I find that one of the great things about being a lawn care industry veteran is reflecting upon the progress we have made in fostering a culture of pride and professionalism. When I accepted my first job in 1985 the industry was still in its adolescence, and unfortunately we sometimes acted as adolescents, too.
The question of pet safety when it comes to pesticide use is a subject that can be raw and emotional – we all love our pets and would never knowingly do anything to harm them. Making sure that everything we use around the house is safe for them is a completely legitimate question; unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there from people who have an agenda against any use of pesticides.
Don’t ever call it “dirt”…
When I was a student at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, the professor who taught Soil Science would become enraged if you referred to “soils” as “dirt”. “Dirt is something that collects in a vacuum cleaner bag; soil is a dynamic growing medium teeming with all manner of life!” he would bellow. And he bellowed it quite often as he held court at 8:00 in the morning, five days a week for the entire semester. College students aren’t very bright at that hour, especially five days a week, so we needed that constant reminder.
Down in New York City they’re ready to tar and feather the meteorologists for blowing the forecast, but here on Cape Cod where I’m writing from, we’re thinking all this snow would look much nicer in Manhattan. This was the classic “Cape Storm” that you get when where you live is essentially thirty miles out to sea. I’m guessing I got 32” or so at my house but that’s not all I got.
“Bob, don’t take this the wrong way, but you taught me everything I needed to know about how not to manage a lawn care branch office.”
Ouch. That hurt. But those words from a former employee turned lawn care company president were exactly correct – thirty years ago, I was a terrible branch manager. In my defense, I have to say, I was working for a perfectly rotten lawn care company at the time right in the middle of the Wild West days of our industry.
I’m not supposed to be doing this. I never planned on being in the professional lawn care industry; in fact, the first time I was exposed to it I scoffed at it as ridiculous.
In the winter months, there are pests of turfgrass that because of the dormancy of the lawns become far more noticeable to us.
It’s a blessing, it’s a curse. The Professional Lawn Care Industry, at least north of the Mason Dixon Line, is a seasonal business. Once we get to Thanksgiving, all of the work we have booked is completed and you might think that we go into hibernation mode. And to a certain extent that is true; most of us have too much vacation time stored up because it’s pretty hard to get away when the grass is growing. You might think that we would do as our cousins in the landscape business do – plow snow.
Fallacy 3: Synthetic fertilizers are always bad and organic fertilizers are always good.
In the previous blog post, I discussed the erroneous notion that turfgrass fertilization is detrimental to water quality. Let’s discuss another aspect of environmental activism against lawn care.
Fallacy 2: Fertilization of farms, golf course turf and other horticultural sites can be excluded from regulation because they don’t pollute as lawns do.