Start Your Own Lawn Care Business

Lawn Company Secrets

This ebook guide is the definitive source on how to start your own complete lawn care business that you can support yourself or your family on. Most people laugh at the idea of getting rich off of a lawn care business, but you will have the last laugh when you are able to rake in the money hand over fist. People are getting their yards cut every day of the summer and spring; what is to stop you from getting in on the action? And that is not even the best part. Once you build your business to a certain point, you can sell it off for a HUGE paycheck. Some people will pay upwards of several hundred thousand dollars for a good lawn care business. Do not let your own doubts stop you! You can do it! Others have done it and turned a big fortune; you can do the same. There is money to be made in lawns everywhere! Read more here...

Lawn Company Secrets Summary


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Author: Wayne Mullins
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How to Start a Super Successful Lawn Company

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The author presents a well detailed summery of the major headings. As a professional in this field, I must say that the points shared in this book are precise.

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Considering Professional Lawn Care Service

A professional lawn care service may help you obtain the lawn quality you desire. Certain lawn maintenance practices require expertise or specialized knowledge on product choice, application equipment and timing. When hiring a lawn care professional, consider the level of assistance you require. Additional considerations include License and certification Tennessee requires lawn care professionals to hold a pesticide applicator's license, liability insurance and charter number. Membership in professional organizations such as the Tennessee Turfgrass Association or the Professional Lawn Care Applicators Association, which promote professionalism and education on best management methods.

Working With Nature A Preventive Health Care Program For Your Lawn

To start, think about lawn care as a preventive health care program, like one you would use to keep up your own health. The idea is to prevent problems from occurring so you don't have to treat them. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A healthy lawn can out-compete most weeds, survive most insect attacks, and fend off most diseases before these problems ever get the upper hand. Your lawn carc program should be tailored to local conditions the amount of rainfall you get, for example, and the type of soil you have. The sources listed at the back of this brochure can helpyou design a lawn care program that suits both local conditions and your own particular needs. But no matter where you live, you can use the program outlined in this brochure as a general guide to growing a healthy lawn. Good soil is the foundation of a healthy lawn. To grow well, your lawn needs soil with good texture, some key nutrients, and the rightpH, or acidity alkalinity balance. Start...

Opting for Organic Lawn Care

Creating conditions for lawns to thrive Feeding your lawn Mowing and watering tips and tricks Controlling pests, diseases, and weeds the sustainable way Getting rid of your funky old lawn rhe most sustainable lawn is no lawn at all. The second best approach is to have a meadow instead of a lawn (see Chapter 19 for details). Meadows do most of the things that lawns do, including tolerate moderate traffic and play. But when you need a conventional lawn (for lawn games or other legitimate uses, or to comply with neighborhood regulations), try to keep it as small as you can and care for it in such a way that you create the least impact possible. The shift to organic lawn care has been huge. People are fed up with spreading poisons all over their yards. According to Popular Mechanics magazine, the number of U.S. households purchasing natural fertilizers increased from 2.5 million to 11.7 million between 1998 and 2003. During the same period, the number of households practicing natural...

Aerating and Renovating Your LaWn

Working with an organic lawn care company Caring for one's own lawn is a basic duty of modern homeownership. But there are certainly reasons to hire someone to mow, fertilize, weed, renovate, and otherwise nurture your lawn for you. Take laziness, for example it's one of my favorite motives for paying people. Or busyness, distaste for the activities of lawn care, physical inability to do the work, or excessive income. For whatever reason, hiring a lawn service can be a load off your shoulders. Be sure you choose a lawn care company that has a genuine commitment to the sustainable way. Some services sneak the chemicals in when you're not looking or use the same equipment for chemical and organic lawn care, resulting in contamination. Others don't really understand the principles behind organic lawn management and don't deliver good results. The sustainable approach has been around long enough, and enough training is Ask questions about the approach the lawn care company is proposing,...

What Are Your Expectations for Your Lawn

Your effort level may depend on your enjoyment for yard work and how much free time you have available. Many people love to relax by beautifying their lawn and landscape. Others may not enjoy yard work or, more commonly, have limited free time. Generally there are three levels of lawn maintenance high (immaculate lawn, requiring significant inputs of time, expertise and money) medium (pleasing lawn, requiring moderate inputs of time, expertise and money) and low (satisfactory lawn, requiring low inputs of time, expertise and money). Depending on your desired level of lawn quality and available time, you may consider employing a professional lawn care service.

Some services offered by a general gardening business

The obvious service here is everything to do with lawns. During the growing season you want to be selling a regular lawn-cutting service and when that ends in autumn you can then offer your lawn-cutting clients a lawn-care programme which includes scarification, aeration, top dressings, spring feeds and so on. If your clients are particularly unhappy with the state of their lawns during the growing season, you can offer to re-turf it for them either in the autumn or preferably in spring. In our business we undertake new lawn preparations in the autumn and return in early spring to lay the new lawn. We also concentrate on everything concerning hedges. Whether that is to plant a new hedge, or trim, re-shape or reduce an existing hedge, we offer to do it. The advantage with hedge work is, generally speaking, you will make three visits a year. One cut in spring, a further cut in early summer and the final cut and tidy in the autumn. Most homeowners don't like cutting their own hedges,...

Caring for Your Organic Lawn

Selecting easy-to-care-for grasses Getting your lawn started right Maintaining a lawn organically Considering lawn alternatives any people think that to have an attractive lawn, they have to douse it with herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. That, of course, is a fallacy. It's possible and even easy to grow a great-looking lawn organically. An organic lawn-care program requires an attitude adjustment, however. The secret is to think of your lawn as a mixed garden of grass and other compatible, low-growing plants that tolerate mowing. As in any other kind of gardening, your success depends on how well you lay the groundwork by preparing the soil, choosing the right grass varieties, and giving the plants what they need. This chapter explains what you need to know about your lawn's growth habits, fertilizer needs, and pests and diseases.

Giving Your Lawn Just Enough Water

Water properly and you'll have few problems screw it up, and nothing else will go right. Nearly everybody waters too much. A few people water too little. Very few people water just the right amount. If your lawn is constantly soggy and squishy, you're overwatering. If you step on the lawn and it doesn't spring back, or if your lawn is crunchy and dying out in places, chances are you're not watering enough. See Figure 22-2 for what happens to grasses and their root systems with varying amounts of water. Most lawns need 1 or 2 inches of water per week, including rainfall. Water early in the morning. Never water at night or in the heat of day unless your lawn is in urgent need of water. Pay attention to drought tolerance. Among cool-season grasses, fescues are the most drought tolerant bluegrass and rye are the least. Warm-season grasses tolerate more drought than cool-season ones. There's no such thing as a drought-tolerant lawn, so keep it small. (Find out more in Chapter 19.)

Reduce Or Eliminate Your Lawn

Reducing or eliminating your lawn is a great way to cut your water bill, especially if you live where less than 30 inches of rain falls during the growing season. (Spread out evenly over the span of a growing season, 30 inches of rain equals about 1 inch of water a week the amount of water that lawns need to grow well.) Even if you live where water is plentiful, making your lawn smaller makes ecological sense. In the many parts of the western United States, water is diverted from distant rivers and springs so that city residents can have plenty of water. Although much of the diverted water is necessary for city survival, using it on lawns is a questionable practice at best. Moving water from where it's plentiful to where it isn't takes energy. Many gardeners worry about the fumes that lawn mowers make, and that concern is a valid one. But power plants also spew out fumes as they create electricity for the water pumps that move the water through the pipes over the mountains and across...

Treating alreadyWeedy lawns

Having too many weeds in a lawn is more than a call to arms it's a wake-up call. Something isn't right if they're winning. On the other hand, you can and, frankly, will have to live with a few. To get rid of the weeds you already have, follow these tips 1 Assess and correct. If your lawn were healthy, you wouldn't have so many weeds, and that's the truth. So what's wrong Are you not watering or feeding enough, which stresses the grass and eventually leads to sparser growth and areas where weeds can sneak in Are you mowing too low, which allows weeds to germinate Go read the earlier basic care sections on watering, fertilizer, and mowing to see what you can figure out. 1 Consider weed-killers. But don't take herbicides lightly, no matter how frustrated and annoyed you are. You have to examine environmental and toxicity and safety issues. You don't want to harm your lawn or other garden plants in the process (or people and pets who may wander out there). Getting the right weed-killer...

Exploring Lower Impact Lawns and Sustainable Lawn Alternatives

Critiquing the conventional lawn Making lawns less bad Relying on lawn alternatives t's time to have a look at that lawn of yours. Eighty percent of U.S. homes have lawns, so odds are that you're the owner of one. You're either stuck with or in love with one, wondering how you can reconcile lawn ownership with sustainability. No lawn will ever be 100 percent sustainable, but you can do plenty of things to mitigate their negative effects. Lawns even have a few good points. Lawns are usually the most consumptive element in a typical landscape. But here's the good news Lawns are the low-hanging fruit on the sustainable tree. Getting your lawn working better goes a long way toward improving the sustainability of your property. I go into ecological lawn care in Chapter 22. For now, in this chapter, I provide you with some info on making your lawn more sustainable, or at least less bad.

Adjust the program as you observe the actual response of your lawn to the irrigation cycle

Program the numbers in Table 9-2 into the watering time or station time of each lawn valve station on your controller (or water this long by hand). Set the days to three per week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, for example). Change the numbers as the seasons change. That's it. Note This information assumes that you program for three watering cycles per week, which is ideal for most lawn types. In other words, water for the times indicated three times per week. If you water more or less often, set your watering times to deliver the total number of inches per week (listed in the table column heads) for whatever season you're in. You may need more or less water in your particular climate check the ET via your local water purveyor. For flowerbeds, ground covers, and other non-turf areas that are irrigated with sprinklers, determine whether they need more or less water than your lawns. Then you can adjust your base schedule accordingly. Keep an eye on the condition of your plants dig into...

Mowing the Lawn Cutting the Grass and Otherwise Giving the Yard a Shave

Mowing the lawn may be the job you love to hate, or you may relish the sweet scent of freshly mown grass. But no matter how you feel about it, it has to be done. Everyone can agree that a mown lawn looks better than the alternative a rangy, overgrown neglected patch. Mowing also has a purely practical side It maintains your lawn's health. Mowing regularly 1 Helps fight weeds Mowing helps prevent weeds from germinating and invading. How Mowed at the right height, lawn grass shades out both weed seeds and seedlings. If weeds begin to grow, mowing chops off their heads, thwarting their drive to grow and mature and spread. Basically, mowing turns grass into a lawn (and not, say, a wildlife preserve for ticks). Read on for some advice on the act of mowing and the basic mowing equipment. i The amount of water More water equals more grass equals more mowing. If you're sick of mowing, cut back on watering. But be careful if you cut back too much, your lawn may show signs of distress or go...

Using a lawn chair the worlds best design tool

If you really want to get to know your site, get yourself a comfortable, lightweight lawn chair. (No hammocks, please I want you to be awake for this.) Put the chair anywhere in the yard. Then sit down in it and be quiet. Notice things. The whole point of this exercise is to stop doing and start perceiving. You see, this stage isn't about design or coming up with answers. For now, you want to just absorb as much as possible. After a few minutes of quiet contemplation, perceptions of all kinds start to pour in. For instance, you may suddenly see the distant tree that could be a lovely part of what landscape architects call a borrowed view (a view of something distant, off your property, that's good enough to incorporate into what you see from key points in your own landscape). Or you may notice the way the neighbor's trees cast a shadow on your lawn at this time of day.

Replacing an Old LaWn

The exact longevity of a lawn depends on many factors local growing conditions, type of lawn, level of care, degree of use, and the presence of pests, diseases, and weeds. Unfortunately, there comes a time when it's necessary to turn the old clunker in for a new model. In some cases, renovating and overseeding your washed-up lawn with fresh grass is sufficient (see the earlier section Aerating and Renovating Your Lawn for details). But when you're faced with a lawn that's mostly weeds, full of holes, and generally pathetic, it's time to roll up your sleeves and start over. Some work is involved, but replacing a lawn isn't that difficult for the average gardener. Here's how to do it If your soil is sandy or loamy and drains well, consider making the lawn concave so that it soaks up rainwater, which will reduce dependence on irrigation. However, this technique isn't a good idea for heavy or easily compacted soils, where heavy use may be a problem if the...

Treating lawn diseases

Many species of fungi and other diseases attack lawns that aren't in good condition. Lawn diseases usually announce their presence with patches of dead grass. The way the patches spread and the shape and color they take on can indicate (to a trained eye) the type of problem that's lurking beneath the surface. See Lawn Care For Dummies for details on identifying diseases. Lawn diseases are nearly impossible to control with chemicals, but good lawn care usually keeps the diseases at bay. The best strategy is to avoid overfertilizing, which produces susceptible growth. No organic fungicides are available, but seaweed has been effective in some cases. If diseases are persistent, renovate the lawn and seed with a mixture of disease-resistant grass varieties. See the earlier section Aerating and Renovating Your Lawn for further details.

Lawn Care Tips Mowing

Pseudoscorpion Tennessee

Most of your lawn care time is spent mowing. How and when you mow your lawn can have a great impact on weed growth. To optimize the health of your lawn and reduce weeds, adopt the following guidelines. Ideal Mowing Heights For Common Tennessee Lawngrasses Ideal Mowing Heights For Common Tennessee Lawngrasses Mow at the correct height. Mowing height can drastically affect the space available for weeds. Each type of lawngrass has an ideal mowing height range. Consistently mowing at an appropriate height allows the lawngrass to naturally close in or overlap, forming a closed canopy and reducing the space available for weeds. Lawngrasses have a maximum and minimum mowing height tolerance. Mowing above the maximum tolerance results in bushy growth (opening the canopy and providing space for weeds). Mowing below the minimum tolerance is the most common. Scalping, the removal of too much leaf surface, often results in a weak and weedy lawn. Mowing below the minimum tolerance does not leave...

Controlling lawn pests Grubs bugs and other subsurface lurkers

Garden Pests Beetles Images

Sometimes good conditions aren't enough to stop a problem and other times it isn't possible to optimize conditions for one reason or another. That's when you step in with some natural controls, which are available from nurseries and insectaries. The following are tips on dealing with some of the most common lawn insect pests (see Figure 22-3) Grubs, armyworms, and cutworms These soil-dwelling larvae cause patches of lawn to die off and also attract varmints that dig up the lawn looking for them. Grubs are susceptible to many natural controls, so you may not need to take any action. You can inoculate the soil with beneficial nematodes (roundworms) introduce parasitic wasps or treat with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a disease of caterpillars that's harmless to anything else. Japanese beetle grubs are treatable with milky spore disease one fall application lasts for decades. Sod webworm These larvae make small patches of dead grass in summer. You'll see moths flying around the lawn and...

Weeds in Your Lawn and

What do I do about the weeds in my lawn Is there something I can spray These are common questions asked by homeowners each year. A better question would be, Why do I have weeds in my lawn Weeds invade your lawn because at some point there is room or space (along with other growth requirements) available for them to grow. Healthy lawngrasses compete against weeds by forming a closed canopy that limits light and space for weeds to germinate and establish. Thus, the number of weeds present can be an indicator of the competitive health of your lawn.

Lawn Weed Identification Pictures

How Kill Goosegrass

Grass weeds (like crabgrass and goosegrass) are botanically related to lawngrasses. They have a similar appearance and growth habit. Leaves of grasses are not detached from the main stem. Leaves of grasses are narrow, with a blade-like appearance. Leaves are produced one at a time in two vertical rows. Veins within leaves run parallel. Stems are usually round or flat. Grass weeds are often very difficult to control once established in the lawn. Thus, grass weeds are generally best controlled with preventative or preemergence herbicides. Preemergence herbicides need to be applied prior to germination, as they act by preventing establishment. Your choice of a best management strategy, including appropriate herbicide(s), is dependent on weed type and life cycle. The Weed Identification section provides pictures to help with identification. This section separates weeds common in Tennessee lawns according to type and life cycle.

Fighting Lawn Pests and Diseases without Chemicals

Like giving yourself a healthy diet, exercise, and good living conditions, taking care of your lawn's soil makes all the difference. An overfertilized and overwatered lawn is the perfect place for pest and disease problems to develop. So is one that isn't mowed at the right height or isn't mowed often enough. The traditional approach is to attack the problem with chemicals, but that doesn't work if the cause of the problem isn't resolved. Pests and diseases are present in every lawn, but they lay dormant until conditions are right for their development. Any problem depends on the presence of three elements a disease or pest, a host (your lawn), and conditions favorable to the problem. Eliminate the conditions, and the problem will go away without the need for toxic pesticides or other chemicals.

Exploring Lawn Alternatives

Suppose that you're ready to scrap your lawn and do something more sensible. Bravo That's a smart move, especially considering the wide of variety of low-maintenance alternatives that use much fewer resources after they're established. Everywhere you look, people are taking out their lawns and replacing them with meadows. The transformation has been described as a revolution, and it's surely one of the bright spots in modern horticulture. Instead of fertilizing and watering to make grass grow and then ruthlessly decapitating it every week with snarling fossil-powered lawn mowers, the meadow owner enjoys a more tousled, natural-looking turf made up of native or climate-compatible nonnative grasses, grass-like sedges, or herbaceous plants such as yarrow. Check out the fine-looking meadow in Figure 19-2. Meadows have many advantages over grass lawns. Consider the following Meadows require much less water and fertilizer than lawns do. Meadows can be more diverse than lawns. Meadows...

Watering a Thirsty Lawn

Watering is the most misunderstood aspect of lawn care, so pay attention, folks Lawn grasses are not notoriously resilient or deep-rooted, so you can't neglect them in this department. Of course you have to water them often when they're first installed and are getting established up to twice a week, depending on the type of grass and your climate. Established lawns need water whenever they get dry, which likewise depends on temperature, humidity, amount of sunlight, wind, and soil type. The following sections give you some more information on how to water well. Whenever possible, water your lawn in the morning hours, certainly before lunch. At this time, you probably have residual moisture or dew from overnight, and water soaks in better on slightly damp ground. Also, this timing gives the lawn a chance to absorb the drink in the warmth of the sunny day (a drenched lawn at night, especially a humid night, is an invitation to disease). Also as you may remember from long-ago science...

How to Have a Good Lawn

The lawn can be likened to the canvas on which an artist paints a picture. An attractive lawn adds much to the enjoyment of home ownership and outdoor living. Having an attractive lawn requires careful preparation of the soil before planting plus regular maintenance. Kinds of Lawn Grasses Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) is the most commonly planted and one of the best lawn grasses. A number of cultivars have been developed, most of which are improvements over the species. 'Park' and 'Newport', two cultivars used in lawn grass mixtures, are good for the average lawn. 'Park' was developed by the Agronomy Department of the University of Minnesota and exhibits especially good seedling vigor. It also turns green early in the spring. 'Newport' has a darker green color and broader leaves than common bluegrass. Other cultivars of Kentucky bluegrass that are being used in seed mixtures include 'Aquila', 'South Dakota Certified', 'Birka', 'Sydsport', 'Nugget', 'America', and 'Arboretum'....

Preparing your yard for a lawn

Before you do anything, you need to rid your property of all those things that you wouldn't want in a lawn No weeds, no horrible old remnants of a failed lawn, no rocks, no construction debris, no toxic waste, no junk, no cars you plan to fix up, no dead and dying plants, no roots from long-gone plants. Scrape, dig, haul away do what you must. After you've cleared the space for your lawn, make sure you follow the advice in the next few sections. The minute you clear an area, weeds rush in to fill the void. Unless you're prepared to forge ahead quickly, these eager settlers are a problem. But they don't have to be. Consider that if you treat the area for weeds now, before putting in the new lawn, they won't be there when the lawn goes in. Talk about a fresh start You can kill weeds and weed seeds on-site in lots of ways. oj NG Cultivating or tilling the area, although it makes you feel like a gardener, is perhaps the worst thing you can do if you want a weed-free lawn. You're sure to...

Switching to Lawn Alternatives

Lawns just don't belong in some places, and trying to grow grass where it won't thrive is just going to cause heartache. Grass doesn't like shade. It doesn't like wet roots. Sometimes it can't stand too much foot traffic. It doesn't like hard and dry soil. In situations like these, you may do better to find a substitute for turfgrass that enjoys the conditions you have. If you really want a lawn, but your conditions just don't suit most turfgrasses, consider a tough-as-nails native grass instead. Two native grasses buffalo grass and blue grama grass work well in hot, dry conditions with little maintenance. You can mow and maintain them as a lawn or let them grow as meadow grasses. Buffalo grass is a Plains native and as such has adapted to survive with very little water. It makes an attractive fine-textured lawn when watered and mowed it's also an ornamental prairie grass when it's allowed to go dormant during periods of low rainfall. For the best-looking lawn, mow it high 2 to 3...

Make Your Lawn Smaller

Most lawns have parts that are never used for anything other than giving the lawn mower its weekly workout. Do what savvy sustainable landscapers everywhere are doing Cut that lawn down to size (Refer to Chapter 19 for the scoop on lawns and lawn alternatives.) Make a lap lawn a phrase coined by a gardener I once met. Long and narrow, this type of lawn is still perfectly suited to hosting a friendly game of catch or a chase with the family pooch. After its midriff bulge has been whacked away, your svelte new lawn is ready for sustainable action. Consider a maximum size of 20 by 40 feet a total of 800 square feet. If you can do with less, great. In making the lawn smaller, you create new borders. Plant these borders with useful, beautiful, climate-appropriate plants that need less care, water, and fertilizer than the original lawn did. Drip-irrigate and mulch the borders to save water. Don't forget to move your sprinkler heads to the new edges of the lawn to save more water (and money).

Managing Lawn Weeds A Guide For Tennessee Homeowners

Managing Lawn Weeds A Guide for Tennessee Homeowners is provided by The University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service to assist residents of Tennessee with managing weeds in their home lawns. This manual provides information on cultural methods to minimize weed problems, in addition to the use of herbicides. Thus, this manual and the recommendations herein are intended to assist homeowners in developing cultural and or herbicidal control programs for weeds. For specific herbicide recommendations, this manual is meant as a reference and is not intended to replace the actual herbicide product labels. Be sure to read, understand and follow the actual herbicide product label directions.

Why I started my own gardening business

I started investigating how to go about setting up a gardening business. There was little available in terms of books or references. So I turned to business opportunity magazines and found what I was looking for. Gardening businesses were being offered as franchises. But even if I'd had the enormous amount of money required to buy one, would I really be running my own business, or would I be buying a job in someone else's If the only gardening skill you have is to be able to cut a lawn, but cut it well and take pride in your work, then you have the basis on which to build a successful business. But if you are a keen gardener, skilled, knowledgeable, a master of your craft, then the world outside your door really is waiting for your services. For skilled gardeners are rarities. Sadly, while we now have an abundance of plants and shrubs that were previously unheard of, those willing and capable of looking after them are not so readily available. This book is written for everyone who...

Getting the Dirt on Lawns

If you have a lawn, you're not alone. NASA took some photos from space and concluded that the United States alone has 31,630,000 acres of lawn. (NASA also wanted me to tell you that it's time to clean out your gutters.) That's nearly twice the size of the 100 largest U.S. cities put together. If only turf were a truly beneficial element of gardening, we could be proud of our accomplishment. (How did we get to this point, anyway See the nearby sidebar The lawns that ate America for some background.) The lawns that ate America Lawns got off to a poor start. They became popular in the 1600s, when British landowners began to compete to see who could take the most arable land out of production and plant it with the brazenly useless crop of turf. The English climate is ideal for such a silly pursuit, of course, with its constant supply of moisture, agreeable native grasses, and plenty of sheep to keep the results cropped into respectability. For a long time, lawns were exclusively for the...

Designing the lawn

After you have your ground prepared, you're ready to contemplate actual lawn size and shape. Some of the improved area may go to bordering walkways or flowerbeds. You want to allow for edgings. Eventually, you may decide to place a tree or two in the middle. Design is really up to personal preference, and you can apply some of the tips for designing a garden to lawns as well (see Chapter 2). But for now, make sure your lawn has the following qualities i It's out in the open plentiful sunshine is a recipe for lawn success. i It's not in a spot people constantly walk through (to get to a door or a patio). In these areas, installing a paved walk or graveled path would be more practical. Installing walkways before you start your lawn usually works best. i The lawn's not too big it's in scale with your house and the rest of your property. i Its shape is compatible with the surroundings. A strict, straight-edged, geometric lawn is formal is your house's architecture formal, too Perhaps...

Topdressing a Lawn

Topdressing with organic matter is the most effective way to reduce thatch in lawns. It increases microbe lations and activity by providing the food they need. Large microbe populations not only improv e nil health, they also break down thatch quickly and steadily, preventing a gradual buildup. Compost is the Ix-st topdreasJ ing. but you can use any fine material, such as dehydrated manure. (Don't use peat moss, which repd water.) The process is basically the same as spreading fertilizer or lime, though you're using more material. Aim for a layer about V* inch (.6 cm) deep. Since the material you're spreading is a low-level and slow-release source of nutrients, you don't have to worry about creating a striped lawn. You can topdress lawns at any time, but spring and fall are best. Fall is particularly g(x d if you're going to overseed sparse lawns with one of the improved varieties or blends of grass seed. Spread the seed and then cover with the topdressing to improve germination. (For...

Build a New Lawn

When building a new lawn, use Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss to prepare the ground for seeding. Before cultivating the soil, remove stones, sticks and other debris. Then, choose a day for planting when the soil is suitably moist neither wet enough to cake or clod nor powdery dry. Rototill about two inches of Canadian Peat into the top six inches of soil. Level the area to avoid minor hills and valleys and then pack the ground with a roller to squeeze out air. Spread a high quality grass seed over the entire bed, about three pounds of seed for every 1,000 square feet of lawn. Rake seeds in lightly. Finish with an organic fertilizer rich in nitrogen, phosphate and potassium, all critical nutrients for promoting a healthy, disease-resistant lawn. Water the area with a fine spray. Ibp-dress with a quarter inch of Canadian Peat to help keep seeds moist during germination and to protect them against shock from temperature changes. Water again.

Healthy Lawn Healths

Caring for Your Lawn in an Environmentally Friendly Way Picture a healthy green lawn perfect for lounging, great for ball games and cookouts, a real asset to your home. But did you know that your lawn and how you take care of it can also help the environment Healthy grass provides feeding ground for birds, who find it a rich source of insects, worms, and other food. Thick grass prevents soil erosion, filters contaminants from rainwater, and absorbs many types of airborne pollutants, like dust and soot. Grass is also highly efficient at converting carbon dioxide to oxygen, a process that helps clean the air. Caring for your lawn properly can both enhance its appearance and contribute to its environmental benefits. You don't have to be an expert to grow a healthy lawn. Just keep in mind that the secret

Planting the Lawn

If you need a lawn in a hurry, but it's the wrong time to plant, sow a temporary crop of annual ryegrass. The turf comes up fast. While it won't survive a freezing winter, it can help prevent erosion and discourage weed seeds from sprouting until you can replace it with a permanent lawn. Most people assume that starting a lawn from sod is easier, faster, and more reliable than seeding. Well, at least one of those assumptions is true It's faster. With sod, you can have a great-looking lawn in one day. But sodding (installing sod) requires just as much soil preparation work as seeding and even more aftercare. On the other hand, if you plant sod properly and nurse it through its establishment period, your lawn will start out entirely free of undesirable weedy plants, such as dandelions and thistle. 1. Roll the entire area with a lawn roller to make sure that the sod is in good contact with the soil beneath it. Creating a lawn from seed If you start your lawn with seed, weeds can and will...

An Organic Lawn

The lawn mower is your most important turf-maintenance tool. Mowing not only cuts the grass down to size, but done properly, it also helps grass grow thicker. It can reduce the weed population, too, and even feed the turf. One of the best things to happen to the organic lawn is the mulching mower, which pulverizes grass clippings into smaller pieces than a conventional mower does. Grass clippings are probably the best fertilizer your lawn can get because they provide free and natural nitrogen. When chopped into little bits, the clippings begin to break down into useful nitrogen almost as soon as they hit the ground. People spend a lot of time, effort, and money keeping their lawns watered. In many parts of the country, that effort is wasted, because the lawn can survive the summer without any supplemental water. To withstand periods of drought, many types of turfgrass enter dormancy. They stop growing and turn brown. But when the rains return, the grass springs back to life....

So what makes selfemployment so stressful

Imagine that you are leaving your present job with its stresses, strains and long hours to start your own home-based gardening business. You've fully researched your business idea and are confident that you can make it work. Your family is enthusiastically behind your plans and agree that it is time for you to go it alone. Financially you're relatively sound and have at least three months of survival income sitting in a high interest rate account, which hopefully won't be touched unless you really need it. Business planning is something that you have enjoyed doing and you worked out a clear launching strategy from which to work from to catapult your business into the market.

Local specialist publications

There are an untold number of specialist publications being published in communities all around the country, ranging from drama societies to floral arranging club newsletters. These represent an excellent opportunity for anyone launching a new gardening business or looking to expand an existing one.

Getting the business quotes and estimates

One important difference between running a general gardening business and a gardening round is that, with the latter, you will quickly achieve a regular client base and will arrive at the point where you no longer need to advertise or look for new customers. In running a general gardening business you will be constantly on the lookout for new clients, which is fun and exciting if tackled correctly.

How long could you survive without earning or achieving your survival income

Survival income is too high if your survival income is on the high side and you have no working capital, then don't despair. You can still start your gardening business. How about beginning on a part-time basis with your objective being to reduce your personal debt, or building up a cash reserve so that you have enough to get by in that initial period when you go full-time

When things dont always go to plan

You may think that swapping a hectic working life dogged with commuting problems for your own gardening business would be a stress-buster, but possibly this will not be the case. Running your own business brings with it a whole new set of problems and challenges - the experience can either be enjoyable and fulfilling or highly stressful, perhaps even more so than the environment you left behind.

Exhibitions or craft fairs

In my experience local papers are generally very approachable when it comes to finding some free publicity for your business, provided your offering has an interesting twist, or your business is unique in some way. There's little point in phoning up the editor of your local paper and telling him you're about to launch your own gardening business. His only action will be to pass you on to the classified sales section to sell you some advertising space. But were you the local council's head gardener either leaving or retiring from your post to start up your business then in all probability the editor would be interested in your story. If you're stuck for ideas on what would make your business newsworthy, then think about the reasons why you're starting it. There's a news story lurking there somewhere. All you have to do is dig it out August - generally the quietest month of the year for new enquiries. Again it is a popular holidaying month, but it's also a quiet time in the garden...

The market local to you

Another influence is the sort of weather your area gets. It's not uncommon for the South East to be enjoying mild weather while the North and Scotland struggle with freezing conditions. All of these factors will determine your market place. What is important is that you don't see any market factor as being limiting, rather see opportunity in everything. While it's unlikely that you'll be asked to cut lawns in the depth of winter when the ground is frozen, there are lots of other useful services that you can offer your clients during these times. These include

During the expansion process be aware that your profits and personal income from your business

When my business expanded, I wasn't prepared for just how much extra work I was going to have to do working on my business, as opposed to in it. Where previously I was out there working on gardening jobs, I was now spending days meeting prospective commercial clients, recruiting staff, estimating and all the increased administration that goes with it. My biggest mistake was when calculating my initial sales forecasts, I'd included my working in the business as I had before - cutting hedges, lawns, garden maintenance, etc. The impact on our profit was unfortunately painful and unforeseen.

Dont fall into the trap of undercutting your competitors to get the husiness

The vast majority of gardening outfits are one-man bands and there is nothing wrong with this. In my opinion this is the best way to operate, at least in the early days when learning how to run your business. So if you're tempted to undercut the going rates remember that there is a physical limit to how much work each of your competitors can undertake. There are only so many hedges, lawns, trees that any one person can cut in one day. Don't despair if you see a page full of gardening service adverts in your local papers. It doesn't take long for them all to become fully booked, particularly during spring and autumn.

Work to a minimum charge

Imagine that you visit our friends Mr and Mrs Garden. When you get there they show you around a relatively small patch of lawn with a perimeter bed running around it. They explain to you that as they're now getting on in years they would like someone to cut the lawn and weed the border for them every week. By now you've a fair idea of what you can achieve in an hour and you estimate that this garden will take you an hour a week tops. Okay Now comes the important bit. They ask you how much it's going to cost them. You don't tell them two hours (let's say your hourly rate is 10), which will be 20. Instead you tell them that while you appreciate that theirs is a relatively small garden, your minimum charge is 20.

Try to give your client an instant estimate

You've listened to her requirements, made notes and, where appropriate, given any suggestions as to how the job can be improved. You're now at the stage where you know how much you're going to charge for the work. Now what For example, it may be that she has to consult Mr Lawn or someone else in the household. If this is the case then you've got a problem. Were you to give your price at that stage you risk losing the opportunity to present your estimate to encourage a positive response. As opposed to your sending a well-presented estimate on headed notepaper with details of your business, you're simply giving a price, which at a later stage could be easily dismissed by the other deciding party whom you have not yet met. What happens in these cases is that Mrs Lawn is very keen on using you to undertake the gardening job and as soon as Mr Lawn arrives home she tells him that you've called and in the same breath tells him how much it's going to cost. Invariably,...

Whether you like it or not youre in business hours a day seven days a week

Be aware that, wherever you are from now on, people will see you as the gardener, or the landscaper or the person who comes and cuts our lawn. Your clients, past, future and potential, may be watching you so your professional image should be maintained at all times, not just when you're working.

Preparing a profit and loss forecast

RL Gardening Services do not have any materials or stock in their books. They simply provide labour. Many gardening businesses will be like this. However, if you're planning to sell plants or provide any materials other than your own labour, you will need to include these costs in your forecasts.

Survive succeed and prosper

Remember back in Chapter 2 I told you about the importance of business planning Deciding to grow your business into a larger enterprise is simply another stage in your business plan. If you haven't yet started your gardening business then I'd recommend you write a written goal along the lines of - 'In a whatever time frame you're planning when I've established my business my goal is to expand my business to include commercial contracts'. By doing this at this early stage you are carving the shape of your future business, which is vital if you are to prosper. Remember your business will go through a number of stages before you are truly prosperous. You must first learn to survive. Next succeed and finally prosper.

Carry out a skills analysis

Remember, if you can cut a lawn then you've enough skill to start your own business. All of Let's assume that initially at least you've only put down lawn cutting. That's fine, because this is a service in itself. Lawn cutting isn't about fashion, it's about need. Every garden that has a lawn will need it cut either once or twice a week. Thus representing a market for your services. The most important thing is not to dwell on the fact that all you can do is cut a lawn, but to make sure that you cut lawns better than anyone else. Aim for the top end of the domestic market where clients will pay extra for a professional cut. Imagine for a moment that your lawn cutting service were a hairdresser's or barber's shop. Are you a 5 short back and sides operation hoping to boost your earnings with tips Or are you looking to offer the best lawn cutting service in your locality and therefore able to charge more

General gardening

If you're planning to run a general gardening business, one where you tackle a wide variety of work, then phone up a number of companies and ask them for a rough idea of how much it would cost to have a specific job done, for example trim a hedge. If, as I suspect many will, they tell you that they can only provide an estimate if they come and see what needs to be done, you could either arrange to have them visit a friend's garden, or press them for a rough idea of charges by giving them the hedge's measurements etc.

Printing booths

What I find useful is to create a set of postcards, which I use for a variety of seasonal sales campaigns. For example, I have cards with a picture of a perfect lawn, which I use to promote our lawn-care services and cards with pictures of hedges for promoting our hedge-cutting, re-shaping, planting and removal service and so on. Banks and building societies have certain restrictions on how you manage your personal accounts. Generally, you are not allowed to use your personal account for business use. Instead you will be invited to apply for a separate business account. If you're trading as a sole trader, which will be the most common form of trading entity for the majority of gardening businesses then your business account will be in your name followed by your trading name, for example Paul Power trading as Paul Power Landscape Gardening.

The weather

Often when gardeners in the south of the country are taking covers off lawn mowers preparing for their first cut of the season, elsewhere in the country others may still be sweeping snow from pathways and clearing storm damaged trees. With this in mind, the information in this chapter is given more as a guide than a definitive directive on what you should do and when you should do it. You will need to tailor the material to suit your own business and the climatic conditions you find yourself operating under.


John Kavanagh buys a new lawnmower for his business Kavanagh Garden Co. He pays 293.75 and is given a receipt. The receipt details the transaction and records the price of the machine, the amount of VAT that has to be paid and finally the total figure. 1 Quick Cut 17 Lawnmower


If you're planning to cycle, walk, get the bus or use something other than motorised transport and you don't intend using a petrol lawnmower, then great. You can become one of the growing band of eco-friendly gardeners and won't have to budget for petrol. But if you are using your car and petrol-powered equipment then make sure you include this in your figures. The cost of petrol doesn't look as if it's going to fall dramatically. If anything it will continue to rise. Make sure you include generous allowances to cover fuel and oil.


Say for example that you visit Mr and Mrs Garden once a fortnight to mow their lawn, weed their borders and do a general tidy-up. You spend four hours doing this and you charge them 40. They're very pleased with your work. You like them. They're a nice friendly couple who always bring you a cup of tea half way through your work and insist on you having a ten-minute break. Everything's going well until one day you're hoeing the back border right next to the conservatory, when Mr Garden comes to ask if you would like another cup of tea, and you stand up suddenly and without thinking swing the hoe round and it shatters the conservatory window. Bang. Mr and Mrs Garden are both extremely upset. They saved hard to pay for the conservatory and a new window is going to costs hundreds of pounds. You too are shocked because you're now thinking how are you going to pay for it It was you who broke the window and whether or not you could argue that it was Mr Garden's fault for startling you like...


This is often the quietest month of the year. Gardeners with gardening rounds will find much of their work concerned with maintaining order and beauty in the garden as opposed to undertaking any heavy work. Lawn-cutting services will not be affected by any downturn in work, but the same cannot be said for those running general gardening businesses. It is here that the 'quiet' period will be felt most, but this should not impact too drastically on your sales provided you've been prudent and forward planned.


If you're operating a gardening round or lawn-cutting service, and you are planning to close your business for the winter months, then September may well be your last month of trading. Whether or not you continue through October and November will depend on climatic conditions. My experience has been that regular clients are keen to have their gardens 'put to bed' by early October at the latest. Remember, too, that from now on the days will be getting shorter, which will result in you having less working hours available in your diary. Scarifying service. This involves removing dead grass, weeds and moss from the lawn's surface. Hiring a machine is usually more cost effective than purchasing one. Aeration service, reducing compacting on the lawn which has occurred during the summer period. Generally achieved by using a garden fork, but depending on the surface area of the lawn you may find that you need to hire a machine. Don't be tempted to buy one.

The spinoff factor

There are a number of additional services that you can offer to complement your main business and make sure that you have enough work to see you through the dormant period when lawns are not growing There's no reason for your business to be quiet just because the lawns are not growing. Pricing Lawn-cutting is a volume business. Prices tend to be keen, with larger operators taking over complete neighbourhoods. They arrive with a fleet of lawn mowers and an operator for each mower. Lawns are cut in double quick time, cuttings are thrown into high-sided trailers, or wheelie bins carried in the back of the van. Their service resembles that of a refuse collection in terms of speed and quality. The name of the game is to cut as many lawns as quickly as possible and move on. There's little time for brushing up afterwards, although many do have someone brushing up as they go. However, they too are under the clock and with so little time and so much grass they struggle to do the job...

Tools of the trade

You must invest in a mower that is capable of working all day, every day. You'll find these at specialised garden shops catering for the trade. Check your Yellow Pages. Dealers usually sell or hire a wide range of gardening equipment including chainsaws, strimmers etc. Unless you're planning to cut only a few lawns a week, you would be well advised to invest in a commercial mower. Prices start at around 400. They're not cheap, but they are capable of working long hours without overheating and becoming problematic. Mowers you find at DIY stores are generally only suitable for domestic work. Guarantees are invalidated if you use them for anything other than mowing your own lawn. Or use your client's mower. The alternative to purchasing your own mower is to use your clients', provide of course they have one. There are many keen gardeners who have grown too old to mow their own lawn and will be only too happy to have a professional cut it for them.

Potential earnings

Your earnings will depend on how many lawns you cut and at what price. If you want to make a full-time, profitable business from lawn cutting, my advice is that you aim to cut fewer lawns but charge more because of the quality of your workmanship. work when you're doing it all day. There's a lot of bending down and emptying grass boxes as well as moving heavy garden furniture such as tables and chairs away from the lawn prior to cutting, and putting them back once you've finished. Don't underestimate the work involved. This business involves far more than pushing a mower around. The size and area of the lawn to be cut. How much garden furniture will you have to move from the lawn before you cut it Dog fouling - if your client has a dog who is responsible for clearing away the dog mess prior to the cutting If it's you, make sure you charge enough. From personal experience, I can tell you this can be very time-consuming, particularly if your client is elderly and unable to do it for...

Case study

Everyone knew Andy was a keen gardener. His ex-colleagues, with whom he still kept in contact, joked that his garden must be looking fabulous now he was at home all the time. It was. But that was the problem. There was only so much gardening he could do at home. And when one of his friends rang him up and asked him if he'd mind helping them with theirs, Andy jumped at the chance and his part-time gardening business was started. Andy's story is not unique. There are lots of people like Andy who run small, part-time gardening businesses to satisfy their own needs both in terms of income and lifestyle. But what suits Andy may not suit you. Therefore it's important that you work in the area that suits your aspirations and lifestyle.

Working with Weed trimmers and Weed whackers

Weed trimmers and weed whackers can do a lot of different things around your yard and garden They can cut grass (especially in tricky, hard-to-reach spots like under a fence and along edges and borders) and trim weeds and light brush (for info on lawn care, check out Chapter 10).

Putting Healthy Conditions First

Set up a healthy environment, and you'll have much less trouble with your lawn. Proper lawn-growing conditions include the following Good soil Lawn grasses need soil that's loamy, fertile, and fairly high in organic matter. Too much clay inhibits root development the roots can easily be overwatered or compacted. Too much sand creates a soil that dries out too fast and doesn't hold nutrients well. Get a soil test to see whether your soil will have to be modified or replaced (see Chapter 16 for details). If the soil is poor, you're better off fixing that first. Enough sun The best place for a lawn is in full sun. Proper varieties of lawn grasses Choose a seed mix that's adapted to your particular climate. Include several varieties of grass that adapt to slightly different growing conditions. If you have shady areas, include some shade-tolerant varieties. Minimum competition from neighboring trees Tree roots are shallow and extensive (See Chapter 9). They find lawns quickly and suck the...

Boosting Watering efficiency

Here are a few ideas to help you get the most out of your lawn-watering, reducing waste and saving on your water bill 1 Watch don't walk away or leave on errands If the lawn gets soaked and runoff starts, you can intervene right away. Keep busy in other parts of your yard and check back for runoff every 15 minutes or so. il Yank out weeds and other encroaching plants. Weeds suck water away from the lawn.

An Herbicide Is Not a Quick

Is there something I can spray A better question may be, do you really want to remove the weeds in your lawn With weeds present, at least your lawn is green. An herbicide can be used to remove weeds by making conditions unfavorable. However, unless you put effort into having this available space covered by competitive lawngrass, you will have bare patches. If conditions do not favor lawngrass growth, weeds will often be the first to return. Thus, to reduce weeds in your lawn, you have to put some effort into providing an environment that favors the growth of your lawngrass vs. weeds. An herbicide application is not a quick fix. Herbicides only aid in this plant selection process.

Considering turf and mulch

Lawns use tons of water and create other problems as well. In fact, lawns are the most consumptive of all landscaping features. If you can't eliminate your lawn, make it smaller. And if you can't make it smaller, at least manage watering well. Aerate your lawn and remove thatch once or twice a year to allow water to penetrate.

Fertilizing the Sustainable

The major nutrient that lawn grasses require is nitrogen, followed by phosphorous, potassium, and sometimes trace elements such as iron. Nitrogen is volatile and needs to be applied regularly. However, many people overapply lawn fertilizers thinking that more is always better. Instead, test your soil to find out exactly what the lawn needs (see Chapter 16). If you have to fertilize your lawn, follow these simple guidelines Go organic. Organic fertilizers nurture soil life harsh chemical ones harm it. Organics last longer, won't burn the lawn if they're overapplied, are made from sustainable natural sources rather than fossil fuels, are less likely to leach into groundwater or streams, and are less expensive in the long run. Know how much fertilizer to apply. Lawns need 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet at each application, with an annual total of 1 to 5 pounds, depending on soil type, grass variety, and growing conditions. The percentages of the Big Three (nitrogen,...

Getting the water balance right

Figuring out the details about watering can be kind of a juggling act, but you can at least avoid the extremes. Gardeners know of some classic, telltale signs that an established lawn is crying out for water. Don't let it get to the point of a crisis. Here are the signs that your lawn is a bit parched 1 When you walk on it or somebody rides a bike over it, the lawn grass shows the marks that is, it doesn't bounce back.

Improving Water management

Most people are overwatering their landscaping, and lawns are getting most of this largesse. Good water management involves a bit of education and some careful attention to changing conditions, not simply watering on a fixed schedule that ignores actual water need. Water management doesn't cost a penny, and you'll start seeing lower water bills right away. Visit Chapter 9 for complete information on ways to manage your water properly. You have a huge opportunity to save water (and money) just by tuning up your lawn sprinkler system. A permanent, well-designed irrigation system is r ll the most sustainable way of watering a lawn, but it has to be kept in good condition with regular maintenance. Simple adjustments, such as re-aiming heads, cleaning plugged nozzles, and moving heads to improve coverage and eliminate overspray onto pavement, can make a big difference. See Chapter 10 for details.

Whacking Weeds the Natural

Make your lawn dense and vigorous so it outcompetes the weeds Plant the proper varieties, nurture the soil, mow high and often to prevent seed-set on annual weeds, water deeply and infrequently, and reseed bare spots quickly. Any vacancies will likely fill up with weeds, not desirable grasses. Monitor weed development, and eradicate newcomers early. By the way, clover absorbs nitrogen from the air and puts it into the soil, where grasses can use it. Clover was a common feature of lawns until chemical-company propaganda convinced people that it was a weed. It also attracts bees, however, so it's hazardous to those with bee allergies. Corn gluten meal works against many other weeds and also acts as a gentle organic fertilizer. Don't seed after applying it, though, because it inhibits germination. Spread the meal with a fertilizer spreader, water afterward, and then let the lawn dry out for two to three days.

Seeding and Sodding Adding the Grass

Whether you're starting with a new lawn or trying to improve an already-existing lawn, the grass is the real point and makes all the difference in the world. Unfortunately, having great grass isn't simply a matter of going to the store and buying grass seed. You can choose from many types of grass seed, and the type you need depends on the climate you live in, the amount of light your yard receives, and whether you have any texture, color, and height preferences for your lawn. Some people like slow-growing grasses so they don't have to mow quite as often. Other people insist on having Kentucky bluegrass in their yards regardless of whether they actually live in Kentucky. I cover many of the options available to you in the next few sections. Some people even choose to have a lawn without grass. You can get out of planting grass by using clover or low-growing groundcovers like thyme or, in shady areas, moss. For more information on groundcovers, hop on over to Chapter 12.

Do a catchcan test on your sprinkler system

Set some tuna cans out on your lawn (take the tuna out first). Use about eight cans for an average-size lawn, placing some at sprinkler heads and some in the spaces between heads. Run the system for exactly 15 minutes. Then use a ruler to measure how much water is in each can. If the water depth differs by more than 30 percent, change the sprinkler-head spacing to improve coverage double-check your repair work repeat the catch-can test and measure the depth of water in each can. Add the depths, divide by the number of cans to get the average, and then multiply by 4 to get the precipitation rate in inches per hour. Use this figure to develop a watering schedule (see the next section).

Determining the kind of grass you want or need

If you're shopping and you don't yet know what you want in your lawn, browse the grasses available, looking for one that appeals to you and seems like a match for your growing conditions. If you're really at sea, call a land-scaper or lawn-service company and have someone come over to view the intended site and discuss your options. If you don't know what you have in your existing lawn and you want the new grass to blend in properly, do this simple step In about late spring or early summer, when the grass is thriving, dig up a representative chunk and take it to your local garden center, Cooperative Extension Service, a good land-scaper, or even a lawn-service company representative. These professionals know or can point you to someone who can identify the grass. Please note that grass comes in many varieties and their relatives hundreds, in some cases. The differences may be pretty subtle. Don't worry, though. Some grass varieties perform better than others in any given area, and the...

Insect And Disease Control

White grubs often feed on the roots, thus killing the grass. Several leaf-spot diseases affect the color and appearance of the lawn certain soil fungi can kill the grass in small patches. These diseases are usually most prevalent in warm, humid weather. Consult your county Agricultural Extension office for the latest recommended controls for these problems. Renovating an Old Lawn The kind of renovation needed depends on the condition of your lawn. If weeds cover 40 percent or more of the area, complete renovation is required. Follow the recommendations for starting a lawn. If the problem areas are small, vertical mowing and removal of the dead grass or thatch followed by topdressing and overseeding may be all that is necessary. Late August is the best time to do this. If the soil is compacted and feels hard underfoot, it should be aerified standing water after a rain may also indicate a compacted soil. With problem lawns it may be necessary to...

Herbicide Application Calendar

Instructions This calendar is intended to aid in planning the timing of herbicide applications. Application timings are based on the life cycle of target weeds and available herbicide options. The number of herbicide applications is dependent on the desired maintenance level or quality of lawn appearance. Using this planning calendar, choose appropriate herbicide(s) and application type (or formulation) from the section HERBICIDES FOR CONTROLLING LAWN WEEDS.

Weed Susceptibility To Post Herbicides

HERBICIDE CHOICE This table is meant to assist in choosing the appropriate herbicide(s). This table is intended to complement the HERBICIDE APPLICATION CALENDAR and the HERBICIDE OPTIONS FOR CONTROLLING LAWN WEEDS. Overall Comments In lawns, the presen ce of moss and algae is an ind icator of one or m ore of the followin g conditions poor drainage compacted soil acid soil (high acidity or low pH) low soil fertility, and or heavy or intense shading (restricted light for optimum grass growth). Th us, chemical treatment will only provide temporary control.

Changing to lowmaintenance grasses

You can choose from many kinds of lawn grasses, some less troublesome than others. As with any plant, different varieties of lawn grass vary in their susceptibility to pests and diseases, their need for water, their resistance to weeds, and their need for mowing and other care. If you'll be installing a new lawn or replacing an old one, pick a low-care variety that Beating the lawn police Of all crazy things, many communities and homeowner associations actually demand that residents own and maintain conventional lawns. They fine or even arrest violators, criminalizing those who prefer wildflowers, vegetables, or perennial borders over turf (as well as those who don't mow often enough). Some homeowner associations can even lay claim on your property for your defiance of their regulations. If you live under such oppressive conditions, lobby for change. Organize like-minded neighbors to educate the community about the negative effects of turf and the benefits of sustainable landscaping,...

Installing Vegetated paving systems

Vegetated paving systems help make your driveway and other areas permeable so that water soaks in and is used by plants rather than going into the gutter. These systems were designed to be used with lawn grasses, but no law says you can't plant them with native plants, wildflowers, or even broccoli. (Well, because the systems are made to be driven on, maybe broccoli isn't such a great idea.) You can see how a typical system is put together in Figure 14-2.

Nephelodes minians Guenee Lepidoptera Noctuidae

Bronzed cutworm larvae feed on grasses and such grain crops as barley and wheat. It is most frequently considered a pest of pasture and lawn grasses, especially Poa spp., and occasionally it damages field crops such as clover and sugarbeet. It commonly damages corn in the midwestern states, and when preferred plants are exhausted it may feed on other vegetables. On occasion, larvae also are observed to climb fruit trees and feed on the buds and leaves.

Use Directions And Precautions

* Note * Next to product name, indicates a speciality product that may not be normally sold at common retail garden centers. Product may be available at or require order from agricultural chemical distributor. * or ** Next to a lawngrass type indicates a specific use precaution in the adjacent use directions and precautions. Do not apply to other lawngrasses. Application to well-established lawngrasses listed may result in temporary injury (yellowing and stunted growth). Use rate is dependent on lawngrass tolerance and growth stage of grass weeds (refer to produ ct label). LAWNGRASS

Exercise A A Typical Grass Plant

The corn plants and trays of lawn grass need to be started from seed 2-4 weeks prior to the class meeting. These can be grown in the greenhouse or under grow lights. Both require adequate water and fertilizer. Grass seed should be sowed in loose soil to produce a carpet of grass. Allow to grow until inflorescences appear. If seed is available, plant a tray of Kentucky blucgrass (Poa pratensis) and Bermuda grass (Cynodan dactylon).

For Growing And Outdoor Living

A The problem with autumn leaves mulch is they can mat together when wet, decomposing slowly and making it difficult for bulbs, perennials and desirable seedlings to sprout through in spring. The solution is to shred them, which you can do fairly easily with a rotary lawn mower. Shredded leaves are an excellent mulch attractive, relatively weed-free and rich in plant nutri Rake or blow the leaves into large piles about 4 inches deep, then run over them with a lawn mower. Start by working around the edge in a circle, directing the shredded leaves toward the center. When you've finished, the volume of leaves will be reduced by about half. Don't try to collect the leaves with a bagging attachment on your mower unless you have lots of spare time.The leaves will quickly fill the bag, so you'll have to stop and empty it every few minutes. If you have a really large lawn to clean and a ride-on mower, you might want to consider an attachment designed to blow the leaves from the mower into a...

At the end of the season

Immediately after cropping, remove the straw and cut off the old plant leaves (about 3 in above the crown) and unwanted runners using shears or a sickle. Alternatively, a rotary lawn mower can be run directly over the entire bed. Tuck in runners needed to fill in any gaps in the row. In the second year, a matted row can be grown by allowing runners to root in the row and reducing the space available, so that the quantity of fruit is greater but the quality suffers. The space between the rows is kept clear. Defoliation is good horticultural practice because it rejuvenates the plant and removes leaves and stems, which may be a source of pests and diseases. But it must be done as soon as cropping is over to avoid damaging fresh growth and reducing the crop the next year.

Compost Kitchen Scraps and Yard Debris

Layer kitchen scraps with lawn clippings, chopped dry leaves, shredded twigs and plant stalks, and other landscape and garden debris to make rich compost. Composting recycles the nutrients contained in organic materials. My family keeps a small plastic bucket with a lid right in the kitchen sink, and that bucket is where all our eggshells, teabags, fruit and vegetable scraps, and inedible leftovers go. When it's full, my uncomplaining spouse carries it out to spread in the compost bin. (I love that man.) Our composting habit keeps our trash can smelling better, makes the earthworms happy, and keeps our dog from getting fat. Flip to Chapter 5 for details on how to make your own compost pile.

Minimizing the effects of maintenance on and offsite

Conventional maintenance does huge damage to the environment. Every year in the United States alone, we use 800 million gallons of gasoline just to mow lawns and lots more to power other equipment, such as trimmers, blowers, and chain saws. Power equipment also generates significant air and noise pollution. The 67 million pounds of pesticides used annually on American lawns destroy native and beneficial insects, cause air pollution, and sicken people and pets. Herbicides and fertilizers also harm the environment.

Mulching The Sustainable Garden Miracle

Back in the old, unsustainable days, everyone used to rake up the leaf litter from flower beds and lawns and cast it into the trash, leaving soil exposed to sun, wind, rain, and footfall. It sounded good at the time keep the place tidy, avoid harboring pests and diseases, get your property looking all suburban and respectable, and let the magic truck take the bad stuff out of your life forever.

Thumbs down Avoiding phony grass

As with so many things these days, some of what passes for green materials is anything but. For instance, phony plastic lawns are all the rage in some circles. Some communities even give rebates to homeowners who replace their living lawns with artificial ones. Manufacturers point out that a fake lawn uses no water and needs no mowing, fertilizer, or pesticides. Nonliving turf worsens the urban heat island effect, uses materials that are made from fossil fuels (and may contain toxic elements), eliminates even the paltry life-giving benefits of real grass, and creates a potential waste-stream nightmare at the end of its service. Throw in the fact that synthetic turf does require some water to keep it clean, contributes to stormwater pollution because it offers no biofiltration, and gets dangerously hot in summer, and you can see that plastic lawns are a very bad idea. Living lawns are a huge part of the negative environmental impact of landscaping, but substituting a sea of plastic is...

The Best Use of Land Growing Food

People went kind of crazy after World War II. Huge cars with tailfins, Twinkies, and big front lawns consumed the affections of modern Americans. One of the casualties was homegrown food, a common part of life before then. Times have changed again, and it's time to get back to growing our own groceries. Feeding your family is the very best use of your land and not as difficult as you may think.

Great Greenery for a Green Garden

When most people hear the word landscaping or garden, they think of plants. Plants are the heart of the garden, and with the underpinnings out of the way, the fun of populating your property with trees, shrubs, perennials, and other plants begins in this part. Here you see how to design gorgeous plantings that also really work, demanding little care and few resources. You get the dirt on soil, composting, and mulching. You find out how to buy, install, and care for plants. And of course, you read all about lawns but not just any old lawns you find out about alternatives to conventional lawns and lawn care.

An integrated landscape

It's time to rethink the suburban landscape paradigm a house surrounded by symmetrical evergreen foundation plants a huge manicured lawn punctuated by occasional flower beds a vegetable garden relegated to a corner of the backyard. As an organic gardener, you're uniquely positioned to create integrated landscapes in which edibles and ornamentals share garden space. Why You don't have to worry about pesticides sprayed on lawns and flowers contaminating your food plants. Why not use blueberry bushes as foundation plants They're attractive and low maintenance, and the foliage turns a beautiful crimson in fall. Best of all, you can step out your door to a harvest of juicy berries. Rainbow Swiss chard, which has striking orange, pink, red, and yellow stems, is a natural in flower beds and offers a nutritious harvest, too.

Boundless Energy and Endless Ideas

They had to get rid of the lawn before they could make the wildlife haven they wanted. An easy choice. Lawns look great to some people but they're basically sterile. As far as bird life is concerned, they're OK for starlings and crows. But if you want a variety of birds, you need a variety of plants. The lawn was also home to crane fly maggots, and when the lawn went away, Carleen recalls, the crane fly larva chewed their way through a lobelia border. Once we took out the lawn, they seemed to think I'd set out a salad bar, and at first they ate everything. The sight of the unseemly adult crane fly has led thousands of Northwesterners to reach for diazinon. Now banned, diazinon was for years one of the most serious bird killers on the market. Neil and Carleen never used it or any other chemical still, the crane flies at their place have all but vanished. There's almost no lawn to harbor them, and there's a crowd of hungry birds to go after those few crane flies that persist. They...

Adjusting to alternatives for power garden equipment

I don't have a lawn just a tiny meadow that I never mow. I have a vine on the house that I shear back (with electric hedge trimmers) once or twice a year. If I got rid of that vine, I wouldn't need the hedge trimmers. Believe me, it's tempting. I practice chop and drop, and I mulch, so there's no need for a string trimmer. I never turn over the soil, even in my vegetable garden, so I don't need a rototiller. I get more food than I could ever eat without lifting a finger except to plant the little fellers and pick the produce. Perhaps you have more work to do in your garden than I do. That's cool. I understand. But I bet that in most cases, you'll still do fine without power tools.

Ten Quick Fun or Handy Garden Projects

So your garden is all planted, the lawn is mowed, everything is landscaped to your satisfaction, and now you're itching for something else to do to your yard. Don't fret you still have plenty of ways to make your yard even better and to help you enjoy it even more (preferably while sipping a cool lemonade). This chapter contains some fun ideas you can consider.

Procedure for Exercise B

Choose several outdoor settings, such as a wooded area, park, city street, and suburban lawn. Sclcct at least one indoor location as well. If it is winter or raining you might want to sclcct all indoor locations. Your instructor may specify certain locations or have other suggestions. Also, you might want to expose the plates at different times of the day to sec if the same types of fiingi are present at different times.

Recreation and sports

Kids, adults, and pets all need rec spaces. Generally, these facilities should be on level ground, with safe surfaces, and should be located away from quiet spaces or fragile plantings. Lawn is the traditional recreational surface, and there's no denying its safety, durability and usefulness. But meadows made of yarrow, sedges, or native grasses can stand up to a decent amount of play activity too, so consider them for a more sustainable alternative. Informal lawn sports like volleyball and badminton require pretty large areas (80 x 45 feet and 60 x 30 feet, respectively). Formal recreation courts (tennis, racquetball, and so on) aren't terribly sustainable they use up lots of resources, and they require impervious surfaces and regular maintenance. Similarly, swimming pools are pretty over the top, with their immense demands for energy and water. Why not save yourself big bucks by enjoying the local public facilities and use your yard to grow food instead

Let Those rass Clippings

Grass clippings make great fertilizer, according to Cyane Gresham, compost specialist at the Rodale Institute Experimental Farm in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. Cyane says that it's a crime to waste grass clippings by bagging them up for disposal with household trash because they're such a terrific organic source of nitrogen and other nutrients. Grass clippings should never leave your property. They are too valuable as a mulch and fertilizer for the lawn, gardens, and landscape,'' Cyane explains.

Clues to Quality Cultivating Tools

Removing whatever is growing in a spot (whether weeds or wild plants or old lawn, or whatever) creates open ground which, like a good gardener, you should improve prior to planting (see Chapter 4). So you do everything you're supposed to do, and then what happens A crust forms. Water may puddle and seedlings may strain to poke through. You need to gently break it up, and that's where cultivating tools come in.

Managing Insect Pests

Sharing your vegetables, flowers, trees, shrubs, and lawn with insects is a balancing act. On one hand, you want a safe, attractive landscape and a bountiful, pesticide-free harvest. On the other hand, armies of marauding insects and other pests may seem intent on destroying your dreams. What's an organic gardener to do

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