Taking a bite out of the Oulde Sod

By JimRental

OpenRental note: P. and K. Goyle (yes, those are pseudonyms) are undertaking a series of projects in their yard. This is the second of a series of blogs by Peter as they use a range of rental equipment to transform their yard into a stylish oasis.

There’s cutting the grass. Then there’s CUTTING the grass. It’s definitely the latter with a sod cutter.

This is one of those quick home projects. I know, I know…there’s no such thing, right? Let me explain.

With a simple ball hitch on your vehicle, you pull directly into the equipment yard. They hook up a simple trailer and roll the sod cutter directly on to it. After a short tutorial to help you understand the controls, off you go.

Rolling the cutter off the trailer at the house is simple enough. Five minutes after getting home, I’m cutting out the back lawn. Forty five minutes later, I’m done and rolling it back onto the trailer and headed back to the equipment yard for drop off. See…simple.

OK, a couple of things to note: I don’t have a huge backyard, although it’s big enough. I still had to roll-up and dispose of the sod – that took another 2.5 hours once I got back from the drop-off. If I was taking on the whole yard, I think I would have rented a dingo loader at the same time, and let it do all of the heavy lifting.

Also, if I were a detail-oriented person, I might have been more particular about setting the cutting depth – I’m not, so I didn’t.

Even so, it was a very straight-forward project and a heck of a forearm workout. The sod cutter does pull you forward quite a bit when operating. Holding on to that to keep the cutting semi-straight will put some strain on your arms.

It took a little forethought, but the ability to separately engage/disengage the wheel drive and the cutting blade made the tight turns and maneuvering in confined spaces pretty easy. When coming to the end of a row, I would disengage the wheel drive first, then the cutting blade.

Once everything was settled, I would prep for the turn and then engage the wheel drive. Once full turned, disengage the wheel drive to get set for the next cutting pass. Then it was a simple matter of engaging the cutting blade and then the wheel drive. Off I went on the next row. Simple. Easy.

Lessons learned

• Get instruction before leaving rental shop. Understand what each lever does. I would also suggest shooting a quick video of the instruction just in case you need to refer to it once you get back to the house.

• After a couple of hours usage, I still didn’t know how deep to set the cutting depth. I’m going to say this one is a matter for constant experimentation and personal preference.

• The shaded parts of the lawn were a bit easier to cut. I suspect that’s because the underside wasn’t sum-baked hard like the rest of the lawn. This is probably best done when you haven’t seen 20 straight +90 degree days. That would be rough.

• Be aggressive using the engage/disengage levers for both the cutter and wheels. This is a quick way to stop the cutting when you need to assess how things are going or when you’re getting ready to make a turn.

• Sod can be heavy. Have some help on standby to get it rolled up, or if the job is big enough, consider renting a dingo loader.

• There is no power reverse. If you need to back out of a tight spot, it’s going to be the all-muscle drive that does so, once you’ve disengaged the wheel drive and cutter.