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hardscape guys

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by bigviclbi, Feb 4, 2005.

  1. bigviclbi

    bigviclbi LawnSite Senior Member
    from nj
    Posts: 894

    how many of you guys use line levels as opposed to the laser sights that beep when you are at the right level? how hard are they to use? i saw them demonstrated at mahts last year and am thinking about getting one as my business grows. i don't ever do jobs over 3000 sq. ft and most are about 1000 sq ft. or less. also what other big tools like paver carts etc. do you guys find worth the money. i'd like to hear your thoughts.
  2. jreiff

    jreiff LawnSite Senior Member
    from MN
    Posts: 402

    We have two lasers. Would not build a patio with out them. They are very easy to use. Set your tripod up, level in the laser, if it is not self leveling, attach the laser detector to the stick and away you go.

    A dead blow hammer works well with pavers. A paver adjuster is another.

    Check out www.pavetech.com

    They have alot of good things there.

    We have never used a paver cart, so no experience with that? Was wondering how they work though for anyone who has used them???
    Usually are able to place pallets with the bobcat close enough to the patio so we are not walking to far.
  3. kris

    kris LawnSite Bronze Member
    from nowhere
    Posts: 1,579

    You have to be able to get by and do a professional job with whatever you can afford. If it is a $3 line level and a roll of twine so be it.
    It's all simple math from there.

    We have a laser ...very easy to use and it frees up one man.

    We just received a "wall splitter" from pavtech ..... I had a few pissa wall units already in the shop thawing out in anticipation of its arrival. (Boys and their toys. :) ) First cut was beautiful! As I tried to cut thinner and thinner it wasn't so good. We will see how much use it gets when the season gets going. I'm confident it was a good purchase.
  4. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,563

    i have a friend with a thier wall splitter. it works great, as long as you're splitting 3" or more off the wall.
  5. MarcusLndscp

    MarcusLndscp LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 634

    As Kris previously mentioned sometimes you have to use the old school approach when landscaping, especially in the early years of a company. You know a roll of masons line, a line level, sledge hammers, chissels, some basic math (ie. 3,4,5 rule), using a pry bar and a rock as a folcrum to lift a large piece of stone to level, etc etc. Some relatively inexpensive tools that you won't want to live without once you use them are things like a cut off saw, a transit/laser level, a plate compactor, and although a bit of a bigger purchase some kind of machine (ie. skid steer or a small tractor w/ forks and a bucket). It's all in what you are able to afford and keep billable year round especially when it comes to a machine.
    For example, this past year we started 4 jobs that we have priced to take 2-3 years each job. They are all w/in a mile or two of each other and involve planting trees from 5-6' Evergreens to 12" Caliper Maples, drip edges, paver walkways, paver patios around pools, etc. In the past we would have only one of these jobs at a time so we would simply rent a larger piece of equipment to accompany our smaller backhoes and skid steers. Since we have so much going on for the next 3 years we opted to purchase a brand new Komatsu 120 backhoe w/ extend a hoe, a wrist, hydraulic pallet forks, a hydraulic bucket, and all the extras. In the winter we have converted the machine over to move snow so in the end it's a win win for us and our clients and the machine is billed out every day of every year (in theory).
    It's the same with some smaller tools like a block splitter. Quite a few years ago we designed and built a large Celtic block wall. The total job was about a quarter million so we simply priced in the full amount of that splitter and bought one. You can't do that too easily on a small job though, unless you know you're going to do a dozen small walls over the next year. Then just buy it and split the cost between all the jobs.
    All said and done no matter what it is you are looking to buy make sure you can afford it year round. I've seen small companies run themselves out of business because they bought too much too quick and there is no one who can tell you when the right time is other than yourself.
    Good luck
  6. bigviclbi

    bigviclbi LawnSite Senior Member
    from nj
    Posts: 894

    i definately want to get the paver adjuster, and maybe the large square so i can let my guys use it. do any of the place provide training for the transit or is it really easy to use? i bought a plate compactor and handheld diamond blade saw so those were really worth the money, usually rented the bobcat. some of the stuff like the extractor just seem like a waste of $$, but they sure look cool. what do you guys use to screed with? i did use my six foot level this year, now need to buy a new one.
  7. kris

    kris LawnSite Bronze Member
    from nowhere
    Posts: 1,579

    Yes I forgot,we also bought that large square from them a few years back ...

    Over the years I've used just about anything to screed with ...straight piece of 2x4 , asphalt rake(almost looks like pavetechs' sand pull), or a level.

    I'm sure the shop where you buy the laser would give you a quick lesson but it really is easy ... ours is also self leveling.

    MarcusLndscp, you also mentioned some basic math (ie. 3,4,5 rule). I was thinking of having a thread of some basic formulas ... I know the 3,4,5 rule, but I'd bet some don't .
    I'll start it with some formulas for grading ...to go along with the theme of this thread ... would be great if you would join in..perhaps start with explaining the 3,4,5?
  8. D Felix

    D Felix LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,898

    If you are going to buy a laser level, I'd highly recommend the Topcon line. CST/Berger, from what I hear, is not too good in the service end anymore, and getting one serviced takes a while. We did have a normal Topcon laser level for about a year (don't remember model number), then last fall traded it in on a grade laser. The sales rep from the shop we bought it from showed us what we needed to know on both models.

    As for screeding, anything that is straight will work, as Kris said. The easiest and probably the most common is a 2x4.

    For blocks, I saw an innovation at the CENTS show that looked to be a *really* good idea/time saver. The company didn't have any literature or a website at that point (it's a new thing), but it was basically a screed tool for setting base block for walls. Had a piece of sheet metal (heavy gauge aluminum, IIRC) that could be adjusted up and down for the appropriate depth, that was attached to metal piece that looked almost like an "I" beam, but a smaller version. All told, it probably wieghed less than 5 pounds, and if it worked, you could set base block pretty fast with one. If anyone is interested, PM me and I'll try to get the info for you within the next week or two. I think the cost was ~$70, but I don't remember for sure.

  9. kris

    kris LawnSite Bronze Member
    from nowhere
    Posts: 1,579

    Dan ... there use to be a company that made a "speed base" ...sounds like something your talking about ...but a guy on here(LS member years ago) said they were no longer in business ....

    I am definitely interested. Do you think you could make one up your self?
  10. D Felix

    D Felix LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,898

    You probably could, I don't think it would be too hard. But unless you had the materials laying around, it's probably just as easy to buy one at the price they are asking for them. Everything on it was aluminum, and the whole thing was fairly lightweight.

    The guy at the booth didn't claim that you could just screed, lay the block down, then go to the next. He did say you still needed to check the block with a level, but I think that tool would definately minimize the amount of frustration.:)


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