I want to go organic on Apartment complex help?

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

  1. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308

    I agree with the small steps if you have no experience. Selling native plantings and organic programs is not hard when you show the client the potential money savings. My primary goal is always little or no inputs. While this is usually impossible with turf, you can achieve this to some degree in non-turf areas. Your best teacher when going with natives is nature itself. Look at the natural areas around your region to see what works, and get information from other reliable sources in the area.

    Here are some links to help you get started.

    Sustainable Landscapes & Habitats


    Environmental Protection Agency:

    GreenScapes Program

    NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service):

    Improving Urban Landscapes

    University of Minnesota:

    Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series (SULIS)

    Oregon State University Extension Service:

    Plant Selection for Sustainable Landscapes

    Seattle Public Utilities:

    Ecologically Sound Lawn Care for the Pacific Northwest

    Building Green:

    Natural Landscaping: Native Plants and Planting Strategies for Green Development

    National Wildlife Federation:

    Create a Certified Wildlife Habitat

    University of Maine:

    Principles for Creating a Backyard Wildlife Habitat

    State of Illinois:

    Creating Habitats and Homes For Illinois Wildlife


    Misc Related Information


    NC State University:

    Sustainable Practices for Vegetable Production in the South

    University of California:

    Soil Fertility Management for Organic Crops

    Soil Management and Soil Quality for Organic Crops

    Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California

    Environmental Protection Agency:

    EPA: Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Principles

    University of Vermont SERA-17:

    Referenced Publications From SERA-17

    Colorado State University:

    Xeriscaping: Creative Landscaping

    Organic Materials as Nitrogen Fertilizers

    Texas A&M University:

    Landscape Water Conservation...Xeriscape

    Duke University:

    Long-Term Soil-Ecosystem Studies (LTSEs)

    State of California:

    Coyote Creek Watershed Management Plan. Green Infrastructure Site Design Guidelines

    ATTRA:

    Sources of Organic Fertilizers and Amendments

    USDA-NAL:

    Soil And Water Management

    Organic Gardening: A Guide to Resources

    USDA-SARE:

    Building Soils for Better Crops, 2nd Edition


    Holistic Agriculture Library:

    Factors Of Soil Formation. A System of Quantitative Pedology
     
  2. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    Packey,
    Going organic is really very simple, it is about getting organic matter back in the soil and supporting and increasing the beneficial microrganisms.
    The best way to increase organic matter is to use LOCAL compost, you want to find a source of good FINISHED compost. By finished I mean nice and old and aerobically composted.
    You can increase the biological activity by spraying compost teas. In MA and CT this is the only way that you can take care of K-12 school grounds, it works great.
    I was thinking about how much property you have to cover, thats a lot of compost. We used a very successful method of screening the compost to 1/8 inch minus and adding a yard of the screened compost to a 300 gallon hydro-seeder, adding compost tea and spraying as a slurry onto the areas. It goes fast and works well.
    Here is the starter program I suggest to almost everyone who asks
    1. core aerate
    2. seed
    3. spray compost tea
    4. cover with 1/8 to 1/4 inch of finished compost
    5. repeat steps 1 - 4 every fall for 3 years
    6. spray compost teas as the soil warms in the spring until first frost, to begin spray once every 2 weeks for 2 months and then once per month after that.
    7. soil tests and soil bioassay's are mandatory in the spring or when issues come up that are not easy to diagnose.

    A lot of the guys that I work with carry microscopes in their vehicles to look at the soil when on site. This is the level of expertise that they have with soil and the creatures that live in the soil. As you become more of a soil scientist you can almost tell just by looking whats going on in the soil. Some guys always say to me, don't you see? read the weeds! They can tell whats going on the soil by the weeds that are present
     
  3. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,080

    Another approach to a gradual changeover is to just go ahead and quit some of the unnecessary pesticide applications.
    When I took over one lawn that wanted thicker grass in a forestted area I made it clear that the pre-m needs to stop as well as the 2,4d in the fall. The new seed did grow but after 1 1/2 years of no pre-m.
    Milorganite will build the soil fertility and has iron for good color as well. Eventually the synthetic fertilizers will become unnecessary but can always be an added boost if the color fades.
    Healthy soils with adequate fertility is what you want to achieve and current appearance doesn't need to suffer at all.
     
  4. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    I agree with you smallaxe, appearances do not suffer
    It is also about setting the customers expectations and understanding exactly how green the customer wants to go.
    There is a place for fertilizers and herbicides just in dramatically lower inputs then we are currently doing.
    The only issue I have with milorganite is that often it is not local. It is shipped in from somewhere else. I believe local compost is superior because it comes from the local climate and has the local beneficial microrganisms in it. Plus I am not crazy about composted people poop manures, OK 2 issues.
     
  5. packey

    packey LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 556

    eshkis thank you. You have give me a good bit to look at and go over. I like the idea of breaking down into zones once I get everything going strong. I have been reading as much as I can find on organics (library, internet, state of Colorado, CU. But I will also admit their is a world of things I do not know. I will let you know if I need any more help thanks
     
  6. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,080

    I'm with you on all of that and would not use the stuff in my garden. I like the iron content for grass, but I am sure there are better applications in the organic fertilizer realm.

    Good luck Packey, and would enjoy some pictures of the place. Sounds like a great project.
     
  7. dtally

    dtally LawnSite Member
    Male, from Rock Hill, SC
    Posts: 82

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