Grow Your Own

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Green Gopher, Nov 6, 2003.

  1. Green Gopher

    Green Gopher LawnSite Member
    Posts: 106

    Just a question? Do any of you grow your own ground cover or common perennials, rather than paying wholesale? I have often thought that there could be some savings, but I haven't worked out any cost analysis. I have the property for a few green houses. Any thoughts on this would be great.

    thanks.
     
  2. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Posts: 4,205

    We've started cultivating different types off ornamental grasses.
    They seem to be pretty popular and some are pricy at retail.
     
  3. KenH

    KenH LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Posts: 1,622

    Just keep track of your expenses. I can buy most perennials for 4$/quart. By the time I buy my pots, fert, and irrigation, Im sure it would cost me more than that. Dont get me wrong though, I have thought about it.
     
  4. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,749

    Time spent watering, potting is time that could have been billed to a customer. If you have that time it might cover it.

    Landscapers have limitless options of services they can offer. What most don't have is a full time commitment to any of them. Full time commitment means more efficient use of a narrower spectrum of equipment, training, and overhead. The more diverse a smaller company gets, the more inefficient they run. Idle time of equipment equals down time.

    If you grow 100 plants at a cost of $3 each instead of buying them for $6 you spent time to manage something that saved you $300. Change it to $15 to raise what you could buy for $30 and you save $1,500. It ain't much for all the hassle. Lose 10 plants and it is only $1,200. Lose half of them and it was a complete wash as far as money goes and a lot of effort put out for zero.

    At the same time many of you will have $20,000 dollars worth of mowing equipment sitting idle 5 days a week instead of 2, more than doubling the billable hourly cost of owning it. That would be a much bigger savings.

    How many trucking companies have only three drivers, yet have three dump trucks, three trailer trucks, three water trucks, three tow trucks, and three refrigerated box trucks? None. But we, landscapers, in general ( I did it, too), seem to think that we have to have a hydroseeder, tree chippers, rototillers, bobcats, mowers, aerators, thatchers, mowers, sprayers, chainsaws, brick saws, carpentry tools, ... while we have three workers billing out 150 hours a week no matter which equipment rolls or stands still.

    Why are we like that?
     
  5. Green Gopher

    Green Gopher LawnSite Member
    Posts: 106

    Great advise AGLA! Thank you for the help.
     
  6. Island Lawn

    Island Lawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 632

    "Landscapers have limitless options of services they can offer. What most don't have is a full time commitment to any of them. Full time commitment means more efficient use of a narrower spectrum of equipment, training, and overhead. The more diverse a smaller company gets, the more inefficient they run. Idle time of equipment equals down time."


    Dass good stuff!
     
  7. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Posts: 4,205

    We rent quite a bit for just those reasons, AGLA.Why pay for and store equipment that is not used to its potential?

    As for watering and potting etc. The grasses that we are growing and going to grow are in a bed waiting to be divided when needed. Little maintenance. They don't get potted until ready for use. (that day or within a day or two).
     
  8. blafleur

    blafleur LawnSite Member
    Posts: 229

    Some things, like the grasses dvm... mentions are easy to grow and divide when planted in the ground as he says. But do they look good when you divide them for a customer though?

    But most things are more trouble than its worth. I have experimented with is some. Growing healthy good looking plants in pots is harder than you think, much harder than growing the same plant in the ground. If you look at several nurseries, you'll notice even they dont grow much of their own plants, and of those that do, only a few do it well.

    It is easy to look at what we pay for plants and think we can make that ourselves buy growing our own. But I guarantee the people dont make as much as you make planting it, and it sounds like more headache. I think its a whole lot easier to let them grow it, I'll pick the ones that look good, and plant them.
     
  9. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Posts: 4,205

    Blafleur,
    I agree, most things are left to people that run green houses full time. They are equipped for it. As for the quality of divided grasses,they look good when planted in a bed as part of a larger scheme, just takes a little trimming sometimes but not much.

    Just an after thought....We don't divide large grasses for immediate planting.
     
  10. Green in Idaho

    Green in Idaho LawnSite Senior Member
    from Idaho
    Posts: 833

    I agree with what AGLA wrote. It's much the same as I've been writing on the maintenance side for people hauling 5 lawn mowers for a oine-man operation.


    However, IF someone was convinced they wanted their own greenhouse, I would have to say it would ONLY be beneficial if they grew unique and not already available stock. If your interest is growing lilacs and creeping tyme and other "commons" as you wrote I do not see how any small operator can compete (on accurate costs including opportunity costs) with wholesale prices.

    If a plan could include utilizing related resources other than the landscape people that might be feasible too though (like a spouse, or a son interested in started a greenhouse and not interest in diggin holes).

    But again it would still require growing something that is not available and may be in demand ---then you MAY have a legit reason. Same thing as personal vegetable gardens. Why spend your time, resources and effort growing early girl tomotoes? Instead grow an Italian variety that is not possible to get locally.

    Also if I had extra space, I would consider something low maintenance (wildflower sod) or something I already have the tools for--like special sod or using it store qty purchases. Instead of trying to grow em, buy more at one time from your supplier to get a discount and store em on your property. OR even better, use it store stuff that doesn't die ---like mulch, boulders, dirt and rocks. Buy THOSE in greater volume to get the bigger discount and use your land to save you money. Then you won't be running to those supplier 10 times a month- more savings in the form of time.
     

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