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Hydroseeding Profit

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by RwADesigner, Jan 19, 2003.

  1. micromike

    micromike LawnSite Member
    from SW/PA
    Messages: 38


    Can you tell us what the htpa.org organizations position is on Mechanical vs. Jet machines?

    What is their recommendation on mulch rates and types?

    Have they conducted any actual research, or know of any organizations/University's who have done any research on mulch rates, types and germination rates?

    Has the HTPA done any comparisons of the two types of machines as far as loading, mixing, spraying and cost comparisons? How about customer satisfaction?

    If they haven't done any of the above do you know why not?

    TIA Mike
  2. GreginAlaska

    GreginAlaska Banned
    Messages: 829

    Hi Jammer, I believe that every state has its own laws on public works jobs. In Alaska the State Department of Transportation runs all the road and airport jobs even though they have federal money in them. The state just has to follow certain laws like the disadvanted business enterprise rules. (DBE)

    "They're now making a pretty innovative high-end mechanical agitation machine. (I think it has a stainless steel tank?)"

    We are going to the Expo in louisville to look at one of EasyLawns new contractor series. We also plan to buy a Turboturf turfsprayer.
    Dave at James Lincoln tried to talk me out of using fertilizer in the Turfmaker 425 but I still do. We are very strict on cleaning and flushing it after every job...the Bowie too. I haven't had to do a bit of recoating on the Bowie but I will be doing a little bit on the TurfMaker at the end of this season. We do use the TurfMaker more than the Bowie.

    My wife has bought some type of biostimulant before, I think it said it was de-odorized, concentrated bull manure. I don't know if it helps germination at colder temps. I think I will do some research and maybe turn some of the State engineers on to it.

    Good Earth, you are right about the soil prep thing, but we run into a lot of people that do their own prep work. I guess it is the "Independent Alaskan" mentality. ;-) We only guarantee jobs were we supply and place the topsoil and get a maintenance contract on the lawn.

    The State of Alaska DOT requires the use of mechanical agitation on public works jobs.
  3. GreginAlaska

    GreginAlaska Banned
    Messages: 829

    Hey LawnTek, nice job. :)

    What I've wondered about making a plastic mechanical machine is can you do it like this:

    Mount the plastic tank on a skid using something like a rubber motor mount to absorb vibration. Use packing glands to run a shaft out of both ends of the machine that the paddles are attached to. Have a mount for the shafts come off the skid and have pedestal bearing mounted in them. This would not put the weight of the paddle on the tank and hopefully it would reduce vibration. I would power it with a hydraulic motor, I think that hydraulics have a tenedency to vibrate less than belts or chains and pulleys.
    Any manufacturer that reads this please feel free to build it, I lay no claim to it...but I want a heck of a deal on one!!!

  4. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,341

    Well, let me skin my ignorance here. After the sermon by why sod I feel like shouting. All of this bull about one type of machine being better than the other probably does have some merit but, the facts are that a quality job can be achieved with either type of machine, just looking at lawtech pictures sort of proves that. It seems to me that whysod biggest beef about the "cheap" machines is the fact that they mean increased competition to him. But he overlooked the fact that 4 out of the 6 competitors went out of business. Now if their quality of work had been as good as his claim to be that might of been him out of business but since he is still seeding then I have to believe that he does quality work. As for the performance being less after one year, even Bowie sells rebuild kits for their pumps when they wear out. I have checked into the HTPA and even though they say their goal is to improve the quality of the hydroseeding business their qoal seems to be more in the line of regulating the industry. As for all of these heavy slurries of mulch, when using heavy slurries I have seen just as much seed laying on top of the mulch as there is in it or under it. Just how is all of this mulch protecting the seed that is laying on top. Do I believe that heavy mulch rates help? Yes I do but, I feel that a thin slurry applied first and then followed up with an additional layer is the only way to insure that all of the seed is covered with mulch. Using this reasoning either type of machine should be able to achieve the same results. If you are using two tanks to seed a lawn anyways then you shouldnt have any increase in the amount of time to seed. The turn around time of 20 min witha 300 gal Finn is amazing, it takes me 1 hour with my 1000 gal bowie. 12 min to fill and mix 15 min to spray and the rest is spent driving for water. You must have a ready available water source at all of your jobs. I have no problems with the horse power on my bowie, it has a 65 hp. wisconsin and a 4x3 deming pump and I use 1-1/2 in hoses and I have problems with cloggs in the 300 ft of hose when useing mulch rates (70/30) heaver than 40 lbs per 100 gal of water. but seeing that whysod doent use any fertilizer, just mulch and seed, 50 lbs per 80 gals might push thru 3 or 4 hundred feet of hose I bet my jet machine would mix more mulch if I quit adding fertilizer and lime to each tank. Its not a turbo turf but it is a cheap plastic tank. It will only mix 200 lbs of 70/30 mulch and 50 lbs of seed with 150 lbs of pulverized lime and 50 lbs of fertilizer at one time before it starts clogging. I did have to rebuild my pump after a year of seeding, cost me $160. I think the kit for my bowies pump is about $600.
  5. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,341

    I failed to mention that I have 2 hydroseeders. A 500 gal Hurricane that was pure junk when I bought it new. I have modified it so now that it work quite well. and the other one is a 1969 model Bowie 1000 gal machine, only mods was to add a recirculation tube and equip with hoses.
  6. WhySod

    WhySod LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    You guys make some good points. I'm not hiding from this conversation, just busy right now. Shot 4 back yards yesterday, on my way out the door to shoot a 25,000 s/f lawn today. Later, Rick
  7. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,341

    let us know how long it takes with a 300 gal machine. Depending on the drive time It would take me about 4 hours with my jet machine. Less if I used my bowie for a nurse tank. Of course if I have to take the bowie I would use it instead and it would take about 2 hours. We dont have to many hydrants where I live. Have to get water from the nearest stream.
  8. GreginAlaska

    GreginAlaska Banned
    Messages: 829

    I guess we are pretty lucky when it comes to water around here, we are never more than 10 minutes away from it. I have several semi-trash pumps stationed at different places so we can roll up, hook up, fill up, mix up, then shoot em up. :D
  9. WhySod

    WhySod LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    You guys were right. I should not have wrote a sermon. I apologise. I'll try not to do it again.

    I'm frustrated with competition that convinces customers hydroseeding doesn't work. I'm tired of hearing "hydro-weeding" and "my neighbors lawn didn't take until he came back the third time. There's 6 sod farms in this Valley, and 6 commercial Hydro-mulchers. I'm the only legitimate full-time Hydro-Mulcher that specializes in "residential size lawns." There are 3 or 4 part-time "hydroseeding experts" who don't even know the improved seeded varieties we plant aren't "Hybrids."

    Except for one guy with a home-made machine and a "happy to meet your budget" slogan), why haven't any of my competitors heard the term "turfgrass" before they bought their machines. Another called his company "Cheap Hydroseeding." he charged 5 cents a s/f and "ignored" his call-backs...

    My competitors learned everything they need to know when their machine is delivered. I'm frustrated the only requirement to be an "expert, factory trained hydroseeder" is $198 down and $99 a month.

    I'm not pissed off about plastic machines. I'm pissed off at the marketing strategy of one manufacturer of cheap machines. I truly believe that any manufacturer, Bowie, Finn, Turfmaker, Kincaid, Easy Lawn, etc., has an obligation to tell the truth about application rates appropriate for a given geographic region, and their equipment's ability to mix and shoot various kinds of mulch at those application rates.

    I don't think my newest competitor would have paid $199 down and $99 a month if he knew that 1,500 pounds per acre don't cut it in Phoenix. I don't think they told him his machine is not capable of shooting 70/30 even with a lot guar or plantago or even polyacrylamide. (What is binder?) Get the picture?

    Good competition can enhance the reputation of an industry. Good competition expands the market. I don't have good competition. Mostly, my competitors are qualified because they own a pick-up truck. Why the hell do I have to have have competitors who never heard of hydroseeding until a web-search located a "get rich quick scheme" for $198 down and $99 a month...

    Yeah I'm pissed. But mostly I'm pissed about the way one company seems to be behind damned near instance of "it didn't take..." Plastic machines could be done right. But the company that made my competitors come and go is only interested in their bottom line... They're not "doing it right" when it comes to the reputation of this industry, at least not here in Phoenix...

    So here's another pisser-offer. The HTPA has the potential to be the best thing that ever happened to the hydroseeding industry if members would participate. Don't like what they're doing - particiapating and change it. Don't like the HTPA's President? He won by 1 vote two years ago. Don't like me? I ran for the Board and lost by 3 votes. We're probably going to be voting in new Board members at the next conference in Tennessee. Want to change the HTPA into what you think it should be. Participate, or just shut the Hell up!

    The IECA didn't start growing until Erosion Control Magazine became it's "official publication." That already happened with the HTPA. The recent NPDES Legislation has just about made IECA's CPESC certification a requirement for credibility in that industry. The HTPA's "certification" is going to be a lot easier. You won't have to be involved int this industry for a year. It'll be an open book test.

    Want your imput to be represented? Volunteer to be on the "committee." They'll be happy to have you. I can't wait until my "expert hydroseeder" competitors have to start learning a little about soil and turfgrass before they can be "certified."

    And dammit, don't start another round of pissed off posts. I'm just answering the things a couple of you guys flamed me about. I'm pretty much done preaching. I jumped into this forum before I knew who you guys were about. I said things I shouldn't have said. Since then, Idid a bit of "searching" and I've read a lot of previous posts.

    I'm not interested in making enemies. I was surprised that most of you are experienced. You know what you're doing. Most all of you seem to be more interested in doing it right than making a quick buck. We have a lot more in common than you think. I've been in the landscaping industry since the mid 1970's. I owned the first Rockhound in California. Last week a friend loaned me a Finn Eagle and a Harley box rake. A half-acre later, I decided the Finn Eagle would be more useful in residential landscaping than a Bobcat, and the Harley sucks...

    I joined the CLCA in 1976. I joined the Southern California Turfgrass Association in 1977. I've planted a lot of fescue, bluegrass, ryegrass, zoysia, vegetative & seeded bermudas, and even kikuyu grass lawns. It used to be standard operating procedure to pull a soil sample from every job...

    I bought my first hydroseeding machine (a 500 gallon Bowie) in 1992. Sanders Hydroseeding (in Southern California) "Good Enough - Just Isn't" inspired me. "The finest materials, properly applied, with no skimping..." Early conversations with James Lincoln about "sod quality results" set the course for my quest toward "the only acceptable call-back-ratio is none." I'm too much of a perfectionist for my own good...

    I'm not trying to throw that in anybody's face, but anymore, when I have a turfgrass problem the guys I call usually have a Masters or PHD, or CPESC certification...

    I made a stop at a customers "Yukon" lawn yesterday. It was "broomsticking." I told him to spray it with Alliette. Stop watering for 3 days then apply Ironite, followed by Best 6-20-20 XB. Know why? I'm probably the closest thing you'll find to a turfgrass nerd. It fascinates me. Sometimes I think I have all the answers. I got stumped and had to make a phone call to figure out what was going on with that customers lawn.

    Same thing kind of happened here. I stepped out of line and got ganged up on a little. I stepped out of line. And I'm sorry. But in my defense, I'm as "invested" in my industry as the rest of you. As the official "turfgrass nerd," I tend to jump up on a soapbox whene I get the chance... Sometimes I"m wrong. I apologise. Let's stop the Fu#king insults.

    Mudstopper, it was 25,000 in 4 areas. 200 ft. of hose to get to the far end of each area. Had to move the truck 4 times. By myself, no helper. The nurse tank on the trailer could only get about 225 to 250 gallons of water between each load. Had to wait almost 10 minutes for enough water to top-off the hydroseeder each load.

    It took 12 loads. Three 50 pound bales of 70/30, about 2,000 s/f per load, a little over 3,000 pounds per acre. That's my normal application rate in the hot, dry temperatures we have in Phoenix. A total of 36 bales in a little under 6 - 1/2 hours. Works out to about 1/2 hour per load. No way in hell you could do it faster and get it on as evenly as I did.

    I could have done it faster if I used my 800 gallon Bowie, filled from a hydrant and had a helper. Why didn't I? A helper would cost $75 to $100 and save me an hour. I didn't know if I could get permission to use a hyhdrant, and I didn't know the faucet was slow. (I plant 2 to 4 jobs a day - no way I'm going to drive to a job to check out those things).

    It was 100 degrees by noon, thankfully it wasn't as humid as it has been. (Our monsoon season is almost over - but I'd trade 115 degrees and dry for 108 and on the verge of raining any day.) But it's still plenhty hot, I took sixteen 16.9 oz bottles of water, and only brought 3 home.

    You don't just hook up to a hydrant or take water from a lake. Either would be get you arrested. If you want to use a hydrant, you pay a $1,000 deposit and rent a meter. They chain it to the hydrant (even if it's inconvenient), and you have to go back each time to fill. And any water truck or hydroseeder could steal water you have to pay for. My first year, way over 1/3 of each day was spent chasing water out of hydrants.

    Yesterday's 1st job was 70 miles from the 4th job. They weren't in a straight line. It was a 200 mile day. I carry 4 grasses on the truck. I need to arrive with the tank empty. That's easy with the 300 gallon Finn. It was a pain in the --- with the Bowie.

    For the kind of jobs I do, a nurse tank mounted on the trailer allows me to fill while I'm shooting. I do a high volume of small jobs, I need a machine that can digest wood mulch as fast as I can drop them. I would have bought a Turfmaker or another Bowie, except the Finn kind of fell in my lap. (A former competitor...)

    After seed, tack, mulch and fuel, I still made about $200 an hour. Two and a half hours on the road and at my supplier, and I still made about $150 an hour. All things considered, it wasn't a half bad day.

    On the other hand, I'm getting too old. I'd rather do two or three 3,000 s/f lawns and have an hour in the truck to cool down between jobs. Besides, my wife just came in and yelled at me for not spending time with her tonight... Since there aren't any thunderstorms, I think I'll jump in the pool. Rick
  10. Planet Landscaping

    Planet Landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 607

    Rick, good info.

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