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TiedemanLLC
01-05-2012, 03:00 PM
The whole topic that was started the other day about organic lawn treatments has had me thinking a lot lately about pesticide applications to lawns.

I have been a licensed applicator going on approximately 8 years now. And every year I get to that point of where I hate the chemicals. I hate the smell, the storage, the entire PPE process, application rates, and wondering whether what I am doing is harmful to me and others around me. I actually once got chemical burn on my foot long long time ago so that is always in my mind too.

So more and more I am at the point of where if something else, a better safe option came up, I would take it. Keep in mind as long as I could retain a good part of my clients from leaving. And yes I have already tried to sell them organic or natural products, but the price tag scares them away. I have even thought about doing TONS more with IPM.

I guess I have a few questions. 1) Does anybody every feel the same way? 2) Have you ever thought about getting out of the pesticide applicator field? 3) And if you have or if you have thought about it, how would you do so without losing clients or market yourself in the new direction?

Steve
01-05-2012, 04:34 PM
This does make me wonder. I can think of many times where I was driving down a street and had the window open and passed a fertilization business out spreading something on the lawn and even just passing by, the smell makes you want to gag.

When you get that kind of reaction, you do have to wonder if prolonged exposure to it is going to cause a problem down the road.

I am sure for the longest time people didn't think twice about using asbestos in anything they did, but now we know it can be so very destructive to the lungs.

dpld
01-05-2012, 04:35 PM
IPM is the only way to go and by doing so you can not only minimize the use of pesticides you can afford to use more of the organic products because you will be useing less product to begin with.

i don't advertise that i offer organic programs i advertise that i engage in professional organic horticultural practices.

most customers determine the value of your service based on seeing how much product you are dumping on thier property or that every thing was sprayed.
i try to educate my customers in that the value in the service is by doing a complete property inspection each visit and monitor all the plants at each interval for what ever pests are active at that time and only making treatments when the threshhold is high enough to warrant use of a product.

by doing so i not only cut back on pesticedes i also cut back on killing and effecting the benificial insects which take much longer to rebound then the bad.
most insect and disease issues that effect trees and shrubs are actually secondary to the real issue at hand.
healthy and vigorous plants can fight off most insects and diseases and both issues thrive and target unhealthy plants.
these are the things i discuss with the customers to educate them and convey to them that i am the right man for the job.

i don't think most consumers are not willing to spend the extra money. i think it is more in part to not selling it correctly.
you see, everyone wants the perfect world free from chemicals, diseases and such and everyone sells that concept.
but most guys don't deliver the goods or put out bad results and it taints the consumers.

i give all my inquiries a high gloss booklet that has all the products and thier respective labels i use as well as what each product will be used for and why.
included i also give them a detailed monitor schedule based and the native and common plant material with photos and what pests are prevalent at that time with the photos showing them in detail as to what the problem looks like.

you would say why do all this? i would say because it makes them more familiar with thier properties and opens thier eyes to what they been seeing all along and never realized.
its like haveing a IPM tech at every job site.
they see a little C notching on the rhody's or some lace bug damage on the azaleas from last year and they see the importance of the service and it is justified in their mind.
for the first time you can walk on any property and in five minutes you can point out several issues first hand and use that to sell the service but the key is educate them on the issue and give them the results and they will always come back for more.

dpld
01-05-2012, 04:39 PM
This does make me wonder. I can think of many times where I was driving down a street and had the window open and passed a fertilization business out spreading something on the lawn and even just passing by, the smell makes you want to gag.

When you get that kind of reaction, you do have to wonder if prolonged exposure to it is going to cause a problem down the road.

I am sure for the longest time people didn't think twice about using asbestos in anything they did, but now we know it can be so very destructive to the lungs.

lawn chemicals definitly win in the smells the worst category especially on the weed apps.

SECTLANDSCAPING
01-05-2012, 05:20 PM
I decided not to renew my pesticide business license next year. I will still have a applicator license for a while.

I figured the cost of the licenses, test, cost of fertilizer, compared to how many times we apply chems and came to the conclusion its not worth it. I had a small increase in sales after going all organic. Since theres no overhead its actually cheaper for me to do then chemical applications. This might not be the case for someone who does a lot of spraying's but for me it is.

I have elderly clients and families with children and dogs. A quick conversation of the hazards of fertilizers is a selling point. It hasnt failed me yet. The only thing that sucks is it doesnt work for weeds. So we overseed and fertilize naturally so the grass is to thick for them to sprout.

I had good results and I'm going to stick with it.

Ducke
01-05-2012, 06:45 PM
I guess I have a few questions. 1) Does anybody every feel the same way? 2) Have you ever thought about getting out of the pesticide applicator field? 3) And if you have or if you have thought about it, how would you do so without losing clients or market yourself in the new direction?

I use to wonder about the effects of all the chemicals that I was inhaling on a daily basis, I often asked the powers to be for info on the stuff and always got the pat on the head and "Oh there alright no harm from 24D its just tree huggers trying to give us a bad name" "Now go back to work and make us more money" . Here in Nova Scotia we didn't get a lot of choice First they ban Residential pesticide use and now they have ban all pesticide use on lawns.
Yes it is a hard sell (for the companies that have been telling their customer that pesticides were OK) to convince customers that what they we have done for ages is wrong and harmful and that basically we have been lieing to you all these years and have been exposing you to danger every time you play on your lawn with your kids.
But slowly we have been winning them back. Its easier for new companies like mine as I don't have to mention my pesticide days to anyone. All I talk is GREEN and how we can work together to give them a 95% weed free and safe Lawn.
I like being chemical free, It saves me a load of paper work and time. spent handling and storing the stuff just that alone is a $$$ saver. Also opens up more market share for the industry now we need to spend more time on each lawn to make it nice so that is more $$ in my pocket, BEING GREEN is trendy and trendy is more $$ in my pocket and with having to slow down and spend more time with less customers it leaves more room for more lawn care people which is more $$$ in everyone's pocket.
There are more services to offer now to , before you would Fertilize to make it green and then spray to kill weeds and bugs and that was it. Now you can up sell Top Dressing Aeration's De-Thatching, Lawn Reno, Over Seeding Compost spreading, Nematodes treatments and numerous types of organic pest controls a long with Lime and Fertilizers and edging etc etc...

Steve
01-06-2012, 02:45 PM
When you say IPM do you mean Integrated Pest Management? What does that mean now for the average lawn fertilization company and how should they be using that phrase to their advantage?

dpld
01-06-2012, 03:56 PM
When you say IPM do you mean Integrated Pest Management? What does that mean now for the average lawn fertilization company and how should they be using that phrase to their advantage?


integrated pest management has been going on for decades and it was first implemented in the agriculture indusrty.

it is funny in a sense that with all the technology we have today and all the advancements we have made it still boils down to doing your detective work and knowing about what you are dealing with as the best approach.

as far as it what does it mean for the average lawn company, it means they are getting with the program in the way things get done today and making a concious effort to further their knowledge and safeguard the enviroment that we all make a living off of.

by doing a IPM approach and considering all the pieces of the puzzle rather then going at it with a tunnel vision so to say it opens the door for new cures that may end up with better results with minimal impact on the enviroment.

for example: joe's lawn care gets a call from mrs jones every year about the grub worms in her lawn and every year joe makes a treatment and bills her and lives happily ever after.
grub worms are just japanese beetles and japanese beetles love plum trees and cherry trees and such. they feed off the tree and they lay eggs in your lawn that will hatch into larve that will eat your root system and emerge as beetles to eat your trees and start the process all over again.

even if the customer has no trees that attract the beetle they could be coming from next door because they don't go to far.

by treating the trees at the point of emergence and slightly beyond with a second applicaton it will have a greater impact on disrupting the life cycle.
no beetles no eggs.

if you look at it from a application perspective spraying the tree uses less product then treating the lawn and the cost greatly reduces especially if you are useing a systemic pesticide for the lawn for season long protection.
the products to spray the tree are cheaper on a per application basis, the application is quicker and it would pay about the same as the lawn app.

its a win win for everyone mrs jones defeats the grubs, joe's lawn service makes some money and the enviroment has less pesticide exposure.

there obviously is far more to it then that but i am trying to point out that IPM is not only a more responsible way to practice your craft and benefits all parties involved it can also increase a businesses botom line.

the best way to phase it in to a business is get better educated on insects and diseases that effect trees, shrubs and lawns. by doing so it will give you a better perspective on their life cycles and preferences that will enable you to be more effective at resolveing the issue.
the best part is the more you know and understand about it the more you will be better at conveying the need and benefits of the process.

i also have to add that IPM is not something you really have to broadcast or advertise that alone is not going to help you or make your business thrive.
you have to live it by doing it correctly and have the commitment to stay the course and by doing so your results will do all the talking for you.

thats the biggest selling point, results.

Steve
01-09-2012, 12:13 PM
That is some great insight and goes to show how important it is to always be learning.

If you are able to present the customer with such information, it is a world of difference from the company that just spreads some fertilizer throughout the year based on a schedule printed on the side of the fertilizer bag.

When presenting this information to the client, how do you know when you are giving them too much information or is that not possible? Do you find customers want to know what is going on and why or do they just want it fixed?

dpld
01-09-2012, 03:21 PM
That is some great insight and goes to show how important it is to always be learning.


When presenting this information to the client, how do you know when you are giving them too much information or is that not possible? Do you find customers want to know what is going on and why or do they just want it fixed?

thats a good question and i would say a couple things to that.

i personally believe when you are in a business that uses pesticides your customer could never know too much unless it was misinformation.
we all have fear of things but when it comes to chemicals people have the same reaction to them as anthrax, they think they are gonna die and get cancer instantly.
their fear is due to either fear from lack of knowledge which is the most common or just outright you can't tell me otherwise fear. where as what ever you are scared of you will most likely hurt or kill yourself in getting away from what ever it is that happens to be scaring you, kinda like my wife running away from a spider for two miles.

unfortunately there is not much your gonna be able to do about the person running around waving their arms in the air screaming we are all gonna die.
but chances are that type of person would not be inquireing about chemical services anyway.
but i have seen people that originally ok with chemicals turn into a chemo-phobe from misinformation.

i let my customers know that the main purpose of my service is to reduce pesticide use and when the use of a product is required it will be done in a fashion to isolate the use to a specific target area as well as i go out of my way to use crop safe products that have little residual effect.

i can not stress enough that it took me years to establish what i have and the only times these days that i have to sell my services or even explain them is to new accounts.
anyone who uses our services after a season or two have a real good perspective on how we roll as a business .
i only say this because it took a long time for me to be able do what i do and it took 23 years to get it this way but i started from absolutely nothing and there were many times not too long ago where it was not so easy.

even if you do not get involved with pesticides and you are in the industry it can only help your business if you know more about what makes things tick.

Ducke
01-09-2012, 03:59 PM
The only problem we had here with IPM was it was all self governed by the industry and no one followed the rules or changed the rules as need.
I have no problem with a total ban as we have here, It is now an even playing field. one set of rules and we all have to play by them.
I have no problems treating lawns naturally and can pretty much keep them looking just as well with out all the poison. Say what you will about pesticides good for you bad for you or just don't care about them . I think we are better off with out them anything that is man made chemical that seems to kill everything and anything it comes in contact with can not be a good thing.
I just finished reading three different books on organic lawn care and I look at what I did over the last few years and see why we had recurring infestation of insects. A lot of it was due to poor lawn maintenance habits. To much high nitrogen fertilizer and to many applications the wrong chemicals at the wrong times the miss identification of grubs and the wrong product to control them. Just look at Agent Orange, Purple, White they are now 30+ years later admitting to how bad these chemicals really were.
24D was a part agent in the make up of Agent Orange. (if you don't know these agents were defoliants tested by the US Army here in Canada).
I am chemical free and am studying all the time to stay that way. It keeps my customers safe and the #1 reason it keeps me safe.

mark123
01-09-2012, 04:50 PM
... I am chemical free ...
H2O is a chemical. So is petroleum. :p :D

dpld
01-09-2012, 05:26 PM
The only problem we had here with IPM was it was all self governed by the industry and no one followed the rules or changed the rules as need.
I have no problem with a total ban as we have here, It is now an even playing field. one set of rules and we all have to play by them.
I have no problems treating lawns naturally and can pretty much keep them looking just as well with out all the poison. Say what you will about pesticides good for you bad for you or just don't care about them . I think we are better off with out them anything that is man made chemical that seems to kill everything and anything it comes in contact with can not be a good thing.
I just finished reading three different books on organic lawn care and I look at what I did over the last few years and see why we had recurring infestation of insects. A lot of it was due to poor lawn maintenance habits. To much high nitrogen fertilizer and to many applications the wrong chemicals at the wrong times the miss identification of grubs and the wrong product to control them. Just look at Agent Orange, Purple, White they are now 30+ years later admitting to how bad these chemicals really were.
24D was a part agent in the make up of Agent Orange. (if you don't know these agents were defoliants tested by the US Army here in Canada).
I am chemical free and am studying all the time to stay that way. It keeps my customers safe and the #1 reason it keeps me safe.

the whole purpose of the practice of IPM is to avoid the issues that are related to over use and poor practices.
too many companies think the only way to make money is by dumping something on the ground.

but the problem lies on the individuals who lack the knowledge of their craft.
when someone in the trade asks me how to sell IPM my first thought would be, first learn what you are doing and then we will talk.
because if the individual knew anything about insect and diseases as well as their life cycles and all other aspects of what benefits a lawn or a tree as well as what hurts it they would now posess the knowledge needed to sell the service.

there is no story line and there is no sales pitch and the only thing you need to know is what you are doing far beyond mixing ratio's and application rates and how to spray a lawn.

you are a shinning example, you did your research and you are taking the time to find alternatives that is what i did for the last 25 years and i learned more on my own then i did from anyone else.

i think banning the use all together is a little extreme and there are ways to better police it.
we have a lot of lakes around by me and there was a problem with the algae blooms and large fish kills and they linked it to the phosphorus in the fertilizer.
the areas in question were all luxury homes with picture perfect yards where everyone had a lawn guy.

once they banned phosphorus in the fert the problem was solved.

i get audited every year and my purchases have to match my usage and if the math equades to there being a surplus i need to show proof of it so it would be hard to use more then i should as well as the total app rates for the season need to be accounted for as well.

Ducke
01-09-2012, 06:05 PM
H2O is a chemical. So is petroleum. :p :D

H2O is a natural Compound and I would never use petroleum product on a lawn :eek:


I am all natural and chemical free.
I only use home grown natural chemical free herb. :D

mark123
01-09-2012, 06:30 PM
I got into a discussion with a customer's neighbor. He asked about all the chemicals I put on the lawn and I explained how little was actually used. He then asked what was the most dangerous chemical I use. I had never really thought about it in those terms so I took a second and picked up the gas can and said, "this one."

Petroleum really is the worst chemical we use on a daily basis.

I do think that using natural products does have some very minor merits, I'm just not sold on switching and my customers won't pay the extra cost involved, especially since it doesn't do as good a job.

I do think we overuse. I cut an entire round last year because of that.

gardenbarber
02-05-2012, 12:08 AM
I don't do any pesticide work at all. I sometimes apply a herbicide in brick paving but I encourage my garden owners to run their gardens organically. Leave the bugs to the birds,tolerate some bug or disease damage in return for a chemical free environment, trim off diseased plant early and leave the healing to the plant and so on.

Most have found that the birds do take care of the bugs and the plant disease is almost non existent with some plant management.