Golf Course Secrets for the Homeowner part 2

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How to Spray
     The most common technique used by homeowners for spraying their yard is to get a handheld pump sprayer, dilute the chemical as per label instructions and then spot spray the yard. There are two major flaws with this technique; first, control of the quantity sprayed is subject to human error. There is a tendency to overspray areas where large amount of weeds are showing and under spray where weeds fewer are visible. Second, many areas of the lawn are missed in the application. It is hard to cover every area needed when you are using a handheld sprayer.
     The most effective technique is to use a boom sprayer pulled by your riding lawn mower. If you don't have a riding mower you can use a walk boom sprayer. You will have to invest $300 to $400 for this type of sprayer. It is much easier to control the amount of product applied when using a pull behind sprayer boom with multiple nozzles. You will get complete and uniform coverage plus you will get the job done much quicker.

How to Calibrate
You must first calculate how much water you are putting out per square foot with your sprayer. Three factors affect the rate; speed, spray nozzle type and pump pressure. If you know the speed, you can get the information you need about the nozzle from the literature at your local co-op (For a walk sprayer, the average speed of a walk is 3MPH). For example tee jets will give you the information about each of their nozzles. They provide you with information on different operating pressures at different speeds and the amount of water put out by one nozzle in gallons per acre and per 1000 square ft. I like using the per 1000 square feet calculation since most chemical application guides use this standard. For example the teejet 8004VS nozzle (red tip) at 30PSI and a 3MPH puts out .79 gallons per 1000 square ft. The standard of 1 gal per 1000 sq ft is the best application rate for uniform coverage of the chemical, so try to get a nozzle that gets you closest to this rate. At 3MPH, 40PSI a teejet 8005VS (brown tip) delivers 1.1 gallons per 1000 sq ft.
     If you don't know the speed of your mower, and you just bought a sprayer as a package with nozzles you probably don't have a clue to what to do. Let me help you out with an easier way to make all the calculations. Hook up your sprayer to your lawn mower, and then fill the tank up with water. Next, measure the boom width from the 2 outside spray nozzles; this is your boom width. Measure the distance between nozzles (usually 20 inches). If you have 4 nozzles and 20 inch spacing that would be 5 ft. You will notice that the actual spray will be greater than the 5 ft. You need to add the spacing to the spray boom width. Then convert it to feet with a decimal. In our example 5ft plus 20 inches becomes 6.67 ft. this is your coverage area. All that is left to do now is go out and measure a straight distance of some length. A 100 ft. stretch would work just great. Now spray the water along this stretch trying to get at least 30PSI, go up and down the path several times (the more the better) and keep track of how many times you sprayed on the stretch. When you have emptied enough water out of the tank so you can have a good measure of how much water you sprayed you can stop.
Now use the following Formulas:
S= Spray width
L= Length of path sprayed
W=gallons of water gone from the tank
N= Number of Times path was sprayed
SQ= Square ft sprayed
SQP= Square ft per 1000

Now use this formula: S x L x N= SQ
Then SQ/1000= SQP
     Now all you have left to do is to take the gallons of water sprayed and divide it by SQP and you have the amount of water sprayed per 1000 square feet.

W/SQP=gal of water sprayed per 1000 sq ft.

So in our example:
S=6.67
L=100 ft
N= 10 (assume 10 times)
W=5 gallons

6.67 x 100 x 10 = 6,670
6,670/1000= 6.67
5/6.67= .75 gal of water sprayed per 1000 sq ft.

      Therefor if your spray tank is 30 gallons you will be able to spray 40- 1000 sq ft (30/.75). Therefore you know that your tank will spray 40,000 square ft. If the chemical you need to apply calls for 2 ounces per 1,000 sq ft then you know that you have to put 80 oz of chemical per tank sprayed.

     Now that you are ready to spray, it is important you realize that the spray nozzles are set up in such a way that they over lap each other. In 20 inch spacing you need to overlap 10 inches. This why I had you add the spacing of the nozzle to your boom width. When you spray, you want the end nozzle to be approximately over the end of the last wet spray line. To help you mark where your spray line is, there a couple of things you can do. You can put a foam marker on the end of the boom (little expensive but very effective). You can put dye in the water (co-op has this) or you can do my favorite, spray in the morning. When the dew is still on the ground you can not only see the spray pattern but can see the tire tracks left by your mower.
      This may all seem a little complicated at first, but it actually is simpler than it seems. Remember, once you have calibrated your sprayer, spraying will be a snap from then on. Just follow the steps outlined above and you will be on your way to being weed free. If you have any questions please feel free to email me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Next month I will talk about fertilizers.

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