Commercial mower guide

Commercial mower guide: The sun’s out. The weather is getting warmer. And we’re all thinking the same thing – a time for a turf maintenance refresh. Luckily for you, we have put together a handy guide that includes the best commercial mowers on the market to help you pick the right mower to complete the job.

Here at Balmers GM, we understand that choosing the right mower is essential for maximising performance whilst still maintaining a quality finish on every job. This is where John Deere’s comprehensive range of commercial mowers come in.

Commercial mower guide

Commercial mower guide

Although each mower is unique in their own way, your choice of product will ultimately depend on a number of key factors. These include; the size of the area you have to mow, how frequently the area requires maintaining, how intricate the mowing area is with any obstacles you may have to navigate around, plus the type of finish that’s required.

The full range of John Deere commercial mowers start off with their professional line-up of walk-behind mowers, moving up to their powerful diesel mowing tractors, zero-turn mowers for fast and efficient mowing, front rotary mowers for more challenging terrain, wide-area mowers for larger areas and their compact tractor series with a range of attachments to give you ultimate versatility.

All John Deere commercial mowers are easy to operate with their comfortable, intuitive, ergonomic controls, and depending which model you choose, most come with powerful 3cylinder diesel engines, hydro-static transmissions, power-steering, 2WD or 4WD options and larger fuel tanks for longer periods of continuous mowing.

Other great features include simple cutting height adjustment, drive over mowing decks, hitip grass collectors and the superb Michelin X Tweel turf airless tyres which are immune to sharp objects and last three times longer than conventional pneumatic tyres. Above all else, a John Deere commercial mower will leave a professional, class-leading cut whilst increasing your businesses’ productivity, performance and profitability.

The 4 Key Models

Diesel Mowing Tractors: John Deere X950R

The John Deere X950R is a powerful rear discharge, rear collect diesel mowing tractor and is a popular choice with landscapers, estates, holiday parks and all the other turf professionals that need to mow larger areas whilst collecting the grass clippings.

Featuring a fuel efficient high-torque 3-cylinder diesel engine, heavy-duty wheel motors, hydraulic power-steering, ergonomic controls and a high-back seat for operator comfort all day long.
The X950R can be configured with a choice of either a 48” or 54” mowing deck and a choice of high or low tip grass collector – the outstanding ‘tail follows trail’ design makes it easy to mow near fences, walls and obstacles with the collection box fitted. Alternatively, a rear deflector chute can be easily fitted to the tractor for those jobs where grass collection isn’t necessary.

Zero-Turn Mowers: John Deere Z997R

If its speed and efficiency you’re after, nothing compares to the manoeuvrability of a zero turn mower. Their ability to turn 360 means navigating around obstacles can be done easily and without slowing down, saving you time and money – making them a popular choice with landscapers and contractors alike.

The Z997R can be configured with either a 72” side discharge deck or a 60” side or rear discharge deck, which can all be easily converted to mulching deck if required.
Another popular option for zero turn mowers are the Tweel Turf Tyres. As they are airless, it’s impossible to lose tyre pressure (one of the main reasons operators are often left with an uneven cut due to loss of tyre pressure causing the mower deck to tilt) and of course are puncture proof too!

Front Rotary Mowers: John Deere 1500 Series

For those larger contract mowing jobs, a commercial front rotary mower is certainly worth considering as they’re specifically engineered to mow through thick grass at high speed for longer periods of time – up to 10 hours of continuous mowing for some models!

The John Deere 1500 series of commercial front rotary mowers come with 4WD as standard and are fitted with high performance 3-cylinder diesel engines with direct injection to increase economy and mowing performance.

All models are available with a choice of mowing decks; the 7-Iron Pro side discharge deck is designed for more challenging areas and is available in either a 60” or 72” width of cut or in areas where people may be present the FastBack rear discharge deck is available in either a 62” or 72” width of cut.

Compact Tractors: John Deere 1026R

For many turf professionals, a good option is a compact tractor. Not only will it easily tackle those seasonal mowing jobs, a compact tractor is a sound investment for all sorts of groundcare jobs all year round.

The rear PTO can operate a whole range of attachments such as leaf blowers, chippers and log-splitters for Autumnal work, and when Winter comes – snow brushes, blades and gritters can be attached quickly. Other attachments include front loaders, buckets and pallet forks and to the rear of the tractor accessories such as transport boxes and trailers are quickly attached to a 3-point hitch.

The John Deere 1026R is the smallest compact tractor in the range and is designed to let the operator switch tools and attachments quickly. Standard features include hydro-static transmission, 4WD and power-steering for smooth operation – plus a deluxe seat and suspension, tilt steering and a lighting kit for all-day, all year round work.

The AutoConnect mower deck connects to the tractor without you having to leave your seat. Simply drive over the deck ramps, listen for the two clicks as the deck attaches and you’re done. Yes, it’s that easy. And quick!

For a limited time only, you can get the 54” AutoConnect mowing deck when you purchase the John Deere 1026R model for JUST £1 – a saving of over £3,000!

If you’re still unsure on which type of commercial mower is the right one for you, then our dedicated sales team will be happy to offer advice, guidance and machinery demonstrations to help you through the decision-making process. Simply enquire now.

Balmers GM are one of North England’s largest dedicated turf machinery dealers and are John Deere’s main dealers for golf and turf machinery covering Lancashire, West and South Yorkshire. Find out more.

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82V Cramer cordless commercial range

82V Cramer cordless commercial range: 2020 sees the official launch of the Cramer 82V Commercial range of machinery, with over 30 commercial garden products designed specifically for the professional user and one of the most comprehensive and competitive ranges in today’s market.

The new range offers market leading performance, with innovative features such as Magnesium components, Fleet connectivity, and ultra-high torque motors to offer true petrol rivalling performance for a fraction of the running costs and with no emissions.

82V Cramer cordless commercial range

82V Cramer cordless commercial range


Cramer has built a strong reputation in Europe for producing high quality commercial horticultural products. Following the development of the 82V range we can now offer

a complete solution for commercial users in the U.K. that are looking for a cordless range, where emissions, performance, affordability and choice are important.’ said Alan Wilson, Handy Distributions Cramer Specialist, UK distributor for Cramer.

The range includes both on-board and backpack battery solutions, and a comprehensive range of handheld equipment including chainsaws, blowers, hedge trimmers, grass trimmers, brush cutters, multi-tools, and hand pruners. Walk behind products include sweepers, utility carts, and lawnmowers up to 61cm (twin blade).

For more information on the range or to find your nearest stockist, call us now on 01793 333220 or visit

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Ventrac for Norse Commercial Services

Ventrac for Norse Commercial Services: Norse Commercial Services (NCS) has purchased a Ventrac 4500 all-terrain compact tractor and Tough Cut deck, through supplying dealer Ernest Doe & Sons, to help maintain the embankments of the new Broadland Northway.

The 19.5 km (12 mile) dual carriageway, formerly known as the Norwich Northern Distributor Road (NNDR) connects traffic from the eastern approaches to the northwest of the city.

Ventrac for Norse Commercial Services

Completed in April 2018 at a cost of £208 million, it has 39 km (24 miles) of embankments that have been planted with 380,000 native shrubs and trees, including gorse, oak, acer and hawthorn. Areas with no tree or shrub planting have been seeded with four differing mixes of wildflower seeds. It is these wildflower areas that the Ventrac and Tough Cut deck are maintaining.

Simon Mutten is the Head of Policy and Strategy at GYB Services, Project Co-ordinator for the NCS and lead liaison with the client, Norfolk County Council. Commenting on the new machine he said,

“The Environmental Management Plan requires a cut and rake of the wildflower sections twice a year. This is the first year that the embankments have been cut and we required a machine to work alongside our existing Roboflail, to increase productivity on the larger areas. We have 1.5 million square metres to maintain, so we were looking for something more productive to ensure that we provide best value to the client.”

Martin Adcock is Operations Manager at Norwich Norse Environmental, one of the three companies involved in the joint venture to maintain the highway, and was the person tasked with finding a solution to the maintenance issue.

“My first action was an internet search for slope mowers. Remote controlled mowers, including our Roboflail, featured prominently but productivity was an issue due to their limited width of cut. The Ventrac also featured in the search and, with its 1.7 metre cutting width and maximum speed of around 16 km an hour, it appeared that it could do the job. However, I had not heard of the machine before and was quite sceptical. I contacted our dealer, Ernest Doe, who is a trusted partner and has supplied us with groundscare equipment for many years.

“They advised that they had experience of the machine and could arrange a demonstration, which was done very quickly. Once I’d seen it in action, and had a chance to operate it myself, I realised that it would certainly do the job for us. The demo was brilliant; it tackled the embankments with ease and left a very acceptable finish. With a ground pressure of just 6 psi, it’s gentle on the newly established slopes and can be used at 30 degrees, something no other ride-on machine can achieve. We are also using it around the lagoons that take the water run-off from the road.”

Jack Adcock is the principal operator of the Ventrac and says,

“I’ve been using it for around 40 hours and both manoeuvrability and stability are excellent; it just won’t run away from you on slopes. It’s simple to use, the controls are really intuitive and maintenance is easy. The flip up deck makes it quick to clean and the double-sided blades ensure you can keep operating all-day long. Used in conjunction with our Roboflail, which can be used on slopes up to 55 degrees, we have all the right equipment to do the job and keep the highway looking really presentable.”

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Commercial Landscape Irrigation Tips

Commercial Landscape Irrigation Tips: Peter Longman, Rain Bird’s Northern Europe Landscape Area Manager, takes a look at how irrigation systems are becoming an integral element of landscape design. Product selection and regular maintenance are essential.

It seems that water restrictions and hose pipe bans may be more frequent over the coming years as predictions about global warming become reality. Whilst it is true that conservation of water is everyone’s responsibility, irrigation technology is likely to play an important role in ensuring this precious commodity is used to maximum effect in the commercial landscaping, sports and residential applications.

Commercial Landscape Irrigation Tips

Landscape and Water Considerations

With efficient irrigation products and practices, it is possible to reduce water consumption by 25 per cent or more without having to give up the plants and trees that add to the look of any landscape. A fundamental requirement is to know the soil type involved – is an important factor in determining how fast and how often irrigation is needed. Different soils have differing rates of water intake as well as being able to hold moisture for varying amounts of time. These factors will influence the choice of plants as well as the type of sprinkler or other form of irrigation and will also influence the irrigation schedule. Finding out about a particular soil type does not require expensive lab tests and DIY soil testing is easy, using a jar test to measure soil texture and type.

Water pressure can vary greatly between locations. High or fluctuating pressure can have an  impact on the efficiency of an irrigation system. If there is no high pressure, it is important to install products equipped with pressure regulating devices, which can make significant water savings per minute per device. The quality of water can vary too and in some areas ‘reclaimed’ or ‘recycled’ water is available for irrigation purposes, requiring special products that stand up to the harsh chemicals that can be found in that type of water.

One way of conserving water and helping plants to stay healthy is to spread mulch in shrub beds, tree rings and flower beds. This helps drainage, encourages root development and improves the soil by making nutrients more available to the plants.

As different types of plants and shrubs within a landscape will need differing amounts of water, one approach is to divide a property into separate zones so that groundcover, shrubs and trees can be watered separately and less frequently. For some installations, drought-tolerant plants may be favourable whilst the use of grass with its higher irrigation needs, can be reserved for areas with high value or visual prominence.

Preventative Maintenance

In an existing installation, one of the most important tasks is to evaluate its performance. Check regularly for leaks as small ones can go unnoticed for long periods, potentially causing costly water wastage. Technology is available to detect and fix these leaks whilst a central irrigation controller that monitors an installed system with real-time alerts will indicate problems, allowing broken heads or damaged lines to be fixed immediately. Flow sensors will help limit the liability caused by water loss through damaged pipes or faulty valves.

Commercial Landscape Irrigation Tips

Adjusting and Scheduling Irrigation Times

With the development of new technologies, adjusting irrigation schedules in accordance with real-time and predicted weather conditions is now a reality. This allows water to be saved whilst maintaining a healthy landscape. It is estimated that daily adjustments based on weather can save an average of 30-50%  in water consumption for irrigation each year.

Starting with a weather station based irrigation system, a smart controller automatically adjusts the watering schedule to take into account both current and predicted weather conditions.This allows the controller to water plants optimally year round without the need to constantly reprogram the controller. A rain sensor can also be used to stop or delay irrigation in the event of precipitation. Modern controllers’ seasonal adjust feature will turn watering times down as seasons and conditions change. All these features will help to prevent over watering, excess run-off and unhealthy landscapes.

It is normally better to irrigate in the early morning when the sun is low, winds are calm and temperatures are cool. Midday irrigating tends to be less efficient due to evaporation and wind drift. Irrigating in the evening is not a good idea either because leaves can remain wet overnight – an open invitation for fungus to grow.

Product Selection and Performance

Wind drift interference is just one phenomenon that should influence the selection of irrigation products. It is most likely to occur during the middle of the day and even small amounts of wind can cause water used for irrigation to drift, evaporate and be wasted.

Pressure regulating sprays and rotors combined with thick streamed nozzles, such as R-VAN, can help reduce the effects of wind drift. Keeping water in a tight place and hitting the target zone will also prevent wastage.

Irrigation systems are usually set to keep plants alive in the most inefficient areas of the system, which means that the plants in other areas may get too much water. Applying more water than the ground can absorb leads to excess water running off and technology such as Cycle+Soak on Rain Bird controllers will split watering times into a few shorter periods, so water has a chance to soak in. For slopes and hills, the use of lower-flow rotary nozzles will provide a solution.

As different types of emitters apply water at different rates, it is important to make sure water is being applied evenly and not overwatering some areas. The use of sprays and rotors with matched precipitation rates are available and are designed to be used together in the same zone.

Running a system with too much pressure creates misting and excess flow, which can result in water wastage but by adding a pressure regulation to sprays and rotors allows nozzles to perform as designed, delivering the right amount of water.

Think Dripline

The popularity of drip irrigation systems continues to increase as the industry recognises its benefits. Not only does drip irrigate plants directly for the most effective watering, but also ensures that virtually no water is lost through evaporation and water run off is minimised. Converting flower beds and shrubs to drip can on average, save 50% compared with over watering with traditional sprays. For grass, subsurface dripline is installed 3-4 inches below the surface to deliver water directly to the roots. Dripline subsurface for trees and large shrubs offers the benefit of water savings and can also result in larger, healthier plants.

Until recently, however, using drip irrigation on sloped landscapes had been problematical because of the pooling and consequent soil erosion or drainage issues that could be caused at the bottom of the slope. This is a result of water continuing to flow out at the lowest point after the drip system has been turned off.  A new dripline system that is kept effectively charged along the entire slope, whilst simultaneously stopping water escaping at the bottom, is now available.

Commercial Landscape Irrigation Tips

Maintaining just the right levels for water pressure and water flow are also essential to attaining maximum efficiency from any dripline system and drip control zone kits for a range of flows are readily available. Sand, grit and debris can affect the performance on low-volume drip emitters, leading to clogs and wasted water. Filtration systems will clear these harmful elements so that clogging is never an issue.

In Summary

An understanding of the soil, the landscape, the water supply and the local weather are key to effective irrigation. Once these are taken into consideration, proper maintenance and specification of the most appropriate and practical  irrigation systems, controllers and programming software will make a major contribution to the preservation of a landscape.

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