WHAT'S ON MY TRAILER: Smaller Decks, Combo Tools and a Wheel of Fortune

Tennessee contractor talks about his favorite landscape tools and equipment.

Curtis Thompson says the best tool investment he's ever made is his measuring wheel.
Curtis Thompson says the best tool investment he's ever made is his measuring wheel.

Curtis Thompson is the owner of T Scapes in Oak Ridge, TN. Though he just started his company roughly five years ago, Thompson has been working in the landscaping business since the early 1990s. In this installment of What's On My Trailer, he explains how smaller mower decks have made him more productive, and how his multi-use handheld tool and measuring wheel are among the best investments he's ever made.

Size Matters

"I switched from a 52- to a 48-inch walk-behind mower last year," Thompson points out. "While I didn't see any production loss from the switch, it has allowed me to be more capable of addressing the specific needs of my properties."

All of Thompson's clients are commercial, retail or industrial. Thus, there are several parking-lot islands and areas adjacent to buildings where a 36- or 48-inch mower is more practical. "Using a zero-turn rider would be more of a liability and put more stress on the machine getting on and off curbs in those areas," Thompson adds.

Truth be told, Thompson is finding himself on his 60-inch zero-turn rider less and less these days. It is strictly used for large, open areas and fields. "If I have a property with five acres of turf, for example, a rider is obviously best," Thompson says. "But on the other hand, half- to two-acre properties are best suited for a walk-behind, at least that's been my experience." Additionally, Thompson says he can put two walk-behinds into production for the cost of one rider, giving him a backup at all times.

Combo-Tools for All-Season Production

Another popular item on the T Scapes trailer is Thompson's combo tool. "It provides me with multiple tools from one product," he explains. "It can be a trimmer, extended shear, pole saw, edger, and more. I rely on it heavily during the winter in terms of limbing up trees and reaching taller shrubs."

A Wheel of Fortune

Thompson says his best tool investment ever has been his measuring wheel. While it doesn't necessarily help him make more money, it does help prevent him from losing more money as a result of poor estimating.

"My measuring wheel is critical to my business," Thompson says. "It allows me to get a true number for the square footage of turf, landscaped beds and flower beds. I'm pretty good at eye-balling a property from my truck, but that is simply a guess with no means of accuracy. My wheel has eliminated those guesses while providing me the ability to bid with confidence."

"Murphy's Law" Kit

Murphy's Law suggests that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Thus, Thompson has put together what he calls his "Murphy's Law" kit.

It is a medium-sized storage bin that carries a small air compressor, an air tank, fix-a-flat, gorilla glue, duct tape, a tire repair kit, assorted bolts/nuts, screws and rope. "You just never know what your day is going to have in store for you when you walk out the door," Thompson reminds. "Other than making sure that I have a spare for my trailer, this kit provides me with a solution for the unknown dilemma that is always lurking around the corner."