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How Do You Handle Top Dressing?

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by DavidNJ, Dec 12, 2010.

  1. DavidNJ

    DavidNJ LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 514

    I've only found one contractor who would do it residentially, and then only for 50+k sq ft. While still waiting for the soil test, based on the aeration the front lawn needs it; about 10k sqft.

    No one here rents a top dressing machine. Most of the rental places never heard of it. The front yard would need around 15 cuft, too much to unload from a dump truck (no place to put it).

    What would you do?
  2. cgaengineer

    cgaengineer LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 15,782

    I have applied 7 yards of topdressing sand by hand so if you are doing compost its doable. I had the sand dumped in the driveway and I don't see why you couldn't do the same or even have it dumped in the street if its in a subdivision.
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  3. fl-landscapes

    fl-landscapes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,542

    what I would do is jump on an opportunity and buy a earth and turf 100sp top dresser and tap into an untapped residential top dressing business for your area.
  4. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,956

    It would be a great add on business. Especially here in FL. Trying to get the average customer to understand the concept is a different matter. I actually had a customer ask for sod that doesn't have that "dark junk" under it.
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  5. robtown

    robtown LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Posts: 223

    we offer it. I also own a topdresser, and have been subcontracted to do other lawn guys properties.
  6. DavidNJ

    DavidNJ LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 514

    A top dressing can require 30-50 cubic yards of material. That sounds like multiple dump trucks and a front loader in addition to a top dressing machine. That should read 15 cu yds.

    I don't think the town would like it on the street. The driveway was paved this year. My guess is it would have to go on a section of the lawn. The top dressing machines seem to have relatively high bins. Isn't it hard to load into those bins without a frontloader? In the videos at Earth and Turf, the compost or sand is always in the unit before the video begins.

    The trick to residential top dressing is selling it to the customer, or to the landscaper and to their customer. How hard is it to sell aeration? How do you sell lawn disease and insect treatments?
  7. cgaengineer

    cgaengineer LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 15,782

    Normally a mini skid or similar is used to load the machines if you have one...if not you spend a ton of time loading and none unloading.

    Could you lay a tarp on the driveway prior to dumping? Compost on a new paved drivway is not going to hurt it, but I can understand some customers are picky...have you asked them or are you just thinking they wouldn't go for it?
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  8. DavidNJ

    DavidNJ LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 514

    My driveway...$12k to pave. A Bobcat MT52 Mini Loader is about $200/day. However, still no top dresser.

    I would like to build up 1-3", or at least make the top 3-4" porous and turf friendly. If this was August 15th, I'd just dump it on the lawn, roll, and do a full renovation. With temps more likely to be in the 20s than the 40s, that isn't happening now.

    So, I'm thinking a 1/4-1/2" topsoil top dressing twice a year sounds good. Or maybe more than twice a year, with the others being 1/8-1/4" sand and compost. I'm told it is hard to find places that sell the right sand, topsoil, and compost.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2010
  9. cgaengineer

    cgaengineer LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 15,782

    3" of soil is not topdressing. That's a renovation.

    Regardless, a little soil won't hurt your paved driveway.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  10. DavidNJ

    DavidNJ LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 514

    Correct, I'd like to do a rennovation. But it isn't in the cards. The top dressing also seems problematic; there don't appear to be any contractors or rental places in the area.

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