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greensolution
10-20-2009, 08:55 PM
hello, i am seriously considering starting a lawn fertilization and weed control business in central minnesota. can anyone recommend how to start out with minimal overhead? equipment needed regarding sprayers and spreaders? trailer or pick-up? marketing tips? insurance and tax issues. any and all advice is much appreciated. thanks

SangerLawn
10-20-2009, 11:22 PM
I would recommend finding something to go with it like mowing. You are going to need at least 200 customers in spraying to make money and around 350 to make a full route. You only go to each customers residents about once every 2 months give or take. That takes a lot of time and in this economy along with others out there doing the same thing your gonna have a real hard time.

If you decided to continue anyway and I hope you do…check to see about sprayers license in your state. Some state you have to work for someone using chemicals before you are even allowed to take the applicators exam. Once that is covered call around about insurance…the price is going to change from state to state but normally not that much.

As far as equipment all you need is a broadcast spreader ($350.00) and some kind of sprayer. I recommend a back pack sprayer ($125.00) and a vehicle to move it around. Grant it some chemicals work best with a tank, hose, and sprayer ($2,500-$6,000.00) but almost everything you will want to apply you can get in a granular form so you will not have to have the tanks.

Hope this helps???

UpNorth
10-21-2009, 01:14 AM
Your single biggest expense will be marketing!! It takes FAR more customers than you think to make good money. Once the customers are there, the profit is much higher than mowing. Some might disagree, but this is my opinion. You can service more costumers per day, an you can do it solo with less costs in equipment and labor.

But you need LOTS of customers. For example if one mowing account gets a cut 24 cuts a year, then you need at least 4 customers to make the same amount of applications (assuming you have a 6 step program).

Once you get your customers you can determine the best way to service them. You can use a push spreader and drag hose, you can go the all granular route(i don't think the results will be as good), purchase something like a permagreen, or LT Rich machine.

Hope this helps.

EcoGreen Services
10-21-2009, 10:56 AM
Welcome ..... :waving:

greensolution
10-21-2009, 11:39 AM
Thanks for the responses. Building quickly to 200 -350 customers will be a challenge in a competitive market.What type of marketing works best? I have seen about a 10% customer response on the one and only time I distributed flyers for lawn aeration. I'm just trying to find out if I want to go full force into this business and what the hurdles will be to make it successful. Thanks

DA Quality Lawn & YS
10-21-2009, 11:52 AM
I would recommend finding something to go with it like mowing. You are going to need at least 200 customers in spraying to make money and around 350 to make a full route. You only go to each customers residents about once every 2 months give or take. That takes a lot of time and in this economy along with others out there doing the same thing your gonna have a real hard time.

If you decided to continue anyway and I hope you do…check to see about sprayers license in your state. Some state you have to work for someone using chemicals before you are even allowed to take the applicators exam. Once that is covered call around about insurance…the price is going to change from state to state but normally not that much.

As far as equipment all you need is a broadcast spreader ($350.00) and some kind of sprayer. I recommend a back pack sprayer ($125.00) and a vehicle to move it around. Grant it some chemicals work best with a tank, hose, and sprayer ($2,500-$6,000.00) but almost everything you will want to apply you can get in a granular form so you will not have to have the tanks.

Hope this helps???

Good info but mistated in the fact that you do NOT need over 200 customers to make money. I had a dozen fert/squirts this season in my full first season doing it, and made money. Shooting for closer to 35-50 next season. Yes, you can make BIG money with tons of customers, BUT if you have an sales and income goal in mind that works for you, then shoot for it and ignore the GO BIG OR GO HOME posts.

First, get lic. in MN. Go to the Dept of Ag website to get started. Next, do LOTS of learning. Books, publications, L.S., etc. Possibly even shadow an applicator for a day to learn more. Then, get some basic equipment. Broadcast spreader and small spray rig is way to go. I started with a backpack sprayer but it wears you out. Get all the right PPE. Be well versed in rules and regs concerning application. And most of all, do a GREAT job for those first few customers. Word of mouth will travel:)

greensolution
10-21-2009, 12:41 PM
Can I apply both fertilizer and weed control from a sprayer? What is a recommended sprayer besides a back back? I see alot of sprayers with 25" of hose but in my mind I would need alot of hose to spray an entire yard from a tank parked at the curb. Is Trimek the way to go for weed control? what about fertilizer? Alot of questions I know but I am trying to figure this out. Thanks and I appreciate all advice.

DA Quality Lawn & YS
10-21-2009, 04:25 PM
Many of your questions can be answered by studying for and taking the MN Dept of Ag Pest. Applicators exam. Also, do lots of research on your own. You have to put in some legwork to be good at what you do.

You can do liquid fert & weed control from a curbside skid sprayer. I prefer dry fert however for the slow release properties. Your questions about broadleaf weed control products can be directed toward a reputable dealer like Reinders or John Deere Landscapes, etc. They probably won't work with you too much until you prove you are licensed. Get that done first.

greensolution
10-23-2009, 11:52 AM
Thanks to all responses especially DA Quality Lawn. (I'm a Hawkeye native!) Does anyone have any opinions on Fimco, Northstar, or Minnesota Wanner skid sprayer reliability. Know where there might be a good used unit for sale?
I am also interested how any of you may have started out in this business and if you worried about the risks of being profitable going into it? Thanks again.

GreenClips
10-23-2009, 02:39 PM
I started this year i have 14 accounts for weed control/fert its side business for mowing....its a trial and error thing the first year or at least for me. i took the test and all but it was in a different language for me but after practically living at my John Deer Landscapes and researching non stop on LS and the internet i feel like next year will be a lot better than this year! i already am trying to set up my timin on my 6 step programs and 5 steps i just need to take what i have learned this year and apply it next year. there is a lot of money in it if you know what you are doing its just getting to that knowing what you are doing. My best advice would be dont ever think you have a stupid question always ask! been there done that got bit in the butt cause i didnt ask so always ask questions no matter how dumb you might think they are.....Good Luck

-Matt

greensolution
10-23-2009, 03:29 PM
Thanks Greenclips, How did you get your 14 accounts, flyers, website, word of mouth? Do you feel they will all be repeat customers next year? What kind of equipment/ over head did you start with?

SangerLawn
10-23-2009, 10:41 PM
Good info but mistated in the fact that you do NOT need over 200 customers to make money. I had a dozen fert/squirts this season in my full first season doing it, and made money. Shooting for closer to 35-50 next season. Yes, you can make BIG money with tons of customers, BUT if you have an sales and income goal in mind that works for you, then shoot for it and ignore the GO BIG OR GO HOME posts.

First, get lic. in MN. Go to the Dept of Ag website to get started. Next, do LOTS of learning. Books, publications, L.S., etc. Possibly even shadow an applicator for a day to learn more. Then, get some basic equipment. Broadcast spreader and small spray rig is way to go. I started with a backpack sprayer but it wears you out. Get all the right PPE. Be well versed in rules and regs concerning application. And most of all, do a GREAT job for those first few customers. Word of mouth will travel:)

I couldn’t help but to notice that you have all kinds of equipment listed in your signature. I am guessing you do a little bit more then just apply chemicals? This would lead me to believe your bills are already paid and the spraying is just extra income??? Another words…this guy…the one who asked the question…is only looking to spray…no mowing and no landscaping. There is absolutely no way a person can pay all the bills, support a family, pay for marketing, keep up with all the insurances and everything else with only 35 customers. That is only doing around 8 lawns a week……

Thanks for your reply but please don’t lead people on saying they can make a living on 4 lawns a week. This is impossible and you know it. Your average single applicator will keep up 350 lawns. Telling someone it will take around 200 to make a decent living is not telling the person they have to be a giant….200 customers isn’t enough to work 40 hours a week…..a matter of fact that is only spraying 25 lawns a week...if you call that a giant business I would hate to see your operation…..<--- honestly not trying to be hateful but you very well could have talked this guy into leaving a job thinking he is gonna make it with 35 customers.

SangerLawn
10-23-2009, 10:53 PM
By the way…25 lawns can be done in a day and a half….probably less depending on drive time….I have to say it again…how in the world is that GO BIG OR GO HOME????

SangerLawn
10-24-2009, 08:09 AM
Can I apply both fertilizer and weed control from a sprayer? What is a recommended sprayer besides a back back? I see alot of sprayers with 25" of hose but in my mind I would need alot of hose to spray an entire yard from a tank parked at the curb. Is Trimek the way to go for weed control? what about fertilizer? Alot of questions I know but I am trying to figure this out. Thanks and I appreciate all advice.

Check around for a LESCO store. They specialize in spraying. You will find chemicals like 3 way for droadleaf weed, manage for nut sedge, confront for violets ect…

most rigs have a minimum of 150 foot of house

Yes you can apply some types of fert vial a sprayer however I do not recommend it. using a sprayer it is impossible to have any kind of slow release. Your best bet for fert is always going to be a spreader. Your tanks will primarily only be used for pre-m and when you come across a lawn covered in weeds.

txgrassguy
10-24-2009, 09:44 AM
A few counterpoints.
First, take whatever an alleged "expert" at Lesco or similar store tells you. I know of only a few guys that actually are qualified to recommend material. On this site Tremec and Ric are one of them. Check in the pesticide forum for more info.
With a backpack sprayer it will be difficult to obtain the amount of water per thousand feet more pesticides require - especially insecticides. A small 25 to 50 gallon tank with a hose reel will quickly pay for itself.
Applying liquid fertilizer is easy with a spray tank and there are many formulations, both quick and slow release available.
Remember a spray tank with a 200' hose will also allow you to spray trees, with a different gun you can deep root fertilize/treat for insects - can't do that with a backpack unit in a cost effective manner.
Kelly solutions is a decent online guide to help you learn what is suitable for use in your area.
Local county extension agents usually aren't the best concerning residential/non agricultural problems but they should have circulars in their office which may be of assistance.
But always maintain an open mind, always look for a different way to peel that onion - once you become a bit more comfortable in pesticide applications you'll find a whole new environment to experience.

GreenClips
10-24-2009, 03:53 PM
"Thanks Greenclips, How did you get your 14 accounts, flyers, website, word of mouth? Do you feel they will all be repeat customers next year? What kind of equipment/ over head did you start with?"


Most of them were mowing clients i had but the only way i get accounts is mainly craigslist and of course word of mouth. I started out with a 60gal. skid spray tank with 200 ft of house(wish i would have gotten 300 and got an electric reel!) a spiker spreader and a lesco backpack sprayer....i started with about $2100 overhead i i wanted to keep it low in case it didnt work out. i feel almost all of them will be repeat because even tho i had a few errors i was able to adress all of them and i feel i did a good job...I do need to raise my prices next year didnt charge enough on some of them but once again i am really excited for next year (still got my winterizer to do on all of them) great thread tho...

-Matt

greensolution
10-24-2009, 06:57 PM
Can I be so bold to ask what your cost per yard was vs. your fee and what products you use? What were the problems that you had? Thanks

GreenClips
10-25-2009, 12:58 PM
right off the top of my head i think i make $20-$25 an hour....I should be making more and most of my mistakes were not asking questions like how far apart should your swipes be with a walk behind spreader? i was only putting down 1/2 the amount of fert i was suppose to be putting down which in turn led to weeds and cost me more money to get rid of them. I use all Lesco stuff Momentium FX2 works great for me and then i combo that with Drive for any grassy weeds i have been mainly puttin down 24-0-11 fert with 50% slow release all year and im not quite sure what im going to put down for my winterizer i have befriended my lesco reps here so i kinda go with what they say at least this year i have been do some research and might try some different stuff next year to cut down on some prices and stuff of that nature....hopefully that helps

Also i just really had a hard time with weeds this year....mostly because most of my lawns have never had weed control before and they arent sodded so its like starting from scratch I hear it takes a good two years to take a lawn like that and turn it beautiful! i think i might be ahead of that curve but we will see i have high hopes for next year....just remember soak in all the info you learn on here and anywhere else you learn it from

PS the test to get certified was easy I mean i passed it and knew nothing about what i was reading so :)

-Matt

GreenClips
10-25-2009, 01:04 PM
something else i dont want to damper your hopes or anything but like these other guys said try and learn from someone else like do ride alongs with someone or just work for someone for a year it has been really hard to get into and learn and i dont think there would be any way of doing that with 200 clients or even 100 thats a lot of people that you an seriously mess up their lawns if you dont know what you are doing....dont let it get you down but just dont get a bad rep cause you can never really fully recover from that....

SangerLawn
10-25-2009, 08:48 PM
something else i dont want to damper your hopes or anything but like these other guys said try and learn from someone else like do ride alongs with someone or just work for someone for a year it has been really hard to get into and learn and i dont think there would be any way of doing that with 200 clients or even 100 thats a lot of people that you an seriously mess up their lawns if you dont know what you are doing....dont let it get you down but just dont get a bad rep cause you can never really fully recover from that....

Excellent advice. By the way, if you had the amount of rain we have had with cool temps all summer don’t feel bad about the weeds. Everyone’s lawn has weeds in it simply because of the type of year we had.

GreenClips
10-25-2009, 10:06 PM
Excellent advice. By the way, if you had the amount of rain we have had with cool temps all summer don’t feel bad about the weeds. Everyone’s lawn has weeds in it simply because of the type of year we had.

I was thinking the same thing its been an extremly weird year! but it has been really hard not to get down on yourself tho!...so if you do the normal program you do SangerLawn and you still have weeds what do you do?

Dont mean to steal the thread.......

SangerLawn
10-26-2009, 06:38 AM
I do not do any treatments any more. A matter of fact it has been about 8 years. I am from Alabama and was a manager of a chemical service for years. When I moved to Indiana I did not apply for an applicators license. More then likely they have improved some things in the last 8 years and this is why I normally don’t give out any chemical names. I recommend going to the pesticide area of the forum and asking one of those guys.

I know a thick turf is the best weed control you can have. With the weather we have been having if the turf isn’t thick you are going to have weeds. Prem works by bonding to grass roots to make a burrier. It the turf isn’t thick it will leave gaps and allow weeds to grow….hope this helps?