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What would be the proper steps??

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by bigw, Jan 15, 2008.

  1. bigw

    bigw LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,540

    Ok lets say i have a 15ft long and 4ft wide old existing flower bed that has not been maintained in years and is full of nothing but weeds and dead plants and also garbage and anything else you can think of.What would be the proper steps to make it look beautiful.How much material,what material etc...oh the soil in it now is pretty much of the clay type.Would i rototill it and add top soil and how much?Anyway remember im not an expert yet and thats why im asking for the proper steps so be nice or else...:hammerhead: Thanks to all that help me!!
  2. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378

    I'd remove top weeds and debris and what you can by shoveling racking etc. and haul that off . . . but to break up the soil tilling is good. Honda FG110AT, Mantis 2-stroke or Honda powered version are all good for that size area. I own all of those models. If the soil is dry some watering would be needed before tilling.

    Can't really tell you beyond that. I'm still deciding if I want to tackle even light landscaping project with my biz due to my limited hauling towing ability with my weak vehicles.

    Besides I admit I'm clueless about mulching etc. unless it's landscape fabric anchored with nails in the dirt, flexible border edging and decorative bark on top of that. From what I've read here the formula of what it cost you in material x3 to roughly figure labor. Possibly higher.
  3. Big Bad Bob

    Big Bad Bob LawnSite Bronze Member
    from zone 5
    Messages: 1,074

    If it is that bad, I'd remove any desirable perennial plants, nuke the whole area with roundup or used a powered sod cutter to remove the rest of the vegetation from the garden, probably to 2", and just rebuild the garden. You will be much more satisfied with the look and it would actually be easier and cheaper for you while looking like more work, and money, for the client. payup Much better profit margin for you. Work smarter for more, not harder for less.
  4. Big Bad Bob

    Big Bad Bob LawnSite Bronze Member
    from zone 5
    Messages: 1,074

    Not true in most cases. Unless the area had been kept relatively free of weeds, tilling bring old weed seeds to the surface, where they can get the sunlight that is needed for germination. Tilling a vegetable garden that has been well maintained(?), no problem. Tilling a patch of ground where weeds were allowed to thrive(?), not a good idea.
  5. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    I would round up the whole thing. I figure that top soil has tons of weed seeds in it. If it were my house, I'd remove the top 4 inches of top soil, or what ever is in there. Then I'd bring in a 3 to 1 sterilized top soil to compost mix, and replace the old soil. Check pH, and maybe adjust it, but decide what you want to install there first.

    If the bed is under a front bay window, some ornamentals would likely be in order. Garden designs are tricky. The customer wants it to look finished and filled in when you leave, but that will always lead to ornamentals that will quickly outgrow their space. I only do that if the customer understands that in 2 or 3 years, I will have to pull much of that installation out, transplant the now too big plants elsewhere, and replant.

    I like to use ornamental grasses that grow fast and can fill in while the new ornamentals have a chance to mature. Then, just pull or split or transplant the grass elsewhere. You really have to look at the windows, and know what will look good both now, and in 3 years from now. Most people like a symetrical look, but depending on shading from the house, if one end of the bed gets significantly more sun than the other, it won't look symetrical for very long. This is often an issue in beds that I've planted with an eastern exposure. If the front of the house doesn't cast a straight shadow, with equal sunlight over the whole bed.... it gets trickier.

    I'd suggest taking some pics, at a couple of times during the day, and find a trusted nursery guy to help you plan a design, if exposure to sunlight isn't even from one end of the bed to the other. Of course, the customer's budget will dictate just how much you can do.
  6. Grits

    Grits LawnSite Silver Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 2,994

    Remove everything and start over. You can put Preen down to keep most of the remaining weed seeds from germinating. I would till and remove top 4 inches. Bring in good soil. Plant whatever the customer wants, throw down some Preen, mulch and be done. Easy, profitable and satisfying. I love bed renovations.
  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    My solution is this 1-2-3: call Miss Utility to mark the lines, then after the lines are marked go rent yourself a tiller, and go to town.

    Tear it all up nice and good so then you got yourself some nice fertile topsoil to plant whatever your heart desires.
    Cost: $30-$40 and a few to several hours of your time, a good Saturday time filler, 10a-3p or so.

    Other notes: The weeds and existing crap will be fine just tear it all up, but you might want to remove the garbage first :laugh:
  8. NC Greenscaper

    NC Greenscaper LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 446

    Just curious! What kind of jobs to you do? You rototill and leave it as is??
  9. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I know this wasn't directed at me, but I get this stuff from time to time...

    First I was of the impression that the question came from a homeowner...
    Minor oops thou, because there's little difference in the end, I did assume they were thinking of planting something there, that could change, I'll get back to this.

    And I didn't want to get into the details because it could get ugly, but here's the main gist of it all:
    See the place hasn't been maintained in years, that's the real problem here.
    So it is possible someone just got a wild hair up their tush and for right now things look promising but most likely as soon as it is tilled up things will revert right back to the way things were, anyhow.

    And if or when they do, the weeds will come right back, too.
    Now you can spray Round-Up but that won't make a difference, in 30-60 days those weeds will be right back as they are now, not to mention that spraying round-up has to be done when the weeds are actively growing AND if or when you spray round up you effectively have ruined the soil for a good 30 days, nothing will grow there for about that time frame.
    Sure it is winter, no gardening so why not round-up?
    Well, because Weed killer does no good in freezing temps.
    So, till it all up.

    Granted, it would be nice to convert it all to something really nice and beautiful...
    My problem, however, if the rest of the yard looks anything like this 16x4 area then this appears to be as much a waste, man I hate these jobs where folks act like if I just make a 16x4 area look super then suddenly their whole yard will look good or something. Omg... That's like someone with a 20 year old car nothing has been done to in the way of care and maintenance, the dang thing is a rust bucket the only miracle about it is that it runs, and they think an oil change and armor-all'ing the tires will make a big splash....

    Yeah right, what we need here is likely a complete yard refurbishing, but these folks are not going to spend $2000 dollars on you, I do not know why, they call me too... One day they'll get it in their heads to have it done, the whole thing, but even then I'm not so sure it's a job I would want.

    So that's why I said just till it all up, the garbage should go first because it will get all up in the tines, but other than that we're looking at 50-60-75 dollars and for the money that's the cheapest solution, seeing how nothing ever usually changes in these situations.

    The only other thing is, being that this isn't likely to become a garden the other solution would be to drop seed heavily in that area and convert it in with the rest of the turf... But here we get into cost, we're over $100 now and if the rest of the turf looks like what I think it does, once again what difference does it make?

    The worst of it is, IF these folks ever decide to do something BIG with their yard, they'll call someone else. But that's just how it is, I would just as soon refuse the work thou at the same rate stupid stuff like this is good money for simple BS, your choice what to do.
  10. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378

    Yes most of the time I do.

    I did a ton of Rototilling last spring and most jobs are for garden areas. So in this case my approach my not be the best. Yes it will spread weed seeds all over however if you use landscape fabric . . . it will reduce most weeds from popping up. Anyhow in this case no need to till very deep - just 2-3" or so. Customers really like that fresh tilled earth look after your done. payup

    Since I get really sick whenever I've use herbicides etc. on my own lawn - I have no plans to offer it my customers. I'm considering going 100% organic for lawn & garden care. I realize I may loose some business.

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