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Anyone ever REGRET buying a HYDROSEEDER?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by roscioli, Feb 14, 2002.

  1. roscioli

    roscioli LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 749

    A new subject? I THINK SO! As some of you may remember, I am looking into buying a hydroseeder this spring. I am wondering if anyone has ever regretted investing in a hydroseeder? This can be answered 2 ways,,, I am interested in both, here goes:
    1. The particular brand or model didn't hold up or work well for you.
    2. Hydroseeding was not a good business for you to be in.
    I am actually more interested in #2. I got info from 3-4 different makers, and they all have the testimony saying things like "I paid off my new X brand hydroseeder in 3 days!!!!!" Is there a bad side?
  2. roscioli

    roscioli LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 749

    Sorry for the wrong forum, grass=landscaping, not lawn care? I guess thats where the line is drawn?
  3. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Messages: 1,625

    No it's really installation not lawn care. plus more people here have units. A search on what type of units to buy have been gone thru and other threads on them might have a bearing on your purchase.

    Other things we would need to know, do you have equipment for grading and how many others in your area do hydroseeding?
  4. roscioli

    roscioli LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 749

    Hey Paul- thanks, but I have done the homework on units to buy. Many Many searches here, and elsewhere. What I am really looking for, not even advice, but just if anyone has had a bad experience. I know its a good market in my area, only 1 main competitor, and I can get the "loyal locals" cause he is 2 towns over. I am just wondering if anyone has bought one and found it to be less profitable than planned, etc... Thanks, Michael
  5. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Messages: 1,625

    I have seen lots of people regret buying equipment, just look at how many landscapers go out of business every year. There are no bad hydroseeders just bad business men. Lots of people have a great desire to work but doing it profitability thats a nother matter. I use Finn because I want my men seeding as soon as the machine is filled, down time costs me money, having to wait for a machine to mix is not in my equation.

    Marketing your services and being able to do them and do it right are what you are looking for along with making money at it. If one of these items are missing then you might regret buying the machine. It's all up to you!
  6. Administrator

    Administrator Administrator
    Messages: 865

    In spring 99 I bought a 500 gallong turbo turf. I think the machine was around $3,500. I earned $7,000 in volume in the first two days using it.

    Shortly after I sold my company but I would have bought a larger paddle system like a Finn.
  7. roscioli

    roscioli LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 749

    Wow Chuck- Thats a huge chunk of change in 2 days. I am goign to start out with a small one, 500 gallon hurricane hydroseeder for $5000. That size in the turbo turf was somewhat more, and i really didnt want to spend more than 5. For now, and doing relatively small installs, i think i can pay for it quickly and buy a bigger one if the housing boom continues in my area. I am pretty excited to enter a new market area. Thanks for the advice guys.
    Paul- I see what you are saying, and agree. I feel that I will do just fine, i have a good business sense, and have grown pretty well over the past 2 years. Thanks, Mike
  8. Administrator

    Administrator Administrator
    Messages: 865

    Your right that was a big chunk of change.

    I placed bids to a property manager that were VERY high. So high I didn't imagine I would ever receive the contract. They called me on Monday morning telling me I got the job but it had to be started that Wednesday.

    Well, I didn't even have a hydro seeder! I had to drive from Missouri all the way to PA and buy the unit then drive back and shoot the slurry.

    I left a few hours after the call, drove non stop, had them weld the unit to my flat bed, drove back non stop.... they called my cell phone Wednesday morning making sure I was on schedule..... I was in St. Louis and assured them everything was fine. I pulled up to the job site right as the property manager was getting there. (By this time I had not slept since Monday morning) I totally played it off to him like I was a hydro seeding pro. I had never touched a hydro seeder up to this point!! I stopped at the local Lesco dealer before hand to pick up the seed, fert, and cellulose. One of the service guy's gave me some quick pointers... that was the extent of my expertise :).

    I finished the job on time and it turned out perfectly. The first day I worked all day long, about an hour into the evening, then another hour doing cleanup. By the time I got home I only got a few hours sleep cuz I had to get up early to finish the job. It was taking me a little longer than expected because of slow water source. I completed the job at about 8pm Thursday.

    One thing I learned from my month or so hydro seeding is..... Rent or buy a fire hydrant tap! (Makes the process much, much faster.) I was also lucky enough to have a local water buying station. For .50 I could fill up my 500 gallon tank in about 3 minutes. After the first few jobs I was really wishing I had a larger auger type system. The jet type seeders, (turbo turf, hurricane) don't have enough power to mix a wood fiber mix. (IMO) Results of wood are MUCH better than cellulose! The auger type systems also mix your slurry much faster. I would only suggest a jet type system for smaller applications or spot treatment.
  9. SLSNursery

    SLSNursery LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 442

    How much current demand do you have for that service? We install several hundred thousand square feet of lawn area each year - renovations, new lawns, new house construction, etc; and for the past two years have used a T-90 (900 gallon) Finn for Hydroseeding when called for. We would provide only hydroseeding, or complete installation, from grading to finish. We don't own the machine, but rented it by the day from a friend who bought it new and kept it at our shop. We were already installing lawns, so this was just another approach when the customer requested it or we had enough square feet to justify the costs. There are lots of hidden costs with units like this that the dealers or manufacturers don't really mention. Set up time, cleanup time, water access, clean dry storage, maintenance on the unit, etc. In our case the cleanup seemed like a major hidden cost, especially since you could usually blow out a tank or two quicker than it would take to refill and clean out the machine thoroughly. Don't even think about putting it away dirty.

    Even though we used one last year regularly - it would be a tough sell convincing me to purchase one at this point. That model was $34,000 or so, and it worked beautifully. On jobs we would bill between $.06 - $.09 per square foot based on volume, seed blend, tackifier, hydromulch selection, water access, etc.

    After having some experience, what would I do differently? I would probably buy one to go on my hook body chassis, I think the 1000 gallon Finn w/mechanical agitation was nice, but in the long run 1500-2000 gallons or more would be better (we have had to have a tanker on some jobs just to keep the machine going). For most new house lots, the square footage is running about 20-40,000 square feet of turf. That is between 2-4 tankfuls - twice as much refilling on the 500 gallon unit.

    I guess what I am saying is that we already have the need for a machine, already use one, and I do not regret NOT purchasing that very productive machine. We are very careful in this case to job cost its use each time, especially because it was a rental (i.e. we did not allow ourselves to get in the habit of using the hydroseeder for every seeding project just because it was convenient - if it wasn't generating its own revenue, it didn't get rented). The profitability did not knock our socks off. In fact when we did end up in bid situations, companies would appear out of the woodwork for low dollars compared to our rates. Fortunately we have elected not to compete based upon price. That is the only way we will be able to comfortably afford to purchase one of these units. Before you dive in, find out what builders are paying per square foot. Run the numbers to find out if you can be competitive. You are pretty close to some major markets and may not see or know the competition other than one whom you mentioned, but other big fish aren't that far away.

    Sorry for the long post, but my brother and I have given this a lot of thought and I figured sharing it couldn't hurt.
  10. Alan

    Alan Member
    Messages: 1,185

    Something to keep in mind is that a small seeder and a big nurse tank come very close to the efficiency of a big seeder and a lot less money is involved. I've only got a 200 gallon seeder but I can do 20,000 ft in a short day by carrying a 1,000 gallon nurse tank on the truck. Load water once on the way to the job and then chase down a second load and you're good for very close to 25,000 ft. Also, as a one man band I find I like the fact that the smaller loads are easier on the operator, if a bit slower. If you're having to drag 200' of hose, mix and spray by yourself it's actually nice to have a change in what you're doing every little while.

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