cost comparison Organic Vs. Traditional

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Newby08, Feb 7, 2008.

  1. Gerry Miller

    Gerry Miller LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 504

    Burmuda is a N hog. It needs to be fed every 4 weeks with say soybean meal or cgm to thrive.

    It also needs to be mowed short and that will prevent weeds from appearing.
  2. Elden

    Elden LawnSite Member
    Posts: 137

    Newby, If you are not applying anything you have to communicate to the customer that you are a professional and your time is worth money. If you are on their property inspecting, taking samples, etc... you should get paid. They don't get to see the doctor for free. It's sad to say but you probly care more about making their lawn look good than their doctor cares about their health. I had a simple form made up that states what I did while I was at the customers home. Simple check boxes w/ common problems attached to the work order/invoice.

    dtally, what kind of pest are you having problems controlling?
  3. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308


    Is there room for making recommendations on your checklist?

    Would you post your list so maybe we all could come up with something similar that could be universally applicable to residential/commercial landscaping?
  4. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    The suggestions given are good ones. Adding the meals etc. as fertilizer is not doing nothing. Skipping a synthetic application to put down compost is also doing something. How much you charge for compost vs. syn.fert. is up tp you. I personally keep it the same so they don't get the idea that I do compost for a higher profit.

    Dropping back from 6 to 4 apps. may seem to be losing money, but if you are highly regarded as a pioneer in organic/natural/*cidefree/ lawncare business you make it up in volume. The neighbors' 4 apps totals 8, 12,16 ... apps. Some jobs are known as investment in your future.

    Have a healthier more environmentally friendly lawn for even less money than the chemical companies can provide?
    Don't find your business stepping over dollars to pick up nickels.

    For those clients not interestted, you continue upping the pay scale as always.
  5. Newby08

    Newby08 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 277

    what does the cost comparison look like for customers for organic as opposed to synthetic? I've read that there is a large initial start up cost but then goes down from their. How "large" is that exactly? Do your customers ever baulk at that initial cost and how technical do you get with the customers about whats going on with the soil and all?

    I take it organics are taken pretty good with someone who has never used them before or is it something you have to convince them of?
  6. Newby08

    Newby08 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 277

    what do you use to put down your compost? Do you use a spreader or do you just shovel it?
  7. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    The intitial start up cost is the spreading of the compost in the spring instead of a
    You can complicate it as much as you would like, but that step requires no special tests. Unless you get a lot of jobs and lots of compost to justify a machine to spread compost for you. Just do it yourself like you would grass seed from a bag you carry or slung around your neck, (I find the shovel is not a good spreader) then mow to more evenly distribute it.

    I am working on redesigning a fertilizer spreader to handle compost. Just a small one bag hopper thing.

    Keep in mind that your client will be only as comfortable as you are. Tell them up front it is ususally a better idea to do a gradual change over - so there is alway the syns. to fall back on - but you should already see by the following season that you need very little NPK if any at all.

    A question you want to keep in mind is "What do I do - if I need to kill insects and/or grubs in the lawn?"

    Fungicides and pesticides will definately set back an organic program pretty quick.
    There is where the CTs could be helpful afterwards if I am understanding it all correctly.

    You do not need to be a 'purist' right off the bat. Get to 1st base then see if you can get home later.
  8. Newby08

    Newby08 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 277

    hey small, do you use manufactured organic fertilizers or do you pick up your stuff from a local feed store?
  9. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    I have only been free to start experimenting with organics about 4 yrs ago in other peoples' lawns for the same reason you have now. Uncertainty.!.!
    I have done many things in the landscapes that involve organic practices that I apply to my own garden, that have been very successful. Lawns are touchy in that if I fall below the green standard I could lose the business to the big Chemlawn type companies.

    To answer your question I have picked up supplies on the internet that I thought was worth a try and of course the old Wisconsin stand by, Milorganite. I like the idea of Milorganite in that the iron content is high. Compost I get locally and when applied I see a definate difference particularily when overseeding.

    I have not used the meals from the feed stores but I would suggest putting them down because of all the talk and the fact that they are organic feeds, which will breakdown and release their value eventually. So there is nothing to lose, even if you need to do an NPK app. to keep it green in the meanwhile.

    I intend to use them this year one a couple of properties. No NPK at all, because I think it is ready. If I see failure looming by the end of summer I can always NPK for the winterizer and rethink my strategies for the spring. However, I expect complete success with happy clients at a lower cost to them than the chemical company bills.

    In fact the clients that I am experimenting with don't even know I am employing organic practices. Niether do they know that I intend to eliminate synthetics all together this year. All they know is the improvements in the lawn and how it doesn't cost them an arm and a leg to have one of the nicest lawns ever. I am also to the point of weeding by hand and the extra 10 minutes is a part of the mowing cost. Many times that 10 minutes is not even needed but the cost is fixed :)
  10. Newby08

    Newby08 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 277

    so you are transitioning out of synthetics to organics. Why use synthetics at all? From what I can tell there is organic fertilizers out there that will do the job. The only reason I can find so far to use any synthetics might be for insects if needed. But then if your soil is right you shouldn't have many insect or weed problems for that matter. The other thing I still am trying to figure out is if you do get weeds then what can you do organically to get rid of the weeds? maybe that too is a place for synthetics until the lawn is healthy enough to eradicate weed growth on its own. I think from what I have learned so far that I will be able to do a majority of organic lawn care with just a few apps of synthetics for certain situations kind of like what you are getting at now. I also seem to think, like you were saying, that if the organics aren't moving fast enough to throw a little NPK on the lawn to keep the customers happy if things aren't moving at their speed.

    Let me know what you think, I know I just repeated some of what you just got done saying but thats kind of me just stating what I've found and figuring where I still have questions.

    I think it can be done, this is awesome,

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