Mowing your lawn is a springtime ritual. The grass grows, the blades get sharpened.
Now, there’s a new smartphone app that lets you track when you mow, how often, the total time you spend, and even where you mow on your freshly manicured lawn.
The app is from John Deere and it’s called MowerPlus, available for both the iPhone/iPad and Android smartphones or tablets. I decided to give it a whirl (quite literally) using a John Deere Z335E Zero-Turn 42-inch riding mower and find out how to improve my own lawn.
The goal was simple. I wanted to find out more about my mowing patterns. Most of us tend to mow on a weekly basis, but don’t necessarily follow a set regimen. Oh, there’s always that one neighbor who logs what he mows and varies his mowing pattern religiously. Who has the time? It’s easier to fire up the push mower or the rider and get busy with the cutting.
Yet, lawn care experts say it’s best to “diversify” how you cut. This creates a healthier lawn, one that looks like something pro golfer Rory McIlroy would appreciate. If you use the same pattern, cut too often, or don’t cut enough, the turf tends to look dry and lacks color.
To start out, I installed the MowerPlus app on my iPhone 6s. There’s a big yellow button named Mow Now, so I climbed aboard the Z335E and clicked the button. You see a GPS map of your own property and an estimate on speed, distance, and the coverage area by acre. I clicked Start Mowing, and the app tracked my exact pattern around my yard.
I zigged and zagged, created diagonal patterns, and did my typical “circle and conquer” pattern, slowly working my way into the center of my yard. Good results so far.
The app tracked each mow for a few weeks, so I was able to scroll down and click a button to see previous mows according to the dates. It turns out I do tend to mow the same way each time for about the same time period. The app also shows the average time to mow, total time on the rider, average and total distances, total coverage area, and average speed. This is all calculated automatically when you mow, although you have to click stop when you’re done. I started mowing more diagonally, and I noticed a fresher cut without the same dry patches.
That’s one minor complaint here. I wanted the app to have some lawn care AI. Maybe it could sense when I was mowing base don my speed and turn angles, starting and stopping the timer automatically. After one mow, I forgot to hit stop in the app and jumped in the car. MowerPlus thought I had mowed all the way to the next town (for five hours). Not a big deal, though. You can go in later and delete any mow you don’t want to see anymore.
Mostly, the app helped me determine how to vary my mowing schedule and even compare how long it takes to mow based on the pattern I use. That’s where the “why” comes in—you can use the app to find out how often you mow and set a schedule for mowing that’s a little less random. Maybe that all seems a little too detailed-oriented, but the results in my case were pristine. I liked being able to see the when, where, and why. And, the Z335E is an amazing, high-powered mower. I’ve tested several riders before, but this one cuts evenly, started every time, and felt a like I was driving the Audi of riding mowers. That matches up well with the app. If you do pay $2,500 for a mower, you want a pristine cut, and the MowerPlus app helped me do that.
The app also gives you info about your mower including tutorials and maintenance tips. It works with any mower, not just those from John Deere, and it’s free.
I plan to keep using it all summer—even if I “accidentally” mow for miles across town.