Cost Comparison of Organic

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by TScapes, Nov 4, 2005.

  1. TScapes

    TScapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 452

    I have a question that goes along with this subject. When looking at offering this alternative type of program, what are the operational cost differences? Is it cheaper to use organic products, as I remember having several companies tell me in the past that you ultimately use less product and make less visits over a 12 month period, so your costs decline. Is this true? Instead of a 5-6 application program, do you offer less, but just charge the same?

    I have all commercial properties, mostly malls and large retail centers so the idea of going organic appeals to me, but dealing with several acres at a time.... ultimately cost is my driving force.

    Can someone give me some cost comparisons? I know products vary from location to location, but am simply looking for examples of savings (if any) from those who have made this change.

    I mean, I know my labor and equipment costs, but the price of products is not something that I can control. Any suggestions for this type of transition?
  2. TScapes

    TScapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 452

    So much for the responses.... 40 views and "0" responses. Either that means that you all don't know your costs or just simply don't wish to help. :dizzy:

    Please, is there any one out there that would care to spare a couple of minutes to explain to me the variation in costs from converting to organic? I am not a threat to any of you.. I am simply looking for advice. If there is none to be found, then I will do it the old fashion way and research it myself. I just thought that a forum of industrymen that are in the same field and share a common intrest, that somehow, someone could find the opportunity to share information without going at it alone. That possibly one could learn from others' mistakes and find a tried and proven way.

    Then again...... I could be wrong.
  3. TurfProSTL

    TurfProSTL LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 693

    TScapes, I currently run an organic-based program as an option (instead of our regular synthetic program). We charge about 25% more.....

    Have been using products from these folks for several years. Maybe this program will help you answer your own questions
  4. dishboy

    dishboy LawnSite Fanatic
    from zone 6
    Messages: 6,166

    Fertilizer cost for my Organic program is around $2.00 per K per appl. This is much more exspensive than I can price synthetics. I still fert five times.
  5. nocutting

    nocutting LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 530

    Hello, for most beginers it definatly costs more [ or your profitability is less than when you were useing chemicals],,,,,,,,,,,once your in the 10 pallet and up purchase your in your own company operates at a 5-10% material cost per application.....I use to compete against larger chemical giants, now I specialize in higher end residential properties.......Sorry I hadnt seen your post earlier, [ was outa town doin consults with another company that is makein the change].......Regards Saxon:waving:
  6. Global Organic

    Global Organic LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    Organic is what I do, and it is ok for smaller areas around 2000 to 5000 sq ft. But in large areas price will kill you. For very large areas synthetic is much cheaper. Its up to the customer cheaper= chemical or better= organic and$$$. I find Organic is best if 10 lbs of fert( say alfalfa 5-1-5) per 1000 sq ft every 4 to 5 weeks.
  7. TScapes

    TScapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 452

    Thanks for the info. I was out of town for the last few days, so it was nice to see some of the replys. I think that I have to agree with Global on my question regarding costs. As I said, most of the ones I have are large centers (2-10 acres) so I can appreciate the cost factor. I would love to go organic, especially on a couple of them, but I would be throwing away money I believe. Not to mention that I am bidding a property that is a hospital that already has a tight budget. Although they have a 2 acre field that would be perfect for an organic program, since it is not irrigated and is currently a "crappy" excuse for turf. It is obvious that the contractor dumped his left over sub soil in this field along with some fill dirt to level it out. I think in the 3 years that this place was completed, nothing has been able to get established except a variety of grassy weeds. It looks more like a pasture rather than a manicured field. Anyways, if I priced it using organic products I am sure that I would price my self out of the entire contract. Therefore, I will stay synthetic. However, I might seriously look at some of my smaller properties that have less than 20k square feet.

    Thanks again for the contributions!
  8. nocutting

    nocutting LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 530

    Hello Tscapes,.....a Hospital, what better place than to qualify them on the use of organics?.......Organics are not just applyin fertilizers, there are princeples [ cultural practices], height and frequency of cut,mulch mowing, types of grass seed you sow[ insect repelling / drought tolerant / disease resistant]....if its an outa the way area is $1.00 per 1000sqft to high as a materal cost?.....Considering all the health risks........If they were intrested, I let them figure a cost 1st and then suprise them with how little it would be dome by a commercial applicator?./......just my 2 cents:waving:
  9. green_mark

    green_mark LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 494

    I have created a number of organic (affordable) alternatives for schools, hospitals, etc. They have been very receptive and over the last 5 years serviced over 6,000 acres of these properties.

    In addition, we use only "edible organics"
  10. Eden's Gardener

    Eden's Gardener LawnSite Member
    Messages: 45

    I agree with no cutting - what a better place to be organic than in a place where folks' immune systems may already be compromised. As for applying every 5-6 weeks - geez - that sounds excessive. I only apply fertilizer 3 times a year. Early, early spring, like when the weather first breaks to catch the new growth and suppress weed seeds that may be waking up, I use Corn Gluten Meal, first. Then, depending on budgets and honestly, soil health, I may come back in 6 weeks to apply a balanced fertilizer. By the same token though, if it is a fairly weed free turf, no CGM and I jump to the balanced fertilizer. (in Dallas, there must be a dozen to choose from. For large areas, you may look at one with a urea mix just to go further with it per #) My book is out in the truck, but I think it is Medina that makes a good one. Don't know if they distribute your way or not, but I think you get like 5000 sq. ft per bag. And yes, I charge extra for pre-emergent (CGM) applications. Some properties don't require it and others do, so it isn't automatically part of my program.

    Next application would be in early summer - June down here. And the same rule applies, weedy area - Corn Gluten Meal followed by fertilizer. Otherwise, just fertilizer. And actually, you could actually skip the fertilizer if you use the CGM unless the soil is really poor.

    In the fall, down here mid Sept., I apply CGM when the night temps start to drop and moisture returns. This is when those pesky weed seeds will start up so this usually gets it done. Then, I always will come back with a round of fertilizer and/or compost in 6 weeks. Usually when I come back to over-seed. Unless they have a short in their budget - then they get whichever is needed most. (I have a few cheap clients, can you tell? payup )

    Sell organics to the hospital - I sure would try for the principal of it if nothing else. Less to no insecticides - and they would be all natural if you did need anything, low odor and the odor is not chemical so it won't be dangerous to breathe in. I say go for it. Everyone thinks organics costs more - it really doesn't have to. I'm learning to charge a little extra for the wisdom, :D but no more for the service really. Goes through the spreader the same. And check on the nitro mix. It isn't the same as in chems. A 40 lb bag of non-urea mixed fertilizer should go about 2000 sq. ft. Good luck! And thanks for going organic! I think it is better for everyone applying it, too.

Share This Page