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Take this job or wait?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by ron mexico75, Oct 1, 2012.

  1. ron mexico75

    ron mexico75 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,015

    I was asked out to a property to give an estimate for a new lawn. Front, sides and back. They want to do it in stages due to cost restraint at this time so the front would be first. I measured the front at 3,600 sq ft.

    Now this house was built in the 70's and I'd say no lawn maintenance has been done since the 70's! It's all weeds, weed grass, moss and bare dirt. There is irrigation but I was told it got struck by lightning a few years ago and doesn't come on but that they could get it fixed. The property has large pine tress all over as well as a huge Willow Oak in the front.

    Now, here in zone 7A most people have already had the yards aerated and over seeded of tilled and seeded as a complete renovation etc. usually starting the 1st or second week in September. Some are still fine to overseed right now but its getting a tad late in my opinion to start from scratch. When I say start from scratch I mean having to spray for a total kill then slit seed or till up, grade seed and cover. This estimate in particular due to not having working irrigation, can it be fixed, if so how long until it is and can they afford the repair bill if they are doing the lawn in stages?

    The other thing is the dropping of acorns and leaves will be falling here in the next 3 weeks or so. All of that is no good for establishing a new lawn. My gut says don't take the job. It would be a nice payment but I don't like attaching my name to a project that has obvious possibilities of not turning out well. Mainly, no working irrigation, a little late in the season in my opinion and the potential for heavy leaf fall.

    In addition, I personally have never used a slit seeder. I have always tilled and graded and then covered with pete moss. I looked at the rental shop and they have a slit seeder made by turf solutions. Its a hydro drive and from what I read about it in the manual and watched on youtube, it appears to be a no brainer. However, I am not embarrassed to admit, I would feel very nervous doing a job with a piece of equipment Ive never used to someone expecting great results.

    Id like to start using this turf solutions machine because it would seem to me I am wasting time, money and energy using a tiller, grading it all out, raking out the debris etc. Unless the ground is very uneven, why even use a tiller? That's a question I have been asking myself. So, is a slit seeder the solution instead of tilling unless the ground is very uneven and bumpy?

    I'm asking for some help on this. I have several questions and appreciate to hear some opinions. Am I totally off in the way I'm thinking about the job and/or the slit seeder and tiller. What do you think? I need to get back to this person in the next day so any advice would be great.

    Am I wrong by being apprehensive about the slit seeder because I have never used one? Or, just follow the manual/youtube vid and go at it? Should I just tell them get your irrigation up and running first. Then give an estimate and be honest and say wait until next year at which point I cna get started in mid August and feel better about doing it right?

    Here is the slit seeder that my rental shop has so you can see what Im talking about.

  2. cod8825

    cod8825 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 501


    I agree with you don't start the job now. If you can talk to the customer about starting the job in the spring then you can look at it then. Find out exactly what the customer is going to have done in terms of irrigation work. With a spring seeding you will want to make sure the irrigation is on for the grass going into summer.

  3. easy-lift guy

    easy-lift guy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,372

    Talk the customer into waiting until the Spring and get the irrigation system completly sorted first.
    easy-lift guy
  4. ron mexico75

    ron mexico75 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,015

    Good to hear. So another thing is establishing from scratch a lawn in the spring. Never a good idea in my opinion due to weeds germinating at full throttle. I know of a pre M called Tupersan (Siduron)which can be applied at seeding. However once again, I have no familiarity with the product. Just comes in a wetable powder or is a granular available? I think its just for crab grass and not broadleaf weeds. That will obviously up the cost and creates another "worry" while trying to establish turf. Here where I live, you would never want to establish a lawn from scratch in the spring due to weed competition.

    How about having the customer wait until next fall unless Im wrong on this?
  5. ron mexico75

    ron mexico75 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,015

    Anybody else? I mean this post has been looked at 41 times and only 2 site members responded?
  6. easy-lift guy

    easy-lift guy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,372

    OK, my opinion was based on growing conditions here in SW Florida. You will have to kill off the entire existing lawn and keep it dead via more post emergent and pre emergent material as well during this phased project. It sounds like your going to use seed for this lawn?. Nearly all of my jobs have involved sod and plugs. How will you contend with the neighbors if there are any?
    easy-lift guy
  7. ron mexico75

    ron mexico75 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,015

    Yeah as far south as you are Im sure its much much different. Fall is the time for installation and renovation here in regards to seeding. Sod could be done in the late winter very early spring but establishing a lawn from bare dirt using seed is best in September here.

    Yeah, one neighbors yard is right up against one side in the front, other side in front is divided by a driveway.

    I think you might be getting at how do I intend to contend with weed encroachment from the neighbor? If it does occur I could spray a Post M after 3-4 cuttings on the new lawn. Then the following early spring start my weed treatment program which consists of Pre M's to keep it off.

    I think I will trust my gut along with your and one others advice and wait until next fall. If they decide to go with someone else who will do it now or in the spring then fine. They can live with those results. Im not willing to attach my name to a project done at the wrong time just to cash a check.
  8. nparish

    nparish LawnSite Member
    from KCMO
    Messages: 53

    First things first. Get a price together for the irrigation repair. Explain your situation, and hopefully they will see your looking out for them. In the meantime they may save up enough to do the whole lawn at one time. IMO I wouldn't use a slit seeder for a new lawn, just till it up so the seed is in loose soil. Lesco makes a nice pro athletic turf seed that runs 150 for 50# but is well worth it.
  9. easy-lift guy

    easy-lift guy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,372

    Sounds like a plan.
    easy-lift guy
  10. ron mexico75

    ron mexico75 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,015

    Yeah that sounds good.

    So about the slit seeder, not for a new lawn? Im not familiar with how well they work or don't work. That's why I ask. Im familiar with tilling and it always works great. Its just so much work raking out all the undesierables, rocks etc. and then grading out.

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