Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by jettabug, Mar 28, 2002.

  1. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,969

    It's interesting to see people have success with plants. But the library is full of misleading books written by just such people. Because one has success in his own speck of the planet does not mean that this is the answer for the rest of the planet. It is better to depend on research that deals with many environments.

    For example, NTEP (National Turfgrass Evaluation Program) tests grasses at numerous land grant universities across the country - these tests are graded locally and results are published. Want to know about a certain cultivar of a certain turf species? Just go to and find the answer.

    Another: I've seen numerous discussions on control of ground ivy (creeping charlie) over the years. Eric Kohler just finished his grad work at Purdue, doing a study of control of ground ivy. And he didn't just pluck ground ivy out of someone's yard. He collected samples from 8 states and Canada - and found that ground ivies vary dramatically depending on where they are from. He found that a combo of 2,4-D and triclopyr was the most consistent - just the combo I found ten years ago, but Eric's scientific study carries a lot more weight than my success. I'll trust Eric's observations much more than the guy who claims his dog's urine controls ground ivy, LOL.

    If there is really going to be advancement in organic landscape care, there has to be some real research done. Not just hype from sellers of "organic" products, or chest beating by radical tree huggers. And that means organic people putting their money where their mouth is, in funding research, just like many other ideas were proven (or disproved) in the past. A practitioner may participate is such a research program, but if someone says he does something fabulous on 50 lawns, I'll clap for him, but will probably not seriously weigh converting my program to match his.

    And anyone who is seriously into turf management, whether with organics or synthetics, will always say that the best pest control is a healthy turf. And of course, there is the number one rule of plant care, that few follow: "Always put the right plant in the right place." People are aghast when you tell them to start over with a lawn - "$1800, you're crazy!" But they'll spend hundreds a year, plus all the work, and still have a sick lawn, LOL.

    And D_S_A, C3 refers to the metabolism of cool season grasses growing in the USA, and C4 refers to warm season grasses. In grossly simple terms, they actually make their food differently. Lot easier to type C3 or C4, instead of "warm season" or "cool season" all the time. And there is a big difference in managing C3 and C4 turf.
  2. Randy J

    Randy J LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,124

    Simply put, I think anyone who refuses to consider an organic program is going to miss out. More and more people want to do better for the environment. And no matter what, there can be no doubt that natural organics are better for the environment. I'm not saying that synthetics are necessarily bad, but that natural organics are better. Keep in mind I'm saying for the environment. And while I believe organics can work better or at least as well as synthetics, there is still some debate concerning the vitality of the lawn itself. The only way you'll know if organics will work better for you, is to try it. However, I do see an organic program as an awesome chance to upsell. Doesn't mean you have to use all organics on all lawns, or that you have to use organics at all for that matter, just that as more and more customers appreciate it, we'll all need to be able to offer it or lose out. I'd be willing to bet a good LCO offering organic programs will be able to take some work from a good LCO that refuses to offer organics, anywhere in the US.

  3. GLAN

    GLAN Banned
    Messages: 1,647

    Thanks Jim, nicely written. I like your comment about putting your money where your mouth is.

    I have advocate volunteers for the environment knocking on my door a couple times a year asking for donation to help their cause. For a couple years they have been a proponent for the abolishment of landscape pesticides.

    Every time they came to my door I asked them for proof, show me the scientific study proving your accusation. All they could show is a couple news articles. I would again ask for the documented proof. (by this time I becoming enraged) I would quickly run up to the office and bring down a folder of copies of published studies and hand it to them. Do you or any of your organization of any scientific studies to back up your cause? Nope not one. I actualy had one kid hand me all the paper work he had and tell me to throw it out, he quit.
  4. GLAN

    GLAN Banned
    Messages: 1,647

    I am sure that many of you know, or at least I would hope that you know of the hot news item that "Breast Cancer" was at it's highest rates on Long Island, New York. And that the undisputed cause was landscape pesticides.

    Oh yeah. For years lawn chemicals were causing "Breast Cancer" and "Asthma" in children. It was a well know fact, everyone talked about it. Political figures road the band wagon for reelection on the cause to ban pesticides. News media drove their ratings up at the expense of lawn care profesionals.

    New State environmental laws were passed and regulations tightened. Chemicals were removed from the market. Prenotification was enacted. Chaos and mayhem was strewn throughout the industry and officials everywhere.

    Protests in the streets, at government offices. The news media covering the topic from every slanted angle to inflame the topic.

    And all this based on an accusation. Not on any true fact. Not one dime was spent to prove. But it must be true cause it's in the news and politicians don't lie.

    The GREEN INDUSTRY mobilized en mass to fight for their livelihood. We staged protests on the steps of the State Capitol and local Government offices. We hired lawyers and advocates to be our legal warriors for our cause.

    We would not stand to be accused of such malicious slander. For we knew the FACTS. We had an entire INDUSTRY with us. We had millions of dollars spent by chemical companies and Universities, also Government Grant money used to test, study and probe the issues facing us. Years and thousands of hours spent. Thousands of pages written documenting the findings.

    A FACT FINDING MISSION was enacted. The TRUTH would be told.

    As it turns out. NOT ONE SHRED OF PROOF was found to justify the accusation that pesticides was a direct cause of "Breast Cancer" or "Asthma"

    Scientific study proved point blank the indisputed truth that pesticides has no direct affect. After years of Hype in the media, all it got was one small paragraph on page 18. This revelation did not get front page, nor was it ever mentioned on the 6 o'clock news.

    In the end it was then found that an area of New Jersey actualy reported the highest incident of "Breast Cancer" and you want to know why?

    It is because that particular area of New Jersey is affluent. More women do the necessary screening for the disease. In that context the higher rate of incident means nothing, only for the fact that more women do and have access to the necessary testing.
  5. Dchall_San_Antonio

    Dchall_San_Antonio LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 327

    Once again, Randy J makes a great point that hits the heart of the original poster's question. If you refuse to offer an organic alternative, you might be missing out on the upsell. I'm not exactly convinced it is an upsell or just an alternative, but it is missing out on a client(s).

    The people who want organic turf are quite often Volvo driving, quiche eating, chess playing, salad eating, hairy armpitted nursing mothers, Whole Foods shopping, tree huggers. You don't have to like them or what they believe in. You don't have to believe in it yourself. But the fact is they are an economic force to recon with. If you choose to ignore them and their money, that's between you and your family. All these people want you to do is stop delivering synthetic ferts and synth-icides and start spreading organic fertilizers. And they will LOVE you for it. But don't EVER make a mistake and spray a chemical or you will be toast. If they are willing to pay for it, is that so hard?

    Somewhere it has been discussed that the organic materials weigh a lot more to get the same benefit. The large scale logistics of the extra weight management for 100 clients might just be a reason to charge more for organic yard maintenance. For example if you have 100 organic clients with 1 acre each, you will need 1,000 bags (50,000 pounds) of corn meal or alfalfa to fertilize once (10 bags to the acre on average). I know a baker who uses a lot less than that and he has a mill to grind his own corn flour from whole corn kernels.

    But if you are going to offer an organic alternative, you absolutely must stick with it. In order to do that, you need to know (with some authority) what to do, what products to use and not use, when, and how much. It helps to know why you're doing it so you can explain it to them if they need help. There will be times when all their neighbors will be applying some product from Home Depot and they will think you should be applying something. You need to explain to them that you are deliberately NOT applying that product (1) because it is not organic, and (2) more importantly because it is not called for in their situation (organic turf seems to take care of a lot of its own issues).

    I happen to think organic turf management is completely hassle free once you know what you're doing. Application timing is rarely an issue, amounts are not critical, pre- or post-application watering is rarely an issue, smell is not an issue (once you realize that manure ALWAYS smells and you stop even thinking about it), and cost really isn't an issue (cost is about the same or less for organic). Pest and disease diagnosis is never trivial but there are only a few organic products that work well against a wide spectrum of pests, so pest management is relatively easy. Plus if you stop spraying with the -icides, the wasps will return to help you out.

    Oops, I said wasps. Many people want you to poison wasps. Well, the organic people won't. They will probably already understand that wasps are the first line of defense against all caterpillars (including web worms and tomato hornworms) and spiders (including black widow and brown recluse). If you leave the wasps alone, a balance will be reached where spiders and caterpillars will live in much reduced numbers but won't be gone forever. Wasps are part of your hassle free organic offer. You might offer wasp nest relocation services (extra - by the hour).

    From my year or two of surfing gardening websites and forums, I think I have learned a few things. One thing I've recognized right away in my short time here is that this is the premier site for industry professionals to learn about their business. You guys and gals have developed an excellent professional resource library for yourselves. Imagine life without this resource. :dizzy: Another thing I think I've learned is that there is an opportunity waiting for y'all with the ability and willingness to fulfill it. Many of you are ready to make the jump but you lack a few pieces of the organic puzzle. I'm convinced if you start helping each other to learn about organics instead of spending all your energy circling the wagons around Lesco, there will be more and more money in if for you. And when that happens, even Lesco will start selling corn meal in 1,000 pound lots. Just watch!
  6. GLAN

    GLAN Banned
    Messages: 1,647

    Circling the wagons around Lesco

    That's cute..............;)
  7. dan deutekom

    dan deutekom LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 424

    All of the last 6 or 7 posts make excellent points and I really like Jim's post. I need good proof before I commit to any new method whether organic, chemical or mechanical. Then I try it in my circumstances and if it makes sense for my operation I use it.
  8. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Messages: 4,205

    Lets see......The chemical companies have LOTTTTS of money to make facts,They have LOTTTS of money for lobbiests,Their in the business of making money from selling chemicals......I think they have some incentive for providing information to back up their point of view.
    I'm not so sure the EPA is the organization I want to put my trust in.
    Synthetic ferts are cheaper,easier and more profitable to use for lco,s.
    I'll let you all talk to some farmers that have constant sickness.
    We as humans think we can improve on what nature has been doing for eons but this old earth has done quite well without our "help."
    I'm not a tree hugger or a liberal,in fact I'm about as conservative as they come,But dig up a customers front lawn that has been chemmed for years and tell me how many earthworms you find?
    Not looking for any argument,just like to learn more and get other views.
    My kids deserve that much.
  9. More interesting material to read!

    What is an organic fert?

    Who's diffinetion are we using?

    I apply urea 46-0-0, and claim I'm using an organic fert.
  10. heritage

    heritage LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,358

    urea is a synthetic organic....which is a chemical. yes it has carbon so you are telling the truth when you tell your customers that you are using organic fert. I think many lawn care companies do what you do. if i were to sell a synthetic organic to my customers i would use nitroform 38-0-0 as it is in my opinion a better product with better long term results than 46-0-0.
    (it feeds the soil too.)


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