Bagged Compost

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by DA Quality Lawn & YS, Aug 3, 2013.

  1. Rick13

    Rick13 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 408

    Your best bet if you are thinking about getting into top-spreading would be to skip the bags and get either a truck bed, trailer, or dump trailer full of organic compost.

    I did a quick Google search in your area, and here's a link for bulk organic compost at $25.00 a ton (just a quick scan of their website).

    Their address is: Silver Creek Road NE in Rochester, MN

    This would be your best bang for the buck. Plus shoveling higher than your top dresser machine is easier when your above it. Just pick up a little step stool to step in and out easier.

    I can move about 10,000 pounds of compost in 4 to 5 hours. And you should charge about $60 to $100 a ton. This would include organic compost, delivery, spreading, clean up, and the customer buys their seed.

    So if the seed doesn't germinate....then it's their problem and not yours. I just direct them to the "Big Box Stores" since they usually have a high turn over rate of material....because with all this work you put into the yard....if the seed is not good....then the customer isn't getting all the benefits of organic compost.

    2,000 pounds (1 ton) of compost for $25.00 or 2,000 pounds (1 ton) of bag compost (40 pounds a bag @ $4.00 or higher per bag & tax) would = $200.00 or higher at Big Box Stores.

    Go with the local compost and get something to haul it.
  2. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,899

    Thanks..I have used our county compost site for my own purposes. I am concerned that any bulk compost you would get from a municipality would not be 'cooked' well. Heck, I can see the pile steaming when I scoop a foot or so into it.

    Also, bagged would allow me to use my enclosed trailer as opposed to having to buy a truck or a dump trailer, The barriers to entry are lower if you use bagged material. I am not super concerned about the price of the compost - that just gets passed along to the customer. For a super premium service, they can expect to pay well for this BUT the results are so worth it.

    I do respect your thoughts on bulk though. I just can't wrap my mind around what a pain in the neck it is to haul that bulk material around and then have to scoop every square inch of it.
  3. Rick13

    Rick13 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 408

    The compost is at 140 degrees and it's breaking itself down....thus killing off most of the weeds/seeds. You should ask your local compost plant if they get their compost tested. Which I'm sure they do. Then you can pass this information to your they know what's going in your yard. Another selling point with you and your customers.

    You will find compost by the bag will start your materials too high....and this is before you add in will have a hard time selling this expensive service.

    When I get a call, it's usually where the customer yard is really bad, and that's when the compost will fix their soil structure, improve moisture, and then it's a great time to reseed their yard. So I explain all the things that will be going on, so they can justify all this work. Which it's a lot of work....but the end results are pretty amazing!!!!

    You could always rent a dump trailer for a day. And you would be able to pay for the dump trailer buy loading the compost in bulk. Buying bags, you would end up opening bags all day long....which would take a ton of labor and time....not saving you anything.

    Here's a yard that is changing for the better because of organic compost in just TWO MONTHS!!!! I spread the seed, covered it with organic compost (bulk not bags) :waving: And in two months, it's improving each day. The yard isn't perfect....but the microorganisms are improving their soil, holding moisture longer so it won't dry out as quick as a normal yard. Plus their yard faces the South all day.

    People will pay more, if you can show them results that really work.

    It usually takes about two years to get a yard really going good with organics. And might get a few weeds here are there, but they are easy to deal with, once the yard gets established. Once established, the grass will be thick and if you do get any weeds later....they will be along sidewalks, driveway, or boarders.....and they are very easy to deal with.

    And as long as the customer can see results, they don't mind waiting on a beautiful yard that might take two years to get truly established. Once the yard takes to the organics, then its not much work to maintain.

    But like I've said....this is in just two months between "Before" and "After" pictures. And now their yard is on the right track to becoming a healthy, beautiful, and thriving yard with organics. Wait until I get My Organic Compost Tea Sprayer going in 2014!!!! :weightlifter: :weightlifter: :weightlifter:

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  4. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,940

    This is an observation not a criticism, DA. Something just does not ring true for me, who is not particularly concerned nor unconcerned with organic practices, with buying organic compost in plastic bags.

    The football field I did in August took 3 dump trucks. In bags, it would have been 30 pallets and 1,200 (!) plastic bags to dispose of. Granted it made more sense to use bulk with all that in one location but the accumulated waste will be the same for you if you topdress 57M, more or less, at a medium rate on several widespread lawns. I understand your concerns and reluctance.

    Cost may be a bigger factor than you realize. Think of yourself if you don't think the customer will mind the difference. On the football field the compost cost me $552 plus tax and delivery. In bags at $4 (I have no idea) it would have been $4,800 plus tax and delivery - on a job I did I one long afternoon. So even if the customer had ponied up at the higher rate, I would have gone home with $4,200 more than you. Of course I did not charge them as though I had paid $4/bag but I think there is something useful in the story, some apparent opportunity in that difference for you and the customer both.

    You're a good guy here on lawnsite. I've never seen you complain something was too difficult. I know if you get into this you will do a good job, get good results, and not find it overly difficult. I believe you will find it rewarding and that performing the service well will further differentiate your business.
  5. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,899

    Rick - them's some nice pics of your topdress overseed job. I 100% know that is what that service is all about. The results you get are phenomenal. I have seen it with my own eyes on the few manual spread jobs that I have done.

    Fore - valid comments. No, not afraid of hard work, but if I am going to offer a hard working service I want to see some superior return on investment. I am not interested in making a pittance on a premium service like this. Quite frankly, I want to make a load off of it, cause it is worth it for the customer.
    So, in your opinion, using bagged compost would be as much or MORE work than using bulk? I do not doubt the material cost difference, didn't think it would be that much though. One thing: I think I could almost name my price around here for compost application cause NO ONE does it. As long as my price was not astronomical, I think it would take hold.

    Final question, do yall think that county compost is quality enough to run on lawns? That was the other reason for a lean toward bagged - trying to find a decent bulk supplier. Really my only option is the county site around here. If I get test results from the co., will it tell me percent weed seed?
  6. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,940

    I don't know the answer on weed seed being on the test results. Rick posted a couple sample reports in another thread sometime in late summer. I agree with him that most weed seeds will be cooked beyond sterile by the composting process. The place I get it I have always assumed some weed seeds were coming in but hoped that I could out compete them. I haven't ever noticed much of a problem at all.

    I'm sure handling bags is work as is handling bulk. Honestly I don't know which would be more. I used a tractor to load the topdresser most of the time. I end up doing plenty of shoveling one way or another though. It is fairly easy to handle.

    What is important is to have anything you buy be screened. The place I get it has big machinery for this and will double screen it if I ask (and pay a little more). I would have reservations about what may come out of a county run composting operation. It would be worth exploring but you need more assurances. I'm sure you have already begun looking into what they turn out.

    You are exactly right about it being a premium service and worthwhile at that. Part of what I was cautioning you about is doing the leg work and customer education part well enough to get this launched then effectively making a market for someone else to come in behind you and do the work cheaper simply by buying the compost at a fraction of the cost.

    There would be nothing wrong with starting off with using bagged material. You may tire of it after a few big jobs (or not) and that is fine too. It is easy to switch if you have a good supplier. You know your market and yourself better than I do.
  7. Rick13

    Rick13 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 408

    It won't tell you the percent of weed seed in it. The older the compost the more likely you won't get as many weeds.

    It will show if you have high levels of metal (which you don't want).

    Tell your customer you will get some weeds....but the one's I've gotten are in very large open compost areas, where any weed seed flying in the air could land. Once the weed seed hits the organic's going to grow since its the best environment for grass and weeds to grow. We've walked up to these large areas and with a bucket.....just picked the weeds out....takes about 15 minutes. The weeds are far and few....but you will get a few.

    In most are only fixing a few dead that's where the weeds will be. The rest of the yard so be weed free, since the lawn is already established thus keeping the weed seed from germinating due to the original grass/lawn.

    Here's a PDF file of typical soil sample results that you can give to your customer....showing long story short.....that the organic compost is not going to harm their yard. Regular dirt is maybe one of the hardest things to get rid of.....since most places are worried about it's metal and toxic levels may hurt their yard.

    Attached Files:

  8. djagusch

    djagusch LawnSite Platinum Member
    from MN
    Posts: 4,231

    Mn mulch and soil I have gotten 2 truck loads for a hoa top dress. Made a custom mix for what I was looking for.

    They do sell to retailers and may know who buys stuff down in rochester or who offers it.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  9. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,899

    Thanks Ill check em out.

    CHARLES CUE LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,093


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