customers might appreciate.
No.2 Replacement mower blades
Mower blades could be the most important and most common aftermarket parts you buy. High-quality blades can last significantly longer than others, and replacement blades also give you the option of matching blade type to your applications. Each blade design provides different advantages. Flat blades – blades with low sails – generally reduce noise and dust, consume less power and discharge clippings with less velocity compared to other blades. Blades with medium sails typically produce a better-quality cut than flat blades. Those with high sails offer an even better quality cut and are usually preferred when clippings are bagged. Mulching blades have a more curved, sometimes-toothed design that creates finely cut clippings you might not need to bag.
No.3 Snow/ice-control equipment for trucks
If you work in an area that receives significant snowfall, consider equipping your trucks with snow- and ice-control equipment. Adding snow and ice removal to your list of services can keep your employees busy and revenue coming in throughout the year. You can outfit your current fleet with snowplows, sand and salt spreaders and related accessories.
No.4 Attachments for skid-steer loaders, compact excavators, mini/compact track loaders and backhoe loaders
A multitude of attachments for machines you already own could make numerous landscaping tasks faster and easier. In addition, you might find you can accomplish occasional jobs by buying an attachment for an existing machine rather than purchasing or renting a machine you won’t often use. Attachments include landscape rakes; graders; dozer blades; brush chippers, cutters and mowers; mulchers; a variety of buckets; augers; backhoes; grapples; trenchers; brooms/sweepers; concrete mixers and pumps; seeders; sod layers; soil conditioners; stump grinders; tillers and snow blades/blowers.
No.5 Aftermarket chainsaw bars and chains
Replacement chainsaw bars and chains offer opportunities to improve durability and customize equipment for your applications. Bar types include sprocket nose, hard nose and specialty bars, and they’re available in a variety of cutting lengths, pitches and gauges. High-quality aftermarket chains can last longer than stock and be easier to sharpen, meaning crew members spend more time working.
No.6 Leaf blower tubes, attachments and vacuums
You can retrofit leaf blowers with tubes of different sizes and shapes and with extensions that give crew members longer reach. Gutter kits let them clear leaves and debris from roof gutters while standing on the ground – a faster and safer alternative to working with ladders. Leaf blowers with a vacuum function allow crew members to suck leaves into bags, which can be more efficient than trying to blow them from corners, landscape beds and around bushes.
No.7 Line trimmer heads that use discs of pre-wound line
Give your line trimmers new life by replacing the trimmer heads. Because the trimmer head determines how line is loaded and fed through the system, changing the heads can make a big difference in how these tools operate. You have five design types to choose from: automatic feed, bump feed, manual feed, fixed head/line and disc – the latest innovation.
While other designs require crew members to wind, thread and/or cut line – and trouble shoot when line gets caught in the trimmer head – the Oregon Gator® SpeedLoad™ Cutting System uses pre-wound discs of line that new operators can load in 20 seconds or less, without using tools. The discs typically last twice as long as traditional trimmer line, saving even more time. Crew members also can avoid trips to the truck for replacement line by carrying discs in their pockets.
To learn more about the Oregon Gator® SpeedLoad™ Cutting System, visit gatorspeedload.com.