As a commercial landscaping expert, it’s important to always have the right tools you need on hand. While ride-on mowers are incredibly useful at clearing large, open areas quickly, nothing beats a walk-behind mower when you need to maneuver through tight areas on your customer’s property. Yet with so many walk-behind mower options out there, it can be challenging to choose the right one for the job.
Below we review and compare two popular walk-behind models, the Toro TurfMaster and the Ferris FW15, to help you determine which design is best suited for your business.
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Why Use a Walk-Behind Mower?
The rise of the zero-turn riding mower has made many commercial landscapers question the need for walk-behind mowers completely. Not only can riding mowers cover more ground twice as fast as a walk-behind, but they also offer the added convenience of allowing the operator to be comfortably carried around as they manicure a large lawn.
The added power of zero-turn riding mowers, combined with how quickly they can turn to get around obstacles, definitely makes them a great option for larger jobs that would otherwise take way too long with a walk-behind mower.
Yet walk-behind mowers have plenty of advantages of their own. Unlike their large and bulky riding mower cousins, the compact size of walk-behinds makes them easier to transport and store.
Their small size also makes them perfect for squeezing through tight spaces on your customer’s property. While most ride-on mowers will have a width of around 40 inches, you can easily find a walk-behind mower that will measure 30 to 32 inches wide.
Their smaller frame will come in handy when you need to go through a narrow gate to a backyard or another tight area during a job at a residential property.
Walk-behind mowers are also better suited to hills and slopes than ride-on mowers. In fact, you won’t be able to safely mow a slope using a lawn tractor or a zero-turn mower. Neither of these is designed for inclines greater than 15 degrees and can easily flip backward. While there are riding mowers that can safely function on steep hills, they are much more expensive.
A walk-behind mower, however, can safely and effectively mow a steep hill when used correctly without you having to worry about injuring the operator or damaging your equipment.
As you can see, walk-behind mowers are still an important tool for commercial landscapers to keep on hand.
Toro TurfMaster 30 Inch Walk-Behind Mower
The Toro TurfMaster is a tough and durable commercial push mower built for heavy use in rough conditions.
It features a 30 inch 3-in-1 deck design that provides mulching, bagging or side discharge. It’s designed with an easily adjustable two-point deck height control mechanism on the back so you can quickly switch between the height of cut in half an inch increments without having to fumble with multiple levers all over the mower.
It's tough, co-polymer commercial-grade wheels are designed with precision ball bearings so they’ll last for longer and require less replacing throughout the life of your mower.
The TurfMaster includes a two-bail control system which allows for superior speed control, making it easy to operate. It also comes equipped with a blade brake clutch (BBC), which can stop the blades without having to turn off the engine. It features a steel bullnose front bumper, a brush guard and an engine guard that protect all its inner components from impact damage.
Overall, the Toro TurfMaster is a highly-productive and long-lasting walk-behind mower, great for many residential and commercial operations.
Excellent Maneuverability – With a 30-inch cutting width, the TurfMaster can fit through almost any gate, as well as along the sides of sheds and other small areas without the need to bring in smaller equipment to finish the job.
Gas Tank – The 1 gallon gas tank is fairly large for such a small walk behind mower. This can come in handy when using the mower for extended periods of time.
Speed – Its 4.1 mph ground speed will allow you to move quickly and efficiently, allowing you to rapidly cover a lot of ground and get your job done fast.
Bag Capacity – Its large 2.5-bushel catcher capacity lets you get more mowing done before having to empty the bag.
Hard to Use on Uneven Ground – The Toro TurfMaster is known to have difficulties on rough terrain. The difference in wheel size along with the wide deck cause the mower to stop completely if the front wheels drop into any holes in the ground, causing the deck and the blades within it to catch on higher ground.
Hard to Use on Hills – Hills seem to be a challenge for the TurfMaster. More specifically going up and down hills. The machine slips a lot when going up hills. Alos, since the unit doesn't have reverse it makes it difficult to turn around and pull the unit in reverse at times.
Needs More Power – The 6 horsepower Kawasaki FJ180V engine struggles to cut tall, thick and wet grass well, and if forced can lead to transmission issues. It can also struggle a little when going uphill and may need a bit of an extra push to make it all the way up.
Ferris FW15 32-Inch Walk-Behind Mower
The new Ferris FW15 is a variable hydrostatic walk-behind lawn mower that provides smooth traction for going both forward and backward, even on sloping terrain.
This fully-commercial mower features a reinforced steel deck and dual-timed cutting blades capable of taking on even the toughest of jobs. It also includes height-adjustable handlebars that allow for single-handed operation and let you easily switch between the FW15’s four speed options.
The spring assisted, single adjustment point lever on its side allows for easy, single-handed height of cut adjustment. Its 10.5-inch front tires are available in two models: fixed wheel or caster wheel configuration.
A mulching kit and cloth bagger are also available as attachments for this mower. Its authentic Honda GXV390 4-stroke engine provides an incredible 10.2 horsepower output capable of handling tall grass and unfavorable working conditions.
The Ferris FW15 is a high-powered machine that won’t disappoint and should be included in every commercial landscaper’s arsenal.
Powerful Engine – It’s 10.2 hp engine is capable of easily mowing up and downhill with minimal assistance. It is exceptionally quiet and very fuel efficient, providing a high compression ratio. This engine is so tough it’s often used in farm tractors and other small vehicles. It definitely gives the Ferris FW15 all the power it needs to get the job done.
Peerless Hydro Transaxle – The Hydro allows for smoother controls and much better traction on hills and wet grass.
One Hand Controls – The controls on the FW15 allow for one hand operation. This can come in handy for many reasons.
Convenient Size – At 32 inches, the FW15 will be able to easily fit and maneuver into all the tight spaces that can be found on a residential property. You’ll be able to quickly and neatly trim garden beds, the sides of sheds and walkways.
Quick Height Adjustment – The single point height of cut adjustment makes it very simple to raise and lower the deck.
Quick Forward and Reverse Speed – At 4 mph hour going forward and 2 mph in reverse, you’ll be able to quickly get the job done.
Weight – At a whopping 280 pounds, the Ferris FW15 will require an extra set of hands to load and unload off your truck when transporting it between locations.
Gas Tank Size – The gas tank is a bit small at .55 Gallons… Especially for having a larger engine than the TurfMaster.
Toro TurfMaster & Ferris FW15 Side-By-Side Comparison
|Features||Toro TurfMaster||Ferris FW15|
|Engine||Kawasaki® FJ180V KAI 179cc Commercial||Honda GXV390|
|Engine Power Rating||6 HP||10.2 HP|
|Engine Displacement||179 CC||389 CC|
|Ground Speed||Fwd - Up to 4.1 MPH|
|Fwd - Up to 4 MPH
Rev - Up to 2 MPH
|Transmission||Variable Speed, Rear Wheel Drive||Peerless axle with differential chain driven by Hydro-Gear RT-310 pump and motor|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||1 Gallon||0.55 Gallons|
|Number of Blades||2||2|
|Height of Cut||1.5 inch to 5 inches||1.5 inch to 5 inches|
|Cutting Width||30 Inches||32 Inches|
|Wheel Height||Front - 9 Inch|
Rear - 10.5 Inch
|Front - 10.5 Inch
Rear - 13 Inch
|Deck Material||13 Gauge Steel||14 and 12 Gauge Steel|
|Weight||170 LB||280 LB|
|Warranty||1-Year Limited Commercial Warranty|
3-Year Engine Limited Commercial Warranty
|2-Year Limited Commercial Warranty
3-Year Engine Limited Commercial Warranty
What Customers Are Saying
Most customers appreciate the tough, durable design of the TurfMaster and how well it works on flat and dry terrain. Its sizable gas tank means less refueling and more mowing. The included bagger is easy to put on and take off, and the cut height can be adjusted quickly.
Yet after looking at most reviews, you’ll notice a pattern of complaints regarding its power and transmission. Many commercial users have expressed their disappointment at how this walk-behind tends to struggle when mowing even on a small slope, as well as its poor cut quality and significant speed reduction when faced with tall or wet grass. Another common complaint is the low position of the handlebars. Since they cannot be adjusted, some users find them too low to be comfortable.
|Performance:||(3.0 / 5)|
|Cut Quality:||(3.5 / 5)|
|Durability:||(3.0 / 5)|
|Comfort:||(4.0 / 5)|
|Price:||(4.5 / 5)|
|Overall:||(3.6 / 5)|
This innovative walk-behind mower by Ferris is set to become available for sale in Spring 2019 and so no customer information is available yet. Its design resolves many of the issues of other similar walk-behind mowers, including the Toro TurfMaster, however.
Its 10 horsepower authentic Honda engine is sure to give it all the power it needs to efficiently tackle all kinds of terrain, without the need to be pushed.
The FW15 also allows for its handlebar to be height-adjusted, ensuring you’ll find a position that works for you. Its double-blade, highly durable and powerful design will be sure to make it a favorite for many commercial landscapers.
|Performance:||(4.5 / 5)|
|Cut Quality:||(4.0 / 5)|
|Durability:||(4.0 / 5)|
|Comfort:||(4.0 / 5)|
|Price:||(3.5 / 5)|
|Overall:||(4.0 / 5)|
What Do You Think?
Both the Toro TurfMaster and the Ferris FW15 offer many useful features and are great mid-sized walk-behind mower options for a commercial operation. There won’t be a clear winner until more customers get their hands on the FW15 and start reviewing it.
In the meantime, comment below and let us know if you’ve used the Toro Turfmaster or had the opportunity to see or try out the Ferris FW15.