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Wrapping up the warm weather treatments

We are excited this week! We are into the last stretch for our Fiesta applications - getting them done before the leaves fall. This heavy iron supplement spray is a safe herbicide that attacks primarily broadleaf weeds (such as dandelions, plantains, and clover). As we discussed in previous blog posts, this all falls under the cosmetic lawn care practices - although these weeds are harmless, they are undersirable in most communities. The crab grass seems to be subsiding, but clover is definitely taking up the slack. Thankfully, Fiesta seems to hit clover decently, so we should be able to beat it back. (Katie will have it noted that she is a fan of clover, especially as part of a pasture mix and its natural Nitrogen fixating properties for soil health)

 

Our teams have also been busy applying granular fertilizer; again, our goal is to get it all done before the leaves fall! The early frost was a surprise for us, and we are glad we have gotten our seeding done - seed needs warmth to germinate. The cooler temperatures, although refreshing, warn us again that the clock is ticking until the snow comes. 

 

The employment shortage has had an impact on us, and we are still hoping to hire some crew members for the snow season - those that are willing and able to shovel snow would be very welcome to work for the Winter. We will be pulling all our team members that we can into the cold this coming Winter, and unfortunately not all of it is done from the warmth of the interior of a snow plow -- but still! Needs must! We know the demand for snow removal is huge, with a lot of other companies being unable to survive Covid impacts, so we will do what it takes to provide services for our customers. We are not able to take on new residential customers however, as we must reserve ourselves for current clientele. We apologize for this disappointment, but hope everyone understands we must be loyal and not overstretch ourselves.

 

The seasons are turning, and we will keep up!

 

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The do's and don'ts of lawn care.

Although lawn care seems a fairly straight forward profession, there are more hiccups than one first realizes.

The first step to establishing this as a viable income is to determine how you will price yourself. We at JLC have discovered that there is no real way to estimate a price for the work to be done other than going to see the property and assess the amount of work/time/manpower necessary to complete it. Other companies may be comfortable charging an hourly rate, but for us that can lead to expensive, time consuming, jobs that may have been better planned otherwise. As such, all our estimates are custom built based on the property and customer wishes.

Beyond developing your own pricing system to ensure that you are compensated fairly for your work, and able to pay the employees who work for you, there are rules and regulations to adhere to.

Ontario has a very strict stand on the use of pesticides. The use of pesticides on residential/commercial properties for "cosmetic" use is a controlled and limited purpose. Since 2009 Ontario's Cosmetic Pesticide Ban (CPB) has been in place. The objective of the CPB is to reduce public exposure to pesticides, and applies to cosmetic use of pesticides including use on lawns, gardens, school yards etc. In our sector (landscape) the only exceptions to this ban are "the control of plants that are poisonous to humans by touch including: – Poison ivy – Poison sumac – Giant hogweed – Wild parsnip" -- but even in these cases pesticides containing only Class 10 pesticide ingredients [1. GLUFOSINATE AMMONIUM 2. GLYPHOSATE 3. ISOPROPYLAMINE (SALT OF) PRESENT AS GLYPHOSATE 4. GLYPHOSATE, PRESENT AS DIMETHYLAMINE SALT] may be used. We do not typically engage in the control of these plants, as they and the products used to control them, present a health and safety risk to our employees. 

Products such as Round-Up and Par III are banned for cosmetic use due to the potential affects of their ingredients. Although these are very successful products, they fall under the CFB and are not to be used for cosmetic purposes. These products stand out from more natural herbicides due to their strong chemical smell; they are corrosive to eyes and should not he touched or inhaled, and are toxic to aquatic invertbrates, and should never be used on residential properties. 

Our spray team members have completed their pesticide certification to ensure that all products we use are used properly and safely. We are only able to use natural-based herbicides such as Fiesta to control weeds.

This leads us to ensuring that all safety measures are followed, including wearing appropriate high-vis wear and PPE, long pants, and (depending on the task) safety footwear. Safety training in first aid and WHIMIS are provided for our employees as well. We have an extensive safety policy manual that is reviewed annually to ensure our employees are familiar with it and it is up-to-date. These can be boring tasks, but are imperative to protecting the welfare of our staff.

When our company first started, with Jody and his single lawn mower, a lot of these concerns were not on the radar. However, as our company has grown, not just in clientele but with employees and a new variety of services, our policies have grown to encompass this new sphere of service with safety and reliability. 

All of the above are the initial framework for a proper lawncare company - but anyone interested in this line of work need to know there is endless learning, and it is a service industry - your demeanour with clients is pivotal. The biggest "do" of lawncare is to treat your employees and clients with respect, honesty, and kindness.

 

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The end of Summer is upon us!

Although the Fall Equinox does not occur until September 22 this year, we can already feel the change in season. The nights are cool (we were able to see our breath on the weekend!), the bees are drunkenly buzzing around, and for those of us with long-coated pets – the fur is flying!

Although our general growing season is coming to an end, there are still things you can be doing in the garden and on your property.

Those with gourds are already beginning to reap the fruits of their labour – roadside stands have pie pumpkins, decorative gourds, and squashes available. Be sure to shop local and enjoy the Fall delicacies.

For those with a more flowery thumb, Fall Mums are available in your local garden centres. These large bloomed perennials are a great investment for Fall décor, surviving for years if well Wintered and cared for. Be sure to dead head them to extend their blooming period.

Your lawn would appreciate a little prepping for next year too. We are currently applying grub suppression nematodes to help break the cycle of Japanese Beetles. If you want to learn more about grubs and how to tell if they are a concern for your lawn, check out this website White Grub life cycle and how to control them – wonderful, thorough information. Our nematode product is a living bacterium, and as such requires water to stay alive. We try to ensure that our customers are aware of their applications and keep their properties moist for the following 7-10 days give these little creatures the best chance. Remembering to water the lawn can be tricky, but we know the investment pans out.

You can also take advantage of the cooler temperatures to clean up garden beds, raking out dead plants/stalks and putting them into your composter to start great soil for next year. Rucking up the soil also allows more air and moisture to get in, encouraging the mineral and nutrient content for root systems.

Soon we will begin planning our overseeding program, utilizing the more dormant period to start seed and reduce area availability for weeds in the coming year. Although the growth of grass is slower in the Fall, we can utilize the soil availability due to the thinning grass for the seeds to get a good start.

‘The still-warm earth and natural rainfall that tends to arrive in September will help to nourish and stimulate the newly sown seed, as well as reduce the time you’ll have to spend watering or trying to beat any hosepipe bans,’ says Guy Jenkins consumer manager for Johnson’s Lawn Seed. ‘By waiting until later in the year you will avoid the summer droughts which spell death for tender young seedlings that haven’t managed to reach deeper groundwater.’

Contact us now if you want to incorporate overseeding into your lawn’s Fall plans!

 

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Why don’t we just use horses as lawn mowers?

Would you not consider horses the original “ride’m lawn mowers”? As herbivores, with seemingly insatiable appetites, they are a very competent mower. They are fairly consistent in the length to which they will mow, and are skilled at getting into the tight corners that would otherwise require a whipper snipper.

However, there are some drawbacks.

First off, they leave their own fertilizer behind them. Although this is beneficial to the ground itself, it can be unsightly and eventually requires clean up and removal to another site. This does result in some wonderful material for gardens but takes management.

Secondly, lawn properties are not typically ‘designed’ for an herbivore to live off. They can be deficient in mineral requirements and contain undesirable/poisonous plants (such as Buttercups). As such, there would need to be some planning and potentially supplementation in place (salt/mineral blocks available and selective weeding).

Third, horses eat a lot! Unless grazing periods are limited, they can clear acres of land in a matter of days and then be complaining they are out of material. If they are not fenced properly, they will also wander to new areas – and perhaps your neighbours do not wish their lawn mown in quite this manner. Although in the grand scheme this is a fairly quick method of grass trimming – most residential properties want their lawn completed in a matter of minutes, not days. It is also moderately difficult to mobilize a horse to numerous properties – making the idea of employing a horse as a regular piece of lawn equipment laughable.

Historically, residences were not located so close together, and it was possible to graze your work horses at the end of the day on an open field – now, we need electric fence lines at minimum, although wood fencing is still good (if your horses is not a cribber) and wire fence with wooden posts works well too to contain them. Contemporary planning encourages us to mow numerous properties in an area in a small amount of time – making gasoline driven machines more efficient.

Finally, it has become a bit complex to keep a horse as merely a lawn ornament, although many people treat their horses to such a retirement. The average horse does have some duties typically, whether it be being ridden or more therapeutic responsibilities, and are always a well loved natural piece of equipment. 

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Weed and Seed in Norfolk County

Well, it's summer time and it's so very very hot.  This has been one of the hottest summers we've had in a long time.  It's normal for grass to thrive and grow during the early and late spring.  And it's at those times when we cannot keep up with it's thick luscious growth.  Everybody wants a nice thick, lush, green lawn.  But what happens when summer hits, and temperatures rise?  Grass settles down and sometimes goes dormant.  Growing only a little week by week and heaven forbid it goes brown if we don't water.  This summer has been extremely stressful on our lawns.  They have been experiencing a great amount of stress while the heat is relentless and the sun fires down on it.  I'm glad for all the famers of Norfolk County and across Ontario, that we have had a few breaks in the heat and we'vefelt a few rains in the past ten days.  And I am very happy that lawns are greening up and growing a bit better now for JLC.  I see that rain is in the forcast again for this weekend, so fingers crossed that mother nature gives it to us! 

Jody and I have had a project all our own this summer.  We recently moved and creating and growing our lawn and gardens FROM SCRATCH! That's right, the entire lawn of 14,000sq ft is brand spankin' new!!  It hasn't been easy, thats for sure.  We always tell our customers to water the seed.  "keep it moist", "if it dries out, it dies out" etc....But most people don't seed an entire lawn of this size from scratch.  Our spring and summer has been spent growing tiny baby grasslings.  How do we do it you ask? We water. and water. and water. We do not have an irrigation system, so hours and hours a day and for weeks on endwe are pulling weeds and watering the grass.  The grass is too young for weed spray and the summer has been so hot, that the grass (like everyone elses) is under stress.  Patience, I tell mysef. With time and attention, our lawns are like children.  We need to watch them, care for, and nuture them.  Soon I will write again and let you know when our new lawn seed will enjoy it's very first cut! 

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Sunshine in Cambridge, ON

Photo: Evening sunset in Cambridge, ON....

 

After such a long week of rain and clouds, I am so happy to finally look outside and see the sun.  Not mention that it's warm out too.  My teenage kids tell me this morning that there are only three 'Mondays' left of school.  Really??? Three weeks until summer.  Ahhhh the freedom of summer.  Evening strolls, ice cream cones, beach days, bike rides, blueberry picking, and Canada's Wonderland

This will be our first summer fully living in Cambridge so I am pretty excited about trying out some new summer adventures.   We've spent many summer days at the beaches of Port Dover and Turkey Point, but now we'll get to try Puslinch Lake and the Grand River.  We just had our first experience at the Cambridge farmers market last weekend.  What a neat little place to visit on a Saturday morning. 

 

Being in the lawn care business in a small county like Norfolk, there are fewer companies that we can compare ourselves to.  However, here in Cambridge, there are many different companies we can check out to see how others run their businesses.  From small 'fly by nighters' to larger well known companies, it's very interesting to watch and learn from.  I personally always look to see what kinds of uniforms the crews are wearing and find a sense of reassurance that other companies are just like ours in many ways.  One thing for sure that is different is that in the city, there are large medians and wide boulevards that need mowing.  The land structure is set on a much smaller scale in Simcoe.  It's fun to compare.  Definitely a learning curve as we grow our business in the region of Waterloo.  But hey, it's all a fun experience...new places, new people just in time for summer. 

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