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View Full Version : Looking for a faster and more productive way to top dress compost etc.??


Exact Rototilling
06-14-2009, 01:14 AM
I did a lawn seed install last Thursday and I spent most of time using a grain shovel to top dress and my BP blower to actually blow the compost out of the 4 wheeled dump cart. BP blower works for a thin layer but is very messy and coats the surrounding areas with compost. Grain shovel is very consistent but very slow.

What I have found are these spendy gas powered units but I like to go with something that would be a go between the 2 extremes.

www.topdresser.ca

http://www.compostwerks.com/EcoLawn-Applicator.php

http://www.turfcodirect.com/index.php?module=pagesetter&func=viewpub&tid=1&pid=29


Possibly a walk behind earthway type spreader that is modified in some way to reliably distribute screened compost. The turfco unit looks like it would be very reliable and would not require any screening of compost. Just need an intermediate stop gap method that will take me to the next level. If this part of the business gains more traction I would probably buy a high end unit but for now I can't justify the expense.

Any input?

RAlmaroad
06-14-2009, 08:02 AM
You can build a effective spreader for compost/spagnum peat moss. During the winter I use January/February to spread spagnum peat and a little cow manure on my lawns. The grass is dormant. You could adapt it to be pulled with a lawn tractor or mower. Use a 1/2 sheet of 3/4" plywood and cut two (2) 24" circles. Cut a 10"X10" opening an hinge and lock on one piece. Make it sturdy as it will get a workout. Buy 1/2" rabbit wire for the grate. I used 4 threaded rods with bolts to support the two circles together. On each of the two circles attach a length of 2X4's extending 2" beyond the circles placed 90 degrees apart. This is your rumble for shaking the peat or compost. Attach your rabbit wire using 3/4" staples and air gun. Put a length of 1" galvanized pipe through the center and a couple of PVC spaced outside of the pipe and attach a tongue similiar to a push reel mower and you're finished. I piddled with the design for a few days.
Fill it half way through the door and pull it over the lawn. It will shake out by the tumbling of the material. I put a couple pieces of broken cinder block parts inside to help break up the material. You can make it any length you'd like. I used 36" rabbit wire so I would not have to cut it. Buy 7' of wire. Hope it will help. You'll have to clean out the bigger pieces of stuff in the peat moss. I didn't use compost and it may not go through the 1/2" wire but maybe some larger gauge mesh such as chicken wire would be available. Just take the principle and adapt it.

phasthound
06-14-2009, 09:02 AM
I have one of these http://www.earthandturf.com/100sp.htm

Bought it last summer, it paid for itself by October. It's a great machine and is built to last.

Exact Rototilling
06-15-2009, 02:07 AM
I have one of these http://www.earthandturf.com/100sp.htm

Bought it last summer, it paid for itself by October. It's a great machine and is built to last.

phasthound,

In ball park figures what did that unit set you back? The Turfco unit is just over $7k.

Turboguy
06-15-2009, 07:47 AM
RAlmaroad

Your home made spreader sounds like something that might be a good project for some people but as good as your instructions were I have read that a dozen times and am not quite following what you did. Probably just me but if you get a chance why don't you take a few pictures and post them in case someone wants to try that.

phasthound
06-15-2009, 10:25 AM
phasthound,

In ball park figures what did that unit set you back? The Turfco unit is just over $7k.

It was about $6,800.00.

cgaengineer
06-15-2009, 11:59 AM
RAlmaroad

Your home made spreader sounds like something that might be a good project for some people but as good as your instructions were I have read that a dozen times and am not quite following what you did. Probably just me but if you get a chance why don't you take a few pictures and post them in case someone wants to try that.

24" circles on both ends, wire to form a drum. From bottom to top:

Wood circle, wire, wood circle.

Here is a picture of one:

http://www.emeraldseedandsupply.com/lawn/index.html

This one runs about $750-$1000 and would do exactly what you want

http://www.abcgroff.com/lg/et2.htm

What I did with my own lawn was spread manure as evenly as I could with shovel, hit it with power rake and then run over it with a mulching mower...worked pretty well, but it was time consuming...you probably could avoid the power rake step and use just the mower.

godjwood
06-15-2009, 01:31 PM
do you guys offer the topdressing as part of your regular fertilization program? (fertilizer, weed control, aerating, overseeding, etc?)

do you generally topdress in the fall or spring?

or do you only do it on problem lawns?

cgaengineer
06-15-2009, 01:43 PM
do you guys offer the topdressing as part of your regular fertilization program? (fertilizer, weed control, aerating, overseeding, etc?)

do you generally topdress in the fall or spring?

or do you only do it on problem lawns?

Topdressing is in addition to those. Topdressing with sand in the south or warm season grasses is done in the spring during green up or in June when green up has occurred and grass is growing quickly. With compost topdressing I would think you could do it anything the lawn is green.

terrapro
06-15-2009, 06:14 PM
Topdressing is in addition to those. Topdressing with sand in the south or warm season grasses is done in the spring during green up or in June when green up has occurred and grass is growing quickly. With compost topdressing I would think you could do it anything the lawn is green.

In the hot of the summer sun the dark of the compost can hold to much heat and sometimes burn the grass.

cgaengineer
06-15-2009, 06:40 PM
This is true, and why I didn't mention it when I knew it is beyond me...I woulf think though if you could get the compost under the blades of grass in the shade of the leaves you would be fine.
Posted via Mobile Device

terrapro
06-16-2009, 07:28 AM
This is true, and why I didn't mention it when I knew it is beyond me...I woulf think though if you could get the compost under the blades of grass in the shade of the leaves you would be fine.
Posted via Mobile Device

I know you did, consider it in addition to your statement. :)

cgaengineer
06-16-2009, 09:06 AM
I know you did, consider it in addition to your statement. :)

I had actually learned this some years ago using black dirt from Home Depot. I had used some of this dirt in a low spot. All the grass in the natural soil lived, but right next to it in the black soil it cooked the seedlings.

cgaengineer
06-16-2009, 09:08 AM
Good lord!! My spelling in the last few replies is terrible!

pt03
06-17-2009, 02:24 AM
Easy enough to build one if a person has some metal working equipment. We built three but we went a bit heavier so that they could stand up to some abuse. The spread is rather thin I think but a second crossway application gets it into the 1/4 inch depth. If I screened the compost finer and got it drier it would probably go down thicker on the single pass.

http://http://www.flickr.com/photos/laj2006/3484010034/sizes/l/

http://http://www.flickr.com/photos/laj2006/3511424445/sizes/l/

http://http://www.flickr.com/photos/laj2006/3511427249/sizes/l/

Lloyd

Exact Rototilling
06-17-2009, 02:40 AM
Easy enough to build one if a person has some metal working equipment. We built three but we went a bit heavier so that they could stand up to some abuse. The spread is rather thin I think but a second crossway application gets it into the 1/4 inch depth. If I screened the compost finer and got it drier it would probably go down thicker on the single pass.

http://http://www.flickr.com/photos/laj2006/3484010034/sizes/l/

http://http://www.flickr.com/photos/laj2006/3511424445/sizes/l/

http://http://www.flickr.com/photos/laj2006/3511427249/sizes/l/

Lloyd

links are not working for me.

pt03
06-17-2009, 02:45 AM
Whoops, it (I) seem to have placed the http thingy in there twice. :confused:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/laj2006/3484010034/sizes/l/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/laj2006/3511424445/sizes/l/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/laj2006/3511427249/sizes/l/

I hope that works now...I can weld but computers mess me up...:laugh:

Lloyd

Exact Rototilling
06-17-2009, 03:07 AM
I've been pondering this entire niche service area. To be really efficient one needs a faster method of getting the compost in the spreader etc. The hydraulic dump trailer looks like the ticket but no way I will be towing that with my smaller trucks. I'd be doing good to get 1.5 cubic yards in my current truck and trailer.

How are some of you pricing your topdressing? I work solo but even on projects where you spend all day at I don't like to work for a lower rate. For the lawn install last week with a full top dress I charged pretty close to my full power equipment rate for labor and I did not pad the material cost. I was surprised they accepted my quote. I had my supplier deliver 4 cubic yards of compost and had them dump it on the property the morning of for a $40 delivery charge. I shoveled all but a half of cubic yard into my 4 wheeled cart.

I can see the demand for this but I am absolutely swamped with work during the spring rush from mid April to Memorial weekend every year with no days off doing aerations and power rakings. It seems to follow aeration season from what I can tell. Is demand for top dressing higher in the Spring or Fall?

Picture is from: http://www.compostwerks.com/CompostTopdressing.php
http://www.ecolawnapplicator.com/images/images/trailer_up.jpg

kirk1701
06-24-2009, 11:31 AM
Easy enough to build one if a person has some metal working equipment. We built three but we went a bit heavier so that they could stand up to some abuse. The spread is rather thin I think but a second crossway application gets it into the 1/4 inch depth. If I screened the compost finer and got it drier it would probably go down thicker on the single pass.

http://http://www.flickr.com/photos/laj2006/3484010034/sizes/l/

http://http://www.flickr.com/photos/laj2006/3511424445/sizes/l/

http://http://www.flickr.com/photos/laj2006/3511427249/sizes/l/

Lloyd

Hey pt03
I'm wondering how the above worked out for you as I'm litterally thinking about making one myself, modifying just a little to connect to my john deere garden tractor. :)

Looking around now for some place to order the compost :walking:

pt03
06-24-2009, 10:25 PM
They work well but I have nothing to compare them to other than the shovel, fling and bad back method. :) We thought of pulling them with the garden tractor but never tried it.

I found it is better not to stuff them full, 2/3rds max seemed to work best. Most of the compost falls out when the tumbling stuff hits the screen in the front so having it too full didn't work as well.

The other thing I found is that when on a slope, one must go up and down the slope. Going crossways puts the compost over to one side of the unit and makes for an uneven application.

The people that have used them said they worked well for them and an average front yard took less than two hours for them to do. I don't know if they took any beer breaks in there or not.

Lloyd

kirk1701
06-24-2009, 11:59 PM
Thanks pt
Sounds like a plan, I got plenty of time to build it before fall. :drinkup:

onebreezer
12-11-2009, 03:38 PM
for what you have in that dump trailer and truck and an extra grand you can have a conveyer truck and self load in seconds

Turboguy
12-11-2009, 05:25 PM
Humm, I never knew such a thing existed but checked it out and here is something like you are talking about.

http://www.htcconveyors.com/html/1200.html

It looks like it would be a lot more than a grand though.

onebreezer
12-11-2009, 05:53 PM
no not close with that one you cannot pull your unit under it cause it has to be raised this one has a completely conveyered floor out of metal look up Chandler's web site

Barefoot James
12-11-2009, 10:30 PM
onebreezer - can you give us a link to the conveyer system you use? What is chandlers site?

Barefoot James
12-11-2009, 10:59 PM
Is this it?
http://www.chandlerequipment.net/default.asp

Which one are you using?

onebreezer
12-12-2009, 11:38 AM
yes. there are a number of branches. the one that i worked with is in gainsville ga. start to finish they were perfect. i had a little problem with mine months after the sale and they followed thru with great service. michael gaines is the go to guy. these guys know their business. they will work with anyone in the country.
also graylon nichols in anderson, sc with executive auto worked in tantum to find me the perfect truck to match the spreader box and matched my price point. i would recommend graylon to anyone also. a guy with impecable character.

Barefoot James
12-12-2009, 12:22 PM
onebreezer - you have a sweet set up for spreading compost/topsoil/sand how does it work with mulching? We use a small lawn tractor with a slip scoop that we could pull up under the conveyor and drop it in and drive at 10mph to the next drop point a plop and back to the truck. Now we are having the piles delivered and dumped in the street. This saves us BIG TIME - we can move and spread 1 yards in 1.5 hours with two guys - one driving one raking. i can get him material faster than he can rake it out.

Have you ever put that video on TV?

onebreezer
12-12-2009, 12:40 PM
so a slip scoop i think i know what that is it works ok for mulch shreaded wood clogs more than soil so you have to climb inside and help it out from time to time and i would want a larger box for mulch cause it has less weight and you need more volume i have toyed with the idea of a blower on a trailer behind the outflow so that as it comes off of the conveyer a blower picks it up and forces it thru the pipe