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Skid coverage quality vs Backpack - sell me

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by DA Quality Lawn & YS, Dec 23, 2008.

  1. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,229

    I have been hearing from some that a skid set up is the only way to get started in squirts. The quality outcome is so much better than if I were to use a backpack (on small 1/4 acre lots only, not larger lawns). Can someone sell me on this, even though I am not experienced, I'm not sold. If a guy is thorough with a backpack, seems to me that he would do an equally good job as if he used a skid set up. I am not talking efficiency here, I realize the time savings with a skid. I am talking purely in terms of quality only.
  2. tlg

    tlg LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 651

    A backpack sprayer was never intended to take the place of a good quality spray rig. Backpacks are great for small spot treatments. Treating anything that requires a blanket of coverage over a large area needs a well calibrated consist ant output of pesticide for adequate control. I can guarantee you that output and coverage are going to be a lot better with a spray rig than a backpack sprayer. There is also the loading and mixing problem. Most backpacks will only hold three to four gallons of solution.... not a lot for most instances. Constantly filling a backpack in the middle of an application is well ... just ridiculous. Quality is only as good as the equipment and the operator doing the application. Can you do a blanket application on a 1/4 acre lawn with a backpack? Sure you can. You can also dig a ditch with a spoon. Your equipment needs to fit the job! Lose the mindset that will limit your ability to succeed.
  3. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,229

    tlg - thanks for your perspective. Again, I realize the relative inefficiency of a backpack vs skid. But with both a skid operation, and a backpack, one must wave a wand/gun back and forth for coverage on a lawn. Sounds like a lot of human error involved with either method, and if that is the case, I would think one could do nearly as quality of job with a calibrated backpack vs skid unit. The operator is the key with both methods, not the equipment.

    Also, I am not dead set against using the right equipment for the job. I am just trying to see if I can service a small number of resi customers next season with a backpack/spreader set up. Pull in some income, THEN invest in bigger/better toys.
    I am not buying a skid this year, I'm not going to invest like $2K-$3K (in equipment only), certain to lose money for the year, and then have nothing to invest for the next year after. If I get enough consensus on here that a backpack operation is bunk, then I will just scrap the app side and stick with mow/blow and landscape jobs.
  4. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,056

    If you are content with only spot spraying a few lawns as an add on for your existing clients, use the back pack. Then you will soon find out that you will need to make a small investment in a skidmount. You will find that just a couple of weeks of work will pay off this equipment.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2008
  5. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,766

    There is a middle of the road option. However, it does cost some money. Until I started doing lots of lawns over 1/2 acre, I blanket sprayed them with a engine drive backpack and a walking boom. Cost of this is a little under $1000, 1 gallon of spray per M, no waving a nozzle back and forth. This setup provided very even and high quality coverage as well. Now, I use a skid mount sprayer for anything over 10,000. But the walking boom is attached to the end of the hose. I NEVER sprayed a lawn waving something back and forth over it. It is always done with a fan tip single or in a boom walking at a comfortable pace.
  6. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,115

    Try it in your own yard, fill one with water and go spray, call me back in an hour after your done. You will convince yourself on the first lawn, it goes painfully slow. Try a hose end sprayer, that puts out more volume and larger pattern and is still a pain, not enough PSI. You can buy a hose end sprayer for less than $20

    compare hose size and PSI of BP vs spray rig, you can apply much more in less time. It will also give you the option of hooking up an injector and doing some deep root feeding in the fall, again expanding your business model

    Hey you might even want to spray some compost teas, I know several companies that did it with back pack sprayers last year, not this year. Its doable just not for long

    I like the comment before, it will limit your success
  7. THC

    THC LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,020

    Are you the guy that said he mixed his ferts and put them through the sprayer as well (in another thread)?

    Could you give more details of that set up. I did google around and came across that walking boom for golf courses.. looked like two bicycle tires etc. I also came across a Boom Kit, where they just sell you the nozzles and the hose.
    But I don't think I would have the guts to put soluble ferts in my Shur flo battery. Might clog it up for all I know.

    What kind of bp were you using and what kind of boom?
  8. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,969


    I will try and play devils advocate here. What are you spraying and what kind of Gallons per thousand are you trying to accomplish? Is there granular products that can be applied with the same or better results? What is the cost in relation to labor? What is your time worth??

    Given you are a start up Fert & Squirt guy, What kind of ROI (Return On Investment) can you expect from your time and Equipment?? Does you Ego require you have the biggest and best Equipment?? While perception by your customer is important, is the response from your work not truly the goal?? IMHO why start by buying more equipment than is needed. Once you see a trend, then take the next step.

    DUSTYCEDAR LawnSite Fanatic
    from PA
    Messages: 5,134

    did i get throught my whole last season without using the skid sprayer yes.
    but i used a perma green and my trusty back pacs.
    will i have my skids set up this season yes i will.
  10. tlg

    tlg LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 651

    Hey I'm just trying to help you do the right thing. So I will give you a few more things to think about. A skid sprayer is basically calibrated and set to spray a known amount per 1000 sq ft. This amount does not vari. The pace and swath of applicator is what's adjusted to apply the known amount. Each spray rig would theoretically have to be calibrated to the applicator. To do this the output on the sprayer would be either increased or decreased depending on the outcome of your spray test. Once a skid sprayer is calibrated for an applicator the unit is set to apply at a constant rate. The only time this can be flawed is if the applicator changes his pace or changes his pattern ( larger or smaller swaths) . Buy the way there are plenty of different spray guns to use if you don't like a side to side swath motion. I used a wand with a fan spray nozzle for years that had about an 8' pattern. Calibrating a backpack to get a uniform result and rate is IMO unreliable, unlikely, and well, unprofessional when you know there is a better way. If 2 or 3 grand is keeping you from making this choice maybe your not ready to invest in this venture. Let me put it this way. I could go out this spring and generate enough new work to pay for the unit. An established mowing company already has customers. If you market to them alone I would assume you could get 20 new customers. Let's say each customer is worth $200 of lawn spraying. 20 customers will pay for your skid sprayer. You gotta believe you can do better than 20 customers! Remember your building a business. The best advice I can give you is think like a millionaire. Believe that you can make money and take the risk. Get out of your comfort zone or your doomed.


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