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Compost Organic Lawncare vs. Organic Fertilizer L/C

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by c2weech, Mar 19, 2011.

  1. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,192

    Are we all supposed to take sides now? Maybe a poll will work.
  2. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    Please stop with the patronizing Barry. It is pretty damn clear that was not your intent, nor have I ever seen you ask that question to anyone on this forum until now.
  3. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    Why bother? Everyone hates me because I want to keep the information flow on this forum and others on this site credible and accurate. Hell .... I'll vote against myself just so I can get the honor of being the most hated person on the organics forum. :laugh:
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2011
  4. NattyLawn

    NattyLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,643

    That's because you're not a potential customer.
  5. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,192

    As I have mentioned before on this forum, my college education is in journalism and I pay strict attention to word usage. I have been on this forum for a couple years and have noticed that in large measure Kiril chooses his words carefully. Many disagreements have ensued when others read something into his posts that really isn't there.......instead of by the words he has used. This thread is an example of that. He used the words "strictly speaking" when he suggested that an organic approach would not use any chemicals. All of a sudden, he is being attacked as being a nihilist who doesn't live in the real world. But if you take everything he says in context you see that he is as realistic as anyone else on here.

    Granted, there are days when Kiril seems to have "gotten up on the wrong side of the bed." Who hasn't?

    So, read what he writes instead of what you want to think he is saying.
    Just my two cents on this subject.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2011
  6. Dchall_San_Antonio

    Dchall_San_Antonio LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 327

    c2weech I think your instincts are exactly correct. It appears that some Rodalians have occupied this forum and made convincing arguments for compost and compost tea to the exclusion of real, protein-based fertilizers like corn, wheat, soy, cottonseed, and alfalfa. Any argument in favor of sustainability should be directed to a forum where someone gives a rat's rear end. Organics in the Lawnsite context has absolutely nothing to do with sustainability. Lawnsite is a forum about profitability. The organic forum is a place to explore ways toward that end knowing the competition is from companies who really, REALLY don't care about sustainability. If someone wants to start a forum promoting sustainability, please approach the administrators.

    Compost is the single most expensive thing you can put on a client's lawn. In my neighborhood the raw materials cost $35 per yard plus delivery. In order to compete, most of the yards I see with "compost" have substituted something that smells more like fresh manure than compost. Furthermore they have the grass buried in it. What is happening is the neighbors will point at that lawn for the next two weeks as the source of the stink in the neighborhood...and then the grass will die from smothering. Those lawn companies cannot stay in business like that. The will have nothing to mow. That grass may come back toward the end of 2012 but more like 2013 before they see a dense turf again. But even if it was used in a proper amount, the cost of materials is about $50 per 1,000 square feet. Add in your fees and you can't compete. Your clients don't have to be geniuses to see the economics of having TruGreen come out for a heck of a lot less and get some serious fertilizer.

    If you want to compete, you absolutely have to offer fertilizer, not microbes.

    Strictly speaking, organic lawn care does not use chemicals. For practical purposes; however, nobody is speaking that strictly. You'll have to discuss where your client lives along the line from full chemical program to a full organic program. Nobody is looking over your shoulder like the USDA looks over the shoulder of farmers and ranchers making an organic claim. If your client agrees to a full organic fertilizer program with occasional spot spraying of chemical weed killers, then that is his choice. I believe you can make money on a full organic program IF the client cooperates with watering and mowing. If they do not cooperate, you might have to hire people from India to come pull weeds for you. But I don't think you could have a chance of making money on a compost only program. Every day you'd be out hustling five $150 per 1,000 square foot compost jobs to new clients. With a real fertilizer program, you can keep a stable base of clients for which you apply relatively low cost fertilizers several times per season.

    Re: low input lawn
    Anyone who would like to see pictures of a very low input lawn, search the Internet lawn forums for a homeowner going by the handle of bpgreen. He lives in northern Utah and has a lawn full of native prairie grasses. He mows them like a lawn and it looks like a lawn. If you can find the pictures you'll be disappointed because it looks like your lawn or anyone elses lawn. Some of the grass varieties go dormant in the winter but some don't. It's a lawn. He never fertilizes and only waters under extreme drought conditions. He might water 5x per season in a dry year.
  7. dishboy

    dishboy LawnSite Fanatic
    from zone 6
    Messages: 5,863

    Now that's pretty funny !.
  8. dishboy

    dishboy LawnSite Fanatic
    from zone 6
    Messages: 5,863

    Sanity at last. Add o the cost of compost the Farm truck and $7,000 dollar spreader.
  9. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,192

    With all due respect Mr. Hall:

    I am not a Rodalian and I'm probably in agreement with you in many ways.
    I haven't been around since the beginning of this forum, few have, but I believe you were the founder. However, I am offended that you would think to dictate or determine what this forum is supposed to be about. I notice you haven't posted since May 2009.

    Who are you to say it is off-topic?

    As for compost, are you suggesting that it is not the best possible feed for turf?
    Almost everyone that I read on this forum is in agreement that it is the best, IF........
    The possible disadvantage is its lack of availability at a reasonable cost to some in certain geographic areas. But that is true of proteins, as well.
    When recycling of our green resources (manures, yard wastes, food wastes) becomes common, then we will all have a ready and less expensive input for our lawns.

    In the meantime, compost will be the basis for my lawn care business and I WILL be making a profit and competing well vs. TruGreen et al.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2011
  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    For Wisco, the low input natural lawn is 'June Grass'... Never fertilized, never watered, cousin of KBG, and constantly abused by farm machinery...

    Good article Dchall...

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