Archive for category environment

Yellow Jackets and your Lawn Care Business

Hi Everyone, this is Keith with

Bees and wasps are hazards to every lawn care business owner and late summer through Autumn is a time of increased bee and wasp activity. I found this nest in a lawn recently. It was very easy to see the yellow jackets flying to and from the nest so I decided to put a camera on a tripod. I was able to film them for a few minutes and they did not seem to notice I was there.

However, they eventually became annoyed and attacked my camera.

Yellow Jacket - Vespula Maculifrons

Yellow Jacket – Vespula Maculifrons

The yellow jackets in this video are most likely Eastern Yellow Jackets (Vespula maculifrons) from the order hymenoptera(1). They are highly territorial and will aggressively defend their nest when they feel threatened.

According to the National Institutes of Health, deaths attributable to Hymenoptera account for more than 79 fatalities per year in the United States(2). Though most stings can be remedied through treatment at home, up to 10 percent of stings result in more extreme reactions requiring elevated care(3). This statistic is especially concerning for lawn care business owners who spend their days on lawns and in flower beds where ground burrowing hymenoptera like to build their nests.

What is also concerning to lawn care business owners is that some hymenoptera, especially ground dwelling vespid wasps such as yellow jackets, are particularly sensitive to the vibrations of lawn mowers and string trimmers. Given that a typical colony of yellow jackets can contain from a few hundred to several thousand individual wasps(4) it behooves anyone operating a lawn mower or other lawn care equipment to remain vigilant during late summer and autumn months when yellow jacket populations swell and become most active.

Although annoying, yellow jackets are beneficial to our ecology. They kill flies as well as caterpillars and beetle larva(5) which do damage to ornamental and vegetable garden plants. Yellow Jackets are also adept at scavenging fallen fruits from trees. And, since they eat raw meat they help clean up road kill and other dead animals. So, due to their beneficial nature, unless a Yellow Jacket nest poses a threat to humans or pets, I normally leave it alone until winter time. The wasps die sometime after the first few frosts and I can then dig up and destroy the nests without fear of being stung.

If you find it necessary to destroy a yellow jacket nest in the duty of your lawn care business, think carefully about a few things.

1) If you apply any chemical to a customer’s lawn or landscaping in the course of your lawn care business you will likely require an applicator’s license(6). Now, I know a lot of people laugh at this advice. Many people operating their own lawn care companies think they can purchase an over the counter wasp and hornet spray and use it to kill yellow jackets in their customer’s lawns. You might get away with it, but, technically, in many states, you should have an applicator’s license before applying any chemicals including wasp spray.

2) If the pesticide control board catches you applying a pesticide without an applicator’s license, you will face a fine which can amount to several hundred dollars. I even know of one lawn care business operator that was fined $5,000 for applying a pesticide without an applicator’s license.

3) If someone is injured while you are applying a pesticide to a yellow jacket’s nest , you could be held responsible for their injuries.
Also, please don’t ever pour gasoline or any other unapproved chemical into the ground. I have seen videos and blogs where people talk about pouring gasoline into yellow jacket nests. We know better, these days, than to do things like that. It pollutes the ground and, from a business standpoint, it sets you up for criminal and civil charges if you are ever caught doing it.

If a nest must be removed, have your customer call a licensed pest control management company to perform the extraction.
Knowing that they are a threat, there are steps you can take to avoid the dangers of yellow jackets.

1) Ask your lawn care customers to inform you of any yellow jacket activity in their lawns.

2) Be observant. Watch for yellow jackets flying to and from their nests. You can often see yellow jacket activity long before your lawn mower disturbs them.

3) Mark nest sites with marker flags. You can avoid the nests during the late summer and fall active months and then come back in the winter to dig the nests up and destroy them once the yellow jacket have left their nest.

4) Wear long pants and other protective clothing.

5) Know your sensitivity to stings and carry an epipen if necessary.

One of the reasons many of us enter the lawn care business is our love of the outdoors and nature. Bees and wasps are simply part of the outdoors and they are some of the creatures sharing our earth. It is unfortunate that they are so territorial and sting so violently when they feel threatened. However, that is just their way of protecting themselves. They are not actively seeking people to sting(7). So, when you encounter yellow jacket nests, do your best to avoid contact and leave them alone and avoid getting stung. They will be gone when the weather cools. If you can’t avoid yellow jackets, use an Integrated Pest Management approach and try to do as little ecological damage as possible.

Once again, this is Keith with If you are thinking about starting your own lawn care business, we have developed a professional and comprehensive lawn care business strategy guidebook and estimating software program that will help you start and operate a successful lawn care business. You can learn more about this program and purchase it through our main website:


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Filling lawn mower gas tanks.

The USEPA estimates that as much as 17,000,000 gallons of gasoline as spilled each year during refueling of gasoline powered lawn mowers.   17 Million Gallons?  Can you believe that?

I believe that we, as lawn care professionals can use this number to our benefit.  I believe that most of these spills are caused by those annoyingly tiny gas tanks on residential push behind lawn mowers.  Surely lawn care professionals do not spill as much gas as the common homeowners.  Our tanks are bigger, our fill holes are larger, our refilling tanks have retractable spouts that give us better aim, and gasoline is the life blood of our comanies.

Next time a potential client tells you that he is just going to mow the yard himself, remind him about the frustration he will face by the simple act of refilling his lawn mower each week.  If you’re ever asked about your dedication to the environment, remind the questioner that home owners spill millions and millions of gasoline refilling their lawn mowers and you, as a lawn care professional, take care to refill your tanks properly to avoid spilling even 1 single ounce of lawn mower gasoline.

For more tips on how to run a successful, profitable, and environmentally responsible lawn care company, visit our main website and consider purchasing our Lawn Care Business Package.  We have it on sale this month.
Start A Lawn Care Business

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Lawn Care Worker Killed By Lightning

Summer Lightning is Dangerous for Lawn Care Workers

Summer Lightning is Dangerous for Lawn Care Workers

Summer thunder storms are beautiful. They produce sheets of rain, swirling cloud patterns, and reduced temperatures that make summer afternoons bearable. Summer thunder storms also produce lightning that can kill lawn care workers. While summer’s intense heat creates dangerous working conditions for lawn care operators, another weather phenomenon, summer lightning, can create equally dangerous conditions.

Keeping your lawn care customer on schedule is tedious this time of year and summer thunder storms add to the frustration. Though it is very tempting to keep mowing as long as possible and continue mowing as soon as the rain stops to attempt to keep your customers on schedule, all lawn care operators should be aware of the dangers of summer lightning strikes. According to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Association (NOAA) the threat of lightning begins with an approaching thunderstorm and may persist for more than 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder.

The Warning Signs
High winds, rainfall, and a darkening cloud cover are the warning signs for possible cloud-to-ground lightning strikes. While many lightning casualties happen at the beginning of an approaching storm, more than 50 percent of lightning deaths occur after the thunderstorm has passed. The lightning threat diminishes after the last sound of thunder, but may persist for more than 30 minutes. When thunderstorms are in the area, but not overhead, the lightning threat can exist when skies are clear.

Though lightning strikes that injure lawn care workers are rare, we should all be aware of the potential damage of summer thunder storms and take appropriate action to protect ourselves and our workers.

For more information about starting and operating a successful lawn care business, please visit our main website. We have developed a training program to help you make more money while growing your lawn care business. The link to the main site is:
Start A Lawn Care Business

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2011 Hurricane Weather Forecast – Preparing your lawn care company.

Storm Cleanup Services

Storm Cleanup Services - Good money for your lawn care business.

Lawn care company owners in states affected by Hurricanes have reason to check out the latest Hurricane forecast for 2011. Although nobody wants to see other people’s property damaged by severe weather, property owners will be thankful that your company is able to provide storm cleanup services after a severe weather event.

The hurricane forecast calls for increased weather activity this year. Keeping with tradition, the World Meteorological Organization has released a list of names that will be used for upcoming Hurricanes.

Arlene (unused)
Bret (unused)
Cindy (unused)
Don (unused)
Emily (unused)
Franklin (unused)
Gert (unused)
Harvey (unused)
Irene (unused)
Jose (unused)
Katia (unused)
Lee (unused)
Maria (unused)
Nate (unused)
Ophelia (unused)
Philippe (unused)
Rina (unused)
Sean (unused)
Tammy (unused)
Vince (unused)
Whitney (unused)

Our Lawn Care Business guidebook is a great resource to help you learn how to price your storm cleanup services. For more information, visit our lawn care website home page:

Learn how to price your storm cleanup lawn care services:

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Landscaping Runoff Barrier & Proper Erosion Control

Landscape Runoff Barrier

Possible Landscaping Stormwater Runoff Violation

Your lawn care and landscaping company can be fined for improper barrier control of your landscaping jobs.

We received many inches of rain last week and I came across this improperly performed landscaping job. As you can see from the pictures, rain water is cascading down a hillside and mud is being washed into the street and into a stormwater drain.

I am not an expert on stormwater laws, but the company who performed this job is possibly in violation of a number of ordinances which address stormwater runoff, landscaping debris (including mud and gravel) deposited onto a city street, and muddy runoff into a stormwater drain.

A number of easy modifications to this landscaping job would have prevented this problem.

1) Heavy rain was forecast for the same day this 1-day job was to be completed. The company could have rescheduled this work until after the heavy rains.
2) A runoff barrier at the top of the landscaped area would have prevented water from gushing through the recently disturbed soil.
3) Though some straw was scattered above the ground, a heavier straw layer would have reduced the runoff problem.
4) A runoff barrier at the bottom of the landscaping area would have prevented mud from entering the roadway.
5) Bales of straw placed around the storm water drain would have prevented mud from entering the storm water system.

Landscaping runoff enters a stormwater drain.

Landscaping runoff enters a stormwater drain.

Not only did this company’s workers cause a big mess on the roadway, they also left their customer with improper landscaping. There are gullies in the ground where storm water washed through, the plants have bare roots exposed, and grass seed has been washed away.

Improper landscaping erosion control.

Improper landscaping erosion control.

A little bit of planning on this landscaping company’s part would have prevented a big and costly headache of possible storm water runoff violations. Stormwater violations are becoming increasingly scrutinized and fines are often very large.

Do you want to learn how to properly operate a lawn care and landscaping business?

We have developed a lawn care business toolkit including lawn care business manuals, an excellent software toolkit, and lawn care estimating calculators. To learn more about the program, visit our main lawn care business website:

How to start and operate a successful lawn care and landscaping business.

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Make more money offering environmentally correct lawn care techniques.

A healthy lawn and green grass

Proper mowing leads to a healthier lawn.

Mow it low and go.

Arghhh…how many customers do you have that want you to show up to their property every two weeks, mow their grass as low as your blades will allow, and go away for another two weeks until the grass is, once again, two feet high? 

While the money is often good with these types of basic lawn care customers, there is something unfulfilling about performing the lowest form of lawn care services demanded by some customers…mow it low, and go.

It is springtime right now and many of you who are just getting started with your lawn care companies are looking for any customers you can find.  I understand that you probably don’t care if you have 100 “mow it low and go” customers…you just want to be mowing grass and making money.

However, as you are acquiring customers this spring, I want to challenge each of you to attract as many customers as you can who want to care for their lawns in a proper, environmentally responsible fashion.  We’re not talking about customers who want to apply lots of fertilizers and pesticides and expect a perfectly manicured lawn each week.  We are talking about customers who will let you raise your blade to a proper height, practice integrated pest management, install water gardens & natural areas, and build good soil by leaving well-mulched clippings on the lawn.

Attracting a few customers who are keenly interested in having healthy lawns will teach you a tremendous amount about proper lawn care and they will give you tons of ideas and healthy lawn care management practices that you can spread to your other lawn care customers.

The benefits of building beautiful lawns with environmentally correct lawn care techniques are far reaching.  Yes, you will be proud of the lawns and landscaping (and make great money from those customers) but also, great lawns generate amazing referrals.  And if you acquire the right customers and bid your jobs correctly, you should be able to build a list of top-notch customers who are willing to pay you handsomely to maintain their lawns and landscapes.

Do you want to learn how to operate a successful lawn care and landscaping business? Visit our main webpage to learn more about our “Start A Lawn Care Business” guidebook and software business package.  This is a HUGE business toolkit which is perfect for anyone just starting in the business or anyone who is looking to expand a lawn care business.

Make More Money With Your Lawn Care Business

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Lawn Care Business Owners Face Alien Invaders

Today’s Trivia Question: What’s on this leaf?

I love coming across new information in the field of lawn care and landscaping. The challenge of a new discovery keeps the lawn care business interesting. Anytime you are working in a customer’s lawn, I challenge you to be on the lookout for new discoveries.

Last weekend, during a mountain bike ride and hike on a local mountain trail, I was surveying the trees and plants as I rode by. I came across this interesting leaf and I though it would be fun to see if the readers of this blog know what is growing on (out of) this leaf.

invaders on a plant leaf

Is it alien invaders?

Homicidal Spores?

A fungus never before seen by man?

We would love to hear your guesses. Comment on this post or send it to your favorite landscaper to see if he/she knows the answer.

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Does Lawn Care Make You Smarter?

“Where’s my lawn mower? Has anyone seen my weedeater? What day is it?”
These are three questions you will rarely hear from lawn care business operators.

If you think of yourself as having better memory than your peers, you might have your lawn care business to thank. Scientists at the University of Brisbane in Australia have discovered the scent of cut grass helps boost memory. Chemicals that are emitted from freshly cut grass work to stimulate the emotional and memory centers of the brain known as the amygdala and the hippocampus.

Cut Grass Helps Boost Memory

In this blog, we often discuss how a lawn care business can strengthen your physical and financial health. It’s also good to know that the aroma of cut grass might also be helping your mental health.

The benefits of owning a lawn care business are endless.

If you want to improve your memory and start your own business at the same time, maybe you should take a look at our lawn care business guidebook, video training guides, and estimating software business package. You can read all about it on our website: Start A Lawn Care Business . com

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Nitrogen Fixation from White Clover

As expected, I heard from a few organic lawn care experts after my “what to do for your lawn care business in April 2010” video.

In that video, I mentioned that clover is a problem this time a year. Many lawn care customers want their clover problem dealt with yet they are unwilling to accept an organic approach to dealing with clover in their grass. Little do they know that they are their own worst enemies. Clover this year is often caused by improper cutting methods last year. Cutting grass too short damages the grass and allows sunshine to penetrate the grass canopy germinating weeds on the ground’s surface. Bare patches beget clover growth in subsequent years.

How can you deal with the problem without using chemicals like pre-emergent and post-emergent weed killers? One of the best methods of having a healthy stand of grass is by raising your lawn mower’s blade to the correct mowing height for the type of grass.

Besides, clover has many benefits for the average suburban lawn. Clover fixes nitrogen in your soil. Naturally occurring nitrogen is beneficial to turf grasses because it raises the nitrogen level in the ground without affecting the pH level. Many organic gardeners recommend a 5% clover dispersal in a typical lawn to nurish the turf grass while reducing the need for fertilizer application.

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What to do for your Lawn Care Business in April, 2010

This video was made on April 1, 2010.

Right now is a great time to get started with your lawn care business if you haven’t gotten started already. If you have already started and you are not getting the customers you need or making the money you want to make then right now is a great time to ramp up your business. April is not too late to get started. There are still lots and lots of customers who haven’t signed up for lawn care service this year. Likewise, there are many business contracts that still haven’t been bid. So, you still have time to get brand new customers on you roster.

Spring is already getting hot. Our temperatures are forecast to be over 80 degrees this coming weekend. Some of the northern states are still cool but Spring is here and the weather is really going to warm up over the next several weeks. Summer is right around the corner.

April 4, 2010 is Easter. You can pound the pavement this weekend to drum up customers who want their lawns tidied up so they will look nice for family Easter celebrations. Since it is a 3-day weekend, many of your potential customers will be working in their lawns. They will need help and if you can visit them at the right time they may hire you to perform general spring cleanup jobs and grass cutting services.

Clover is an issue this time of year. For lawn care companies with applicator’s licenses you might not be too late to apply post-emergent selective herbicide. A better alternative is to select a taller cutting height for your lawn mower blades. A taller, thicker stand of grass will shade out clover reducing the need for chemical application.

April 15, 2010 is tax day. If you haven’t done your taxes yet, get started early. Organize last years receipts and get your tax forms completed early. Like it or not we are obligated to pay our fair share of taxes. If you have doubts about doing your own taxes, consider hiring a CPA. A qualified CPA who understands small business needs can be invaluable to you.

Wild Garlic or Wild Onion are sprouting in yards this month. Take a few minutes to call your customers to mention about the wild garlic that is sprouting in their lawn. Cutting it down will make their grass look so much better.

April 22, 2010 is Earth Day Your customers are becoming increasingly conscious about taking care of their environment. I believe the lawn care industry should be sensitive to the fact that we should not pollute our planet. There are ways to operate an environmentally conscious lawn care company. Many of our readers and viewers of our blog run their lawn care companies with an environmental slant to their businesses. Propane lawn equipment is becoming increasingly popular. Human powered reel mowers are also becoming the norm again in many communities with very small lawns. Operate an environmentally company and let your customers know how you are being aware in 2010.

Spring Stick Cleanup. April is a month when many pine cones and pine twigs have fallen in lawns across the country. Even if your customers don’t need their grass cut yet, they still need their lawns picked up. On an environmental note, you don’t have to haul all these sticks away or burn them or leave them for the garbage men. Offer your customers the opportunity to have a “natural area” in their lawns. Piling the brush in an unused area give habitat to the birds and other wildlife. It is great fun to watch Cardinals and Robins playing in the twigs. Also, many birds use this material to build their nests. A natural area is a great way to save your customers money while helping their environment.

Once again, if you are trying to Start A Lawn Care Business this year or if you currently own a lawn care business that just isn’t bringing in the money it should, visit our website. We have developed a great lawn care business package that will help you with your lawn care business.

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