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Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by DeepGreenLawn, Jun 9, 2008.
I know. I typed that post before I read your reply.
healthy plants = happy plants = happy customers = happy me
An organic program for trees and shrubs I find to be pretty darn simple for the most part. Larger plants practically take care of themselves if you just leave them alone. Take a soil sample, if you need to irrigate keep it to an absolute minimum to minimize weed issues. Keep a good mulch layer on the ground. With good timing, oil and copper can handle most insect and disease problems. Learn to ID beneficials because they're a bigger issue than with lawns.
That's the truth and to be honest with you you probably don't want to copy what they're doing anyway. Since most landscape people and homeowners have very limited knowledge about tree care they can get away with snake oil treatments all day long as long as their half baked rationale sounds reasonable. As an arborist myself I hate to say these things but from my experience it's the truth.
I JUST got done talking with a customer that was asking about a tree and turf program. PHS, what you just said is exactly what I told her. 90% of the time the plants will really take care of themselves. I told her the only time I really do any kind of treatments is when there is a problem. Other than, leave them alone, they don't require much unless it is something like an azalea or rose. I told her that I never could figure out why companies always tried to sell these programs when they really were not needed. I did tell her though that I was in the process of putting a program together using organics that will basically compose of the same thing I put on the lawn, maybe just CT and leave out the ferts. But for the most part it would be just for growth and maybe help some blooming.
She said she really just wanted to have the pests and diseases treated for. That the other companies she talked to would not just treat for pests but had a 6 times per year type program she had to be on. I told her that my program would basically be the "good guys" that are needed to naturally have a healthy plant. Other than that they would be treated on an as needed basis.
She seemed to be pretty happy with my answer.
Somehow I accidentally deleted my well-thought-out post but the summary of it is you may have to get her on a program at some point. The problem I've run into in doing it that way is that by the time they call you out for a problem it's totally out of hand. It can be difficult to get things under control with conventional materials. With organics timing is more critical and you may not even have a chance by the time you get there. Shrubs and trees kinda take of themselves but that doesn't mean there aren't problems. Aphids on Crepe Myrtles, Lace bugs on Azaleas, things like that.
You don't really need to panic at this point, but keep it in mind and see if you can't figure out a way to steer her into a program for next year. In the mean time even it's going to cost you some time that you can't bill for, I would stop and scout her property when you're in the neighborhood. It might save your a$$ until you can set up a different system with her.
I am always traveling through the area either to treat around there or get to my other routes. She is right in the center of my "territory." Not really a territory just a big circle of cities I have chosen to start in. I keep an eye out for all my customers with their bushes and a lot of times their neighbors if they are close enough.
What kind of organics are there to protect against these guys or do you rely more on the synthetics for this situation?
I'm not an organic-only operation but typically opt for an organic material as my first choice. Soap works for Lace bugs, oil is good for Aphids. It's not that you can't control these pests organically, you can. You just don't want to be called out to deal with them when the Azaleas are bleach white and the Crepes are a sticky, sappy, black moldy mess. By that point, even if you get excellent control of the pests and do everthing right on your end, the plants area a mess for the rest of the year and you end looking bad and it's not your fault.
DGL, the tree care program is like this, soil is the basis of the organic program, soils good, the yards happy, everyone is happy. there are most of the time poor cultural practices going on with the tree = chems , sterile soil, over watering, compacted soil...... and many more.start with a good look, dig a hole near the tree(DON'T HURT ANY ROOTS)whats happening there??? after that its a Field experience/ identifying problems scenario. then if there is a real need beyond organics, does the tree need to go? is there a way to treat it with chems IE injections, implants that will be less intrusive. can it be fixed with proper nutrition(we have seen some trees that just needed phosphate to come around)
some times, and it does not sound like your case, the tree has to go and a new tree or 3 has to be replanted!!!!
treehugers cut down trees to, we just plant a lot more!!!!!!
Good for you, and this approach works. Encourage populations of beneficial insects, maintain healthy plants and growing conditions, scope out the landscape when on your maintenance round to see if anything needs immediate attention.
Good point. I see it the same way. I don't use organic vs non-organic as the baseline but it's a cost/benefit analysis either way. Sometimes the results just don't justify the amount of inputs.
In another thread you mentioned your uncut St Augustine going to seed for the first time. That must be a climate thing because here virtually all St. Aug lawns here produce seed heads regardless of the mowing height.