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Commercial Lawn Care-transitioning to organic practices

 
Posts: 21
Location: Vancouver Island
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Good Morning

New here, but following for about a year.  My situation is that I take care of a large strata & really want to change usual practice to one of commercial stewardship as I do not want to be one of those ruining the earth anymore.  So need help on this.

Strata rules:  Want grass cut short (I had longer for past couple of years as that is my policy, but my policy does not pay my bills if I do not do as strata wishes), have to fertilize 3 times per year, have to aerate & lime each spring, each May herbicide (Trillion) treatment, grass goes dormant in areas, it is oceanside about 80,000sqft, I did manage to talk them into allowing me to mulch with ride on.  There is also many, many garden beds that is hard to keep up on weeds, did add mulch to many of those beds last year, but that's it for their budget or will.

Problem:  I've been banged on the head a couple of times & retention is not as good as it used to be so when I research, do not retain well, recent surgery on both biceps/shoulders so hare to type the lots of notes or sitting at computer for length of time & over 60   LOL

At this time looking into cost of Biofert fertilizer, but cannot get an answer till tomorrow afternoon earliest as holiday here.

Reason I am being seemingly lazy here?
I have to, have to knock down a few things today to get at & remove moldy gyproc in garage, then tomorrow have to mow that strata, here is the crutch...I have a zoom meeting with strata Wednesday morning & want to make a bit of presentation to get them thinking to sway to more of a stewardship approach without increasing contract.  This includes trying to reschedule irrigation to slowly get grass roots to adjust to less watering, weed control without herbicides (that is why looking into organic root conditioner fertilizer), how to have strata go back to grass a little longer & why it would be beneficial, how to retard weed growth in garden beds (there will always be weeds but need to slow growth to keep on top of it), how to maintain garden beds without synthetic fertilizer (again looking into Biofert products)

You get the idea :)
Looking to lawn permaculture in a commercial setting where there is no way they will go to meadow or clover, etc..., but I am tired of being part of ruining the earth & do not want to be accountable on that day for this abuse... sigh

On different matter, love all the ideas here (well, most of them), as have been researching for my son as he now has a few acres and is listening & keen on the ideas I have been touching base on from information here :)
We were weedeating an overgrown field, and I saw a video a few months ago on scything, finally I found a scythe for sale on Craigslist, so hopefully can get today a present for my son for easier hay making...

Hope above makes sense, & thank you ahead of time.
 
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Maybe this article would be of use? Good luck with the transition!
 
John Dorst
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Thank you for such a quick reply Joylynn & had seen that article a few days ago but could not remember how to get back to it this morning.  So thanks again.  :)

We cannot get Ringer in Canada to the best of my knowledge, or some other additives, some types of beneficial products that are found on Amazon.com that can be shipped to Canada are hugely marked up & then add shipping.
 
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John, I had a quick search and you are not the only person to talk about things not being available in Canada (I am not in North America and I feel your pain!).
This forum has a list of organic fertilizers available in Canada, it is only a few years old. https://thelawnforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=4025
Other good advice I`ll take from another site is to talk to people at your favorite garden center and get a recommendation, you may find something wonderful, organic, and local.

Good luck!
 
John Dorst
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Thank you Tereza, as mentioned I will be speaking with local trusted source, but not for a few days, after meeting, link is a start for comparison, so thank you.  Now to get to removing that moldy gyproc... :(
 
master pollinator
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It sounds like full-on organic will be a hard sell. I think "baby steps" might be more practical.

Could you nudge them toward harm-reduction strategies? For example, spot spraying only trouble areas in the lawn instead of full spraying every year? Or doing a trial with some of the iron-based broadleaf herbicides, which are much less toxic? And then, a scheduled periodic review to ensure aesthetic standards are being met?

If you can reduce 2,4D use by one-third or even one-half, that is a huge accomplishment. And it opens the door to other, smarter strategies.
 
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One suggestion regarding watering - ask if you can try a new schedule where you water less frequently, but longer and slower when you do water so that the water itself penetrates more deeply. For example, if you water for one hour, then stop for 30 to 60 minutes, then do another hour, the first water will have softened the surface of the soil, so that hopefully when you start again, the water will soak in. I generally water over-night on the areas of our field where we run animals and need the grass to survive in the summer drought - less evaporation and doing it all night gives it lots of time to soak in.

I'd certainly try again to suggest that "shag rug" grass is healthier for the environment than "berber carpet" grass. It shades the soil better, out competes the weeds better, supports the natural "earth-worm aerators" committee.

Good luck - I understand how hard it is to know you have to earn some income, but are having to do so according to someone else's rules!
 
John Dorst
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Or doing a trial with some of the iron-based broadleaf herbicides, which are much less toxic

Thank you Douglas, just in case they do vote to have sprayed again next year, since you are Canada, do you have some products that I could source?  You are definitely right in steps rather than gung ho as that scares people away rather than try it.  My intention is to substitute my next fertilizing with a better product without saying anything, if not too much $$$ difference, I would eat this cost.  Then as Jay mentioned, try to reschedule water, there are 66 grass zones & 60 garden bed zones.

I do get the stewardship principles, I am just having a difficult time with what products would be a good start that are available in Canada, basically with research done thus far, trying to know what is real & what is hype?  

I came here for help as I know you out there have done the trials & errors to get it right...  :)
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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It's iron chelate. I don't know brand names, but I know it's available in commercial quantities.

One city up here ran a 3-year trial on sports fields (broadleaf weeds are apparently a safety hazard). Four applications per year, though. I think the cost was higher.

A fact sheet I found:  https://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_docs/programs/ipmnet/Iron%20Herbicide%20Info-UMD-IPMnet.pdf
 
John Dorst
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Thank You Douglas for that link, I remember looking into Fiesta last year, it was very high cost & then, with link below, it went back to my confusion of what is real & what is hype?  Who do you believe, whom do you not?

http://pesticidetruths.com/2011/10/31/fiesta-herbicide-dismal-failure/#:~:text=Cost%20Of%20Fiesta%20Herbicide&text=The%20material%20cost%20of%20Fiesta,depending%20upon%20the%20application%20rate.

 
John Dorst
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Oh, sorry, forgot to add, I used Weed B Gone for a couple of clients who live in pesticide free town, utter failure on clover, utter failure for buttercup, yes, read the label...  ;)
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Hmm. I'm not sure Weed B Gone would be suitable for pesticide free zones. The label I can find says 2.127% MCPA, 0.371% Dicamba, 8.658% 2,4-D. No offense.

As for the "pesticidetruths" link, I find it hard to take it seriously. Insults and hot dancing girls? No credibility. This guy has an axe to grind, or is a paid shill for somebody.
 
John Dorst
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No offence taken as this is a discovery forum...  Maybe Weed B Gone accepted as lower dose than say Par III/Trillion, I don't know, but on list of Township's website, which now has me wonder if Scotts had a hand in that...but I digress... :)

As to dancing girls & such...yes, definitely saw it was an upset person at time of research, so taken with a grain of salt, HOWEVER, are some of his points real is the question I could not dispute as I had no knowledge.. You have to admit, some of the forum starters even here may have such initial feelings, but if you read the meat, the presenter may have some heartfelt points that should make you stop & think for a moment, hmmm...really??? did not know that, should look into it...  That is how most likely a landscaper who lost a lot of business & I have to admit, credibility lost when you in good faith comply & use some of these only available "working" alternatives (Ontario for example) by big companies that don't work.

Hense my reaching out here for real solutions, based on facts from real people, truthfully, it has been disappointing to eventually find out University research departments giving seemingly credible solutions were in fact funded by these same companies.  So much deception in this world! :(

This from a frustrated old man trying to find the right solutions... LOL
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Fair enough. I have no direct experience with iron chelate, so I can't say yay or nay. I may try it on a few trouble spots where I'm short of other options.

I find that real change is incremental. It takes patience and perseverence to get there. In my world, the solutions are rarely perfect; more often it's a combination of harm reduction and behaviour change that achieves practical results. The trick is to not give up.

 
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I recently had a vet bill after playing in grass in front of a public building with my dog which had been treated with iron chelate (Fiesta) the day before. It was evening, I didnt see the sign as it was hidden discreetly, and I have genuinely never seen anyone treat lawns with herbicide here so dont look for signs.

I threw her ball on the lawn a couple times as we walked by. Found the sign 2 days later when I retraced the route. 2 days later, as the dog continued to vomit bile, wouldnt eat, wouldnt drink. Yellow liquid from both ends, where she popped it singed the grass. Syringing water and electrolytes into her. Ended up at the vet, who said her pancreas was near failure, treated with pain meds, anti nausea meds,  bentonite. The other dog who just walked on it briefly threw up once and had bad diarrhea.  

Anyway- the fact sheet says it's safe after drying, but after that experience I have extreme doubt, and cant in good conscience recommend Fiesta. The vet said it can be absorbed through the paw pads, in addition to whatever got on her ball when I threw it. She also said the LD50 is a pretty high number, but toxicity dose is way lower. I personally hate LD50 as a measure of safety- fairly quickly killed 50% of mice, fish, or whatever at this dose per kg doesnt say anything about long term survival or other toxicity effects.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Sad to hear about your dog, and thanks for sharing your experience. Any chemical that kills plants or animals has hazards; there is no free lunch. I've never liked mass spraying for that reason. It's done way to casually IMO.
 
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