starting out in lawn fertilization and weed control

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by greensolution, Oct 20, 2009.

  1. greensolution

    greensolution LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    hello, i am seriously considering starting a lawn fertilization and weed control business in central minnesota. can anyone recommend how to start out with minimal overhead? equipment needed regarding sprayers and spreaders? trailer or pick-up? marketing tips? insurance and tax issues. any and all advice is much appreciated. thanks
     
  2. SangerLawn

    SangerLawn LawnSite Senior Member
    from indiana
    Posts: 736

    I would recommend finding something to go with it like mowing. You are going to need at least 200 customers in spraying to make money and around 350 to make a full route. You only go to each customers residents about once every 2 months give or take. That takes a lot of time and in this economy along with others out there doing the same thing your gonna have a real hard time.

    If you decided to continue anyway and I hope you do…check to see about sprayers license in your state. Some state you have to work for someone using chemicals before you are even allowed to take the applicators exam. Once that is covered call around about insurance…the price is going to change from state to state but normally not that much.

    As far as equipment all you need is a broadcast spreader ($350.00) and some kind of sprayer. I recommend a back pack sprayer ($125.00) and a vehicle to move it around. Grant it some chemicals work best with a tank, hose, and sprayer ($2,500-$6,000.00) but almost everything you will want to apply you can get in a granular form so you will not have to have the tanks.

    Hope this helps???
     
  3. UpNorth

    UpNorth LawnSite Member
    from NE,US
    Posts: 201

    Your single biggest expense will be marketing!! It takes FAR more customers than you think to make good money. Once the customers are there, the profit is much higher than mowing. Some might disagree, but this is my opinion. You can service more costumers per day, an you can do it solo with less costs in equipment and labor.

    But you need LOTS of customers. For example if one mowing account gets a cut 24 cuts a year, then you need at least 4 customers to make the same amount of applications (assuming you have a 6 step program).

    Once you get your customers you can determine the best way to service them. You can use a push spreader and drag hose, you can go the all granular route(i don't think the results will be as good), purchase something like a permagreen, or LT Rich machine.

    Hope this helps.
     
  4. EcoGreen Services

    EcoGreen Services LawnSite Member
    Posts: 205

    Welcome ..... :waving:
     
  5. greensolution

    greensolution LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    Thanks for the responses. Building quickly to 200 -350 customers will be a challenge in a competitive market.What type of marketing works best? I have seen about a 10% customer response on the one and only time I distributed flyers for lawn aeration. I'm just trying to find out if I want to go full force into this business and what the hurdles will be to make it successful. Thanks
     
  6. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,847

    Good info but mistated in the fact that you do NOT need over 200 customers to make money. I had a dozen fert/squirts this season in my full first season doing it, and made money. Shooting for closer to 35-50 next season. Yes, you can make BIG money with tons of customers, BUT if you have an sales and income goal in mind that works for you, then shoot for it and ignore the GO BIG OR GO HOME posts.

    First, get lic. in MN. Go to the Dept of Ag website to get started. Next, do LOTS of learning. Books, publications, L.S., etc. Possibly even shadow an applicator for a day to learn more. Then, get some basic equipment. Broadcast spreader and small spray rig is way to go. I started with a backpack sprayer but it wears you out. Get all the right PPE. Be well versed in rules and regs concerning application. And most of all, do a GREAT job for those first few customers. Word of mouth will travel:)
     
  7. greensolution

    greensolution LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    Can I apply both fertilizer and weed control from a sprayer? What is a recommended sprayer besides a back back? I see alot of sprayers with 25" of hose but in my mind I would need alot of hose to spray an entire yard from a tank parked at the curb. Is Trimek the way to go for weed control? what about fertilizer? Alot of questions I know but I am trying to figure this out. Thanks and I appreciate all advice.
     
  8. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,847

    Many of your questions can be answered by studying for and taking the MN Dept of Ag Pest. Applicators exam. Also, do lots of research on your own. You have to put in some legwork to be good at what you do.

    You can do liquid fert & weed control from a curbside skid sprayer. I prefer dry fert however for the slow release properties. Your questions about broadleaf weed control products can be directed toward a reputable dealer like Reinders or John Deere Landscapes, etc. They probably won't work with you too much until you prove you are licensed. Get that done first.
     
  9. greensolution

    greensolution LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    Thanks to all responses especially DA Quality Lawn. (I'm a Hawkeye native!) Does anyone have any opinions on Fimco, Northstar, or Minnesota Wanner skid sprayer reliability. Know where there might be a good used unit for sale?
    I am also interested how any of you may have started out in this business and if you worried about the risks of being profitable going into it? Thanks again.
     
  10. GreenClips

    GreenClips LawnSite Member
    Posts: 113

    I started this year i have 14 accounts for weed control/fert its side business for mowing....its a trial and error thing the first year or at least for me. i took the test and all but it was in a different language for me but after practically living at my John Deer Landscapes and researching non stop on LS and the internet i feel like next year will be a lot better than this year! i already am trying to set up my timin on my 6 step programs and 5 steps i just need to take what i have learned this year and apply it next year. there is a lot of money in it if you know what you are doing its just getting to that knowing what you are doing. My best advice would be dont ever think you have a stupid question always ask! been there done that got bit in the butt cause i didnt ask so always ask questions no matter how dumb you might think they are.....Good Luck

    -Matt
     

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