In the world of lawn care, the grass is always greener on your side, when you are armed with the right tools! At the heart of a flourishing lawn care service lies not just your passion and drive but the knowledge to choose the right spraying equipment.
In this guide, we will delve into the essential spraying equipment needed to kick-start your lawn care business. We will look at the type of sprayers needed for different jobs, as well as the specific accessories that will make your equipment more efficient, effective, and easy to use.
We’ll also look at how to streamline your operation with software as well as how to employ techniques to prolong the life of your equipment. These methods will protect your bottom line and help you grow.
So, let’s roll up our sleeves and dig into the world of spraying equipment. After all, a well-equipped lawn care business is like a well-tended garden: it promises growth, sustainability, and a bounty of opportunities!
Understanding Sprayer Types for Lawn Care
In the lawn care business, efficiency and effectiveness are more than just buzzwords; they are the cornerstones of your success. The right sprayer can be the difference between a thriving, reputable business and a struggling operation. It’s about more than just watering and treating lawns; it’s about precision, saving time, reducing waste, and delivering results that keep your customers coming back season after season.
The size and scope of the lawns that you are going to care for and the products you want to spray Will affect the type of sprayer(s) that you need. When you are just getting started you don’t need to invest in the fanciest equipment. Instead, you need reliable, efficient, effective, and affordable tools.
Choosing a Sprayer For Your Lawn Care Busines
Below are the basic lawn and turf sprayer types and what scenarios to use them, if you want more details on any of these sprayer types then be sure to examine this guide I wrote explaining the different types of sprayers.
Hand Pump Sprayers
You were likely familiar with what a hand pump sprayer is, If not you can see a detailed guide on hand pump sprayers here. They are a pivotal tool in a lawn care business. They allow you to effectively spot spray or broadcast spray small yards and lawns. With a single tankful, you can expect to spray about 2000 to 5000 square feet. The amount of area you cover depends on your dilution rate and the application rate.
If you want more details on mixing and application rates, I have put together several other resources to help you learn about application rates, mixing rates, and calibrating your sprayer:
You will want to have a hand pump sprayer when you’re getting started. In fact, you’ll probably want two or more. This allows you to spray multiple products without cross-contamination.
You don’t need to spend a bunch of money on a high-quality stainless steel sprayer or an electronic sprayer when you’re getting started. This is something you can upgrade to when you get more established. Sprayers will wear out eventually and you will need to buy replacements periodically.
Backpack sprayers are an upgrade from hand pump sprayers, offering increased efficiency and comfort. You do not need a backpack sprayer when you start your business as you can accomplish similar tasks with a hand pump sprayer but you might find that it saves you time and is less physically taxing.
If you need more info, check out the results from my test to see if a backpack sprayer does provide an advantage over a hand pump sprayer.
A backpack sprayer is capable of holding more solution than hand pump sprayers. Ranging from 4 to 5 gallons, they allow you to cover larger areas of about 10,000 to 15,000 square feet with a single fill. The sprayer comfortably rests on your back, reducing the strain of carrying a heavy load, allowing for prolonged use with less fatigue.
When starting your lawn care business, investing in a backpack sprayer is a wise decision. The initial investment for a backpack sprayer is still minimal. When compared to something like a lawn mower or trimmer, the cost is very low and you can offer your clients a service that will be quite lucrative for you.
As we discussed having multiple hand pump sprayers, you could opt to have a backpack sprayer and hand pump sprayer to use for separate products. This will allow you to test which sprayer type you prefer.
As with hand pump sprayers, there’s no need to initially invest in high-end models. A basic, durable backpack sprayer will suffice in the early stages of your business. As your client base and revenue grow, you can consider upgrading to more convenient models that are battery-powered. Remember, even the most robust sprayers will need replacement or maintenance eventually, so factor this into your business plan.
Skid sprayers are powerful and versatile sprayers that provide you with the ability to apply fertilizers, herbicides, etc to large areas or multiple small areas. They will deliver a much higher volume of liquid in a faster time compared to other sprayer types. Some models can also achieve much higher pressure.
Higher volume means you can cover more ground while applying the same rate. Higher pressure means you can spray further. They typically feature a 50-300 gallon capacity and they are intended to slide into the back of a standard pickup or sit on a trailer.
Skid sprayers can cost anywhere from $2000-$10,000 depending on the pump type, tank size, and other features. So while this will make you more efficient is not necessary to do a professional and effective job. You can achieve quality results with a hand pump or backpack sprayer, it will just take longer. (Both to apply the liquid and to mix up multiple batches.)
These sprayers are also more complex than your typical backpack sprayer. They require more maintenance and some training to get familiar with the proper operation.
One method you can employ to be more efficient but not invest thousands of dollars is to use a spot sprayer. A spot sprayer is made up of a tank, 12-volt pump, hose, and spray wand. They are a much less expensive sprayer type that can give you some of the same features as a skid sprayer. This can be a way to pre-mix up more of your spray solution and increase your efficiency. Ranging from about $150-$500, these sprayers are a much more affordable option when you are just getting going or growing
If you are considering starting a lawn care business, you are probably not afraid of DIY tasks. Building a simple skid sprayer for turf care is not as daunting as you might think. In my “Skid Sprayer Troubleshooting” article you can see the details of how these work and how the basic components fit together.
Ride on Turf Sprayers
One of the most complex sprayers used in lawn care is the ride-on turf sprayer. In addition to being self-propelled, their key attributes include integrated spreading and spraying capabilities, ease of navigation over turf, and the ability to cover large areas quickly and uniformly.
They have many advanced features like GPS-guided spraying, variable rate application, and intuitive controls. Also because you ride on the machine there is less operator fatigue.
However, for a new lawn care business, investing in a ride-on turf sprayer may not be necessary or cost-effective. These machines are optimized for large, open areas such as golf courses, sports fields, or large commercial properties. If your new business is focusing on residential lawns or smaller commercial properties, the capabilities of these machines may be overkill.
These more complex sprayers have more of a learning curve as well. These machines require periodic maintenance and repair to keep them running. There is more to learn to operate them effectively and more that can go wrong.
Finally, if applying liquid fertilizer or herbicides is your primary goal, a ride-on sprayer may not be ideal, as they are typically focused on spreading dry material and have limited holding capacity and output for liquid.
As your business grows and diversifies its client base, investing in specialized equipment like ride-on sprayers might be a strategic move.
Primarily used in large open fields and agriculture, a boom sprayer is probably not necessary for most lawn care businesses. However, if your plan initially is to take care of sports fields, acreages, or properties that have large fields (2 plus acres) It may be worth looking into one.
If you are thinking about a boom sprayer, be sure to check out these resources:
- Beginners Guide to Boom Sprayers
- Boom Vs. Boomless Sprayers
- How do I Choose Sprayer Nozzles for a Boom Sprayer
Essential Accessories for Your Sprayers
- Teejet Quick Adapters: You will want to use different nozzles for different purposes. TeeJet quick adapters make it easy to quickly change nozzles.
- Udor Hand Boom: You might not be able to afford a boom sprayer but with the Udor hand boom spray gun you can cover more ground by using this spraygun with your backpack sprayer.
- Fresh Water/Tank: When you are just getting started and can’t afford to invest in a 100 or 200-gallon skid sprayer, a small supply tank can help you pre-mix spray solution or fertilizer ahead of time and fill your hand or backpack sprayer as needed. Saving you time mixing in your hand or backpack sprayer tank each time.
- Gloves: Reusable chemical gloves will save you from chemical or fertilizer irritation on your skin.
- Eye Protection: Don’t overlook eye protection, it is inexpensive and you can’t afford to risk any damage to your eyesight and hope to be productive.
Integrating Technology: Software Solutions for Spraying Operations
Lawn care is hard work and if you are devout in long hours taking care of your clients you don’t want to be stuck working late into the evening doing those pesky administrative tasks.
If you are just mowing lawns for a flat rate, your invoicing and billing are simple. But when you start to add services like pest control and fertilizer application to your business, things get complicated.
The more time you have to fuss over billing, invoicing, and organizing your finances the less time you can get to work on the things that actually bring in revenue.
This is where streamlined software comes into play. I did some comparison research and read testimonials and determined that Jobber provides one of the best software out there that can make your experience as a small business owner much simpler and more productive.
Jobber will make contacting you and scheduling services much more convenient for your customers. It will allow you to provide quotes instantly via text message and there are a ton of automation settings that will follow up on your quotes. This all means more customers!
It also makes things much more convenient for you. When a customer books a service on your website, Jobber will automatically schedule the job for you. It will make it easy to automatically schedule your week, and determine the most efficient way to service your customers.
With their mobile app, you can run your daily operations completely from your phone. No late nights on paperwork, excel sheets, or jotting down paper notes that could get lost. All of these aspects will give you more time to take care of your customers and grow your business.
I reached out to them to see if they would sponsor this post (I do get a small commission for referring people to their site at no cost to you) and they provided me with a link for readers to sign up and try their software for free. Don’t miss a chance to test their service for free and see if it is right for you.
Maintenance and Longevity of Spraying Equipment
Due to the nature of liquid fertilizers and pesticides, they are hard on sprayers. This means that no matter what brand or type of sprayer you buy, they will need maintenance to keep them working properly and prolong their life.
The number one way to avoid premature sprayer failure is to rinse the sprayer with fresh water at the end of each day. When you are going to store the equipment for a long period you should clean out the sprayer and properly winterize it. You can learn about cleaning and winterizing in these guides:
It is also a good idea to keep some repair kits for your pumps and sprayers on hand. Many hand pump sprayers, backpack sprayers, and electronic sprayers can be repaired relatively quickly.
Cost-Efficient Practices for Startups
So when we boil this down to the basics. If you were to start today and wanted to spend as little money as possible, what should you buy? It depends on what type of job you are going to do, but here is the essential equipment that I would recommend:
- Backpack Sprayer: I have had good luck with Solo backpack sprayers, but other brands work just fine.
- Hand pump sprayer: Again, I have used many Solos, but other brands will work. Spraying with these often and you will likely need to replace them every year anyway depending on how much you spray.
- Spray Nozzles: Changing spray nozzles is the cheapest way you can change the capability of a backpack or hand pump sprayer. Most of these sprayers will come with an assortment of nozzles including an adjustable nozzle and a flat fan nozzle. You will want to add a flooding nozzle to broadcast spray larger areas. You will also want to have different nozzle sizes to accommodate different application rates. You can learn more about calibrating and sizing your nozzles in these resources:
- Goggles: Eye protection is crucial. Whether an accidental spill or a change in wind direction, you will want to wear goggles to protect your eyes.
- Chemical Gloves: Reusable nitrile gloves that are chemical resistant. Find a pair that is easy to take on and off when you get sweaty.
- Fresh Water Tank: Access to fresh water is a vital part of a spraying operation. Both to mix new batches of chemical and for safety. When starting out you might not be able to afford a large skid sprayer, but you can get a 15-25 gallon poly tank to store fresh water.
These basic items will get you started and as of writing this, you can find all of this for less than $500.
If you have the opportunity to take on a customer that will require you to upgrade equipment you can always look for local implement dealers and small equipment dealers to see if you can rent the necessary equipment. This way you won’t miss out on a job opportunity and you can purchase your own equipment down the road if your added work can justify the cost.
There are also always opportunities to buy used equipment. Often, sprayers can be found on auctions and they can be bought for pennies on the dollar. If components are broken or missing they can be replaced.
Another option is to construct a sprayer yourself. A savvy approach is to scout for a used tank or container locally. This can be a real game-changer! A tank can be costly not to mention expensive to ship. By securing a tank locally, you significantly cut down on these expenses. The rest of the components, being smaller and lighter, are much more affordable to ship. Plus, there’s a bonus – tackling the plumbing work yourself can lead to substantial savings.
If you are thinking of building a sprayer, but are not certain about the plumbing, refer to these guides for more plumbing details:
Conclusion: Building a Sustainable and Thriving Lawn Care Business
With this information you’ll be sure that she will have what you need and not an expensive piece of equipment that is overkill when you’re just getting off the ground. Plus you will know what things to avoid when looking for pesticide and fertilizer application equipment, ensuring you don’t waste your time and money.