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View Full Version : Take this job or wait?


ron mexico75
10-01-2012, 10:38 AM
I was asked out to a property to give an estimate for a new lawn. Front, sides and back. They want to do it in stages due to cost restraint at this time so the front would be first. I measured the front at 3,600 sq ft.

Now this house was built in the 70's and I'd say no lawn maintenance has been done since the 70's! It's all weeds, weed grass, moss and bare dirt. There is irrigation but I was told it got struck by lightning a few years ago and doesn't come on but that they could get it fixed. The property has large pine tress all over as well as a huge Willow Oak in the front.

Now, here in zone 7A most people have already had the yards aerated and over seeded of tilled and seeded as a complete renovation etc. usually starting the 1st or second week in September. Some are still fine to overseed right now but its getting a tad late in my opinion to start from scratch. When I say start from scratch I mean having to spray for a total kill then slit seed or till up, grade seed and cover. This estimate in particular due to not having working irrigation, can it be fixed, if so how long until it is and can they afford the repair bill if they are doing the lawn in stages?

The other thing is the dropping of acorns and leaves will be falling here in the next 3 weeks or so. All of that is no good for establishing a new lawn. My gut says don't take the job. It would be a nice payment but I don't like attaching my name to a project that has obvious possibilities of not turning out well. Mainly, no working irrigation, a little late in the season in my opinion and the potential for heavy leaf fall.

In addition, I personally have never used a slit seeder. I have always tilled and graded and then covered with pete moss. I looked at the rental shop and they have a slit seeder made by turf solutions. Its a hydro drive and from what I read about it in the manual and watched on youtube, it appears to be a no brainer. However, I am not embarrassed to admit, I would feel very nervous doing a job with a piece of equipment Ive never used to someone expecting great results.

Id like to start using this turf solutions machine because it would seem to me I am wasting time, money and energy using a tiller, grading it all out, raking out the debris etc. Unless the ground is very uneven, why even use a tiller? That's a question I have been asking myself. So, is a slit seeder the solution instead of tilling unless the ground is very uneven and bumpy?

I'm asking for some help on this. I have several questions and appreciate to hear some opinions. Am I totally off in the way I'm thinking about the job and/or the slit seeder and tiller. What do you think? I need to get back to this person in the next day so any advice would be great.

Am I wrong by being apprehensive about the slit seeder because I have never used one? Or, just follow the manual/youtube vid and go at it? Should I just tell them get your irrigation up and running first. Then give an estimate and be honest and say wait until next year at which point I cna get started in mid August and feel better about doing it right?

Here is the slit seeder that my rental shop has so you can see what Im talking about.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbNjnEQ-3uA

cod8825
10-01-2012, 11:18 AM
Ron:

I agree with you don't start the job now. If you can talk to the customer about starting the job in the spring then you can look at it then. Find out exactly what the customer is going to have done in terms of irrigation work. With a spring seeding you will want to make sure the irrigation is on for the grass going into summer.

Matt

easy-lift guy
10-01-2012, 11:46 AM
Talk the customer into waiting until the Spring and get the irrigation system completly sorted first.
easy-lift guy

ron mexico75
10-01-2012, 12:03 PM
Ron:

I agree with you don't start the job now. If you can talk to the customer about starting the job in the spring then you can look at it then. Find out exactly what the customer is going to have done in terms of irrigation work. With a spring seeding you will want to make sure the irrigation is on for the grass going into summer.

Matt

Talk the customer into waiting until the Spring and get the irrigation system completly sorted first.
easy-lift guy

Good to hear. So another thing is establishing from scratch a lawn in the spring. Never a good idea in my opinion due to weeds germinating at full throttle. I know of a pre M called Tupersan (Siduron)which can be applied at seeding. However once again, I have no familiarity with the product. Just comes in a wetable powder or is a granular available? I think its just for crab grass and not broadleaf weeds. That will obviously up the cost and creates another "worry" while trying to establish turf. Here where I live, you would never want to establish a lawn from scratch in the spring due to weed competition.

How about having the customer wait until next fall unless Im wrong on this?

ron mexico75
10-01-2012, 12:51 PM
Anybody else? I mean this post has been looked at 41 times and only 2 site members responded?

easy-lift guy
10-01-2012, 01:10 PM
OK, my opinion was based on growing conditions here in SW Florida. You will have to kill off the entire existing lawn and keep it dead via more post emergent and pre emergent material as well during this phased project. It sounds like your going to use seed for this lawn?. Nearly all of my jobs have involved sod and plugs. How will you contend with the neighbors if there are any?
easy-lift guy

ron mexico75
10-01-2012, 01:34 PM
OK, my opinion was based on growing conditions here in SW Florida. You will have to kill off the entire existing lawn and keep it dead via more post emergent and pre emergent material as well during this phased project. It sounds like your going to use seed for this lawn?. Nearly all of my jobs have involved sod and plugs. How will you contend with the neighbors if there are any?
easy-lift guy

Yeah as far south as you are Im sure its much much different. Fall is the time for installation and renovation here in regards to seeding. Sod could be done in the late winter very early spring but establishing a lawn from bare dirt using seed is best in September here.

Yeah, one neighbors yard is right up against one side in the front, other side in front is divided by a driveway.

I think you might be getting at how do I intend to contend with weed encroachment from the neighbor? If it does occur I could spray a Post M after 3-4 cuttings on the new lawn. Then the following early spring start my weed treatment program which consists of Pre M's to keep it off.

I think I will trust my gut along with your and one others advice and wait until next fall. If they decide to go with someone else who will do it now or in the spring then fine. They can live with those results. Im not willing to attach my name to a project done at the wrong time just to cash a check.

nparish
10-01-2012, 01:36 PM
First things first. Get a price together for the irrigation repair. Explain your situation, and hopefully they will see your looking out for them. In the meantime they may save up enough to do the whole lawn at one time. IMO I wouldn't use a slit seeder for a new lawn, just till it up so the seed is in loose soil. Lesco makes a nice pro athletic turf seed that runs 150 for 50# but is well worth it.

easy-lift guy
10-01-2012, 02:02 PM
Yeah as far south as you are Im sure its much much different. Fall is the time for installation and renovation here in regards to seeding. Sod could be done in the late winter very early spring but establishing a lawn from bare dirt using seed is best in September here.

Yeah, one neighbors yard is right up against one side in the front, other side in front is divided by a driveway.

I think you might be getting at how do I intend to contend with weed encroachment from the neighbor? If it does occur I could spray a Post M after 3-4 cuttings on the new lawn. Then the following early spring start my weed treatment program which consists of Pre M's to keep it off.

I think I will trust my gut along with your and one others advice and wait until next fall. If they decide to go with someone else who will do it now or in the spring then fine. They can live with those results. Im not willing to attach my name to a project done at the wrong time just to cash a check.

Sounds like a plan.
easy-lift guy

ron mexico75
10-01-2012, 02:20 PM
First things first. Get a price together for the irrigation repair. Explain your situation, and hopefully they will see your looking out for them. In the meantime they may save up enough to do the whole lawn at one time. IMO I wouldn't use a slit seeder for a new lawn, just till it up so the seed is in loose soil. Lesco makes a nice pro athletic turf seed that runs 150 for 50# but is well worth it.

Yeah that sounds good.

So about the slit seeder, not for a new lawn? Im not familiar with how well they work or don't work. That's why I ask. Im familiar with tilling and it always works great. Its just so much work raking out all the undesierables, rocks etc. and then grading out.

RigglePLC
10-01-2012, 09:25 PM
Not in my area. Ron, are you in the south? LOL! What type of seed? Bermuda should go down in early summer when temps are above 85 and expected to go higher--or am I wrong about that?
I say, do not start until you are satisfied the irrigation is working. Arrange a subcontractor to do this.
Roundup...then...sod is best. Looks great immediately...labor cost is low. (My opinion--you can mow short and skip the tilling. Fall is OK.)
Roundup followed by slit seeding is my second choice. Followup with an additional broadcast cover of seed so you have double the recommended amount. Apply starter fert. Too much grass is better than too little.

alldayrj
10-01-2012, 09:35 PM
why no sod?
no one will wait a year and call you back. someone else will get the job. get the sprinklers fixed and give it a shot

ron mexico75
10-02-2012, 07:56 AM
why no sod?
no one will wait a year and call you back. someone else will get the job. get the sprinklers fixed and give it a shot

Yeah I know, that is a looooong time. I'll be honest with you, I have no experience laying sod. I helped do it one time about 15 years ago when I was working for a landscaping company. Every other time I've done a lawn its been till, grade, spread and cover.

I don't even know how to price sod but would imagine it would be a lot more then an estimate for doing it the way I'm acustomed to don't you think?

ron mexico75
10-02-2012, 08:02 AM
Not in my area. Ron, are you in the south? LOL! What type of seed? Bermuda should go down in early summer when temps are above 85 and expected to go higher--or am I wrong about that?
I say, do not start until you are satisfied the irrigation is working. Arrange a subcontractor to do this.
Roundup...then...sod is best. Looks great immediately...labor cost is low. (My opinion--you can mow short and skip the tilling. Fall is OK.)
Roundup followed by slit seeding is my second choice. Followup with an additional broadcast cover of seed so you have double the recommended amount. Apply starter fert. Too much grass is better than too little.

In Virginia.

So with no experience in sodding maybe I should just pass on the job? I really hate turning down work. I mean, 3,600 is nothing but I want to be confident going into a job. Having no experience in sod I'd feel weird estimating that.

sgbotsford
10-16-2012, 07:41 PM
If I were bidding on it, here's what I'd do:

1. Tell them everything. Explain your concerns.

2. Suggest that they start with just mowing the weeds, front and back. Very basic package. I'm always amazed at how good a patch of weeds looks after mowing it for a month. Get them a decent hose end sprinker and a simple timer, and teach them to use it. It's not a golf green, but it's not weeds. Once the lawn gets used to being mowed regularly at 3 inches or so, ask them about a broadleaf herbicide treatment.

3. Get the irrigation system working.

By the way: won't a slit seeder wreck the sprinkler heads? Maybe mow for a year, then in the fall on a day of light rain, seed and roll. The Briish have been doing that for 300 years. You have to use more seed when you do that, but you save the price of the rental on the slit seeder. And if you have a working sprinkler system, you can set it to run often enough to keep the seedling grass moist.

4. Ask them what they want in an ideal world, what their budget is to get there. Some of it is ongoing, some is once only.

5. Talk about xeriscaping -- moving to a no-mow solution. This has tremendous appeal for lots of people, particularly in cities where water is rationed. Still requires periodic maintenance, mostly vacuuming up leaves and needles, or massive gardening, depending of whether they have beds or cover with gravel.