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View Full Version : Seeding equipment sucks!


Hineline
09-23-2011, 03:59 PM
After finishing the seeding of acres of turf this year I find the equipment available for renovation of existing to turf to be way to labor intensive. I am going to work with fabricators over the winter to develop a machine that does it effectively in one pass. Can't believe they haven't figured this out yet!

Hineline
09-23-2011, 04:05 PM
The Ryan is a joke and the best success I had all year was multiple passes with seeding and aerifying. Most slit seeders I have used are marginal at best with less then ideal soil conditions. This shouldn't be this hard and time consuming.

1966vette
09-23-2011, 04:14 PM
Did you try the LS Turf Revitalizer? Yes, it is slow & labor intensive but it beat the Bluebird hand down.

Hineline
09-23-2011, 07:19 PM
That one is the highest rated and I haven't seeded with it but it is set up well. I just think there has to be an better way with higher germ rates and one pass. The Lesco has the brush and i think that would be a huge plus as apposed to everything else that just tries to drop the seed over the alleged slit. I would also like to see a floating head that when set stays at the same cutting depth and produces the slit and fine dirt every pass. If one of the machines on the market could allow me to do 10K, even in two passes, in one to two hours without having to pre-seed (which I always do) and walk away without worry that 20-50% will not come in right I would take it.

Smallaxe
09-23-2011, 08:28 PM
The biggest problem is the unnecessary obsession with soil contact"... by far the best gemination media that occurs naturally is the dead grass brown mulch that soaks and holds water better than most any soil imaginable, and a topdressing of compost will ensure maximum germination.

Another common problem is expecting from an [b]overseed is that the seed should geminate, when there is viable plants growing everywhere in which a seed will not even bother to germinate... Much the same way that CG will not germinate until there is space for it to grow...

If seed doesn't germinate even though you believe there should be a thicker lawn, then cultural practices need to be modified to express the existing grasses in such a way that they do grow thicker...

Chances are your slit seeder was doing exactly what it was designed to do...
Does your 20-50% germination rate continue to grow the following year?

grassman177
09-23-2011, 08:38 PM
i like the idea of a floating head to ensure constant depth, but that will be fun to make.

i dont have any issue with regular old verticutters. they work dandy and easliy to me. but i have a slit seeder that is a bear to use. it just sits instead of slitting! it has a drive issue and gets stuck to easy. either it is too deep or not deep enough. never just right!

Hineline
09-23-2011, 10:20 PM
The biggest problem is the unnecessary obsession with soil contact"... by far the best gemination media that occurs naturally is the dead grass brown mulch that soaks and holds water better than most any soil imaginable, and a topdressing of compost will ensure maximum germination.

Another common problem is expecting from an [b]overseed is that the seed should geminate, when there is viable plants growing everywhere in which a seed will not even bother to germinate... Much the same way that CG will not germinate until there is space for it to grow...

If seed doesn't germinate even though you believe there should be a thicker lawn, then cultural practices need to be modified to express the existing grasses in such a way that they do grow thicker...

Chances are your slit seeder was doing exactly what it was designed to do...
Does your 20-50% germination rate continue to grow the following year?

I agree with the comment about dead grass mulching the seed in but I had a bad experience a month ago when it went up to 95 for two days and the dead grass released to much heat and basically smoked the seedlings on two lawns thqat were in the very early stage so it gets touchy sometimes. Most of my seedings are on round-up prep lawns so the overseed is going to be the new lawn and I hate having to go back and try to patch in areas. The timing of decomposition of the dead grass is very important. Too thick and or too hot can be trouble but sometimes you can't wait and have to pull the trigger. I like when the old lawn basically collapses on the new seeding but like I said if it gets real hot at the wrong time.....not good!

Hineline
09-23-2011, 10:24 PM
i like the idea of a floating head to ensure constant depth, but that will be fun to make.

i dont have any issue with regular old verticutters. they work dandy and easliy to me. but i have a slit seeder that is a bear to use. it just sits instead of slitting! it has a drive issue and gets stuck to easy. either it is too deep or not deep enough. never just right!
The floating head is above my pay grade but i hope to have some good help engineering that one. I don't know though. I've never engineered a piece of equipment before.

You must have a Ryan also.

Smallaxe
09-24-2011, 09:21 AM
I agree with the comment about dead grass mulching the seed in but I had a bad experience a month ago when it went up to 95 for two days and the dead grass released to much heat and basically smoked the seedlings on two lawns thqat were in the very early stage so it gets touchy sometimes. Most of my seedings are on round-up prep lawns so the overseed is going to be the new lawn and I hate having to go back and try to patch in areas. The timing of decomposition of the dead grass is very important. Too thick and or too hot can be trouble but sometimes you can't wait and have to pull the trigger. I like when the old lawn basically collapses on the new seeding but like I said if it gets real hot at the wrong time.....not good!

Roundup lawns are basically new lawn so yes you have a different dynamic... My suggestion would be to place a 'plowhead' immediately behind the 'disc' with the 'seed tube' dropping the seed before the slice closes shut...
The disc goes up and down with the terrain and the plowhead is attached to the disc housing...

grassman177
09-24-2011, 05:18 PM
Actually a classen slit seeder but very similar
Posted via Mobile Device

americanlawn
09-24-2011, 06:02 PM
We rarely see anybody using "slit seeders/drill seeders" anymore. 99% of the time we see LCO's using "aerators" for their seed jobs. Common sense cuz slit/drill seeding merely places the seed into existing problem areas without preparing/improving the "seed bed". We have Classen and LESCO slit seeders in our warehouse, but we have not used them for many years cuz they suck. Mian reason: if the grass DOES begin to grow, it shells out under stress. (poor growing conditions)

The forward/reverse hydro aerators are the best way to go IMO, and my guys currently prefer the XT5 for several reasons.

Smallaxe
09-24-2011, 06:34 PM
We rarely see anybody using "slit seeders/drill seeders" anymore. 99% of the time we see LCO's using "aerators" for their seed jobs. Common sense cuz slit/drill seeding merely places the seed into existing problem areas without preparing/improving the "seed bed". We have Classen and LESCO slit seeders in our warehouse, but we have not used them for many years cuz they suck. Mian reason: if the grass DOES begin to grow, it shells out under stress. (poor growing conditions)

The forward/reverse hydro aerators are the best way to go IMO, and my guys currently prefer the XT5 for several reasons.

This makes a very interesting point... and basically that point is: Why?

Is there a general problem for the turf that the entire lawn suffers from throughout the growing season?
If so what is that problem? Thatch?, Compaction/Clay?, Low SOM?, Other?

None of these problems would require overseeding in and of, themselves... Aeration helps the problem at hand, IF it exists, but the overseeding is a separate issue...

When they are combined: ...Do you end up with the "Doll hair" syndrome?

RigglePLC
09-24-2011, 09:31 PM
So which is better? Aerate and seed? Slit seeder? Power rake and broadcast seed? Mow short and broadcast? Broadcast double rate?

This needs an experiment...HOWEVER...

f50lvr2
09-24-2011, 10:35 PM
I think the new billy goat overseeder has a floating cutting head on it. Looks interesting.

My method is to mow short the week before. Then on the day we'll have one guy start running the aerator while the other starts making passes with the husqvarna slice seeder. Once we're done aerating we'll grab the LS slice seeder and start making passes in a criss cross pattern, and spread a starter fertilizer in there somewhere. It seems to really be working well, probably a little overkill but with 2 people it's really not that bad.

Hineline
09-25-2011, 12:18 PM
This makes a very interesting point... and basically that point is: Why?

Is there a general problem for the turf that the entire lawn suffers from throughout the growing season?
If so what is that problem? Thatch?, Compaction/Clay?, Low SOM?, Other?

None of these problems would require overseeding in and of, themselves... Aeration helps the problem at hand, IF it exists, but the overseeding is a separate issue...

When they are combined: ...Do you end up with the "Doll hair" syndrome?

Virtually all of my seedings are because the lawns are old and full of bentgrass, poa and generally Heinz 57 garbage grass. My best results this year have been from multiple times over with seed and aerifiers. Outstanding results and the benefit to the soil is great. It's just so darn labor intensive! I don't get "doll hair" when I'm in thin turf because I have so much soil being pulled and mashed into the seed. On thicker stands with more established turf and thatch I do end up with the "doll hair".

Hineline
09-25-2011, 12:19 PM
So which is better? Aerate and seed? Slit seeder? Power rake and broadcast seed? Mow short and broadcast? Broadcast double rate?

This needs an experiment...HOWEVER...

At this point........all of the above! That's what pisses me off!

Hineline
09-25-2011, 12:25 PM
I think the new billy goat overseeder has a floating cutting head on it. Looks interesting.

My method is to mow short the week before. Then on the day we'll have one guy start running the aerator while the other starts making passes with the husqvarna slice seeder. Once we're done aerating we'll grab the LS slice seeder and start making passes in a criss cross pattern, and spread a starter fertilizer in there somewhere. It seems to really be working well, probably a little overkill but with 2 people it's really not that bad.

Sounds like a great method and you covered all bases. I've done a few using both with good success. Wouldn't it be great to run something over in one pass and walk away knowing that you will get an 75% germ rate!

Darryl G
09-25-2011, 12:26 PM
I haven't read all the other replies but I just wanted to add that I had problems with slit seeder rentals last season. It's bad enough that the equipment has the limitations already described, but then add in the problems with getting a different unit every time you rent. The seed drop rate varies at a given setting for each unit, the depth of cut varies with each unit, and on one of them the tines were so worn that I couldn't get soil penetration even with the tines set at the lowest setting, unless I dropped them all the way down which would have been too deep. So every time I get a rental unit, I have to screw around with it to set the seeding rate and depth. The depth isn't so bad to adjust but the seeding rate is a pretty critical adjustment....kinda sucks when you go through half of your seed doing 1/4 of the job.

Hineline
09-25-2011, 12:35 PM
We rarely see anybody using "slit seeders/drill seeders" anymore. 99% of the time we see LCO's using "aerators" for their seed jobs. Common sense cuz slit/drill seeding merely places the seed into existing problem areas without preparing/improving the "seed bed". We have Classen and LESCO slit seeders in our warehouse, but we have not used them for many years cuz they suck. Mian reason: if the grass DOES begin to grow, it shells out under stress. (poor growing conditions)

The forward/reverse hydro aerators are the best way to go IMO, and my guys currently prefer the XT5 for several reasons.

You know it Americanlawn! Thanks for telling me your machines just sit now. They work great in a prepared and crumbly seedbed but then again a spreader does just as well in that situation too. I think of all the times I had to go over small low areas from different directions to even get it to cut into hardpan and draw up enough dirt to bed a little seed and still not get a plant to make it. I think slit seeders have their place in patching up lawns but for renovation they really aren't very reliable. I really don't want to bring the skidsteer and a harley rake in for every lawn I put in.

Hineline
09-25-2011, 12:45 PM
I haven't read all the other replies but I just wanted to add that I had problems with slit seeder rentals last season. It's bad enough that the equipment has the limitations already described, but then add in the problems with getting a different unit every time you rent. The seed drop rate varies at a given setting for each unit, the depth of cut varies with each unit, and on one of them the tines were so worn that I couldn't get soil penetration even with the tines set at the lowest setting, unless I dropped them all the way down which would have been too deep. So every time I get a rental unit, I have to screw around with it to set the seeding rate and depth. The depth isn't so bad to adjust but the seeding rate is a pretty critical adjustment....kinda sucks when you go through half of your seed doing 1/4 of the job.

Yet another set of complaints. You know it! Some machines need to be set up from the factory properly for you to even begin to use the calibration charts and after you make a few passes you realize you just dumped 30#/K seeding rates!!! The ryans seeding tubes fall off or pinch when set down it just goes on! Maybe on industry insider is reading this now and realizes that this part of the turf industry has a huge hole in it and it makes for great opportunity. Renovation is a major part of my sales revenues and the equipment available to provide that service is stuck in the 70's!

Smallaxe
09-25-2011, 12:49 PM
... I think of all the times I had to go over small low areas from different directions to even get it to cut into hardpan and draw up enough dirt to bed a little seed and still not get a plant to make it. ...


these areas as you describe are most easily squared away by turning them into crumbly well prepared seedbed with and aerater on 4-5 passes...

Right tool for the job is the issue here... for me the handtools give the best lawns with half the expense...

I successfully overseeded with a little compost and some seed, no aerating or seed slitter... There really was no reason to aerate the lawn and now the entirely covered with thick healthy grass...

Hineline
09-25-2011, 12:58 PM
these areas as you describe are most easily squared away by turning them into crumbly well prepared seedbed with and aerater on 4-5 passes...

Right tool for the job is the issue here... for me the handtools give the best lawns with half the expense...

I successfully overseeded with a little compost and some seed, no aerating or seed slitter... There really was no reason to aerate the lawn and now the entirely covered with thick healthy grass...

The aerifier on hardpan several times over does a great job for seeding. I'd love to just be able topdress my seed in with some compost but for doing 20K it's just as labor intensive unless you have a nice compost spreader.

americanlawn
09-25-2011, 01:54 PM
You guys aren't talkin' seeding entire lawns are you? Cuz we normally just seed the bad areas that are not likely to recover by spring. (100 - 8000 sq ft)

Our clay lawns are more likely to be "flat" compared to loam lawns. Problem is, any machine using "knives" does not do much for compacted clay soils. Most loam lawns are typically older lawns that are usually "uneven", so drill seeders/slit seeders/power rakes/dethatchers usually "gouge" high spots while leaving low spots virtualy untouched.

Now I can see why most guys around here use aerators almost exclusively for seed jobs.

tyler_mott85
09-25-2011, 03:10 PM
I've been thinking about figuring out a dry compost mix that could be spread with, say an earthway high output spreader, or something similar. You figure out your seeding rate and what compost you need added and just spread the mixture on your core aerated lawn to improve soil conditions into the root zone plus having the topdressing compost sitting on top of the existing thatch would provide good seeding conditions. You wouldn't have to mess with any slit-seeders or hand raking because the seed is already in good place to germinate.

The only hurdles I've been trying to figure out is what exactly to use for the compost/topdress mixture. It would have to be dry and spreadable with a broadcast spreader. I do not know what high output spreaders look like. They say they can spread wet sand/rock salt so maybe some mix of dry topsoil, peat moss and some dry compost...

But even if you had to spend an hour pushing a spreader over a lawn multiple times to put down enough topdressing to get desired results to me it would beat wrestling a slit seeder around a yard for an hour to get undesirable results.

americanlawn
09-25-2011, 03:53 PM
I hear ya Tyler - Not saying aerators are always the best tool for all seed jobs, cuz we sometimes use power rakes, etc. (depends on the property).

Here's probably what you're talkin' about:
"Encap" >> we get ours from http://www.dftseed.com Click Turf, then click Erosion Control
It can be applied with a fert spreader in the wide open setting.

Hineline
09-25-2011, 08:06 PM
You guys aren't talkin' seeding entire lawns are you? Cuz we normally just seed the bad areas that are not likely to recover by spring. (100 - 8000 sq ft)

Our clay lawns are more likely to be "flat" compared to loam lawns. Problem is, any machine using "knives" does not do much for compacted clay soils. Most loam lawns are typically older lawns that are usually "uneven", so drill seeders/slit seeders/power rakes/dethatchers usually "gouge" high spots while leaving low spots virtualy untouched.

Now I can see why most guys around here use aerators almost exclusively for seed jobs.

I'm talking about killing an entire lawn and starting over. Most of the lawns I do need little grade work and it's usually filling low spots with soil. No need for regrading and getting that nice fresh seedbed.

Yep! Gouge and miss. lol!

Smallaxe
09-26-2011, 10:11 AM
The aerifier on hardpan several times over does a great job for seeding. I'd love to just be able topdress my seed in with some compost but for doing 20K it's just as labor intensive unless you have a nice compost spreader.

americanlawn is right, no need to do it all with compost... just the trouble spots... and remember that compost is as close to a permanent fix as you could hope for...

Hineline
09-26-2011, 02:26 PM
americanlawn is right, no need to do it all with compost... just the trouble spots... and remember that compost is as close to a permanent fix as you could hope for...

That sounds great! I kinda do this although not compost.....yet. I put out 25#/K Milorganite with every lawn. It gives me extended feeding through the spring and stimulates the microbes. Plus it's easy to spread.

RigglePLC
09-26-2011, 05:11 PM
I am doing some experiments with bare soil and several combinations of fert and seed and raked in or not. So far, 4 times seed, 2 times fert and raked-in is doing best.

Smallaxe
09-26-2011, 07:43 PM
I am doing some experiments with bare soil and several combinations of fert and seed and raked in or not. So far, 4 times seed, 2 times fert and raked-in is doing best.

IMO, raked in always works... keep us informed... :)

Darryl G
09-27-2011, 12:20 AM
I am doing some experiments with bare soil and several combinations of fert and seed and raked in or not. So far, 4 times seed, 2 times fert and raked-in is doing best.

So you're using 4 times the recommended amount of seed? I can tell you what's going to happen....

Hineline
09-27-2011, 07:45 PM
I am doing some experiments with bare soil and several combinations of fert and seed and raked in or not. So far, 4 times seed, 2 times fert and raked-in is doing best.

Nice! That was raked into loose soil right? I think I saw your thread on seeding experiments. Are there any photo's there?

Darryl G
09-27-2011, 07:47 PM
Using 4x the recommened seed is not what they mean by overseeding! In my experience too much seed is a recipe for disaster. It will come in really nice and then just choke itself right out.

Hineline
09-27-2011, 08:00 PM
So you're using 4 times the recommended amount of seed? I can tell you what's going to happen....

Choked and disease susceptible?

I always "over" seed because time is money and the first shot is when it needs to happen. Going back and trying to seed into spots that aren't doing well just sucks so I want grass coming up everywhere. I monitor my rates and try to mix less rye into the mix if I am using more seed in the case of blue/rye mixes.

It is known that lawns will thin do to disease and such if they are planted to thick and i'm sure that is the case but I'm not growing on a sod farm or golf course roughs in full sun all day. I don't have the time to wait at least a year to mature and thicken. I like to go into winter with a nice plant and the kind of coverage that I know will open up and be full late spring the next year. At that point it's done!

Hineline
09-27-2011, 08:22 PM
Using 4x the recommened seed is not what they mean by overseeding! In my experience too much seed is a recipe for disaster. It will come in really nice and then just choke itself right out.

I did a lawn last year that was really thick. This year we had a major outbreak of pyth and rhyzoc the end of July. Part of it was irrigated and part of it wasn't. The irrigated part got hit and the non did great and is as thick as ever. You are right that it will thin itself out. I like that to happen gradually over time and not in one catastrophic moment like I saw on that lawn. The extra water didn't help with that. lol!

Smallaxe
09-28-2011, 08:05 AM
... The irrigated part got hit and the non did great and is as thick as ever. ...

Why would that be???

Hineline
09-29-2011, 07:50 AM
Why would that be???
We had the worst disease pressure in almost 20 years one weekend and lawns that were watering in the days leading up to it got hit. Low areas in all the lawns were hit here and there also. My golf course buddies really took a beating.:cry:

Snyder's Lawn Inc
09-29-2011, 08:16 AM
Depending on the lawn what works for me is Plugging then run a thatcher over it then to bust the plugs up, then seed
Sometimes I slit seed but if the thatch is to thick in lawn slit seeder doesnt work So I would thatch it, then slit seed
I alway put the double rate down

Smallaxe
09-30-2011, 07:48 AM
We had the worst disease pressure in almost 20 years one weekend and lawns that were watering in the days leading up to it got hit. Low areas in all the lawns were hit here and there also. My golf course buddies really took a beating.:cry:

I mean,,, What was it about the irrigation that caused the turf to be 'harder hit'??

Why were non-irrigated lawns not hit?

Hineline
10-01-2011, 08:40 AM
We had had 5 inches of rain the week before and the following weak the temps went to the high 90's along with the humidity. Too many people equate high temps with the need to water so they just added more gasoline to the fire. Those with rain sensors fared much better because the high humidity kept the systems shut off for the entire time. Then we had two days in a row where we had late afternoon T-showers and went into the evening hours choked with humidity, wet grass and high temps over night. It was like a petri dish.

Smallaxe
10-01-2011, 08:52 AM
We had had 5 inches of rain the week before and the following weak the temps went to the high 90's along with the humidity. Too many people equate high temps with the need to water so they just added more gasoline to the fire. Those with rain sensors fared much better because the high humidity kept the systems shut off for the entire time. Then we had two days in a row where we had late afternoon T-showers and went into the evening hours choked with humidity, wet grass and high temps over night. It was like a petri dish.

Yes, that makes sense... :)

grassman177
10-01-2011, 06:53 PM
yup, wehad that last year, and some this year for a while, but last year was constant pitri dish conditions

Hineline
10-02-2011, 07:10 AM
yup, wehad that last year, and some this year for a while, but last year was constant pitri dish conditions
Then you know the feeling when you take responsibility for your customers lawns and see some of them fail because of environmental conditions. This season was very difficult in many ways and another was the amount of nutrient fixation that occurred during the months of July and August do to high soil moisture and heat. With all the timely rains all the lawns looked green by the beginning of Sept. Even unfertilized. I thrive in hot and dry conditions and my seeding business always does better when the poa, bent and crappy mixes are under those stresses. It separates me from those companies that put out cheap fertilizers compared to my killer mixes. Very trying year!