When it comes to setting up your spray rigs, the first thing to think about is the products you’re putting down, says Joel Marden, owner of Green Up Lawn Care in Louisiana.
“There are tons of options when it comes to tank materials, and you’ve got to know what’s going to work best for you and what you’re working with,” he says.
Aaron Schultz, operations manager at Johnson’s Lawn Care in Indiana, starts in the same place. He says his company has had the same setup for the last three years when the company configured its first spray rig.
“We started by looking at what was going to be the most efficient for all of the different applications the guys put down throughout the year,” he says, noting that he started by taking the suggestions on the chemical labels.
For example, if you use chemicals that require constant agitation, you’ll need to make sure that you’re working with a tank that provides that. Otherwise, you won’t be making even, safe applications.
And safety is always top of mind when it comes to chemical applications at Johnson’s. “We’re rigorous when it comes to making sure that everyone has their PPE; everyone knows what’s in the tank and where they should be spraying before the trucks roll out,” he says.
Marden uses a combination of backpack sprayers and a skid sprayer with two separate tanks – one for total kill and one for other applications. But no matter what, he says cleaning out the systems has to happen at the shop.
Schultz also has a two-tank system so that crews can handle any spot applications they might need throughout their routes. “We’ve got the general pre-emergent or post-emergent, depending on the time of year, but we don’t want the guys to have to come back to the shop or make another visit just to handle a spot application,” he says. “It’s just not efficient.”
Keep trucks moving.
The size of the properties your crews will be visiting is also a key consideration. “You want to make sure your guys aren’t running back and forth to fill up the tank,” he says, adding that while you can carry extra tanks on trucks, he prefers one tank per day to avoid spillage or accidents.
Each crew is routed for application of a single product to avoid misapplications as well. Because different lawns will require different rates and products, he says careful routing is the key to efficiency.
“You don’t want to mess around with this stuff,” he says. “I always tell my guys to check application rates, read the labels and follow instructions. The last thing you want is dead spots or ruined lawns. Callbacks aren’t going to fix something as big as that.”
He wants to make sure that his hoses are set up to minimize mistakes as well. He outfits his spray rig with a double pass hose, rather than a single pass, since they’re stronger and can handle more pressure.
“No point in taking risks where you don’t have to,” he says. His crews are also responsible for flipping the hose every month to cut down on wear and tear. And they inspect the rig and backpack sprayers regularly for leaks, pressure issues and clogs.
“Keep it running smoothly and you’re going to save yourself so many headaches,” he says.
At Johnson’s, inspections are done once a week and at the end of the season to ensure that everything is ready to sit over the winter months.
“You don’t want to leave anything to chance,” Schultz says. “Anything you don’t completely flush out is going to be a huge problem come next season.”