Saturday, April 18, 2015

Katie Tuttle

Katie Tuttle, GCI


Spray the right way

Lawn Care

LCOs discuss the details of putting together a solid rig.

April 13, 2015

Buying a spray rig for your company may be a harder decision than you imagined. Different options for tanks and hoses mean you need to take the time to consider which choices will be best for your specific company.

John Glover, general manager of Superior Lawn Services in Jonesboro, Ark., says it’s always important to find one supplier for your spray rig equipment, and to find someone local.

“You can go to the internet and buy some cheaper stuff off sites but I just don’t know if you’d get the service after sale, which is what you want to look for,” he says. “If we have a breakdown, all we’ve got to do is get on the phone. They have parts in stock, ready to go, and to me that’s important.”

Think tanks first.

The first thing to consider is the tank. Tanks come in different materials and different sizes, and with different set ups. Gary Eichen, BioTurf/PHC manager at Mike’s Tree Surgeons in Troy, Mich., says it’s important to consider the products you’ll be using in the tanks. “I always recommend, number one, read the label of the products you buy,” he says. “It gives you exactly what you need to know about the product.”

For this reason, Mike’s Tree Surgeons uses tanks with mechanical agitation instead of tanks with sparger agitation.

“A lot of our products require or should have continual agitation going,” he says. “If you don’t, you could end up in the mornings spraying at one rate when the tank is full, then by the afternoon you’re spraying at another rate.” Jon Rick, owner of J Rick Lawn & Tree in Colorado Springs, Colo., says his company uses a space saver type tank almost exclusively.

“They take up less than half of the pickup bed and then your hose reel and pump are mounted on top,” he says.

Dayna Wagner, operations manager of Fit Turf in Michigan and Colorado, says she considers appearance when deciding on a tank. “We like the fiberglass tanks because they look really nice and we want to make sure our trucks look good,” she says.

Glover says his company also uses fiberglass tanks. “We’ve had some of the poly tanks, but we don’t think they hold up to the sun as well,” he says. “We buy a tank and we’re going to use it for 20-something years. With fiberglass tanks we can paint them on the outside and the paint holds up to the UV rays.”

Glover says you can buy a poly tank for a lot cheaper, but the more expensive fiberglass tanks will hold up longer so it’s something to consider before purchasing. Size is also something you need to think about. Rick recommends calculating how much product you’re going to apply each day.

“You don’t want to get too small of a tank where you’re going to have to go back to the shop to fill it up,” he says. “Calculating the amount of product you’re going to put down on a daily basis will really determine the size of tank you buy.”

If your budget can support it, it might be a good idea to get tanks of two sizes. Glover recommends using a drop tank on a spray rig. Instead of just buying one tank for the bed of the truck, purchase a smaller one and put it in the bed as well.

“When (technicians) are out spraying a yard, they’ve got their normal pre-emerge or post-emerge in their big tank,” he says.

“If they come to a yard with a specific problem or a specific weed, a lot of times they’re going to have to come back to keep from having to do water and a mix.”

Instead of waiting to empty your tank, go back to the shop and mix up a special mix to treat that yard, you can take the smaller tank, pump the regular mix into it and then add the special chemicals for that specific yard.

“You’re going to have to do different things to each yard,” Glover says. “You may have a yard that’s Bermuda grass or fescue side by side. You don’t want to have to do one (yard) one day and one the next when they’re right next to each other.”

Choose your hose.

There are two types of spray hose available for spray rigs: spiral one pass and spiral two pass.

On a spiral one pass, the nylon cord that holds everything together runs through the hose, beginning to end, once.

On a spiral two pass, the cord runs through beginning to end and then back, making a stronger hose.

“The decision is based on the amount of pressure you’re going to be putting through the hose,” Eichen says. “Spiral one pass is rated lower pressure than spiral two. I recommend for most cases, especially lawn care where it’s running 150 PIS to 250 PSI, the spiral one pass because of cost.”

Something to keep in mind is that hose pressure is determined at a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re working in a part of the country that is continually above that, your hose will be slightly lower in pressure because the heat makes the hose softer.

J Rick Lawn & Tree typically uses a ?-inch hose that’s 400 feet long.

“When you have to go around houses and through gates, the smaller size makes it a lot easier to drag around obstacles,” he says. “Especially for residential purposes when you’re dragging it out and reeling it up 20 times a day. It makes a big difference.”

Eichen says flipping your hose once a year helps extend its life.

“In most cases, a technician is pulling out maybe 150 feet of hose,” he says. “Most hose reels come in 350-foot lengths so the last 150 feet is not used nearly as much as the first 200.”

Pick your pump.

“The decision on the type of pumps you use is based on how much maintenance you want involved and how much money you want to spend,” Eichen says.

Eichen is a certified diaphragm pump specialist, so those are the pumps his company uses. He says a lot of companies use piston pumps because they don’t require much maintenance. “We now have two other guys that I’ve trained at my warehouse on how to fix them so we have adequate knowledge,” he says.

Glover says his company hasn’t had good success with diaphragm pumps because they require more cleaning.

“They work well for companies where the chemicals don’t sit in the tanks very long, but for lawn chemicals and things like that, the piston pumps are a lot better,” Glover says.

You also have to consider what product you use.

“In some cases, certain products will void the warranty,” he says.

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