1. Can’t make it to the GIE+EXPO 2017?
    LawnSite brings the trade show floor to your fingertips with our new GIE+EXPO 2017 Sneak Peek video series debuting now in the Lawn Mowing forum.

    Dismiss Notice

cost comparison Organic Vs. Traditional

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Newby08, Feb 7, 2008.

  1. dtally

    dtally LawnSite Member
    Male, from Rock Hill, SC
    Messages: 82

    Smallaxe made a great point.. take note. Treat the problem not the symptom. Great advice for someone just starting out. Now that easy to say and it's sometimes hard todo, because you need to know what symptoms are related to what problems. That's where this site come in realy handy. Someone has already encountered the same situation and will have a solution to the problem.

    We all want to make money, period. But the passion you have about your lawns will shine thru and enentually make you money year after year. People know when you care. Make those extera trips to talk with your client, if you are passing close buy, stop in and check things out, spray a few weed if needd... leave them a note saying I stopped by and sprayed a few weeds (or something to that extent) and at the bottom NO CHARGE.

    Trust me, they will become a valued customer.
  2. Newby08

    Newby08 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 277

    So, how far off was I with my statement? Am I so far off base or am I possibly actually getting a hang of this? I know that either way I have just barely scratched the surface if I have even done that but do you think that I will be able to start organics this year or should I possibly hold off until I better understand things?

  3. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    You understand better by doing , not just reading. It is not an all or nothing scenario. You do not have to advertise great promises or purist ideals. Just begin the break away from over fertilization, overwatering, overpricing and overselling crap that people don't need. You will be rewarded for that and be seen as a cut above the rest.

    I would really like to see someone on this forum actually do something and talk about it so we could all do better next year. What have you got to lose by trying? What have you got to lose by postponing?

    Here is a question that may clarify your doubts. Why is it that many horticulturalists and agricultural researchers believe that it is not only unnecessary to apply ferts (to turf) in early spring but is actually a bad idea?
    Whether you want to believe them or not - the question is - what is their reasoning behind it?

    You can safely stand on that practice and be more organic and natural than somebody who is trying to get N in the root zone as soon as the plants wake up. Believe me. It is worth investigating whether you are organic or not :)
  4. Newby08

    Newby08 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 277

    Here is a question that may clarify your doubts. Why is it that many horticulturalists and agricultural researchers believe that it is not only unnecessary to apply ferts (to turf) in early spring but is actually a bad idea?
    Whether you want to believe them or not - the question is - what is their reasoning behind it?

    That almost sounded very profound...
    so... where can i go to figure that out?
  5. Elden

    Elden LawnSite Member
    Messages: 137

    I will try to post my check list when I get back home I am out of town for the weekend. And yes it does have a place that I can add additional comments. The work sheet is mostly for maint. and inspection as I am not doing any treatments until 2009, but I will be modifing it later to incorporate treatments. (dang non-compete) I made it on works as well as my invoices.
  6. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I found that concept when reading about fertilizing grazing lands and a couple of county extension websites. It deals directly with the concept of plant growth and ability of soils to produce nutrients through the winter before spring growth.

    Ideally your grass went into winter with a large storehouse of carbohydrates. So the grass wakes up in the spring a starts using these carbohydrate to grow roots and leaf. They are in a homogenous soil so the roots grow in all directions and as the surface dries they grow deeper.

    This happens quite naturally and works fine unless, there is a burst of N on the surface and your roots start out the spring growing laterally - rather than down. That burst of N also forces the plant to give up its storehouse more quickly to produce all the extra greenery.

    How much N and water does it take to keep Bermuda alive and healthy? I have heard here that it has high requirements. You should experiment to see just how true that is. A proper growing environment 'utilizes' the N. High application rates 'wastes' alot of N.

    Will you do organic programs for those who insist on bagging the grass clippings each time?
  7. Newby08

    Newby08 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 277

    sure, I don't plan on doing any maintenance, just chemicals. I figured I will bring in the maintenance later on if I want to. I worked for a company for a little while that had over 4000 customers so I am kind of using what I saw there to determine how to structure my business. I know what you mean by the grass clippings though, I'm not too worried about it though. When i was cutting the lawns and catching the grass there was still a lot left over on the ground when it rained you could see the run off of clippings. If you don't pick them up and let the grass get to tall then you will not have any grass just grass clippings and thatch crap shows up. Bermuda is pretty thick and grows pretty quick. The thing that I'm use to doing like you said though is just pouring the nitrogen into it, it seemed that if you didn't keep the N up then the lawn wouldn't stay nearly as green. But then again thats using only synthetics and nothing organic. So I'm sure that organics will have the same effect since you are actually having a healthy lawn, not just the appearance. That is one area that I wish there were more people doing organics in my area. As of right now I've only found one other organic based company here in North Georgia so it's still a new idea and not many people to compare processes to.
    So how long do you wait to start the fertilizer? And being that its organic isn't it suppose to wait until the plant needs it before it is released? Kind of goes back to the whole its pretty much impossible to burn a lawn.

  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    The thatch problem goes away with rich organisms in the lawn. In fact on the leaner soils I am going to add more leaves to the mulch mower, just to keep it building.
    If you are picking up the clippings you are going to need more compost and feeds. Clippings supposedly have the N back into the plants within 3 days. I read that along time ago and I can believe it, if there are worms making a steady diet of it.

    Without the grass clippings you might need to calculate back 2 or 6 weeks, (it takes about 2 weeks for NPK and closer to 6 weeks for organic ferts to get into the soil profile and be utilized by the plant), and have it there just before the heat stress hits it.

    Here it means before Memorial weekend so it is into the roots by the 4th of July. However, I recycle the clippings whenever possible so that application is a, "just in case", supplemental.

    How will you handle watering if your client wants lush and green in the dead of summer?
    Does Bermuda go dormant in the dry heat or does it start dieing off?
  9. Newby08

    Newby08 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 277

    Bermuda will go dormant, its a really tuff grass and if you get in your flower beds you have the fight of your life to get it out. It is also pretty drought resistant, unless we have a true drought like we have been. If someone has a sprinkler system it usually will keep up and stay green. I'm sure an organic lawn being able to store water even better will do a much better job as well. You also have to take in that right now all our lawns except maybe the oldest ones are built on our infamous "red clay." If you've never been down this way when we say red clay we mean red clay. You can take it, mush it together and you have the same substance you make pots out of. There for the water retention probably isn't that geat. The only good soil you have is what came with the sod which as you know is about an inch thick if that. The watering will have to be done after each application. You see we have been under a drought the past few years and they have put harsh water restrictions on us. Last year they took away all watering even for new landscape plants. If you had something planted it had to be by a professional and then you could water for 30 days I think. That is why I have held off starting the business until now. The governor just came back and changed the rules so that you can water for 25 min a day on certain days according to your address and then you can water in any applications that are made by a professional... thats me. I take it your saying that the lawn clippings will not be such an issue if the soil is in good shape with the right organisms like nematodes and such. The other problem is that Bermuda when in good shape and cut right becomes almost a literal rug... its nothing like fescue grass that is tall and thin, this stuff intertwines with itself and if you let it grow to long you literally will have mounds of clippings left over. When I did cut grass I was using a Walker and it would catch most of the clippings and would leave a "dusting" if you call it that, that was thick enough to cover up the driveway enough to not be able to see the concrete. I understand leaving the clippings on grasses like fescue though. There is also Zoysia and Centipede that is very similar to bermuda in the thickness of the lawns. Our heat arrives about late April early May, and by June its usually cooking. So with it taking so much time for organic fertilizers to get to the soil I should put it down about March or April? Probably more April to be safer.

    Another thing... What would you suggest as a good pre emergent for a lawn that is in the transitional stage and one that has a good soil base? Corn gluten from what I understand is the only organic pre emergent but is high in N. I guess that won't be such a bad thing for bermuda though since it gorges on N.
  10. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,115

    Do you guys overseed with annual rye in the winter? I have seen the practice on golf courses in the south but did not know if its done in residencial and commercial.

    In cool weather grasses you gain your foothold on the weed populations by overseeding constantly. In the NOFA course they teach to use different types of annual grasses to get the grass so thick that basically no weeds can grow in it.
    Some of the annuals have deeper root systems than others and penetrate deeper in the soil, when the annual eventually dies off it leaves a path behind for the other root systems to follow.

    Maybe someone that has taken the course can chime in on the practice.

Share This Page