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DDAF
09-22-2005, 08:56 AM
This is my first post in this forum but I have been reading different threads from time to time and there seem to be a lot of nice people here with a wealth of knowledge.

I have been doing field maintenance on some area athletic fields for the past Nine years all of which are Bermuda. This was just a hobby because I had kids involved in the program. The kids have graduated and one thing has led to another and now other programs have asked for help with their athletic fields.
I have worked in a factory now for Thirty years and doing the field maintenance on the side and have picked up a few lawns. I have a goal of doing field maintenance full time by spring, I have been using the schools equipment in the past but I now have purchased some equipment to start the ball rolling.

The Problem I have is giving a price quote to someone who is needs some seeding, this is a large area 125’ x 2000’ (a airstrip) the grade work is complete, some areas where it has runoff will need touched up. (It has been lying there all summer.) I plan on using a spike drag & finish drag to prep for seed.

The questions I need help with are
· What type of seed
· What type of spreader or application for this large area
· What to cover the seed with and preferred application
· Cost associated with a project of this size

East Tennessee area

Any help giving a price quote would be grateful


Thanks in advance
DDAF

topsites
09-22-2005, 09:39 AM
Hi,
This is my 4th year full-time in the business and would like to help. I learned everybody develops their own formula over time, what works for one may or may not work for another.
That having been said...
You COULD ask around for a commercial landscape supply place who sell a high-germination rate seed but this can be pricy throughout the learning stage so what I did until I figured out my formula is I used Kentucky 31 which is a tall fescue and is a less expensive seed with a lower germination rate (i.e.: more forgiving in the way of our mistakes - apply HEAVY). I always buy the largest bag (50 lbs.), the largest bags are cheapest ~$1/lb and you buy this at Home Depot.
For a spreader, you want a BROADCAST spreader, I like the 120# myself and be aware this baby costs 150 dollars but it is a fair quality product for the price you can buy at Northern Tool. The nicer aluminum ones sold for commercial applications run upwards of 200-300 dollars but I bought a home-owner use designed unit for learning purposes and am ready to upgrade today after 4 years...
Here is the product I use (yes, same one):
http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=6970&productId=9054&R=9054
With the 125# spreader, you can get MOST of a 50lb. bag of seed in the hopper and that is nice, one dump and NO refills means you get done spreading in one fell swoop because:
The trick with the spreader is to select an OPENING of the chute of around 1/4 to 1/3 (less than half open) until you get used to it, then CLOSE the chute and fill up the hopper. Once you're ready, OPEN the chute and start walking at a normal pace and here's more tricks:
Once you start walking, NEVER STOP no do NOT STOP !!! Keep walking and rolling out the seed until it runs out because sooner or later if you try and close the chute it will fail to close properly and the seed continues to run out and it isn't so big a deal with seed but with somethings (like fertilizer) this can be very bad so always: Once you start spreading DON'T stop until the hopper is empty. Ok then the next trick is the seed ALWAYS flows through at the SAME rate regardless of how fast or slow you walk SO: If you walk FASTER, the broadcast spreads the seed FARTHER and as the seed is flowing through, you get more SPREAD (i.e.: the same amount of seed covers a LARGER area the faster you walk). Conversely, a slower walk gives you a denser more concentrated application AND you will run out of seed faster as you will see. So what you do is gauge as you go with the eyeball method, the idea is to run OUT of seed at the SAME time you run out of area (it is not hard, I 'got' it pretty quick, maybe a little trial and error but it's not bad).
For how MUCH seed, I always use either a HALF or a FULL bag. Ok yes there are exceptions later but for starters HALF bag or the WHOLE bag works great.
Now, a FULL bag covers UP to an acre so I use a FULL bag from 1/2 acre to an acre and a HALF bag for anything less (If you use TOO much seed, it doesn't hurt to be sure, not using ENOUGH can be a bit of a waste of your time). Yes, with seed TOO much is better than NOT ENOUGH (esp. Ky 31).
150x2000 = 35000, so FULL bag, ONE whole bag of 50lbs. of seed and a 50lb. bag of seed regardless of what brand should cost NO more than 60 dollars! Although Rebel type seeds are nice, the price tag of 100 dollars makes it a prohibitive solution as the ONLY difference is the germination rate (% of seeds grow into actual blades of grass) and the cost is outweighed when you use ENOUGH seed to begin with, germ. rate doesn't make much difference until you're ready for this step.

Some other tips:
Core Aerating the area to be seeded more than DOUBLES the end result (more than TWICE the seed will germ) making it a highly worthwhile addition to the labor.
A bit of lime + fertilizer never hurts either but that's another formula and my posts are always so long.
Good luck, hope that helps.

topsites
09-22-2005, 09:48 AM
Oh yeah:
I NEVER cover the seed, I believe this is a mickey-mouse step (ok maybe it isn't) that costs JUST as much vs. not covering (i.e.: use ENOUGH seed to begin with and save yourself the extra hassle). As a full-time grass-cutter, I can not tell you how frustrating I find it when some seed-company has left behind all the STRAW it makes a big mess and in the end I find it doesn't really do a whole lot of anything. Far as the bs about the birds will eat the seed, well you're going to need a FLOCK of about 1,000 birds to eat a WHOLE 50 POUNDS of seed. No doubt some birds will swoop down and pick at the seed but I never found this to affect the end result in any way.
Cost:
ONE hour to pick up the seed AND spread it: I charge $45/hour and with the cost of the seed, a FULL bag = $100 but you can LOWER the $/hour labor rate a little if they also get you to aerate, $25 to spread may be a little more user-friendly OR if you use lime/fert same thing applies, it only takes 10-15 minutes or so to spread the entire bag and $45/hour is a bit steep unless spreading seed is ALL you do then unfortunately you have to get paid for the whole hour (this includes 10 or 15 minutes for the time you spent picking it up, it pays to ALWAYS pick stuff up enroute to someplace else or otherwise combine your trip(s) for best cost-efficiency).