small scale organic start-up?

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by pineymountain, May 8, 2013.

  1. pineymountain

    pineymountain LawnSite Member
    Messages: 53

    I have been doing this part time and want to up my accounts and take it more seriously. In my area organics would be very popular and more in line with my beliefs. How does one start in organics on a small scale?

    I can do compost tea on a small scale without much investment and I can use natural soil amendments on a small scale as well. I have been trying to brainstorm spreading compost without a 8k investment while at the same time not having to spend all day at a property.

    Anyone done this?
  2. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I had a couple of lawns that asked for compost so I put down a 1/2 yard for 2500 sq.ft... I did it w/out an $8K investment... I hired a guy to push the wheel barrow for me... quick and easy with great distribution... you don't need every sq. in. covered to realize the benefits, but the waving motion of my hand gets pretty close to complete coverage w/out taking much time at all...

    Don't let the hype about certain details make you think its all about the methods and machinery...
    Is it better to put a thin layer of real compost on a lawn or to put down a tea, that is mostly water???
  3. scottslawncareav

    scottslawncareav LawnSite Member
    Messages: 99

    you hired a guy to dump half of a yard of compost none the less that is a waste of money. I move level and rake out 5 yards of decomposed by myself in under three hours can you even spread 1/2 a yard into 2500 sqft that's 0,0646 inches
  4. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    No,,, that is NOT what I said and certainy not what I did... My half a yard per 25k didn't take even one hour to do 64k coverage and ZERO raking...

    I don't like slowmoving heavy machinery running back and forth to the truck for reloading, I hate dust and can not rake anymore... the wheelbarrow and partner, does take a little skill but it is quick and easy with excellent coverage... :)
  5. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,335

    Which is it? 2.5K, 25K or 64K?

    Beyond that, let's assume 2.5K, which means you spread ~ 13 yards of compost in less than an hour with a wheelbarrow and your waving hand. Yea, OK. :rolleyes:
  6. cactus

    cactus LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    I hate to jump into a discussion like this for my first post, but...

    I have heard from a reasoned source about a study (done by Ingham, I think) that showed a 1-cy/ac application of finished compost to give an equivalent response to several applications of compost tea. So a rate of 1/2 cy/25ksf doesn't sound too different from that study application.

    Now, I haven't seen that study and can't give specifics about "response". I would be happy if anyone could point me towards a citation for that study.

    Houston, Texas
  7. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,162

    Elaine Ingham usually recommends 3/4 to 1 yd per K of finished compost.
    Smallaxe's statements of sq ft were 2500 and then 25K, which is it?
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    1/2 per 2500 sq. ft.(2.5k) which means a little more than a yd/6.4k(6400),,, that was done in less than an hour...

    I don't want to get into a discussion about how "One Size Fits All" and therefore we should follow the formula put out there by experts... certain areas get more than others when I'm actually broadcasting it... that amount makes a big difference on MY lawns when applied,,, how much does yours need is a point of understanding...
  9. JCResources

    JCResources LawnSite Member
    Messages: 109

    Fling it with a scoop shovel, rent some equipment like a skid loader or mini track loader to get the material moved around quicker. Some back breaking labor might be involved getting started until you get the cash flow to upgrade equipment. One thing is for sure, if you do this right, you won't have any problem selling this service. The results speak for themselves.
  10. adam.neusbaum

    adam.neusbaum LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 641

    First thing to do is only listen to experienced professionals that started where you are and grew their service & forget anyone else that is still wheelbarrowing it, unless of course that's where you picture your greatest level of achievement.

    Looking back thru old post of mine I see how I was just as nervous about making an equipment purchase not really knowing if there was a market for the service. It's amazing how you grow in business experience over such a short period of time. This is something a college course could never mimic.
    Besides any equipment you'd better be able to:

    1.Communicate the features & benefits to your customers.
    2.Have the perfect low-moisture/screened (1/4" or less) compost supply.
    3.Offer follow-up care like mowing & watering schedule guidelines.
    4.Have detailed business cards with pricing.

    Don't buy a new topdresser unless you have to. My first Turfco was just $1750. Now having had three (3) used Turfco Mete-r-matic's & one (1) new Ecolawn Applicator topdresser we've spread well over 900 cubic yards collectively throughout the past 2 years. On average 1 c/y covers 700-1,000 sq ft (seven hundred to one thousand square feet). After selling off the Turfco's my sister-n-law averages 5 c/y an hour with the Ecolawn. In the world of business I've learned that spending $5k on a machine is a minimal investment especially if you are financing at 0% for 48 months.
    This one very important word of advice is- Don't buy a Turfco Mete-R-Matic, too heavy, too expensive, too many moving parts/chains, too many synchronized belts to adjust, too many headaches overall. The pattern is too narrow & you'll be bumping into things trying to back it up close. Then you'd better already be moving when you engage the conveyor or else you'll have a nice little mound to come back to and spread out. New guys don't know if they are supposed to be walking it backwards or forward. The single wheel will plow sideways if you try & turn too sharp. It's ver susceptible to rolling over on its side on hills. This unit wasn't designed for residential lawns so it's not their fault.
    I wish I had someone like me to give me the nitty-gritty back when I first got rolling.
    Hope this helps.
    Last edited: May 18, 2013

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