NJ drought emergency

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by steveair, Feb 25, 2002.

  1. steveair

    steveair LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,073


    Getting very interesting here in the NJ, and guess I should say all of the NE. At this point, it looks as if we are only a few months or weeks, if not days, from getting the official 'drought emergency' classification in our area. With this classification, the NJDEP begins to impose strong restrictions on newly installed plantings and lawn/sod installations.

    Already hearing rumors of nurseries NOT ordering the quantities of plants that they normally do, and it seems with the long term outlook, the drought is not going to change........at this point, the only thing that could make a drastic change is a natural disaster such as a hurricane, monsoon, tidal wave (you never now!) or other miraculous acts of god.

    My question is what kind of effect is this going to have?

    One discussion I've had with a few people is that it may be a good 'bad' thing for the industry. Between the weakened economy and a strong drought, its very clear now that contractors are going to have to really have to have their acts together this year......or in other words, all of these 'dime a dozen' companies out there are going to be out of business before the end of April. We all talk about how to get rid of all these fly by nighters, and well, it appears that nature may take care of it for us. Maybe a good thing?

    On another note, this is a time where contractors really need to start communicating with each other. In NJ, the dollars generated from the green business is near 1 billion in total. That's a lot of money. Currently, the water restrictions in NJ are very out dated......in other words, the green industry gets completely screwed, and along with it, takes a large hunk of the economy with it. A situation that in the long run, will not only hurt us, but everyone else in its aftermath. A point though that politicians and lawmakers have trouble seeing.

    I've never been involved in many organizations before, but I think the time has come for me to get involved. The NJNLA is strongly pushing for changes in the current legislation to change the current laws that will strangle our industry should the predicted drought fall upon us.

    I've developed a lot of friends in this industry over the past few years, and honestly, I worry about them as much as myself. Many are already planning for the worse, but in a disaster situation such as this, even the best planning can fall short.

    I'm starting to view this drought as possibley a 'necessary evil'. Maybe in the middle of its wrath, contractors will begin to work together, and those who don't, ........well........, they will vanish.

    Just a few thoughts.

  2. steveair

    steveair LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,073

    Oh, and one more thing....

    Does anyone know of any good 'Xeriscaping' books?
  3. PAPS

    PAPS LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 404

    Been thinking about this drought too a lot lately and I think you're right about how it will weed out the "weak" companies...its too bad if that happens... but thats how business works... With drought possiblities, i am concerned about planting and maintenance aspects... however, we do a lot of hardscapes and machine work so I will be trying to sell as much work as possible in that aspect.
    I agree about sticking together... thats why its important to join groups like NJLCA (need to renew my membership) and other groups similar... I too have a ton of friends in the landscaping business and i will feel for them this season if things go south...
    I got news already for you... this winters snow work was horrible... and i know a lot of guys sucking trying to deal with that.... a drought might just make things really bad. :(
  4. steveair

    steveair LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,073

    the lack of snow is also a very interesting twist to this whole thing:

    Last year, we had a very good winter for snow.........I think a lot of guys took this a little too far this year and went out and bought a lot of new equipment and really banked on at least having a 'normal' snowfall this winter.

    Now, with basically no snow at all, a lot of shiny new plows with payments that were 'suppose' to be paid for this season, a lot of guys are starting the season off in the hole to begin with. Now, you throw a drought and a sputtering economy in with that, and you really have problems.

    Who knows what the outcome will be. I'm personally a little worried as this is my first year full time. It's always hard starting out, and conditions like this are not going to be much help. Once all the lawn maintenance guys realize they can't mow, they will be doing anything they can to make money, which will obviously be landscape construction. I know quality can seperate you from the pack, but in a market flooded with guys under pricing jobs that they may not even know how to do, it will undoubtably start to affect my business.

    An example of things to come........helped my friend out with a irrigation system install last week in a new development. After we finished, he went back a couple of days later to have the plumber hook it up and then check the run the sytem. About an hour after they started, a town inspector came to see what was going on. Someone had reported him that quick! And this is a new development under construction where besides the other contractors, maybe 2-3 cars drive by a day and NO ONE has moved in yet.....amazing.

    Now where did I leave that number to my old supervisor at the airport at?...................................lol
  5. PAPS

    PAPS LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 404

    my point too on the snow and all the guys who bought new equipment... it will be interesting to see if those guys can rebound from a poor winter and if the summer is poor too... I bet no... but we'll see.

    Who called the inspector??? the boogie man did ;)
  6. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Posts: 1,625

    Steveair, having gone thru a year like that, I know what it can do to some companies, plus all the stress it's going to put on plants.

    A few things to remember, they are going to have to sod or seed all those new homes. If the home owners can't put plants in they will have money to spend on hardscapes, now is the time to get locked in with your supplier, they handle lots of calls from homeowners. Make sure your name is given out first! Make arangements with them about fast pay offs and "gasp" maybe money up front??

    Look at other material that can dress up a yard, perennials are a good way to naturalize a home setting, they require alot less water. Also start talking to your homeowners about installing water holding ploymers along with plants that use less water. Include this in your lawn areas too!

    Using these and other ideas you have will give you a leg up even when others are offering lower prices.
  7. creative concepts

    creative concepts LawnSite Member
    Posts: 69

    Hey guys,

    I don't know if this is still true. A few years ago when we had that really bad drought, the state implemented watering restricitions BUT they were eased on new installs (plants, sod, grass, etc.). Like I said though, I don't know if they will do this again. As far as the drought is concerned, I agree with both of you that we will need to stick together to get through it profitably. Like PAPS said, try to sell hardscaping work to cover yourself in the drought. You can always push the plant installs back until the situation gets better. Best of luck to everyone in this and hope everyone pulls through.
  8. BRL

    BRL LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,211

    Being a small guy, I usually push off hardscaping leads until the summer slow down. This year I have already told a few customers to postpone plant installs until we see what happens. I've been lining up plenty of hardscaping work starting immediately, & will push for more to hopefully keep scheduling that work through the season.

    The drought restrictions that were put into affect a few years ago were after we fell behind 10"-12" from average rainfall, and reservoirs fell to 50% - 60% of capacity. Hurricane Floyd helped us out of that one (14" of rain in 1.5 days here). Now we are 16+ inches below normal over the past year, and many reservoirs are currently below 50% capacity. The only reason mandatory restrictions haven't been placed is that its not the spring\summer time where usage is at maximum. Its not hurricane season now, and we haven't even been able to eek out even a mild Nor'Easter out of Mother Nature, so there is no recovery in the foreseeable future or even the long range forecasts. I believe the water restrictions that will be implimented shortly will also include no watering of new installs, unlike last time. Its gonna be a rough year for many of us I'm sure. Good luck to all.
  9. Always Green

    Always Green LawnSite Member
    Posts: 48

    I'm in Ocean co. NJ we've been here before they have in the past allowed us to water new sod and seed, if this year they stop us what is the soil consrevation dist. going to do they and most towns here require Hydro-seed or Sod at the final inspection to close on a new house, and in a subdivision they want me to Guarantee the job for one year .

  10. mdb landscaping

    mdb landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,205

    they are already talking mandatory watering bands here. a lot of people are going to want mulch this year if they have to look at shriveled up lawns. im going to hate to see my front yard with kentucky blue grass sod die off, but if they are fining, not much you can do.

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