I want to go organic on Apartment complex help?

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by packey, Nov 10, 2007.

  1. packey

    packey LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 556

    Hey I am very seriously considering going organic as much as is possible on an apartment complex that I will be serviceing. Here is the situation. This is a 180000 sq ft of grass surrounding multiple buildings and backing two ponds as well as a major regional river. I know I hav soil compaction issues as well as a very blanched soil from years of Hi nitrogen ferts. I also know in areas I have a serious dandelion problem to deal with. The good is that the thatch of the grass is minimal. I was considering useing a commercial organic product called biosol. along with doing some serious plug areating. Does anyone have any advice. Please any help will be greatly apreciated. Oh yeah this property belongs to a mojor resort chain and is being completely revamped. so there is a lot riding on me rejuvenating the property without ripping out and replacing. I have done it before but never going the organic route. I also carry my herbiced/pesticide lic in colorado where I am working.
     
  2. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,298

    Take a bunch of soil samples from random locations and have them tested. Then come back here and report what the tests showed.
     
  3. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    It sounds like you have a good starting point in that the lawn is currently acceptable . Rebuilding the soil is the step that makes organics work and that takes time.
    Plugging is a great first step. It gives you an opportunity to add organic material deeper in the soil profile.
    Are you going to spot spray the dandelions or pull them out by hand?

    Is the rest of the lawn thick enough that pre-m is not necessary?
    This coming year I plan on plugging the lawns just after Memorial Day and overseeding then. Last year the seed didn't germinate until Memorial weekend and it came well ahead of any threat of crabgrass.

    What is your activity level within 20 feet of the river? Here they are trying to outlaw any activity within 3 feet of the shore for lakes. No more mowing along the retaining wall.
     
  4. packey

    packey LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 556

    Ok soil samples have been taken and I will know soon on those. I have two ponds that i will keep all the way to waters edge. IWe have a 25 foot buffer of native grass and plants between us and the river. As far as the dandelions go I am not sure how I have decided to go about treating them. Normaly iwould would use a pre emrgent then if needed I would spot spray. Crab grass is not a real problem here but we have other interesting weeds that wil sneak in . I have another question as well ths property has sevral native grass stands that were originaly placed in areas by the the original landscape company many years ago. Unfortunately these stands look horrible do to the fact they have been unkept. What would you do in these areas? Because I am tempted to completly rip them out and rework these areas. Also is it normal for native grasses to be allowed to grow up to structures and not do any pruning. Isn't this a fire hazard?
     
  5. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,298

    Don't rip out natives. If anything, extend the areas with native plants, don't reduce them. If you need to "clean" it up, identify the plants to see if they will endure a hard prune/cut to the ground. If you cut the grasses to the ground, I would leave the stuff where it falls if possible.

    Take some pics so we can see what your dealing with.
     
  6. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    I would talk to the people that make decisions about the landscape. It could very well be that the native plants are a symbol of a personal idealology and they have actually come to see those fire hazards as beautiful :)
    Big project , big company, I would not move on something like that without an ok from an authority.
     
  7. packey

    packey LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 556

    No I will not do anything without approval. I guess what I was saying about the native grasses is that they are unkempt and dying out for some reason. What I was proposing was to acturally remove and rebuild areas with native vegitation. as a rule it is a last resort that I ever completely remove plantings like this. But these just have some major issuse. I guess I am a little different than most I deffinatly believe in natvie plantings but I also believe they should be kept or looked after. It is a proven fact that when you plant even native materials and do not take care of them they become overgrown and more prone to disease. And this is what has happeded here. Poor upkeep and improper tending have caused these areas to become eyesores. Thanks for the help
     
  8. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,800

    My opinion is don't go organic at this time, major resort chains do not have patients, they have a constant influx of new people all the time and they are result oriented. Most resort chains will not tolerate the time organics take and just because their is water near by is not necessarily a reason to be organic. Turn the area into class A first then slowly introduce organics in a measured way where their will be little impact, especially when your experience is admittedly limited at this time. Beware of the learning curve.
     
  9. packey

    packey LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 556

    eshskis You would be right my experience is limited in organics. This is why I am only considering going this direction. I have spoken with the resort company earlier this week and they have expressed alot of exictement about going organic but you are right again they have also expressed that they would like to see drastic results. At this point I do not feel that will be hard but then again I have never worked for them before and I am a little nervous about this project. My experience is on playing fields such as foot ball, soccer and basefall fields. Well honestly that is where I accell. I am maticulous about my playing fields. This is where I was also introduced to organic ferts. But then again my background on turf management and renovation is what got me this contract. I have said all this to say this is why I am asking for help? My organics background is limited but I also feel it is the way to go. If I was to start chemical with what I know will work and slowly change over to organics how would you suggest I do this.
    To everyone who has replied thanks for you info.
     
  10. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,800

    Do a through assessment of needs, Then develop a plan using your current knowledge/strengths and resources to bring the landscape up to their expectations/standards as fast as possible. When everything is balanced and growing as it should be, then break the property up into zones. introduce organics one zone at a time. When it is clear the one zone is responding positively introduce another zone. try not to be over confident and do huge areas at a time if something goes south on you you will have just a minor area to deal with and not a massive area. Keep notes and monitor carefully. On the side, start reading and studying as much as you can about the (Latest research) in organic care as possible. Go to reliable sources for all your information like University websites, the USDA, and privately published papers. on the side contact organic growers to see what direction they are going in. Make a list of all plantings at the resort and find out their origin and see what those growers are recommending don't just rely on care tags. Even if your goal is 100% organic that may not be possible while maintaining a extreme high standard of quality. Don't forget what got you the contract in the first place Your background on turf management and renovation. use that strength now to bring the grounds up to their expectations and go organic in a measured controlled way one area at a time-- over time. If you think I can help you more feel free to contact me.
     

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