Turf Care For All
Recent innovations are changing the landscape of turf care equipment
Whether you currently carry turf care equipment or are considering adding turf care equipment to your rental fleet, choosing the right equipment is crucial to turf care equipment rental success. Before you stock your fleet this turf care season, know that the landscape of turf care equipment is changing and many advancements have been made recently that you should consider. Equipment is trending smaller, lighter, faster and easier to use. It’s more productive and lower maintenance as well, which is all good news for rental business. While turf care equipment is seldom one-size-fits-all there’s enough diversity to help you supply the right units to your customers.
There are several different types of powered aerator that utilize various blade or tine configurations that include spike tines, core tines and vertical slicing blades. Turf and soil conditions will determine whether a tine or a blade is required. The most commonly utilized and rented aerator is the core tine aerator. There are several different models of core aerator to consider. In the walk-behind category there are compacts and mid-size aerators. In the large aerator category there are stand-on aerators and an assortment of tow-behinds. Walk-behinds are the most popular. However the stand-on is becoming a high demand unit with professionals. Each has its following but do they all have a place in your store? Possibly, but it depends on your customer base and the property sizes in your area.
The compact aerator is most popular with the home owner/DIY customer because it is the least intimidating. It’s small but mighty. It’s the easiest to use and transport of the walk-behind aerator lineup. Today’s compact aerators have really picked up speed, helping them complete the job quicker. This also makes the unit popular with the landscaper for their smaller properties and niche areas where a larger unit simply won’t fit. It’s a nice little money maker. If you are only going to carry one aerator type, this is probably the one to carry because of its broad appeal.
One of the latest advancements in compact aerators is steerable tine shafts. The tine shaft features a center one-way bearing that allows the outer tines to rotate faster when the operator engages the unit to turn in that direction. This doesn’t completely do the turning for the operator, but it does allow for non-stop aeration threw the turn and reduces the amount of effort the operator has to put into completing the turn of the unit either to follow curves or at the end of the row, reducing user fatigue so that they can get the job done easier.
Mid-size Walk-behind Aerators
These units are wider enabling them to cover more ground in less time making them ideal for both the landscaper and DIYer with moderate to large lawns. Steer assisting tine shafts are an advancement to some mid-size aerators as well. However, because these machines are wider and quite heavy, the emphasis is greater on the operator to engage the turn before the steer assisting tines can help in completing the turn. Additionally, because the tines are designed to pick up speed as the unit is turning, they can be harder on the operator to straighten out afterwards due to momentum.
A better technology at this level is powered steering. While this technology is not new it is exclusive. There is one brand that makes a unit with power steering. Patented split-drive technology allows the engine to power dual tine shafts independently during aeration allowing the unit to turn left or right solely through the tines. If ease of use is what your customers are looking for in an aerator, power steering is a feature you should consider in the aerator you carry.
Stand-ons can offer more than three times the productivity of a walk-behind and therefore have become popular among turf care professionals and municipalities. Just over the past two years these units have become highly sought after in rental by landscapers who offer seasonal turf care services and that trend is likely to continue. Because of the high demand they tend to rent at a premium price and can provide a rather high ROI. The biggest drawback of the stand-on (at least until recently) has been high maintenance. Fear not though because new models introduced this year bring innovative technologies that greatly reduce, and, in some cases, eliminate the most common maintenance pain points for rental dealers. If you have commercial customers a stand-on is becoming a must have aerator for the fleet.
The most commonly utilized seeder is still the manual push seeder. It’s hit or miss with germination as it merely drops or fans out seed without any disturbance to the soil surface. With seed prices growing higher each year more and more renters are going to the powered seeder to make better use of the seed and increase the likelihood of germination success. The powered seeder is a simple design. The seed drops through the seed box or hopper holes and the blades disturb the soil to bury or plant the seed. With these units the advancements are in the seed coverage and tighter seed placement. Through a tight seed pattern you have a greater opportunity for double seeding, which grows thicker grass quicker. Additionally the floating seed box is pretty new. The benefit to a floating seed box is consistent seed drop even over bumpy terrain providing what pros call carpet-like coverage.
Sod cutters have long been a bread and butter product in rental. Almost as profitable as the mighty tiller, the sod cutter is a tool that makes landscape transformation easier. Sod cutters, like tillers, are far more likely rented than owned. Once the bulky behemoth of turf care, today’s units are smaller, leaner, faster and far more easily maneuverable than units produced even five years ago. It’s the one unit in the turf care line that truly can be a one-unit-fits-all machine. Some units feature vibration dampening systems that significantly reduce user fatigue. Such units enable the operator to utilize the unit for longer periods of time allowing them to get job done quicker and the unit back to the store faster. For a truly one-size-fits-all sod cutter, look for a unit that can utilize multiple cutting blades. Some can operate blades as small as 12-inches and as wide as two feet.
Equipment that does more rents more. In the turf care equipment family no other unit is more versatile than the dethatcher. In the short yet busy turf care season, you can covert many of today’s dethatchers into a seeder or vertical slicer for aerating top rooting grasses. Versatility is the advancement of the dethatcher. This one unit can quite literally perform three different turf care jobs and rent at various times of the year providing extra ROI.
The landscape of turf care is changing. If you already carry turf care equipment, try to offer a unit or two that changes with it. If you are stocking your first fleet of turf care equipment start off with the basics and build up your fleet from there. Either way staying on top of the latest equipment trends and advancements will go a long way towards sustaining turf care equipment rental success.