Turf Big Roll Installation Guide
Turf Big Roll Installation
Equipment & Training
Measuring & Ordering
Increases profitability – allows taking on more and bigger turf installation jobs without increasing the number of work hours per year
Requires fewer workers - half (or fewer) the number of workers are needed, compared to installing standard rolls or slabs
Reduces physical labor - changes turf installation from an all-manual task to a mostly mechanical process requiring significantly less physical ability (workers are more likely to show up the next day)
Results in better looking finished product - fewer seams, trimming or edges drying out, fewer cracks for weeks to grow through
Enhances landscape contractor/turf producer relationship - the necessary cooperative effort increases the mutual understanding and appreciation of each other’s needs
Allows almost immediate use of athletic and sports fields – thicker and wider cuts, and less seams provide established playing field in minimum time
Equipment & Training
Big roll turf installation can appear deceptively easy in manufacturers’ demo tapes or when watching an experienced crew in action. There is a steep learning curve in acquiring proficiency in big roll installation; however it can become just as easy as it looks if the installation crew has the proper training and equipment, and is willing to learn through experience. Landscape contractors should expect several on-site training sessions before tackling a big roll job alone. Depending on experience and the type of equipment, it’s not unusual for a three person team to lay 500 square yards (418m2 ) of big roll turf in two hours. Under ideal conditions, 2,000 square yards (1,672m2) in two hours has been documented.
Where do you begin? Generally, the best single source for big roll installation equipment and training is your local turf producers who have big roll capability. Because harvesting big rolls allows them to harvest more turf quicker, they sometimes provide their landscape contractor customers with initial training, at little or no charge. Another source is the big roll installation equipment dealer.
Measuring & Ordering
It’s a good idea to begin by sketching the planned installation site’s layout on a sheet of paper. In addition to approximate location and shape of buildings, driveways, trees and bushes, as well as any uneven terrain, you may want to diagram the direction in which the big rolls will be laid. The sketch will serve as an excellent reference for computing the number of big rolls needed and, later, in directing your installation teams.
For best results, follow the standard soil procedures for any other type of turf. Detailed instructions are available in the Turfgrass Producers International’s brochure “Turf Installation Guide”.
When ordering big rolls, it is important for the landscape contractor and producer to set a mutually agreed upon delivery time that both parties consider absolute. The date and time should allow for the contractor to assemble his crew and prep the soil for installation. For the producer, it should allow ample time to harvest the big rolls, load them and any necessary installation equipment onto the truck, and – ideally- arrive at the job site just as the ground prep is being completed.
When being unloaded, the big rolls need to be placed with consideration for the maximum number of long runs and as close as possible to where each new roll will begin, with the rolls’ flaps turned in the proper direction for quick pick-up by the turf laying installer.
The efficiency of a big roll installations’ crew depends upon the team leader’s problem-solving ability. Each job site presents new challenges such as slopes, non-turf areas, obstacles (trees, ponds, and patios), and laying patterns.
The usual big roll installation team is made up of three people: one person operates the installer, another follows closely behind with a rake to pull the laid portion of the roll into alignment, and the third person is trimming around trees, shrubs and other non-grass areas, or patching a roll’s occasional weak spot or hole.
During the initial learning process, it’s not unusual for the installation of big rolls to take as long as laying standard rolls covering the same area. Learning to deal quickly and efficiently with the inevitable variables is where experience will make a significant difference as the learning process evolves.
Suggestion: Maintain production records of each project-square yards (m2) of turf laid, number of hours and workers, degree of difficulty, etc. and translate this information into productivity per person, per hours, etc. for use in bidding future jobs. This information can also serve as the basis for creating a team incentive program to encourage increased productivity, eventually helping maximize the square yards (m2) that can be billed per season.
Newly laid big roll turf will need to be watered- about one inch (.24mm)-as soon as installation is complete.
Because of the speed at which big rolls can be laid, it is sometimes wise to begin watering the first acre (0.4 hectare) or two while continuing additional installation. Provisions should be made for it to be watered daily-depending on the weather-until it becomes firmly rooted (about two weeks), then begin less frequent and then deeper watering.
Initially, the big roll installation crew will become familiar with one or perhaps two types of big roll installers, depending on what the equipment dealer or producer has available. After gaining experience, the contractor may decide to invest in his own big roll installation equipment in order to take on bigger jobs more often.
Big roll installers come in a wide variety of designs, sizes, and price ranges. Among the options are: a three-point tractor attachment; hydraulic hook-up units; and riding units with features ranging from fully automatic capabilities, two-or four-wheel drive, to crawler tracks, harvester/installer combination and many different types of attachments. Prices range from $400 (U.S.) to upwards of $35,000 (U.S.).