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TScapes
11-04-2005, 07:29 AM
I have a question that goes along with this subject. When looking at offering this alternative type of program, what are the operational cost differences? Is it cheaper to use organic products, as I remember having several companies tell me in the past that you ultimately use less product and make less visits over a 12 month period, so your costs decline. Is this true? Instead of a 5-6 application program, do you offer less, but just charge the same?

I have all commercial properties, mostly malls and large retail centers so the idea of going organic appeals to me, but dealing with several acres at a time.... ultimately cost is my driving force.

Can someone give me some cost comparisons? I know products vary from location to location, but am simply looking for examples of savings (if any) from those who have made this change.

I mean, I know my labor and equipment costs, but the price of products is not something that I can control. Any suggestions for this type of transition?

TScapes
11-07-2005, 01:38 PM
So much for the responses.... 40 views and "0" responses. Either that means that you all don't know your costs or just simply don't wish to help. :dizzy:

Please, is there any one out there that would care to spare a couple of minutes to explain to me the variation in costs from converting to organic? I am not a threat to any of you.. I am simply looking for advice. If there is none to be found, then I will do it the old fashion way and research it myself. I just thought that a forum of industrymen that are in the same field and share a common intrest, that somehow, someone could find the opportunity to share information without going at it alone. That possibly one could learn from others' mistakes and find a tried and proven way.


Then again...... I could be wrong.

TurfProSTL
11-09-2005, 08:08 PM
TScapes, I currently run an organic-based program as an option (instead of our regular synthetic program). We charge about 25% more.....

Have been using products from these folks for several years. Maybe this program will help you answer your own questions

http://www.nutrientsplus.com/OrganicBudget.html

dishboy
11-10-2005, 02:00 AM
Fertilizer cost for my Organic program is around $2.00 per K per appl. This is much more exspensive than I can price synthetics. I still fert five times.

nocutting
11-12-2005, 11:23 PM
I have a question that goes along with this subject. When looking at offering this alternative type of program, what are the operational cost differences? Is it cheaper to use organic products, as I remember having several companies tell me in the past that you ultimately use less product and make less visits over a 12 month period, so your costs decline. Is this true? Instead of a 5-6 application program, do you offer less, but just charge the same?

I have all commercial properties, mostly malls and large retail centers so the idea of going organic appeals to me, but dealing with several acres at a time.... ultimately cost is my driving force.

Can someone give me some cost comparisons? I know products vary from location to location, but am simply looking for examples of savings (if any) from those who have made this change.

I mean, I know my labor and equipment costs, but the price of products is not something that I can control. Any suggestions for this type of transition?
Hello, for most beginers it definatly costs more [ or your profitability is less than when you were useing chemicals],,,,,,,,,,,once your in the 10 pallet and up purchase your in your own game.....my company operates at a 5-10% material cost per application.....I use to compete against larger chemical giants, now I specialize in higher end residential properties.......Sorry I hadnt seen your post earlier, [ was outa town doin consults with another company that is makein the change].......Regards Saxon:waving:

Global Organic
11-13-2005, 10:52 PM
Organic is what I do, and it is ok for smaller areas around 2000 to 5000 sq ft. But in large areas price will kill you. For very large areas synthetic is much cheaper. Its up to the customer cheaper= chemical or better= organic and$$$. I find Organic is best if 10 lbs of fert( say alfalfa 5-1-5) per 1000 sq ft every 4 to 5 weeks.

TScapes
11-15-2005, 04:39 PM
Hey..........
Thanks for the info. I was out of town for the last few days, so it was nice to see some of the replys. I think that I have to agree with Global on my question regarding costs. As I said, most of the ones I have are large centers (2-10 acres) so I can appreciate the cost factor. I would love to go organic, especially on a couple of them, but I would be throwing away money I believe. Not to mention that I am bidding a property that is a hospital that already has a tight budget. Although they have a 2 acre field that would be perfect for an organic program, since it is not irrigated and is currently a "crappy" excuse for turf. It is obvious that the contractor dumped his left over sub soil in this field along with some fill dirt to level it out. I think in the 3 years that this place was completed, nothing has been able to get established except a variety of grassy weeds. It looks more like a pasture rather than a manicured field. Anyways, if I priced it using organic products I am sure that I would price my self out of the entire contract. Therefore, I will stay synthetic. However, I might seriously look at some of my smaller properties that have less than 20k square feet.

Thanks again for the contributions!

nocutting
11-15-2005, 11:44 PM
Hello Tscapes,.....a Hospital, what better place than to qualify them on the use of organics?.......Organics are not just applyin fertilizers, there are princeples [ cultural practices], height and frequency of cut,mulch mowing, types of grass seed you sow[ insect repelling / drought tolerant / disease resistant]....if its an outa the way area is $1.00 per 1000sqft to high as a materal cost?.....Considering all the health risks........If they were intrested, I let them figure a cost 1st and then suprise them with how little it would be dome by a commercial applicator?./......just my 2 cents:waving:

green_mark
11-26-2005, 09:07 AM
I have created a number of organic (affordable) alternatives for schools, hospitals, etc. They have been very receptive and over the last 5 years serviced over 6,000 acres of these properties.

In addition, we use only "edible organics"
www.thegreenguardian.com

Eden's Gardener
11-27-2005, 09:31 PM
I agree with no cutting - what a better place to be organic than in a place where folks' immune systems may already be compromised. As for applying every 5-6 weeks - geez - that sounds excessive. I only apply fertilizer 3 times a year. Early, early spring, like when the weather first breaks to catch the new growth and suppress weed seeds that may be waking up, I use Corn Gluten Meal, first. Then, depending on budgets and honestly, soil health, I may come back in 6 weeks to apply a balanced fertilizer. By the same token though, if it is a fairly weed free turf, no CGM and I jump to the balanced fertilizer. (in Dallas, there must be a dozen to choose from. For large areas, you may look at one with a urea mix just to go further with it per #) My book is out in the truck, but I think it is Medina that makes a good one. Don't know if they distribute your way or not, but I think you get like 5000 sq. ft per bag. And yes, I charge extra for pre-emergent (CGM) applications. Some properties don't require it and others do, so it isn't automatically part of my program.

Next application would be in early summer - June down here. And the same rule applies, weedy area - Corn Gluten Meal followed by fertilizer. Otherwise, just fertilizer. And actually, you could actually skip the fertilizer if you use the CGM unless the soil is really poor.

In the fall, down here mid Sept., I apply CGM when the night temps start to drop and moisture returns. This is when those pesky weed seeds will start up so this usually gets it done. Then, I always will come back with a round of fertilizer and/or compost in 6 weeks. Usually when I come back to over-seed. Unless they have a short in their budget - then they get whichever is needed most. (I have a few cheap clients, can you tell? payup )

Sell organics to the hospital - I sure would try for the principal of it if nothing else. Less to no insecticides - and they would be all natural if you did need anything, low odor and the odor is not chemical so it won't be dangerous to breathe in. I say go for it. Everyone thinks organics costs more - it really doesn't have to. I'm learning to charge a little extra for the wisdom, :D but no more for the service really. Goes through the spreader the same. And check on the nitro mix. It isn't the same as in chems. A 40 lb bag of non-urea mixed fertilizer should go about 2000 sq. ft. Good luck! And thanks for going organic! I think it is better for everyone applying it, too.

nocutting
11-27-2005, 09:50 PM
I agree with no cutting - what a better place to be organic than in a place where folks' immune systems may already be compromised. As for applying every 5-6 weeks - geez - that sounds excessive. I only apply fertilizer 3 times a year. Early, early spring, like when the weather first breaks to catch the new growth and suppress weed seeds that may be waking up, I use Corn Gluten Meal, first. Then, depending on budgets and honestly, soil health, I may come back in 6 weeks to apply a balanced fertilizer. By the same token though, if it is a fairly weed free turf, no CGM and I jump to the balanced fertilizer. (in Dallas, there must be a dozen to choose from. For large areas, you may look at one with a urea mix just to go further with it per #) My book is out in the truck, but I think it is Medina that makes a good one. Don't know if they distribute your way or not, but I think you get like 5000 sq. ft per bag. And yes, I charge extra for pre-emergent (CGM) applications. Some properties don't require it and others do, so it isn't automatically part of my program.

Next application would be in early summer - June down here. And the same rule applies, weedy area - Corn Gluten Meal followed by fertilizer. Otherwise, just fertilizer. And actually, you could actually skip the fertilizer if you use the CGM unless the soil is really poor.

In the fall, down here mid Sept., I apply CGM when the night temps start to drop and moisture returns. This is when those pesky weed seeds will start up so this usually gets it done. Then, I always will come back with a round of fertilizer and/or compost in 6 weeks. Usually when I come back to over-seed. Unless they have a short in their budget - then they get whichever is needed most. (I have a few cheap clients, can you tell? payup )

Sell organics to the hospital - I sure would try for the principal of it if nothing else. Less to no insecticides - and they would be all natural if you did need anything, low odor and the odor is not chemical so it won't be dangerous to breathe in. I say go for it. Everyone thinks organics costs more - it really doesn't have to. I'm learning to charge a little extra for the wisdom, :D but no more for the service really. Goes through the spreader the same. And check on the nitro mix. It isn't the same as in chems. A 40 lb bag of non-urea mixed fertilizer should go about 2000 sq. ft. Good luck! And thanks for going organic! I think it is better for everyone applying it, too.
Sure every 5 or six weeks sounds excessive from an organic guys education.....but if he wants to survive in todays market , he needs his program to compete with the majority?......Whos that?.....We all know who they are.......and whats avalible for them to use.........Dont they have fertilizers that last 3-4 months?...Yes, but why do they choose not to use them....its economics, If you can suvive on only 3 treatments a Season, "God Bless You".....but most of us need every visit we have to keep a cash flow.....if you have a secret please share it with some of us ole dogs so we dont need to keep breakin our arse's...............:blush:

Eden's Gardener
11-27-2005, 10:05 PM
Dont they have fertilizers that last 3-4 months?...Yes, but why do they choose not to use them....its economics, If you can suvive on only 3 treatments a Season, "God Bless You".....but most of us need every visit we have to keep a cash flow.....if you have a secret please share it with some of us ole dogs so we dont need to keep breakin our arse's...............:blush:


I guess the answer would be to have more clients, fertilize fewer times per client and you should come out the same - with more clients, the potential for more extras exists too. No, not a mouse, just can't see wasting my time or the customer's money, or the product. And, you can charge a little more per trip for the wisdom, and the fact that you're saving them from a monthly or every 6 week trip. I don't know, ya'll are the veterans, but that is my train of thought. Mouse, very funny. :laugh: I did LOL at that one.

cenlo
01-15-2006, 06:41 PM
I guess the answer would be to have more clients, fertilize fewer times per client and you should come out the same - with more clients, the potential for more extras exists too. No, not a mouse, just can't see wasting my time or the customer's money, or the product. And, you can charge a little more per trip for the wisdom, and the fact that you're saving them from a monthly or every 6 week trip. I don't know, ya'll are the veterans, but that is my train of thought. Mouse, very funny. :laugh: I did LOL at that one.

What I don't understand is everyone keeps talking about price comparisons between synthetic and organic ferts.....who cares! The "cost" problem will be your labour costs involved in the chemical free weed and insect control!

nocutting
01-15-2006, 11:09 PM
What I don't understand is everyone keeps talking about price comparisons between synthetic and organic ferts.....who cares! The "cost" problem will be your labour costs involved in the chemical free weed and insect control!
Whats the fastest, easiest way to reduce weeds and insect threats?........Seeding........does it cost more for an Organic Guy to Seed?, I dont think so, we can use all the same equipment [ not restricted to usein horse drawn equipment in my area?].......By selecting the proper seed, you reduce the amount of space weeds have to grow..........By chooseing, endophytic seed, you are reduceing insects, ..........by selecting improved varities you are reducein disease and increasing drought tolerance............:blob1:

TurfProSTL
01-15-2006, 11:40 PM
Whats the fastest, easiest way to reduce weeds and insect threats?........Seeding........
:nono:
Even a tree hugger would have to admit that chemicals are quicker and easier to control these pests, if he were being honest.

The long term approach IS of course a thick, healthy stand of grass.....

cenlo
01-16-2006, 11:20 AM
Whats the fastest, easiest way to reduce weeds and insect threats?........Seeding........does it cost more for an Organic Guy to Seed?, I dont think so, we can use all the same equipment [ not restricted to usein horse drawn equipment in my area?].......By selecting the proper seed, you reduce the amount of space weeds have to grow..........By chooseing, endophytic seed, you are reduceing insects, ..........by selecting improved varities you are reducein disease and increasing drought tolerance............:blob1:

How do you expect to get rid of your existing weeds?
Do you think the homeowner will water your seeds properly?
How long will it take to achieve enough endophytic rye grass in order to repell the insects and the turf disease?

I agree with endophytic seeding being the "answere" but I would bet that no more than 10% of your property owners will be willing to water properly in order to achieve proper germination. That leaves 90% of your clients pissed off! And don't forget when you overseed (which should be done 2-3 times per year) you can't use corn gluten to kill off the new weed seeds which will keep blowing into your properties because the corn will kill your grass seeds too! What I am trying to say is get the clients, teach them sound cultural practices, reduce chemical usage, add organics, and within a few years with some good "client education" you should be able to "almost" completly eliminate all chemicals.

DUSTYCEDAR
01-16-2006, 11:44 AM
cenlo
what is the organic fert u like best?
how much r u using per 1000 per season?

cenlo
01-16-2006, 02:11 PM
cenlo
what is the organic fert u like best?
how much r u using per 1000 per season?

I use 18-3-6, 85% slow release with iron. We also use 8-2-4 corn gluten. Rates are around 5#'s per 1000.

DUSTYCEDAR
01-16-2006, 02:51 PM
18-3-6 who makes it? thanks

nocutting
01-17-2006, 02:01 AM
How do you expect to get rid of your existing weeds?
Do you think the homeowner will water your seeds properly?
How long will it take to achieve enough endophytic rye grass in order to repell the insects and the turf disease?

I agree with endophytic seeding being the "answere" but I would bet that no more than 10% of your property owners will be willing to water properly in order to achieve proper germination. That leaves 90% of your clients pissed off! And don't forget when you overseed (which should be done 2-3 times per year) you can't use corn gluten to kill off the new weed seeds which will keep blowing into your properties because the corn will kill your grass seeds too! What I am trying to say is get the clients, teach them sound cultural practices, reduce chemical usage, add organics, and within a few years with some good "client education" you should be able to "almost" completly eliminate all chemicals.
"Over-seeding is a waste of My Time and My clients Money".........Slit seeding has a 98% seed to soil contact [ better than any kind of aeration to Boot!!!]..........Non-irragated properties, .........endophyte enhanced rye is only used in the late spring [ can be used inbetween corn gluten apps if nessasary for spot seeding as well]......Fall would be the time, actually late sept. in my area to use a 3-type dwarf type tall fescue [ also endophyte enhanced], if you dont get enough top growth then, you'll get a "Great Respoce in the spring", useing rainfall.:waving:

cenlo
01-17-2006, 07:46 AM
"Over-seeding is a waste of My Time and My clients Money".........Slit seeding has a 98% seed to soil contact [ better than any kind of aeration to Boot!!!]..........Non-irragated properties, .........:

What in world are you trying to say?:dizzy:

cenlo
01-17-2006, 07:52 AM
"Slit seeding has a 98% seed to soil contact [ better than any kind of aeration to Boot

Slit seeding and aerating are two totally different things. And I'm sure even in New York your spring ground temps won't start germinating seeds intil mid May. That means any of your fall seeds not germinated won't be 1/4" high until mid June. How will that prevent weed seeds from contacting the same soil surface? You can't use corn gluten, so whats left?

The Ranger
01-17-2006, 09:38 AM
Tscapes, It is about knowing your N costs. Read post named the same on board. Since we apply about 1 lb of actual N per M sqft.this is your cost per M sqft. You should be able to apply the organic at a lower rate, but how low is the question. If you reduce it in half your cost per M are half. M is roman numeral for 1000 if you did not know.

NattyLawn
01-17-2006, 10:01 AM
:nono:
Even a tree hugger would have to admit that chemicals are quicker and easier to control these pests, if he were being honest.

The long term approach IS of course a thick, healthy stand of grass.....

I don't think anyone that comes to this forum regularly is disputing the fact that chemicals are quicker. Easier, I don't know, but it requires a little more knowledge and problem solving skills to be an organic applicator.
If using IPM and organics makes me a tree hugger, so be it...The hardcore chemical guys see no middle and only extremes...You're either a tree hugger or gung-ho chemical.

NattyLawn
01-17-2006, 10:20 AM
Slit seeding and aerating are two totally different things. And I'm sure even in New York your spring ground temps won't start germinating seeds intil mid May. That means any of your fall seeds not germinated won't be 1/4" high until mid June. How will that prevent weed seeds from contacting the same soil surface? You can't use corn gluten, so whats left?

We slice seeded with Trophy endophyte enhanced tall fescue and had great germination rates when applied before Oct 1st. We'll wait as long as possible to apply pre-emergent, but come early May at the latest, it will be down.

Cenlo, What rate are you putting CGM down at? From your previous post, it sounds like your putting it down at 5lbs..

DUSTYCEDAR
01-17-2006, 12:42 PM
i do some slice seeding but dam its messey and time consumming
i have to charge a premium to do it and most wont pay
what size lawns r u guys doing most in my area r 10k and over up to 30k

NattyLawn
01-17-2006, 01:28 PM
The biggest one I did last year was 23k...You do charge a premium and sell the higher germination rates, and do offer some sort of guarantee.
To cut down on the messiness, have the customer or their mowing company scalp the lawn prior to slice seeding. You cruise through it then. Or you could add a prep charge if you do it yourself.

cenlo
01-17-2006, 06:24 PM
Cenlo, What rate are you putting CGM down at? From your previous post, it sounds like your putting it down at 5lbs..

No, the corn is applied at around 15-20#'s/1000 spring and fall. The organic fert is at 5#'s/1000.

TurfProSTL
01-17-2006, 06:55 PM
I don't think anyone that comes to this forum regularly is disputing the fact that chemicals are quicker. Easier, I don't know, but it requires a little more knowledge and problem solving skills to be an organic applicator.
If using IPM and organics makes me a tree hugger, so be it...The hardcore chemical guys see no middle and only extremes...You're either a tree hugger or gung-ho chemical.:rolleyes: No. I am well acquainted with the benefits of using organics. And have much experience with the chemicals. I have no problem with the guys trying to go strictly organic, except when they try to BS others on the ease and speed necessary to do it 'all' organically.

I would say that doing a good job organically OR with the help of chemicals takes knowledge and problem solving tools. If you are using IPM, especially on your newest properties, I wouldn't call you a tree hugger - I would say you are on the right track.

Anyone in the business who refuses to recognize the benefits of using organic based fertility has no agronomic sense. Anyone in the business who thinks the majority of homeowners have the patience to wait on a totally organic program has no business sense.

I would urge all to keep an open mind to successfully run their lawn care businesses.....

cenlo
01-17-2006, 07:40 PM
:rolleyes: No. I am well acquainted with the benefits of using organics. And have much experience with the chemicals. I have no problem with the guys trying to go strictly organic, except when they try to BS others on the ease and speed necessary to do it 'all' organically.

I would say that doing a good job organically OR with the help of chemicals takes knowledge and problem solving tools. If you are using IPM, especially on your newest properties, I wouldn't call you a tree hugger - I would say you are on the right track.

Anyone in the business who refuses to recognize the benefits of using organic based fertility has no agronomic sense. Anyone in the business who thinks the majority of homeowners have the patience to wait on a totally organic program has no business sense.

I would urge all to keep an open mind to successfully run their lawn care businesses.....


Well said!:)

NattyLawn
01-18-2006, 12:55 AM
Well said!:)

I agree...Good response. How many people from the other forum do you think will read it?

Puttinggreens
01-22-2006, 08:20 PM
I'm from the "other" forum and I read it and agree and understand the statement.

We are not all uneducated, just making business decisions.:waving:

lawncuttinfoo
07-30-2007, 09:47 AM
I did a little math on a 1K sq ft turf:

Lesco fert: $1 of fert will cover 1K, add $1(this would be aprox 1/3 gal of Q4) maximum per application for weed spot spraying. Done on a 5 step program comes to a total of $10 for the season.

CGM properly labeled as a pesticide patented from Iowa St., "Renaissance" in this example, costs $30 per 25 lb bag which covers 1250 sq ft. multiply the $30 times .8 to get $24 to cover 1K of turf. From what I hear CGM should be put down at 40 lb per year, so double this. $48 for the season.

Keep in mind that the synthetic apps require 5 stops per year while the CGM can be done in 2 or 1 if you want to put it all down at once.
But the product cost of CGM for me is 480 percent that of Synthetic.

Example 5K sq ft yard for 1 year product cost for me: Synthetic $50, CGM $240.

I was very surprised at this difference.

Kiril
07-30-2007, 03:11 PM
No offense to anyone here, but I think you all are missing the boat.

The issue isn't necessarily should I use this organic product or not.

The issue and end goal is to create a low/no input sustainable system.

If done correctly, over time your input costs will most certainly decrease. That being said, if your simply replacing your conventional inputs with organics than you only got one foot on the boat.

Also no one has mentioned a mixed system approach. On the way to creating a sustainable system (eg. moving from conventional to alternative) there is nothing stopping you from mixing the two approaches.

Fertilize with organics and conventional until the system can support itself with a few organic inputs/year. Feed the soil to feed the plants.

Deal with pests using IPM and use conventional/organic low impact pesticides only when absolutely needed. Encourage natural populations of beneficials by providing habitats for them.

Promote landscapes that utilize plants (natives or other suitable plants for the site) that require little or no supplemental water or nutrient inputs.

Promote reduction or elimination of lawns!!!

Should cost be a factor, absolutely not. If it costs more, pass the cost off to the client. If your charging more just because your "organic", but your operational costs are the same, than shame on you. :nono:

Promote building sustainable, healthy environments that will pay for themselves in the long run. Show everyone, including yourself, that you are truly a member of the green industry, not just someone out to make a quick buck.

mrkosar
07-30-2007, 05:39 PM
Anyone in the business who refuses to recognize the benefits of using organic based fertility has no agronomic sense. Anyone in the business who thinks the majority of homeowners have the patience to wait on a totally organic program has no business sense.

I would urge all to keep an open mind to successfully run their lawn care businesses.....

This is the best quote on all four of these pages of discussion. Organics obviously works, but they are more complicated, time consuming, and patience and education are a must. We have an organic based and pure organic program. You can feed customers lawns with synthetic or organic nutrients, but if they are not willing to listen or pay for some extra services like aeration and overseeding then their lawns will never look as good as they could. We, as a lawn care company can only do so much unless you are full service (even then there are uncontrollable factors). Our company does not mow or install irrigation so the cultural practices are up to the customer...that is scary and drives me nuts. You can pound them with education, but many just don't listen or are too lazy to mow and water properly. Pure organics is tough, especially when the customer will not mow and water properly. Until there is a selective organic weed control that comes out...i honestly believe you need spot treatments of weed control for that "golf course" looking lawn that most premium customers want. The rest of the customers just want a green weed free lawn that looks good in the short run. We live in a fast food nation, and sometimes it is hard to find those customers willing to put in the extra money and patience to obtain a thick green organic lawn...they are out there though, but not as many as I would like.

MaineFert
07-30-2007, 11:40 PM
Very true, we run into the same issue with customers, especially mowing themselves. They refuse to raise mowing height in the heat of summer, and blame us for a burned lawn, or a infestation of bentgrass. We definitely promote organics first, but I do agree that there is a need for chemical use, especially for those customers looking for a fairway lawn. Fortunatley, many of our existing customers have warmed up to our organic, meaning, using non conventional ferts and focusing on organic matter, approach. Others, don't even realize that we switched products.