You have no items in your shopping cart

& Landscape supply

Do You Know the Key Factors of Successful Turf Management?

Benjamin Franklin—American statesman, scientist, inventor, and founding father—said it best: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

This famous quote dates back to the 1700s, when Franklin first spoke about fire prevention in Philadelphia, but one can draw some similarities to modern-day lawncare. OK, it may be a stretch, but follow my lead.

It is clear that a successful lawn application season starts at the beginning. That doesn’t mean the first day of preemergent season—it starts before that! Rewind to the off-season, when many landscape contractors conduct preventative maintenance throughout winter.

Thoroughly cleaning equipment to expose potential breakdown risks and performing repairs to prevent them is where it should start. Making sure pumps and moving parts are operating smoothly and are properly lubricated reduces premature wear. New screens and nozzles provide even spray patterns, helping to ensure consistent applications. Properly inflated tires reduce tech fatigue so they can maintain a consistent walking speed.

I could go on, but these are specific to the application equipment itself. This operation not only includes spreaders and sprayers, but also the vehicles and equipment used to transport them. When a truck or another vehicle used to transport a sprayer fails, it could lead to a lost tank of product and profits washed down the drain. Proper preventative programs can greatly reduce these sorts of failures.


Equipment Calibration Isn’t a One and Done

What else falls into this prevention bucket? Equipment calibration. This is not simply setting the spreader at 14 for the season. It requires more time than that. Every spreader should be calibrated for each product used during the season.

There are spreader settings on many bags, but they are typically accompanied by a statement alerting the applicator that the setting is just a starting point and the equipment should be calibrated from there. It is pretty easy to cut corners but you need to be aware of the potential outcomes:

  • Under-application. When too little product is applied, you risk substandard results. Whether it’s fertilizer that doesn’t last long enough between applications or it’s that dreaded “B” word, breakthrough, it’s not good.

One of the top causes of product failure is improper rate. When pesticides are applied at rates lower than specified on the label, they may not get the longevity of control expected by the customer. This could be in the form of crabgrass and other weeds, grub damage, and even in disease prevention.

Breakthrough leads to additional, curative applications which tend to be more costly and require higher application rates. More applications translates into extra visits to the property, which includes more manhours and fuel, ending in more cost to your company.

Lack of complete control also gives the customer a sense that your lawncare company is at fault and can lose confidence in them. If this becomes widespread, excess loss of customers can drive a company out of business.

  • Over-application. When product is applied at a higher rate than the label states, it can lead to turf damage. Sometimes, the damage is superficial and temporary, and other times, it requires costly repairs. Another pitfall of over-application is spending. Using just 10% more product during applications can cost a company thousands of dollars over a season. Let’s take a closer look at the impact of granular fertilizer over-application:
      • EMPRO 24-0-8 retail web-advertised price is $51.43, or $1.29 per pound of fertilizer.
      • Normal application rate of 4.17 pounds per 1,000 square feet, or $5.38 per 1,000 square feet, plus 10% equals an additional 0.4 pounds per 1,000 square feet of product. That’s 4.58 pounds per 100 square feet, costing $5.91 per 1,000 square feet.
      • Average 10,000-square-foot lawn costs $53.80 at the proper rate and $59.10 at the plus rate. That’s a difference of $5.30 per lawn. If one applicator treats 20 lawns in one day, that’s $106 per applicator per day! While that seems to be a ridiculous number, would you notice the 0.4 pounds per 1,000 square foot difference in application rate?

Extra Spending isn’t the Only Impact of Over-Application

In today’s competitive turf care environment, every cent counts, and so does reputation. In the age of online ratings, customer approval can make or break a business, so accurate and effective applications are critical. These are the fires that, if prevented, can improve your company’s image.

Some last-minute thoughts, or rules to keep you from making mistakes:

  • Never use the same spray tank for herbicides and tree/shrub applications. No matter how clean you think it is, there can be some residual herbicide which will damage ornamentals.
  • Always mix only what you intend to use for the day and don’t let spray solutions sit overnight.
  • Consider using a spray dye indicator for accurate applications, reduced overlap, and minimize skips. In this case, a few extra pennies can save hundreds of dollars.
  • Always read the label and apply pesticides carefully and safely!


Lean on Us for Turf-care Solutions

Ewing’s Tech Team, myself and Pat Gross, are here to your turf-care questions. Email me at klewis@ewingirrigation.com or call/text 480-669-8791. Email Pat at pgross@ewingirrigation.com or call/text 714-321-6101.

TAGS: Equipment Calibration, Turf Management, Pesticides, lawn application, operating, cleaning, repairs