Friday, January 30, 2009

Go big, or go green

In my last post I mentioned the importance of doing your home work before choosing a lawn care company. The following blog is the reason why this is so vital.

Yesterday I got a call from one of the larger Lawn Care companies touting their supremacy and why I needed their service.

They claimed the corner on the market in organic weed control, trust, customer service, and absolute satisfaction guarantee. "We're not like the other companies out there", I was told.

They never seemed to clue into the fact that I was a lawn service provider myself, even though I politely answered the phone, "Durham Lawn Jockey, Craig speaking."

So, I decided to go through the process of listening to the pitch while trying to fend off the constant push for me to sign for the year.
Keeping my friends close and my enemies closer as-it-were.

Since I'm aware of the current products in place for today's pesticide free application, I decided to test their knowledge and asked what they used to control weeds.

"Sarritor," I was told to control weed(s).

fact: Sarritor was developed at McGill University for the control of dandelions. It has relatively little effect on other broad leaf weeds.

So much for effective weed control.

When I said, I had heard the product had been ineffective when used last year I was told, "Yes, but we've worked out all the kinks and all is good now."

So much for the satisfaction guarantee last year at least.

I was also told they were the only company that had this miraculous cure for my weed problems, followed by a gentle push to get me to sign.

I then informed them that another company was also using this product. I knew this because it was in their flyer last year before I tossed it into the recycle bin.

"Yes," I was told. "But we own the company and have first priority for Sarritor. The other company can't get as much as we can."

Was that a lie then that you are the only ones with Sarritor? So much for trust.

They then informed me that if I signed now, I'd get a free chinch bug control.

"Wow', I said "What do you use for that?"

After putting the phone down to check they came back on line to tell me Delta Guard followed by another gentle push to sign up.

It is true the product is used in granular form to control insects, however, the bag doesn't list chinch siting a control for ants, cockroaches, fleas, ticks. Regulations stipulate that products are for the control of listed target pests only. I disregard this protocol and I could lose my license.

"Are you ready to sign?" I was asked.

"No", I replied. "Not until I talk it over with my wife."

"But if you don't want it you can tell us at anytime."

"I'm telling you now," I said. "Don't sign me up. Don't send a technician to my door until I've talked it over with my better half."

Frustrated, they finally said all right and hung up with so much as a courteous goodbye.

Next day a technician shows up at my door against my wishes.

So much for customer service.

For the record and speaking from experience: you are like most of the other companies out there.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Greener Lawn

The following was an article I wrote for the Fall edition of Local Biz Magazine in Durham.

In the spring of 2009, Ontario’s province-wide pesticide ban comes into effect and homeowners will no longer be able to buy or use traditional lawn care methods. Next spring, the best defence to keeping your lawn weed-free will be to keep it healthy and lush.

But there’s a little secret that others in the lawn care industry don’t want you to know about—a low-maintenance grass seed called EcoLawn that’s been held back for ten years now. This grass is a blend of seven fine fescue grasses and taps a very deep root. Most lawns have turf with roots two to three inches deep but EcoLawn delves nine inches (22.86 cm) in clay soil and 14 inches (35.56 cm) in sand-based soils. All the nutrients your lawn needs are right there for the EcoLawn grass root.
What all this means for homeowners is that, once this grass is established, you don’t need to water as much, you don’t need to fertilize, you don’t need to aerate, you don’t need chemicals for weeds or insects, you just don’t need lawn care. The grass grows slowly (only nine inches a year) so you only have to cut it once a month or, if you choose, not at all.

EcoLawn has been shockingly absent from the big box stores and gardening centres after it was pitched to the big guys ten years ago and denied. Such a block made sense at the time: a low-maintenance grass would cut into the profit margins of lawn mowers, fertilizers, pesticides and the regular grass seed and top soil with weed seed properties in it.

There’s no way that this business model would risk this kind of setup—a solid money maker and an endless cycle that you’ll pay for year after year to protect your curb appeal—but whether by education or government decree, people’s minds are changing. They’re looking for alternatives- green, eco-friendly alternatives that will help the environment, save them time, save them money and offer up a great looking lawn.
Great ideas can only be kept underground so long.
Craig McPherson of Durham Lawn Jockey wants to see a healthier lawn and healthier environment for everyone and their family. He believes we owe it to the planet to be responsible.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What lawn?

I know it's hard to think about your lawn as January draws to a close and the February freeze prepares to howl with the same intensity, but spring is just around the corner.

If you haven't thought about lawn maintenance/ lawn care of late, you're not alone, however, with the shift to eco-friendly and the implementation of Provincial bylaws concerning pesticides and herbicides for cosmetic purposes, you need to understand a few things.

If you have a lawn company, they will soon no longer be able to service your turf with the same methods you have come to know. It's time to revisit your current program and question what your company is going to do, to deliver the same service and results you expect.

With the economy in its current state, can you afford to dump money into a service that doesn't provide you with the desired outcome? Don't get "Greenwashed". Do your research and make sure the program you have contains the proper applications.

If you're a do-it-yourselfer, be aware of what is considered a banned substance. Simply maintaining your lawn under IPM, (Integrated pest management), standards is not adhering to the bylaw. This is zero tolerance and spot treating instead of blanket applications is not permitted even if you are out there at three in the morning wearing a Miner's helmet.

It may be cold, the ground maybe snow covered, but it's time to at least consider the next step for you, as a homeowner, business, municipality.

If you haven't already, it's time to shift, change, become.

Remember, knowledge is the first defence against keeping your lawn weed-free, having a sound lawn care program designed to your needs is the second.

Don't get left out in the cold.

Friday, January 2, 2009


Hello and welcome to the Grass is Greener Blog- A place to find tips and information on creating a healthy, pesticide-free lawn.

Here I will try to answer questions and concerns,I feel are on the minds of the homeowner who wants that lush green look to his property while operating under the current provincial standards for cosmetic lawn applications as they apply here in Ontario.

This may not be specific to your area yet, but could at some point be instituted. If and when that happens you'll be better prepared to adapt to your environment.

The problem is, we've dedicated years to the control of weeds and insects by the use of herbicides and pesticides. We've created super weeds and bugs that have a higher tolerance to the chemicals applied and the concern now is, "how can I effectively maintain my lawn in an organic manner without loosing my turf to one infestation, or another?"

The truth is, there are no miracle cures at the moment, or at least, nothing that works as quickly as the tried-true 2-4-D/ Merit, etc.

Yet, although the rules have changed, there are practices you can adopt instead of waving the white flag to grubs and dandelions.

Practices I will explore here, over the coming months.

Together, we can make your world more eco-friendly.