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New Business

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by wylle, Dec 7, 2007.

  1. wylle

    wylle LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6


    I am currently in SOuth-Western Ontario. I would like to start-up an organic lawn care business in the spring. What I was wondering is what services should I offer ( I do not plan on cutting grass) and at what cost ?
    Any other advice would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance,
  2. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    Hey Shane,
    welcome to the forum
    Do you have experience in landscapes (design, installation, hardscapes, plant and shrub, etc.), just trying to understand your experience.
    You could start with

    Organic fertilizers
    Organic weed controls
    Organic insect controls
    Compost tea for soil enhancement
    Soil testing

    Almost all of these, price wise, are based on what equipment you have and what you have to rent. You will have to competetive to the services around you. There is a broad range of pricing depending on where you are located in the country. Rural seems to charge less than urban
  3. wylle

    wylle LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    I have zero experience in landscaping, so I plan on sticking to the list you provided. Currently there are no organic lawn care providers that I know of in our area. What kind of sprayer would you recommend for spraying compost tea with ???

    Thanks again,
  4. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308

    If you have no experience in landscaping I would at least hope you have some education in the relevant fields. If not, perhaps you might consider taking a different route (education/work experience or both) before going at it on your own.

    If your not going to do mow & blow, what are you planning on doing?
  5. wylle

    wylle LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    I am going to do exactly what ICT Bill suggested. I have read numerous books on soil microbiology and am taking a course on organic lawn care.

  6. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    Suggested reading for organic lawn care
    Dr. Elaine Ingham, she has multiple books and audio recordings of some of her lectures out on beneficial microorganisms, compost, compost tea, soil biology. She is a well respected person in the industry with solid science behind her work.

    Jeff Lowenfels: Teaming with Microbes

    Paul Tukey: The organic lawn care manual

    NOFA: multiple books on organic lawn care and land stewardship, www.organiclandcare.net

    Sprayers: Some use backpack sprayers all the way up to 4000 gallon hydro-seeders. It depends on the application and how much you are spraying. Some like the newer ride-on sprayers, some like full blown spray trucks with hundreds of gallons of capacity.

    When spraying compost teas, piston driven pumps chew up the beneficial microorganisms especially the hyphi of fungus. Stick with diaphram type pumps when picking a spray rig

    Look at Sherrill Tree, they make lots of different styles from small fit in the back of a pickup size to huge. They are very familiar with the compost tea, organic lawn care side of the business http://www.wtsherrill.com/sprayrigs/?idAtype=work
  7. tadhussey

    tadhussey LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 294

    I agree that there is a lot to learn when it comes to organic lawn care. Every customer may have different needs and therefore require different programs and application schedules. It's great that you're educating yourself, but you may want to consider an internship or working for someone else for a little while to get an idea of the practical versus theoretical side of providing these services. Not trying to be discouraging, just want to make sure that when you do step out as a company that you are adequately prepared and can deliver good results. It's important that people see that with proper care, organic practice can match and exceed anything you can do with chemicals.

    Good luck!
  8. tadhussey

    tadhussey LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 294

    Good list of resources by Bill. Dr. Ingham also offers courses you can attend and has a CD specifically on turf maintence. Jeff's book would probably be the one I would start with on that list and work my way up to Dr. Ingham once you have some of the basics under your belt.

    What size lawns you're planning on spraying will really dictate the size of your sprayer. There are considerations for the organisms, like Bill mentioned. You will need to research your brewer and make sure that your tea is viable. You will also need to get a good source for these organic fertilizers and amendments. Not everything in this industry is made equal.
  9. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    We don't have any organic lawncare service here either. Not really sure if there is much demand for one or the best way to advertise.
    If people already have a service provider they are likely to ask him/her to use cinnamin bark instead of Drive 57 or some such thing as that.
    If you are looking to be the Chemlawn alternative you will need to work with the guy that cuts the grass and time a core aeration for the compost tea application. I've heard it mentioned here that spraying the surface does virtually nothing.
    If you charge competively you will be more expensive than the Chemlawn types because of the cost of product.
    Good luck and be sure to share what is successful and what is not. Your question has been on many folks' minds.
  10. tadhussey

    tadhussey LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 294

    What are the Chemlawn costs? In theory, organic practice may have a slightly higher cost up front, but in the long run should be way cheaper because you're establishing a sustainable environment that requires little or no inputs.

    As for compost tea, it does provide benefit when sprayed on turf without core aeration. Mycorrhizal fungi may be what you're thinking of. It does not travel through the soil and therefore has no benefit as a topical application.

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