Mark Paisley Lawn Mowing & Landscape Maintenance
Member of Independent Lawn Mowing Contractors Of Australia
Mark's Articles Topressing Lawns, Fertiliser & Chemical Application, Winter Grass Control, One Black Day Mark's Articles
"ASK MARK" A QUESTION
FERTILISER AND CHEMICAL APPLICATION
(Please refer to the Laws For Spraying Page For Laws relating to application throughout Australia)
Please note: Photographs to the right are items for sale through the Independent Lawn Mowing Contractor's of Australia.
Lawn Contractors who are asked to fertilize or treat a lawn for weeds or certain pests need to be able to apply the product they are using in a professional, efficient and most of all in a safe manner.
To most contractors time is money. It is no good taking 1/2 an hour to fertilize a lawn that should only take 10 minutes with the right equipment. Purchasing the right tools to do these jobs is money well spent. Investing in good equipment, from mowers down to pruning tools will last you for years and are reliable.
Spraying and fertilizing is a great add on service to any lawn run and good money can be made. You need to be confident that you can do the job and get results. Its no good spraying a lawn for weeds and getting no result or doing the same job and killing the lawn. If you don't feet comfortable about doing these sorts of jobs it is best to turn the job down rather than lose a client over a mistake you've made with fertilisers or chemicals.
Fertilisers are applied to lawns in either dry granular, pelleted form or liquid - i.e. soluble
Dry Granular or Pelleted
The best way to apply these fertilizers is by using a purpose made fertiliser spreader. These can be hand held rotary, larger push type rotary or push type drop spreaders. I find the small hand held rotary spreader the most useful for anyone doing average sized lawns. A push type rotary is the quickest way to go for large lawns. Drop spreaders are good but you have to be careful not to miss strips or overlap too much. A rotary spreader will do the job much faster than a drop spreader and it is easier to get an even coverage with a rotary .
These machines will apply fertilisers like No-17, lawn builder, Dynamic lifter and others with ease. One tip, after you have finished use a blower to blow any fertilizer off paths and driveways.
Properly equipped, the average contractor can apply liquid fertiliser as quickly as dry granular. This method is for applying things such as Sulphate of Ammonia, Urea, Nitram, Sulphate of Iron, Sulphate of Potash and many others.
Fertilisers need to be applied evenly over lawns so 5 litre pressure sprayers are not really adequate, plus their nozzles will block up making it a very frustrating job. I use two things, a plastic bucket and a Fert-O-Matic garden spray. Some people might know these as big boy sprayers. These simple little sprayers connect to your hose. The fertilizer is mixed up in the bucket with water and a tube coming from the sprayer goes into the bucket. When the hose is turned on a suction forms and sucks the mixture in the bucket up and out through the sprayer. It is very simple and effective. Once you get used to using one of these sprayers you can gauge how much water to put in the bucket to get you over the area to be sprayed. Larger lawns will require more than one bucket so make sure you divide the fertiliser up correctly.
The sprayer I use is made by Precision Mowers Pty ltd, Essendon VIC 3040. Some produce stores stock them. The instructions are on the packet. If anyone has trouble locating them, contact me on telephone, 02 4962-1582 and I will help you out.
Fertilisers are not as dangerous as chemicals however, avoid breathing in any dusts and exposure to skin. Don't scoop fertilisers out with your hands, use a plastic scoop or jug and gloves are a must when applying them. Remember also, to make sure you or the client waters the lawn thoroughly and immediately after any fertiliser has been applied. This is to wash the fertilizer off the grass leaves so it will not burn.
Always read the labels on bags and apply the recommended rates. Don't over do it. Three or four applications spread over the growing season is adequate for a lawn that is regularly cut during the summer months.
Make an early application to kick-start the growth, two more spaced over the warmest months and one more before the grass goes dormant is sufficient.
When spraying chemicals it is important that the chemical being sprayed reaches its target. This may be a weed or an army grub. Even coverage over the entire area being sprayed is required to successfully complete the job.
Lawn contractors are mostly spraying weeds or insects, rarely are contractors asked to spray for diseases with fungicides. Weed spraying is relatively straight forward. Even coverage of average lawns is achievable with a knapsack sprayer with a small boom attachment or an Aussieboy sprayer. Small 5 litre pressures sprayers are not the way to go. You usually end up missing half the weeds. These sprayers are fine for applying total weed killers like Zero and Roundup around paths, fences and spot spraying stubborn weeds.
5 litre sprayers are fine for spraying weedicide. However, when targeting black beetles or army grubs, I use my Fert-O-matic garden spray on the hose. This gives very even coverage and washes the chemical into the soil where the pests are.
When applying any chemicals, make sure you read the labels and only apply them at the recommended rates.
When mixing chemicals, I always wear a pair of surgical gloves. They are cheap and are available from most supermarkets. I only wear them once then throw them out. Plastic or white plastic type disposable overalls should be worn when spraying insecticides with waterproof boots and an appropriate respirator. You don't have to spend a fortune on a respirator, I use Moldex 2700 P2 fume dust and mist respirators. They come in a box of 10 for around $100.00 and I use one for around 2 months, that's using it a couple of times per week. Keep the respirator in a glad snap lock type plastic bag when not in use.
Avoid spraying on really windy days. If you do come into contact with any chemicals wash them off immediately. What can happen with chemicals is that small amounts of exposure won't hurt you straight away but they build up in your system and eventually you do become sick. I've heard of some terrible stories of chemical poisoning even from Roundup which most people think is relatively safe.
When mixing chemicals I use a small medicine glass to accurately measure the amounts. It is also a good idea to keep any containers or bottles of poison locked up in a toolbox so they are away from children and so they don't get spilt or broken in your trailer or ute.
There you go, its pretty easy when you are confident with your gear and know the chemicals you are using. A good idea is to practice using just water in your sprayers to get used to them and how they work. For anyone interested in more formal training, most Technical Colleges offer courses such as Smartrain Chemical Program which is a nationally recognised chemical training course
Copyright © Independent Lawn Mowing Contractors Of Australia
Disclaimer - We will freely give advice to all who visit this site, however we will not be legally responsible for any advice given