Deep Root Tree Injection Prices and Tips ?

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by MJB, Aug 19, 2001.

  1. MJB

    MJB LawnSite Silver Member
    from Wa
    Messages: 2,869

    I need help with this bid. I'm looking at treating approximately 75 drought stressed trees. They are Poplars, Chinese Elms, Locusts, white pine, and a few others. They are all watered by an underground sprinkler system for the lawn, but Do Not have any drip system for deep watering.
    I want tthem to start out by increasing the water for the next few weeks, then injecting the roots with a phosphorus, and potassium mix in Sept ,to help them get back on track for next yr. Too late in the summer to give them fertilizer, as we have freezing temp in late Oct- Nov. Any help would be appreciated on a cost per tree bid, and any suggestions would be appreciated. I'm liscensed but new to injections etc.

  2. tremor

    tremor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,476

    Hey MGB
    I'm a CT Liscenced Arborist working for LESCO. I call on & supply product to the Metro NY & CT's biggest Tree Co.'s. Been working with Urban Tree care for only the last 13 years. Turf Major & all. In this area, most guys won't send out a 2 man crew for less than $2000.00 per day unless the company is of the low-ball nature. 75 trees is a long day of injecting if the trees are of size. Some things to consider:
    1.) Tissue anaylsis for nutrients will determine what grade of fertilizer & how much. We sell a 30-10-7 100% Slow N from UF that would never cause a problem for the trees when fall applied. Davey Tree Co.patented this material. Nitrogen is the most likely element to be deficient. Soluble N sources could be suspect in the fall though as you seem to be concerned. Merit is a frequent addition for insect protection the following spring/summer. Spring Merit injects must be done really early to be effective. Merit will dive up the charge per day to at least $4000.00, but will save the client a fortune in the next growing season if borers have to be sprayed for, etc. Takes pressure of your schedule too.
    2.) What volume of water per DBH inch will you use. In the past, the larger spray rigs (800+ gals) were popular, so 5 gallons water per inch was the norm. Today we see an increase in the popularity of 200-300 gal rigs. The water volume is decreasing to 2-3 gals per inch DBH. How big is your rig?
    3.) Can water be had on site. Pond, stream or lake draw with a pump? Watch the pick-up hose strainer during fill. Check Ph of water as some pesticides are tank Ph sensitive if you ever contract to do pest sprays here. Or maybe a Fire Hydrant permit? A typical 3/4" - 1" hose bib will require hours to fill the tank if the job uses volume. Don't have applicators waiting for tanks to fill unless the job is paying for it. If they must go home to fill, this job will be hard to make money on.
    4.) What is the soil moisture like at various depths? The lawn sprinklers may be providing all the water needs unless its been very dry where you are. Check down to 12+" to be sure. I've seen trees drowned by well intentioned turf managers. Site drainage, soil type, & tree species all help to determine the need for supplemental water.
    5.) Is the lawn being fertilized? And are the trees feeder roots competing with the turf for nutrients or picking up a gross surplus of applied nutrients? Leaf analysis results again will help to determine or qualify the need for which elements.
    6.) Cost of purchased materials for the fertilizing will have a minimal effect on the price charged. Labor is the biggest factor, so carefully use the experiences gained in time usage on similar jobs to guide you. Time yourself or your men on similarly sized trees if you've never done this before. Even injecting water into turf that has been measured and turf-paint marked to resemble the treatment area of the average size tree on the site is a useful exercise. It may prevent you from over or under charging the job. Don't ever charge less $/Hr than you currently expect to make doing similar work. Tree care is considered of a more technical nature in this area & insurance costs are higher. Experienced tree people also command a more substantial salary than LCO applicators around here. Due to liscencing requirements, tree care is a little less competitive so rates are higher. Is your area the same?
    Good Luck, Steve
  3. HBFOXJr

    HBFOXJr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,712

    I can only help on irrigation. If you have a good system and it's used as it should be, before the stress develops I don't know why there would be a problem.

    Figure out the precipitaion rate and run the system to make up some lost time before fall gets away.

    I've been through your area and have relatives in the dry parts of Oregon and Washington so I know what you up against.
  4. ant

    ant LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,469

    good reply steve.
  5. MJB

    MJB LawnSite Silver Member
    from Wa
    Messages: 2,869

    Thanks for your replys. Their budget probably will not have enough in it to treat these trees. They may have to find a less expensive way. The sprinkler system was installed for the lawn. Some areas have water standing and the trees seem to be healthy. There are areas where the sprinklers just don't put down enough to get the moisture level more than 2 or 3 ".

    So in a nutshell, to much water in some areas, not near enough in others. 20 acres of turf and trees and they don't have the system needed for about 10 -15 acres. This place has sidewalks and buildings going thru it. Under the elm trees the turf is drying out, so yes there is competition between the turf and the trees for the water. They had construction going on which shut down the system for a while too during the heat. This is a very dry climate. But they are trying to get the watering caught up, the best they can.

    The lawn has not been fertilzed in yrs, neither have the trees.
    City water available, don't know yet , but I beleive I can use a fire hydrant. I have a 200 gallon rig, was thinking 2- gallons per inch
    using Bio Chem Naures Way products, humic, fulvic acid, and potassium, phosphorus. Unfortunately I don't have all the labels or info with me now to give you all the ingredients.

    If there is a way to treat these trees for less than $20 each I'd like to know how.

  6. tremor

    tremor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,476

    Hey MJB,
    $20 per tree is possible on the material cost side. Labor is another thing. Here's how.
    Lets use a 24" average DBH as an example here because the math is easier. The BEST bio-stimulant that I sell is called Bolster (from Sustane Corp), NPK ferts are much cheaper so I'll ignore them for the sake of the example. Let's assume you've altered zone timing & sprinkler nozzle size to correct the dry/wet spots and some rain rounds out the drought stress for you.
    Bolster per 2x2.5 gal case = $205.90(APPROXIMATE)
    Apply in a 2'x2' grid in injection sites4-12"deep
    Mix @ 1 oz per 100 gallons:
    $205.9 divided by 640 oz per case = $.32/oz
    .32/oz X 100gals = $32.00 per 100 gals.
    At 2 gallons per inch DBH cost = $.64/inch DBH
    So a 24" DBH tree costs YOU $15.36

    Now for NPK fert. Unless we try to waste money at a retail store, we should have no problem obtaining a Soluble Fertilizer for $1.00/Lb.
    Adding it to the tank @ 3-5 lbs/100g = $3-$5/100.
    So a 24" DBH tree costs you $2.40 (@5lbs/100)

    Labor costs vary be region. Your 200gl tank will provide material for 100 cumulative inches @2gl/" or 4.2 trees per tank. 75 trees divided by 4.2 about 18 tanks for the job. Say 19 tanks as the teank will never be empty. Filling will require appropriate adjustments for what remains in the tank. Hydrant fill @ 20+gpm and the tank is filled in 10 minutes. If the sprayer isn't 100% empty & the men don't shut off during refill, then one man is filling water while the other is adding fert/bio-stim. Thats still a minimum of 3 hours spent filling. (if they never had to move the truck). Double that time so they can move about the site= 6 SKILLED MAN HOURS for fill/move.

    Actual inject time for 4 trees/tank @ 2g/inch depends more on the skill of the men than anything else. Lets say that the leaf-canopy spread is 15'. Since your trying to do the best job possible for the site ON THEIR BUDGET, we'll make injections on 2' centers. Since we don't treat the center 50% of the inner drip line, we can make the following conclusion. Each 15' spread tree will require a minimum of 52 injection sites. ( I dont have time this AM to share the formula, but it's close) This yeilds 3 rows of injects beginning at 50% out from center all 2' apart out to the drip line. ( I know, we can do better, but not on this budget.)
    If pressure is adjusted so that each inject site is held for 3 seconds, then we have 3x52 injects or 156 seconds on the trigger or 2.6 minutes. You own the sprayer and injector, so calibrate with a graduated bucket & stop watch. Double that time to allow the applicator time to find his next site.
    5.2 minutes per tree is fair if the men have the motivation to move. If they never had to move the truck, they could do a row of 75 trees in 390 minutes or 6.5 hours. Add to that the 6 hours we gave them to fill and move= 12.5 hours. 2 men.
    So we have 25 skilled man hours.
    We discovered a cost/tree of $17.76 each or
    75 trees = $1332.00
    We're not digging ditches here so you plug in your local SKILLED labor rate, then sell the job, then crack the whip.
    If labor=$55/hr x 25 = 1375.00
    Materials = cost 1332x2(50%GP)2662
    Or $4037.00 for the 2 day job. The sold price per tree came to $53.83 per tree. And the men have time to take lunch and scratch their butts a couple times. Any negotiation in price is a compromise of your profit. We could use a lesser biostimulant to save cost. You could just sell the NPK fert or just water alone for that matter. The aerating effects of water injecting relieves compaction (a little) & benefite the drought stressed condition to. ( add a lot of time if just watering).
    We've drawn some fairly vague conclusions based on the unknown site terrain, but if a cost of $20 per tree was the only hurdle, we slammed it a while ago. No matter how bad the client wants to save money, it will cost a lot more to R&R dead trees.
    But that's just my opinion. Good Luck
  7. tremor

    tremor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,476

    Correction. Mix rate for Bolster is 1 QUART per 100 gallons. Its probably similar to the product you've been using. The only real difference between bio-stimulants is Humic Acid content. More is better. Iron serves as a catalyst & should be present as well. Most other ingredients are their for marketing purposes only. Some companies are now adding P & K but often times not N. The reason is simple. Most states don't require registration of Bio-stim's. P & K are exempt in small quantities. N is pricey & required in quantity.
    If a blend contains only trace amounts of NPK then it too would be exempt from registration. So some products have only the amount of macronutrients allowed by the most limiting state they sell in. Make sense? Don't pay more for trace amounts of P&K if their not sufficient to correct a deficiency. Steve
  8. powerreel

    powerreel Banned
    Messages: 481

    Chelated Minerals!

    I wouldn't do trees in the fall here.I would do them in Feb. after dormant oil sprays in late Jan. Too much N in the NorthWest Fall isn't good.....wait 'till Spring. ( They can write it into NEXT years budget!!!!!) Just my thoughts....:)
  9. anthony

    anthony Guest
    Messages: 0

    mjb: how did you make out with this bid?

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