Truck + sprayer productivity tips

February 12, 2021 -  By
Spray equipment with foam turf markers (Photo: Z Turf Equipment)

Foam marks the spot Foam markers can help technicians be more accurate and help communicate to customers that their lawn has been sprayed. (Photo: Z Turf Equipment)

2020 was a year of growth for many landscape industry companies — and that growth encouraged owners to upgrade their lawn care equipment and truck fleets.

“We had a great year, and we attributed a lot of growth to COVID because (homeowners) were home, and they wanted their homes to look nicer,” says Shawn Edwards, owner of A+ Lawn & Landscape in Des Moines, Iowa. The company provides lawn care, maintenance, design/build and irrigation services to primarily residential clients. A+ Lawn & Landscape reported $11 million in revenue in 2020, a 12 percent increase in revenue from 2019.

Edwards received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan in 2020, and with the growth in profits and the 1 percent interest rate on the PPP loan, his company opted to use the influx of cash to buy new, upgraded trucks and new spreader-sprayers.

He thinks there’s a chance that small businesses will be paying more taxes and is uncertain if some tax advantages will be taken away in 2021, so he’s been buying trucks and equipment to ensure his company capitalizes on current tax write-offs.

A+ Lawn and Landscape purchased four new Turfco spreader-sprayers and several new aerators, along with four 1-ton Chevy and Ram trucks in its spray division. The company also added four Ram ProMaster vans in its irrigation division.

Landscape Management spoke with experts to find out what they’re seeing in the lawn care equipment and truck industries heading into 2021.

Lawn care equipment

Automate to save labor

Though some parts of the landscape industry were able to obtain workers displaced from other industries, such as food service and hospitality, there wasn’t an easy transference of labor to the lawn care sector, says George Kinkead, president of Turfco.

“I talked to many clients who said ‘we could have grown x amount,’ but they grew less because they were restricted in what they could do because they couldn’t find people,” he says.

Kinkead adds that manufacturers have to offer solutions to the labor shortage and help people be more productive, which is where automation has come in. He says the movement to switch to ride on products for aerating and applicating is quickly replacing walk behind products that are more labor intensive.

Companies like Turfco are expanding their offering to meet the demand for more productivity. In 2021, Turfco is introducing the T5000 with 60 gallons of capacity giving the operator more productivity. Making the design similar to the 18-gallon T3100 makes switching between either model easier with less training.

Foam marks the spot

Jonathan Guarneri, product manager for Exmark and Z Turf Equipment, reports that he’s seeing an increased interest in foam markers in the lawn care market. Foam marker tanks can be installed on spreader-sprayers and be used to mark the areas where operators have already sprayed product.

“All (foam markers are) is water and dish soap,” he explains. “It helps guys be more accurate with their applications and know where their next pass needs to be, but also from a proof of service standpoint … (homeowners) see all these foam dots on their lawn, and they know that a guy didn’t just make one pass and leave.”

Customize tank systems

Guarneri recommends that if you’re using expensive or nonselective herbicide products, isolated tanks and auxiliary tanks can supplement existing tanks on your spreader-sprayer, depending on the products you’re working with.

An isolated tank has its own pump, so Guarneri recommends these for nonselective herbicide products or those products you don’t want to run through the rest of your spray system.

An auxiliary tank extends the capacity of the main unit and gets plumbed into the rest of the unit. “If there’s a high-dollar product that guys might not want to mix a lot of, that’s where we see a lot of use,” Guarneri says.


“The best way to put a machine into storage is to prepare for it to come out of storage,” Kinkead says. “Change the oil, check for tension, make the adjustments and do all that now when there isn’t pressure, and in the winter, go through all your machinery and replace the parts that need to be replaced.”

Retrain your staff

In a colder climate, it could be four or five months since your technicians have last run your machines, Kinkead estimates. He recommends doing a training meeting when your crew has returned for the start of the season, so everyone knows best practices. “One thing we see in lawn care companies that are really successful is they standardize their practices,” he says. “Everyone does it this way, as opposed to each truck has their own way.”

Abby Hart

About the Author:

Abby Hart is the former senior editor of Landscape Management. A native Clevelander, she spent 10 years in Chicago, where she was operations manager of a global hospitality consultancy. She also worked as managing editor of Illumine, a health and wellness magazine; and a marketing specialist for B2B publications. Abby has a degree in journalism from Boston University’s College of Communication.

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