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Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by thomaslawn, Jan 6, 2009.

  1. thomaslawn

    thomaslawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 88

    I had a question in regards to overseeding. Last spring I had a customer request that I overseed her yard. By overseed I mean she requested that I run a spreader over her yard with grass seed. I was a little skeptical of the process, I always assumed the proper way to overseed was with a slitseeder. Her yard was already in great shape, she just wanted an extra lair of seed spread on. She claimed she saw the process being done on TV.

    The property was roughly 4-5000 sq ft., I charged her $120.00. This equates to roughly $70 per hour. Her yard thrived throughout the year and she was of course very pleased.

    My question is: Does anybody else provide this service utilizing only a spreader? It is obviously a very profitable, low overhead (no power equipment utilized) service.
  2. Barefoot James

    Barefoot James LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 984

    Based on your limited info - I assume since you quote $70 an hour it took you 15 mins to spread so you say an hour which leaves 25 to 37 pounds of seed spread over 4 to 5 k sq ft which is 5 to 7 pounds per 1000. this is good. The big difference is did you water it everyday for two weeks 4 times per day? If not you got a very limited germination rate. Slit seeding and water 4X per day gives you over 75% germination rates. Broadcast with water 30 to 50% germination. Limited water broadcast under 5% Limited water slit - under 30% germination. Bottom line is slit seeding gives you MUCH better germination rates - so more bang for the buck.
  3. rcreech

    rcreech Sponsor
    Male, from OHIO
    Messages: 6,153


    I read your post earlier and I found a key difference between you and I.

    It doesn't hurt to run your own business from time to time! Educate the customer and don't let them tell you what to do. This will go along way!

    What I mean by this is...you said it was a very nice lawn...so why did you seed it? Why seed a lawn that doesn't need it?

    I do a lot of seeding...but I also have told many customers that seeding isn't needed as I know that the lawn will fill in quickly with fert and/or watering.

    Sure one can make tons of money taking advantage of customers, but I choose to be honest and they appreciate me for that and that has how I have ran and build my business to where it is today!

    Moral of the story....your seeding method probably didn't work, but you made money! :clapping:

    Moral of my story is...I could have made the lawn look just as good without seeding and saved the customer money.

    Sounds stupid doens't it? I don't always try and make a sale, but I got the customers confidence and trust and will keep them for along time!

    That is what it is all about!
  4. thomaslawn

    thomaslawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 88

    Thank you for the reply, however I want to hit on a few of your points.
    I have a base of close to 100 loyal customers who have been with my company for numerous years. They know and trust me, honesty and integrity is not an issue with my organization. The customer in question requested this service. She was about to go buy the seed herself and spread it. It was not an issue of running my business, it was a customer request.

    I do not take advantage of customers as you stated, like yourself I give customers a fair rate for the services rendered and do not offer services that I believe they will not benefit from.

    My question refers to more of the technical side of the service. I have read that applying seed over an established lawn does aid in the health of the yard. I checked into this prior to providing the service. This is the main reason I posted the question, I do not want to advertise a service that does not provide a benefit to my clients. Of course I know there are differing opinions on any subject, however this is not my area of specialty and I need the advice of a professional. Thanks again for the reply, I do appreciate your advice on the technical aspects of the question.
  5. thomaslawn

    thomaslawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 88

    Thank you James,

    This is more of what I was looking for in a reply. I did have the customer water the lawn twice per day and we experienced a decent amount of rain. I believe the results were satisfactory, the lawn remained lush throughout the year and the bare spots that I repaired came in nicely.
    Thank you for breaking down the germation / water ratio. It's good to know that the ratio is under 5% witout watering. Thanks again for your help.
  6. rcreech

    rcreech Sponsor
    Male, from OHIO
    Messages: 6,153


    I was just making the point that if the lawn was as good as it sounded it maybe shoudn't have been seeded.

    I have literally seen lawns VERY THICK get seeded in my area and it bothers me that my competitiors do that! I guess I look out for the customer TOO much sometimes.

    As far as seededing, the key is "seed to soil contact" no matter what. When you just broadcast seed (especially in the spring) I would think that the chance of seed to soil contact would be limited.

    It is just very hard to get good seed to soil contact with just a broadcast seeding. Usually it takes some disruption of the soil to work well such as slice seeding, core aeration or just using a simple hand rake. This will disturb the soil and increase your germination rate dramatically.

    If the lawn was good but needed thickened up....a core/seeding would do wonders.

    If the was already somewhat thick, the water/rain and fert probably did more then your broadcast seeding.

    I can honestly say...I have never broadcast seeded a lawn by itself, and seeding is a large part of my business!
  7. thomaslawn

    thomaslawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 88

    Thanks for the reply, I understand completely what you're saying. There are numerous companies that rob their customers blind. I do not get involved with fertilization and pest control, but I have heard horror stories from my customers about the larger outfits really taking advantage of them.

    Sad to say but I formed a relationship with a mid-sized company here in Columbus that was doing a great job with their customers and their service. I reffered them to MANY (were talking thousands of dollars worth of referrals)clients and friends. Never really asking for anything in return, I just wanted a good fert. company that I could refer people to.
    I knew there was trouble brewing when I spoke with the manager early last spring. I talked to him about referrals, business, etc. He acknowledged that I had given him a lot of business. I asked him if they could provide my personal yard with the basic treatments in return for the referrals. Not too much to ask for in my opinon.

    He stated that they would get back to me. Never heard a word again from them. As the year went on I had some of my customers complain to me about the bad customer service they were receiving from this company. Needless to say, they did not receive anymore referrals. This is a perfect example of the kind of company you are speaking of. By the way what part of Ohio are you in?
  8. Barefoot James

    Barefoot James LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 984

    Chemical Fertilizers have never improved soil quality. They may improve the appearance of the turf quality but not the soil. Seed is ALWAYS be a better option than chemical ferts especially bunch grass varieties like fescue. Fescues NEVER fill in bare spots on the ground (unless they are the new type with rhizomes) the bunch has to grow out in order to do so and before that ever happens a weed grow in that spot. New seed adds life/variety to the soil especially if you use mycorrhizae inoculated seed or add mycorrhizae spores to the turf to get the soil mycorrhizal. Myco is a fungi that will slough off glomalin, which is a sticky protein that helps keep carbon in the soil and build life in the soil, and it benefits. Myco also will retrive organic ferts (the good stuff like ammonium N) and WATER for your turf on its own. The turf gives the Myco sugars – so the both need each other – symbiotic relationship. Only the root systems of healthy turf can do this so the more roots the better the soil the better your yard looks.

    Chems are nothing but a fast food for roots that bypass and (over time) destroy the life in soil. Basically they work like hydroponics and need lots of water to work so that their NPK can be absorbed by the grass roots to work. Chem. ferts with no irrigation or rain do not work at all. Chem. ferts and rain or irrigation work great but you need over time MORE water, MORE ferts and MORE money to get the same results. Adding more grass seed with Myco is a MUCH better option and much better bang for your customer’s buck – so you can see I TOTALLY disagree with Creech on this topic.

    You need to invest and get you a Turf Revitalizer (sponsor on this site) call David and tell him I sent you and you can make tons of $$ seeding lawns in the fall – very high margins as Creech surely would also confirm – come on Creech a seeding expert like yourself should know this! Seed is ALWAYS a better option than ferts. Why do you think Golf Courses and athletic fields seed 4 to 6 even 10 times a year – because it works, makes the yard/field/course – look better, healthier, helps the soil and it’s biology, adds OM to soil profile, keeps and adds carbon to the soil profile so it works for us, helps drought and stress issues in the turf and keeps weeds low to no.
  9. rcreech

    rcreech Sponsor
    Male, from OHIO
    Messages: 6,153

    That's too bad! Wish you lived closer as referrals are by far the best business one can pick up.

    I do a ton of subcontracting and I take very good care of them so they will continue to send me business!

    I am over on the OH/IN boarder just South of I-70 about 6 mile. If you are looking for a good applicator PM me as I have two good buddies in Columbus that do apps and they may be able to help you out if you are close.

    Here I am on the web: www.lawn-plus.com
  10. rcreech

    rcreech Sponsor
    Male, from OHIO
    Messages: 6,153


    What is there to disagree with? Where in the heck are you coming from?????

    I never said fert would change the quality of the soil or that it was "better" then seed.

    WHAT I SAID WAS...many times when customer's thinks they need to over seed, I can talk them out of it as I can thicken up the turf without seeding simply by putting them on a fert and water program.

    If I look at a lawn and it has areas that are smaller then a baseball then it doesn't warrant a reseeding as a good fert program with water will fill it in no matter if it is a bunch type or not!

    That is all I was saying.

    From what this guy stated...the lawn wasn't that bad to start with!

    Trust me Barefoot...I have slice seeded over 50 acres in the last two seasons with the unit in my avatar! I am not just talking here!

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