I had a great experience this month at the Rutgers Organic Land Care Certification Program’s first Field Day Training. About 20 lawn care providers attended the training which was hosted by Chris Paul, President of Genesis Landscape Contractors, Inc.
Chris began the training with a power point presentation outlining the principles, practices and business aspects of running an organic lawn care program. Bill Hlubik, Rutgers Agricultural and Resource Management Agent for Middlesex County, NJ spoke about some of the research that clarifies how important proper cultural methods and soil improvement are in maintaining healthy turf.
Then we headed out to visit some sites. First stop was at TD Bank Stadium home of the Somerset Patriots baseball team. Genesis Landscapes has an experimental turf plot using only organic methods with the goal of converting the playing field to organics. While we walked the ball field the grounds keeper told us they have no need for herbicides because they keep the turf so dense.
Next we reviewed three residential sites that have been treated organically from one to three years.They all had dense turf with good color and a few weeds here and there. Chris pointed out that once he started using organic fertilizers and stopped using pre-emergent weed control, the turf became denser, especially in shaded areas which were trouble spots in the past. We drove through on upscale neighborhood and it was very difficult to distinguish between conventional and organic lawns.
Chris pointed out that he has saved thousands of dollars on pesticides, greatly reduced irrigation needs for his lawns and grown his turf division from 400,000 sq. ft. to 3 million in three years.
The next field training will be in September and will focus on planning, installing and maintaining landscape plants organically. I am familiar with some of the residential sites we will be visiting and they are outstanding.
There is no doubt about it; organic landscaping requires training to be successful, is a growing trend, will reduce health and environmental concerns, and is a good business decision.