More than mowing

Features - Mower Attachments

Attachments can make your mowers more versatile, efficient and comfortable.

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May 4, 2016

Photo courtesy of Toro

Attachments can turn your mower into a mulcher, snow thrower or dethatcher in just a few minutes. They can also make the operator’s ride more comfortable, give a cleaner, more even cut and put the finishing stripes on a lawn.

We talked with attachment manufacturers to see what’s new on the market and how to choose the right add-ons for your business.

How to shop.

The demand for faster and more efficient cuts has driven new innovations like quick attach systems at BOB-CAT and Steiner, says Schiller Grounds Care Product Manager Anne Marie Sanicola. “The more you can do and the number of tools you can use on a tractor, the more productive and efficient you become,” she says.

Tim Crowley, marketing manager for Walker Manufacturing Company, recommends looking at your overall scope of work and figuring out if there are multiple jobs you can do with one piece of equipment.

Evaluate the challenges on your jobsites before purchasing an attachment. Then, you can talk to a dealer to determine what will make the job easier.
Photo courtesy of John Deere

Nick Minas, product manager for John Deere Commercial Mowing, says contractors should consider the challenges they face when working on a jobsite. “By evaluating trouble spots, you can start the conversation with your dealer to determine what attachments can help make the job easier,” he says.

And of course, durability is important as well. “While price is important, it should be secondary to the performance of the attachment itself. The time spent fixing and tinkering with a low-price alternative will cost much more than the price of upgrading to a premium OEM solution,” says Nicholas Ariens, director of product management for Ariens Company.

Sanicola recommends looking at the durability and operator efficiency of things like welds, bearings and drive systems. Most manufacturers also recommend purchasing attachments from the original equipment manufacturer since they’re sure to fit and work well on mowers.

“Fit, finish and smooth operation are generally good indicators of the time and effort that was spent in the product’s development,” says Mark Aldendifer, Exmark parts and accessories marketing manager, adding that finding the right dealer partner is crucial to keeping your equipment up and running.

And, attachments can always be added into equipment leases, Minas says. “Work with your dealer to see how you can get more bang for your buck.”

What’s popular now.

Attachments that enhance cutting performance, improve versatility and offer more comfort are in the highest demand across the board.

And anything that helps contractors improve their finish like mulching or striping kits is popular. John Deere says the Mulch On Demand deck is one of its most popular attachments since it allows operators to switch from discharge to mulch without stopping.

For Wright Manufacturing, the Velke Sulkies and Grass Gobblers have consistently been the most popular attachments for years, says Vice President of Sales Hal White.

Toro’s GrandStand MULTI FORCE was developed in part to improve sidewalk snow removal productivity for contractors.
Photo courtesy of Toro

“In addition, professional landscapers spend a lot of time on our machines, so attachments that target comfort are very important,” Ariens says, naming seat covers and suspension seat kits.

Flex-Forks have been a big hit for Excel Industries, which produces Hustler and BigDog mowers, since they help operators be more efficient by offering an even cut on uneven terrain even at high speed while absorbing shock to improve comfort.

And for Exmark, suspension seats are popular on zero-turn riders, along with the operator controlled discharge accessory and UltraVac collection systems.

Mulch kits have been growing in popularity for Excel as well as Ariens/Gravely. “Mulching adds benefits to the yard because you are returning the clippings back to the soil to reclaim the nutrients,” Unruh says. “Also, you’re not dealing with hauling and disposing clippings.”

The operator controlled discharge accessory and UltraVac collection systems is a popular attachment for Exmark.
Photo courtesy of Exmark

Rakes and blowers have been staples for years at BOB-CAT and Steiner while baggers and dethatchers have been the big sellers for Toro. Walker’s dethatcher has also been its most popular option.

Growing popularity.

BOB-CAT and Steiner haven’t changed their offerings much in terms of attachments, but people want bigger and more powerful attachments, Sanicola says.

Ariens has noticed that as landscape businesses grow, operators are starting to cut grass in all kinds of weather conditions. “While all-weather performance has always been important, it is now critical that all of our attachments perform no matter when an operator chooses to cut,” he says.

That includes mowing in low light conditions, Minas says, adding that he’s seeing contractors add front light kits to zero-turn mowers.

“With a front light kit, you can start mowing a little earlier or mow past sunset, which can be a big boost to productivity,” he says.

Husqvarna has seen dump carts and sweepers gain popularity in recent years. John Deere has also seen a lot of popularity with its 14-bushel dump-from-seat system which allows a longer mowing time between dumping.