Friday, December 23, 2011

Offer Deep Discounts on Lime/ Seeding Over The Winter

As a landscaping contractor,if you're in a climate range where snow or freezing occurs, the winter is the BEST time to plant grass seed on a lawn, it requires less preparation as we're allowing the freezing and thawing of the ground to help embed the seed.

In the Mid Atlantic area, the soil is acidic pretty much as far as the eye can see in every direction: Lime the crap out of your client's lawns... Lime will cost your very little, it's the least expensive lawn treatment "chemical" you ever need to purchase.

Now's the time to offer deep discounts for new customers you're clamoring to get.

If you're going to offer "something off", make sure that "something" is as least as inexpensive to your bottom line as possible.

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

How to Create Mulch from Leaves

eHow Of The Day

How to Create Mulch from Leaves

by Willi Galloway
Shredding leaves to create nutrient-rich mulch can be easily done by filling a trashcan one-third of the way with raked leaves and using a string trimmer to chop them up. Create airy mulch from fallen leaves with tips from an organic gardener in this free video on healthy gardens

How to Make a Worm Bin -- powered by

Video Transcript

"Hi. My name is Willa Galloway and I'm a west coast-based organic gardener. On my website, I teach people to grow their own vegetables and cook with seasonal ingredients. I also spend a lot of time helping people learn how to grow really beautiful, productive gardens without using chemicals. So, today I want to show you how to convert a regular plastic storage container in to a worm bin. And, worm bins are great for people who live in apartments or who don't have room to compost outside because you can still recycle your kitchen waste into great compost. But, you can do it in a small space and worms do all the work for you. I've drilled ventilation holes all along the top. The holes are spaced about an inch and a half apart. And the rows are about that far apart too. And then, I also drilled ventilation holes in the lid. Because worms are living creatures, so, they need oxygen too. And then also, I drilled some holes in the bottom of the bin because liquid will collect in the bottom of the bin and you don't want it to get too soggy inside. So, you want some drainage holes. And you'll just keep the bin up on some bricks over a little drip tray. I just use an extra lid to catch the liquid that comes out. So, once you get your bin all set up with drainage holes and ventilation holes, then you'll need to make bedding. And outdoor worms like to live underneath leaf litter, but in your worm bin you can use paper. And, I just use strips that are about two inches wide of black news print. And all I do is plunge it into the sink or a bucket filled with water. A real quick dip and then you squeeze it out so that it's about the same moisture level as a damp wrung out sponge. And so that'll be a nice environment for the worms. And you want to fill the bin up about 2/3 full with this paper. And so once you get it in there, just make sure just make sure it's nice and fluffy. So, just get it all fluffed up so that the worms can move about easily. Now, you won't be using regular old earthworms in your worm bin. You actually want to use red wiggler worms, or sometimes they're also called composting worms. And they love to eat kitchen garden waste, and they don't mind living in the small space indoors. So, to put them in your worm bin is, all you do is just sprinkle them easily and evenly over the top of the paper. And you'll need to feed your worms. They will eat the bedding, but you want them to eat your kitchen waste. And so, the worms will go at the kitchen waste a little better if you bury it inside. So, just stick it underneath some of that newspaper. Bury it a little bit in there. And they'll start to eat it. So, the worms, they take about three months to eat through all the bedding and the kitchen waste that you're continually putting in. And what you'll end up with is a bunch of vermicompost. And, vermicompost is earthworms' waste; and it's full of lots of nutrients and it's great organic matter. And so, once your bin is mainly this kind of dark crumbly vermicompost, what you do is stop feeding your worms for about a week; and you pull all of the vermicompost over to one side of the bin and put new paper bedding in the other side. And then, you start putting food waste just into the new bedding. And the worms will get a clue that the food is over on the other side, and they'll crawl over there and start feeding in the new bedding, and then you can harvest the vermicompost. And it makes a great fertilizer. It's really high in nutrients. I like to put a couple tablespoons in the bottom of my planting holes when I'm planting tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. And then, it also makes a super nice top dressing for houseplants because it's this really pretty, dark brown material, and it's nutrient rich and it doesn't have any scent. So, it's a lot better than fish emulsion or some of the other organic fertilizers."

Read more: How to Make a Worm Bin: In & Out of the Garden |

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ddespite a weak economy, Americans are expected to spend on landscaping

According to the Wall Street Journal more homeowners are likely to spend more time at home rather than travel this spring and summer. Spending time at home means increased spending on landscaping.

About 94% of residential landscape architects polled by the American Society of Landscape Architects earlier this year said that outdoor living spaces, including cooking and entertaining areas, would be popular in 2010. That said, improvements are expected to have few frills as homeowners stick to the basics in this cool economy.

"Homeowners want to create a sense of place for their family, friends, and neighbors to enjoy outside, but an uncertain economy means many will dial back some of the extra features we've seen in past years," said Nancy Somerville, executive vice president for the group, in a news release.

Some of the most popular features this year: outdoor seating and dining areas, including benches and seat-walls or weatherized outdoor furniture, as well as fire pits and fireplaces, the classic outdoor grill and outdoor counter space, according to the survey results. More lavish outdoor kitchen appliances, including refrigerators and sinks, are expected to be less popular, as are stereo systems and outdoor heaters.

Survey results found a growing interest in low-maintenance landscapes and native plants. There's also a continued resurgence of the home garden.

At Home Depot, sales of seed packets for vegetable gardens were up more than 50% in 2009, compared with 2008, said Jean Niemi, spokeswoman for the company. Last year's popularity has prompted the company to increase the types of edible seed packets offered at the stores by 25% this year, she said. The stores are also planning to offer workshops on how to plant and maintain a garden.

While consumers may be planting more as a way to have fresher produce or so they can know where their food is coming from, there's also an economic driver: According to the National Gardening Association, a well-maintained food garden yields an average $500 return, considering a typical investment and the market price of produce.

A growing market

The interest in spending time outside is likely to beget more products designed for indoor/outdoor use in the near future, according to Rob Tannen and Mathieu Turpault, of Bresslergroup, a product-development firm. The two gave a presentation on the topic at the International Home & Housewares Show in Chicago recently.

One of the products they imagined: a tray container system that people could take into the garden to collect fruits and vegetables, adapt to fit the sink for cleaning the produce and slide into a refrigerator as you would a crisper drawer. Another concept was a grill with seating built around it, allowing cooks to entertain friends as they work.

Technology will likely play a larger role outdoors too, Tannen said. It's not far fetched to imagine a shed with solar roofing panels that allow you to charge pieces of large lawn equipment, as easily as you might dock your Dustbuster inside the house. Or using iPod apps in the garden to learn how to best take care of a plant, he said.

Already, technology has entered some gardens. EasyBloom, a product that hit the market in 2008, is a sensor that you stick in the ground to collect information about the soil. You then connect it to a computer via a USB port, where collected information is analyzed to help determine what plants will thrive in that area. The tool also can diagnose problems with an existing plant. It costs about $40, and is sold online


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Sunday, January 3, 2010

The First Winter Thaw- Best Time To Get New Landscaping Clients

It's winter.
It's cold.
Other than snow removal (and this was a great winter to be in that business...)
Winter is not usually thought of as landscaping season. Many landscaping companies shut down for the winter, I have a CDL truck licence and hazmat, I delivered home heating oil during the winter.

It will get warm... eventually.

When spring comes, when it thaws... you've got roughly 12 weeks to get all the new clients you're likely to get... for the entire year!

You want to plant what ever you're going to plant BEFORE Mother's Day.

After Mother's Day anything you plant will likely die.

Because it's too close to when it's going to get HOT after Mother's Day.
Plants will need so many weeks to get healthy enough to survive the heat.

Any clients you get AFTER Mother's Day are... well, it's just too late to get new clients.

What you want is to get clients that are into their yards, not clients who want to "find someone cheaper". Client's that are into gardening are going to want you to be knowledgeable about their yards, about what grows at your latitude, what kind of soil you have to plant in.

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Maryland is clay as far as the eye can see, clay is acidic, you've got to know this stuff if you want clients that are likely to pay you what your worth.

It will be warm soon... get ready

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Leaf Collecting Season, a most profitable time of year

Fall Leaf Collection

My most profitable time of year.

Some landscape contractors make the bulk of their years gross income in Spring, for me it was the Fall. Washington DC has more trees per square mile than any other city in the US (if you don't count NY's central park). It's said that the reason the 911 terrorists hit the pentagon is likely because at that altitude they couldn't make out the White House of the Capitol, so they flew past them and hit the only target they could plainly make out.

One thing you want to consider in advertising your landscape company is to get a website for it.
Here's one that I made for a Frederick Maryland lawncare company:

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Friday, October 2, 2009

October Gardening

Gardening in October is entirely dependant on the weather. If there's an Indian Summer, there is no better time of year to be out in the garden. While gardeners in warm areas will have more to do than their northern counterparts, there are plenty of garden tasks to keep everyone busy in October.
In General
•Get your soil tested and add amendments as needed.
•Amend your soil with a dressing of compost
•Turn your compost pile.
•Use your garden debris and leaves to start a compost pile.
•Plant trees and shrubs. Be sure to keep them well-watered, even through the winter (Snow permitting).
•Make sure all vacationing houseplants are brought back inside.
•Continue planting garlic.
•Plant cool season annuals. Covering mums and asters on nights when a frost is expected, will lengthen their blooming.
•Clear away dead foliage.
•Dry and save seed.
•Take cuttings of tender perennials.
•Harvest and dry or freeze herbs for winter use.
•Remove green tomatoes from the plants. Either ripen in a brown paper bag or lift the entire plant and hang upside down in a warm spot, to ripen.
•Harvest winter squash once the vines die back, but definately before a hard freeze.
•Continue harvesting fall crops like beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kale and leeks.
•Clean and put away empty containers and garden ornaments.
•Clean and sharpen gardening tools.
•Clean bird feeders.
•Think about a de-icer for the birdbath. If you're in an area that freezes and you don't have a de-icer, turn your birdbath over to keep it from cracking.
•Enjoy the season. Show off your harvest with a fall display.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Compete on Price to Survive

I ran my landscape business during the boom of the 90's and I competed in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country: Chevy Chase Maryland and Upper Northwest DC, in and around the embassies.

When I did, I was a little guy with a beat up old 79 Ford F150, a 10 foot trailer, and one 36" ransom. A little guy could get work because the big guys were always "booked".

I competed based on the fact that I was available immediately. I quickly learned if you attempt to compete based on price, you're likely to get customers who want a low price even if you loose money.

If you solicit someone who already has a lawn service, why would she change from who they have to you? If the current contractor provided bad service you had a chance of getting your price. If you lowballed the price and they went for it, well they tended to turn out to be customers you didn't really want in the first place.

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So what I learned is to show up on someone's doorstep the week they moved in to a home they just bought. I searched the newspapers (this was before there was an internet) to find "homes bought in X". I wanted to be there right after they'd unpacked and before they'ed hired a contractor.

Well economic times have changed, wealthy people aren't as wealthy as they used to be. If you came across as a competent contractor that could do exactly what is currently being done and did for less... those wealthy people just might be looking to cut their expenses, you might have a shot.