Top Dressing?

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by Victor, Oct 18, 2006.

  1. Victor

    Victor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,430

    I was wondering how many of you have top dressed lawns? I'm talking about using a dedicated top dressing machine, to put down compost, or enriched topsoil on a customer's lawn. I could really see that making a huge difference on how good their lawn looks and how healthy it is. I can really see this making a huge improvement on new lawns, where there is a major lack of topsoil to start with.

    What do you guys think? What kind of results did you get when you did this work?

  2. naughty62

    naughty62 LawnSite Senior Member
    from iowa
    Messages: 369

    The biggest problem with top dressing around my area is find a licenced composter to ensure compost has been correctly cooked/monitored/analized.There are zero in our area .so we buy black dirt from a couple of sourcesand use a loader and three point landscape rake to topdress .one business front we didnt ,has nice crop of yellow nutsedge on it .sure wish we had a licenced composter near by.
  3. FINN

    FINN LawnSite Senior Member
    from PA.
    Messages: 280

    It's a good idea and something I would like to offer my customers for the very same reasons you mention.

    I'm confident it would work, but not as confident it would be a big seller. I'm not saying it couldn't be a big seller. Like anything it will be dependent upon how you market the service. I think it would be most attractive to the new install, organic or organic based customer.

    One of my concerns was in how efficiently I could deliver this service in a residential application. How big a truck would I need to haul material? Can I get it delivered to the site? How far will a load spread? How long will it take to spread a load and then get more material. Will the job have to stop while I am getting/waiting for more material? I know these questions are subjective but they are some things to consider.

    Compost is like fertilizer in that using the same material on every lawn is not the best approach.
  4. Victor

    Victor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,430

    Those are some really good points you voiced there. Looks like I'll have some figuring to do. It might be best to avoid offing that service.

  5. FINN

    FINN LawnSite Senior Member
    from PA.
    Messages: 280

    I would rather you or someone else challenge my thoughts so we could figure out a way to offer this on a measurable scale and make some money.
  6. PTOhioMower

    PTOhioMower LawnSite Member
    Messages: 197

    Is this the kind of machine you were thinking of? Ive only seen the big ones, this would be nice. I had some small pot holes in my yard and use some nice top soil to fill them and the grass that grew in the surrounding area was the greenest around. Thats when I decided I need to top dress my lawn, I just dont know the best way to do it. I thought about just filling the lesco spreader with top soil, but didnt think that would work. Then I found this thing and I hope I can rent one someplace around here! Looks like a real time saver.
  7. Victor

    Victor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,430

    Thanks for that link PTO. That's exactly what I was talking about. It supposedly fits through standard gates (whatever that is) and seems to do a good job. I've put in an info request and will share my findings with you guys. You're right Finn. We do need to figure out a way to efficiently and effectively offer this service. Like I said though, I'll share what they tell me with you.

  8. tremor

    tremor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,476

    I've topdressed my own place with Peat Moss a few times following aeration. Much easier than trying to find a consistent supply of good compost. Albeit more expensive. It works wonders so long as the increase in earthworm castings doesn't drive you insane.
  9. Puttinggreens

    Puttinggreens LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from southeast PA
    Messages: 399

    I have been topdressing many of my lawns for about 7 years. The product I use is Earthmate, also called EQ in our area. Here are 2 links for what I use.

    Stuff works great, although the questions Finn brought up are all good. Depending on the size of the lawn, moving, storing and handling the material are all big concerns before you can even begin topdressing.

    For EQ, I have found I use about 1 cu yd per 2 M to 2.5 M. I go heavier in the first year and then back down a little to 1 yd / 2.5 M for the following years.

    Here is the topdresser I use, although my topdressor and Cushamn are far from new.

    EQ is lighter than the material intended for this model, so I built up the sides and can load a full cubic yard at a time. Obviously the Cushman is to big for many small areas of a property so we usually shovel straight from the hopper rather than spend time pushing wheelbarrows,

    When I started topdressing I used smaller models similar to the one mentioned in this thread. Aeraeting, seeding, hauling, shoveling and topdressing as a 1 man show. While your equipment costs are reduced your labor goes up. More importantly the size of a lawn you can reasonably topdress is limited.

    Next week will be my last week of aeration / seeding / topdressing for this fall. We stared in the last week of August using a 3 to 4 man crew. I have been topdressing for years, slowly refining the process, this is the first year we went into serious production. Probably used about 330 cubic yards of material this season on 800 M of turf.

    Probably the biggest hurdle over the years is selling the customer on a price where you can still make money. The process is labor and equipment intensive at any level, big or small 1 man operations.
  10. FINN

    FINN LawnSite Senior Member
    from PA.
    Messages: 280

    good post PG.

    I have not used EQ, but have heard people mention BANFE. I guess BANFE is the supplier.

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