Want to go organic but I can't yet claim "Jedi Master" organic

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Exact Rototilling, Jan 20, 2008.

  1. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    Know your weed before you try to kill it.

    The point of the above statement is, vegetative burn downs will only work for some weeds.

    I have to agree with Marcos on this one. Sometimes the situation is so dire, the only feasible and economical option is chemical control. Once you get your weeds under control you can then establish your organic program.

    There are "organic" alternatives that would work, but are many times prohibitive due to cost (top soil replacement), or time (solarization). One could also argue that the two "organic" options will actually be more detrimental in getting an organic program established than the chemical route.

    Bottom line, assess the site and conditions and find the most effective means of getting your organic program established that will fit the budget of your client.
  2. Organic a go go

    Organic a go go LawnSite Member
    Messages: 211

    I wouldn't want to give the impression that I think any one product works exclusively. I rarely use CGM because I re-seed heavily and Marcos is right that vinegar wont kill everything. But I haven't encountered the weed yet that'll stand up to repeated flamings and thats kinda my "nuclear option" Im not pretending that I've dealt with every weed on the planet but clover, dandelion, thistles will all give up the ghost eventually AND thus far my customers are willing to pay for the work/time involved. Again, I realize that the demographic Im dealing with isn't the same for everyone but that has been my experience. I think Im able to make *more* money by being only organic.
  3. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,720

    The organic-minded people I encounter want organic products on their lawn.
    But market pressures are market pressures around here; inside organic lawn care and out.
    They honestly aren't going to let me charge them for coming out to do organic-based weed control applications, over and over again, until (and if) the problem's solved.
    There's way too much 'neighbor lawn envy' going on around here for that approach, unfortunately!

    So...call me a 'cheater' if you want to...I don't care. I get most of the 'organic' customers I bid on, largely because they know I'm mostly a 1 man operation (in lawn care, at least) and they know they'll be seeing and trusting me and not some interchangeable face driving a truck adorned with dalmatians! :laugh:
  4. Organic a go go

    Organic a go go LawnSite Member
    Messages: 211

    I don't mean to imply that I think one way is cheating and the other isn't. Im a firm believer that when you're trying to run and grow a business of any kind you have to go with what works or you don't have a business. Just sharing a different perspective is all.....
  5. Prolawnservice

    Prolawnservice LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 612

    There are different ways to charge for things, get creative, you can cover your costs and still have an effective organic program. Sell your program on the differences, whats better that you will provide?, knowledge, guidance, cultural practices, scouting, balanced soil that will eventually require less input rather than more, less water use, things that will help your investment in your landscape increase in value, rather than just deplete the soil. People equate organic with expensive and really don't understand what it is, they just know its supposed to be better, but they don't know why. That's where you come in, sell the differences, not necessarily that its an organic program, just that its a better one.
  6. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    IMHO, if an organic program is more expensive over time, then it is not being done properly.

    Can I put in my plug for reducing turf here? :)
  7. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,115

    As Kiril points out, there may be more (a lot more) inputs initially to make the transition to organic lawn care but over time as soil fertility and water capacity build, then most of the disease and weed issue go away they will be much less.

    Of course you can plug "less turf" which goes to show you that there is no one answer to the question. LESS TURF, LESS TURF, LESS TURF. I feel better already.

    I suggest to folks trying to transition lawns, for the first 2 or 3 fall seasons:
    Soil Test and/or Bio-Assay
    Core Aerate
    Over seed
    Spray compost teas
    top dress with a good finished compost
    adjust micro nutrients from soil tests

    After 3 fall seasons there should be a lot less inputs, in fact you may go a couple of years by just spraying compost teas to keep the biology up.
  8. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378

    Ict Bill,

    I really like the transition emphasis to organic lawncare. I think I will market in that direction. I plan on specializing in Lawn Aeration with a Plugr 850HD anyhow and in so doing when I talk to the customer, even if I don't mow their lawns regularly, I'll do my best diplomatically to present the natures way model of lawncare. healthier for them, their kids and their pets, ground water, turf and lastly their nightcrawlers. May not be as dark green as the Jones's nor will it be 100% weed free but better.

    I was also thinking of also offering overseeding and lawn restoration as yet another niche service. I'm not crazy about buying yet another piece of equipment however I don't want to miss out on another Niche service. I really think this is the best direction to go.

    Any recommendations on a decent over seeder?
  9. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,115

    It obviously depends on the size of the application. I like to do it by hand or with a rotary spreader, the same kind you would use for granular fertilizers. You'll get great results especially after core aeration

    You will find as the soil becomes more fertile and rich with humus your yards will be the envy of the neighborhood, they will stay green and lush through stressful periods when others don't. If you use top quality seed, good for your area and climate it will become so dense that weeds will not get established.
    I must clarify "weeds" though, I personally like clover in the yard others may not but I do

    There are some excellent organics based fertilizers that give excellent results from people on here like Barry Draycott, I don't how close you are to each other but you should PM him your phone number and talk
  10. Prolawnservice

    Prolawnservice LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 612

    I agree, that was my point, but also being that there is more input up front there are more creative ways to charge than just by the man hour or application. What I was trying to say is, you don't have market your program as organic to be a successful organic provider.

    I have to say I agree with you about the turf reduction thing also, but I still love the smell of freshly cut grass and in my mind its hard to beat the sight of a nicely manicured front lawn.

Share This Page