On the other hand

Features - Maintenance

Alternatives to your usual suspects in the trimmer category offer labor- and power-saving benefits.

May 1, 2013
Kristen Hampshire

Save the ladder and forget the numerous handheld units that take up space and rob time from crews. Richard Finch, the owner of Green Acres Lawn Care in Lafayette, La., doesn’t need them. He has a single “multi-use” tool on board.

Handheld equipment that offers a single motor and multiple choices for the working “head” save him time and money while improving productivity and safety. “You can edge out parts of gardens, or you can edge out rock areas where a weed eater couldn’t swing it,” Finch says. “It’s safe. You can cut weeds out of large areas. The purpose is to save me time – and therefore, it saves customers money.” These labor savers are just one tool in a landscaper’s box of harder, smarter working equipment.

Labor savers. Multi-use equipment gives landscapers a single power source and several options in the form of interchangeable tool heads that fit on the motorized unit. Finch says the real win is passing that value down to customers.

He can charge less and better compete in his market by using this type of labor-saving equipment. “The advantage of using a multi-tool head is only having one engine I can put the different attachments on because that saves money,” he says.

“And, it saves space because I’m not buying three permanent units.” Finch says it takes no longer than 15 seconds to swap out a tool head. So if one of his crewmembers is on the job and needs to switch from using an edger to a pole saw, he can simply trade the edger head and attach a chainsaw extension. This also saves using a ladder for the job. “If a bush is more than 5-feet tall, you’d normally get on a ladder and use the (trimmer) tool,” he says.

“That takes more time, plus it’s unsafe. With the attachment, I can put on the extended hedge trimmer tool and the head articulates at an angle. So I can stand on the ground and walk along, and cut the top of that hedge off.”

And anytime Finch doesn’t have to worry about safety or take more time on a job, he is making more money.

Power savers.
Alongside this alternative to typical “stick” machines is cordless fare. Battery equipment today is on par with fuel guzzling counterparts if you ask John DeFilippi, owner of Ecological Lawncare in Boulder, Colo. “I’m very excited about the (cordless) power equipment today because it’s commercial grade,” he says. “It is better equipment, better built, more durable, more powerful and has better battery run times.”

DeFilippi’s firm cares for about 4,000 square feet of turf area using exclusively cordless, electric equipment.

“We recharge the batteries with solar and wind power at our facility, so that is a zero-emission process,” DeFilippi says. This year, the company moved to exclusively cordless handheld equipment because of the models available today from the manufacturer he purchases from are commercial-grade, he says.

“The only constraint you have is battery run times, and we keep extra charged batteries on our service vehicles,” he says. “We can also recharge batteries off of our service vehicles with a power inverter.”