Brian Fullerton is host of Brian’s Lawn Maintenance, one of the most popular YouTube channels for landscapers. Owner of a landscape company for 16 years, he offers equipment reviews and advice to 159K subscribers. Turf asked for his analysis of this year’s mower market. Here’s what he had to say:
If you had told me 16 years ago that I would see a day when robots would take over our mowing and landscaping, I would’ve said you’re crazy. For an industry that has been hand-in-hand with labor and equipment for as long as I can remember, we’ve been going through a major transformation these last few years. I never saw us not physically mowing lawns or even just heading back to fuel up equipment at the end of a long summer day. These trends are just the tip of the iceberg.
1. Bigger, Bolder Options
One trend that is sure to kick up a storm in 2022 and beyond is the scope of equipment options being offered today. Look for more engine options than ever before, and deck sizes to meet! Nowadays we’re seeing engines offered at 37, 39, and 40 HP and beyond, while matching them to 72″, 96″, 104″, and 144″ sized mower decks. Truly amazing. For an industry that is built on productivity and getting as much work done as possible in a short period of time, these engine and deck sizes are here to stay. Getting more done with less labor and less equipment (think one mower where it used to take two!) is going to be the new normal, and I think the companies out there are just getting warmed up.
2. Wider Product Offerings
More and more companies these days are rounding out their product line to answer the call for mowers of all types. Consider Wright mowers adding new Zero Turn sit-down mowers, while Exmark, Spartan, and Altoz make strides to expand their stand-on lineup. Companies that offer full mower portfolios are great for contractors since they can keep their fleet unified with one brand. This creates continuity which helps with repairs and keeping operators familiar with the mowers.
3. Accessories & Customization
Just like in the automotive and power equipment sports worlds, accessories are big business! I believe that trend will continue to carry over to the green industry with the addition of new companies that offer incredible products to accessorize our mowers and equipment. From chute blockers, aftermarket USB charging plugs for smartphones, to light bars and so much more, accessories are booming.
Ballard Innovative Products, based in Akeny, IA, is heading this accessories niche currently, and many more companies are right behind them. It just makes sense these days. Why not add a little personalization to your mowers? After all, it’s your company, and you can express yourself through your equipment however you choose!
4. Battery Power
When you look back at the history of lawn mowers, it’s hard to believe that these heavy, loud, and expensive pieces of equipment would run on anything but gas. Sure, we’ve seen our fair share of alternatives like diesel and propane, but in reality, we haven’t seen any significant changes in terms of powering our outdoor equipment in decades. Until recently.
Battery powered OPE (outdoor power equipment) has made huge strides these last five years, so much so that at the GIE+EXPO 2021 Show (now the Equip Exposition), almost every single player in the OPE space was debuting a battery powered lawn mower or piece of handheld equipment. Say goodbye to gunked up carburetors. Goodbye messy oil changes and fouled spark plugs. Battery powered equipment is clean, quiet, and as robust (if not more!) as gas powered equipment. Run times are drastically improving and power and torque for trimmers and leaf blowers are becoming unparalleled. Consider the recent legislation banning gas-powered equipment in California and you can see how battery powered equipment is increasing in adoption.
5. Autonomous Mowers
Skeptical of the trend toward robotic mowers? Imagine this: the big game is on TV and the whole crew is coming over. You have food to prepare, drinks to chill, a house to clean, and you haven’t yet gotten around to mowing the lawn! Then you look out the window and see a freshly manicured lawn. There’s no visible traditional mowing stripes. No loud noises of two stroke equipment running amuck. On the corner of your property, you see the mower back home, safe and sound, charging up for the next day. Not bad, huh?
Believe it or not, autonomous mowers are here—and they’re here to stay. Picture a bunch of little frisbees zipping around your lawn, mowing an 1/8″ off the top, giving you a perfectly manicured lawn, day after day. Sounds like a thing of the future, but I promise you, the future is here.
When you break down the cost of these units for your lawn service, you may be deterred, but let’s think it through. For clients, these could be a big draw and revenue generator. No fumes, no engines roaring, no missed weekly schedules because of rain—a lawn that looks perfect, daily, indefinitely—and no labor, hiring, costs, or absenteeism issues for you. Autonomous mowers have been making a huge splash in Europe, and they’re finally making their debut in the mainstream in the U.S. For many reasons, I think they’re the wave of the future.
Fullerton is owner of the landscape company, Brian’s Lawn Maintenance, based in Wixom, MI. To subscribe to Brian’s Lawn Maintenance channel on YouTube, visit www.youtube.com/c/BriansLawnMaintenance. Fullerton also offers business tips for growing landscape companies at LawntrepreneurAcademy.com and a podcast show, Fullerton Unfiltered.