Top 5 yards to mow in West Branch
by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · June 28, 2013

Think you’ve got a lot of grass to mow? Time to get a bit of perspective.

We put the question on Twitter and Facebook: Outside of farmland, which are the Top Five largest properties in the city that get mowed regularly?

Our criteria: That it is inside the city limits, and it is mowed on a regular basis. We also looked at total acreage mowed, not just single or separate lots.

We are not including entire property acreage. For example, Procter & Gamble owns about 106 acres and leases another 37, but most of that is taken up by buildings and parking lots.

Gary Stout, owner of Gary’s Lawn Mowing Service, mows P&G’s property, and said only about 1 1/2 acres gets cut regularly, and it takes him less than two hours on a John Deere riding lawnmower.

Out of the few who tried to guess on Facebook, only one guess was among the Top Five: West Branch Community Schools. It finished No. 4 on the list.

One thing to keep in mind, though: Unlike homeowners, the folks who mow these yards get paid to do it.

No. 1: Fox Run Golf & Country Club

Manager Jack Hamilton said just about every bit of the property, minus the club house and parking lot, gets mowed.

Mowed acreage: About 80

Man hours to mow: About 100 hours each week.

Workers: 4

Tools: A “bat wing” trailer mower pulled by a John Deere (for ditches and hills), a zero-turn Hustler, a Jacobsen mower, a John Deere greens mower, and a pushmower and string trimmer for the creek

No. 2: Herbert Hoover National Historic Site

The Hoover Complex boasts about 186 acres, but take away the 81-acre prairie, farmed land, parking lots, streets, etc. and the historic site’s actual mowed land drops significantly, according to Mark Denker, who oversees the grounds.

Mowed acreage: Roughly 50

Man hours to mow: About 72

Workers: 3

Tools: 16-foot wide area mower, 72-inch front deck riding mower, 52-inch front deck riding mower, 54-inch walk-behind mower, a sidewalk edger, 2 utility/equipment transport vehicles, two 22-inch push mowers, 2 string trimmers, and 2 power blowers

No. 3: City of West Branch

The city mows Lions Park, Beranek Park and West Branch Municipal Cemetery, but it also cuts along road shoulders for a few miles, Public Works Director Matt Goodale said.

Mowed acreage: Around 40 (About 20 in the cemetery, half of which is mowed each week)

Man hours to mow: About 55 (20 spent trimming)

Workers: 3

Tools: Two lawn tractors, a zero-turn mower, four string trimmers

No. 4: West Branch Community Schools

The city has three schools, two football fields, a softball and baseball field, plus a large playground area between West Branch Middle School and Hoover Elementary, said Building and Grounds Director Joe Lande.

Mowed acreage: About 25

Man hours to mow: About 27 to 40

Workers: 3-4

Tools: A zero-turn 72-inch riding mower, a 15-foot batwing pulled by a tractor, a pushmower, a 42-inch ride-behind mower and a string trimmer

No. 5: West Branch Village/

Hames Manufactured Homes

Manager Colton Miller oversees the mowing in a property that houses about one-fifth of West Branch’s population.

Mowed acreage: About 15

Man hours to mow: About 24

Workers: 2

Tools: 2 riding lawnmowers, a string trimmer, and a sickle bar/trailer mower for the creek

Gary’s Lawn Mowing Service also contracts for Tidewater Direct, which has 18 acres of property. Stout said he spends about 2 hours, 15 minutes mowing a couple of acres there. The rest of the yard — perhaps 13-14 acres — that surrounds the building is cut for hay three times a year.

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