News travels fast, especially on the web. We picked 25 of our favorite Twitter accounts to help you stay up to date on happenings in the industry, get inspired or just have a good laugh.
The National Association of Landscape Professionals keeps followers updated on the latest legal issues facing the industry, especially H-2B legislation. Plus, they always have reminders and announcements about useful programs, certifications and events.
The Texas Nursery & Landscape Association shares a lot of news from the plant world. From new varieties to educational sessions to open jobs, their tweets are always catered to be just right for the audience.
From fun outdoor ideas to tips on landscape care, there’s always something good on the TruGreen feed.
Coastal Inc. (@coastal_inc)
Coastal inspires hardscapers and landscapers with before-and-after project pictures.
Bartlett Tree Experts (@BartlettTreeExp)
There are lots of fun facts on the Bartlett feed as well as employee photos, disease and tree care tips, and new info.
Casey Trees (@caseytrees)
There are great articles about the benefits of trees and environmental updates. And it’s always nice to see the volunteers who donate to plant trees with the nonprofit organization.
Lakeridge Mike (@Lakeridgecon)
The Lakeridge Brigade is always having a good time and Mike Pennington shares it all. From spoof movie trailers to dance parties, his account reminds hardscapers to enjoy what they do.
Garden Design Magazine (@GardenDesignMag)
This account has all kinds of design ideas, flower variety suggestions and beautiful pictures to help you give your customers what they want.
Richard Restuccia (@H2oTrends)
Water sustainability advocate Richard Restuccia is always putting out great links to news and resources for anyone interested in water conservation.
Tomlinson Bomberger (@MyTomBom)
Weed and pest tips abound on the Tomlinson Bomberger account. They have all kinds of turf info, plus some pretty funny photos.
Briggs & Stratton (@BriggsStratton
Snow removal and mowers are the focus of the Briggs & Stratton account with ways to stay safe, make the job easier and keep machinery working at peak performance.
Warren Gorowitz (@waterguru2)
Warren Gorowitz mixes general business tips, sustainability happenings and industry news, keeping followers up to date on the growth of environmental awareness.
It seems like Nufarm is always on the road sharing the latest on best lawn management practices. The feed is full of good reminders about which weeds and diseases lawn care operators should be looking out for.
Ross NW Watergardens (@NWwatergardens)
Beautiful photos, lots of creativity and a flair for sustainability make Ben Bowen’s feed fun to follow.
Weed Man USA (@weedmanusa)
With the Weed Man mascot leading the way, there are lots of tips and tricks for busy lawn care operators.
A&A Lawn & Landscaping (@AandALandscape)
These guys know how to use Twitter to connect with their customers, providing updates on service, photos of projects and just generally poking fun in their conversations.
The Grounds Guys have nearly identical American and Canadian feeds, which have planting tips, basics on botanicals and landscaping facts. Their short and simple tweets with catchy images get their points across quickly.
The National Hispanic Landscape Alliance is always up to date on legislative issues facing the landscaping industry, tips for service, important promotions, new products and disease news.
Landscape Workshop (@Landscapewrkshp)
This feed is full of the benefits of beautiful landscaping, along with an inside peek at operations and customers’ properties.
Michael Stachowicz (@mwstack)
Watch the renovations to the National Mall unfold as turfgrass specialist Michael Stachowicz shares photos and tips on turf with his followers.
Great resources for better marketing, industry events, educational opportunities and more are on this feed.
Go iLawn (@GoiLawn)
A mix of inspirational quotes, business advice and news you can use, Go iLawn’s feed always has something interesting and useful.
Scotts Lawn (@ScottsLawnCare)
Scotts has a great mixture of funny photos and helpful tips, keeping the feel of their feed light and fun, while also providing good tips for both consumers and professionals.
Chris Sabbarese (@csabbarese)
Sabbarese runs several popular Twitter chats like #plantchat, #treechat and #landscapechat, bringing together different people from all over the green industry to problem-solve, share experiences and get new ideas.
Matt Lowe (@MattSwiftStraw)
Make yourself a better manager and businessperson with the articles on Matt Lowe’s feed. There are ways to work smarter, communicate better and be more positive.
Sponsored by A.M. Leonard (@amleonardinc)
Spring pruning can be tricky because trees and shrubs are putting out new leaves, and pruning can weaken plants that are putting forth energy to grow, says Kent Honl, arborologist at Rainbow Treecare in eastern Minnesota.
Honl says his company will start spring pruning in a few weeks, but he doesn’t get bogged down in the minutiae of timing too much. He cites a saying from his time studying horticulture at University of California Santa Cruz.
“They told me the best time to prune is when your blade is sharp,” he says.
And if you need to remove dead wood, any time is a good time, Honl says.
Without the proper pruning, trees can become unruly and unstable.
For the full story, on the Lawn & Landscape website, check out bit.ly/springshrubs.
New name, same great content
We’ve rebranded our podcast network as the Lawn & Landscape Radio Network, and it’ll be sponsored by Syngenta. Here, you’ll find great content on the technical aspects of the industry, as well as lessons to help you manage the business aspects of your company. You can subscribe to the network through iTunes. Just search for the Lawn & Landscape Radio Network.
First up, Lawn & Landscape Editor Chuck Bowen sat down with Jason Cupp to discuss how to make the right kinds of New Year’s resolutions for your business, what questions you should be asking yourself and the benefits of a thesaurus.
As we head into the 2016 season, these are important points to remember. Visit bit.ly/LLRNetwork to make sure you’re on the right track for the year.
It’s that time of year
In this issue, we’ve revealed our 2016 Lawn & Landscape Top 100 list on pg 53. It’s an opportunity for you to check out the competition and see how landscape companies are doing in different parts of the country. Who’s increased in revenue? Who’s decreased in revenue? What companies made the list for the first time ever?
While you’re at it, head on over to bit.ly/LawnTop100 to check out last year’s list, as well as the articles featured in the section. We also have links to the Top 100 lists dating back to 2005, so be sure to check those out too!
what are your thoughts?
Have a question or opinion on an article? Head to our website and comment to weigh in!
Our website gives readers the opportunity to weigh in on thoughts regarding magazine articles, as well as online and news articles.
Attachments can turn your mower into a mulcher, snow thrower or dethatcher in just a few minutes. They can also make the operator’s ride more comfortable, give a cleaner, more even cut and put the finishing stripes on a lawn.
We talked with attachment manufacturers to see what’s new on the market and how to choose the right add-ons for your business.
How to shop.
The demand for faster and more efficient cuts has driven new innovations like quick attach systems at BOB-CAT and Steiner, says Schiller Grounds Care Product Manager Anne Marie Sanicola. “The more you can do and the number of tools you can use on a tractor, the more productive and efficient you become,” she says.
Tim Crowley, marketing manager for Walker Manufacturing Company, recommends looking at your overall scope of work and figuring out if there are multiple jobs you can do with one piece of equipment.
Nick Minas, product manager for John Deere Commercial Mowing, says contractors should consider the challenges they face when working on a jobsite. “By evaluating trouble spots, you can start the conversation with your dealer to determine what attachments can help make the job easier,” he says.
And of course, durability is important as well. “While price is important, it should be secondary to the performance of the attachment itself. The time spent fixing and tinkering with a low-price alternative will cost much more than the price of upgrading to a premium OEM solution,” says Nicholas Ariens, director of product management for Ariens Company.
Sanicola recommends looking at the durability and operator efficiency of things like welds, bearings and drive systems. Most manufacturers also recommend purchasing attachments from the original equipment manufacturer since they’re sure to fit and work well on mowers.
“Fit, finish and smooth operation are generally good indicators of the time and effort that was spent in the product’s development,” says Mark Aldendifer, Exmark parts and accessories marketing manager, adding that finding the right dealer partner is crucial to keeping your equipment up and running.
And, attachments can always be added into equipment leases, Minas says. “Work with your dealer to see how you can get more bang for your buck.”
What’s popular now.
Attachments that enhance cutting performance, improve versatility and offer more comfort are in the highest demand across the board.
And anything that helps contractors improve their finish like mulching or striping kits is popular. John Deere says the Mulch On Demand deck is one of its most popular attachments since it allows operators to switch from discharge to mulch without stopping.
For Wright Manufacturing, the Velke Sulkies and Grass Gobblers have consistently been the most popular attachments for years, says Vice President of Sales Hal White.
“In addition, professional landscapers spend a lot of time on our machines, so attachments that target comfort are very important,” Ariens says, naming seat covers and suspension seat kits.
Flex-Forks have been a big hit for Excel Industries, which produces Hustler and BigDog mowers, since they help operators be more efficient by offering an even cut on uneven terrain even at high speed while absorbing shock to improve comfort.
And for Exmark, suspension seats are popular on zero-turn riders, along with the operator controlled discharge accessory and UltraVac collection systems.
Mulch kits have been growing in popularity for Excel as well as Ariens/Gravely. “Mulching adds benefits to the yard because you are returning the clippings back to the soil to reclaim the nutrients,” Unruh says. “Also, you’re not dealing with hauling and disposing clippings.”
Rakes and blowers have been staples for years at BOB-CAT and Steiner while baggers and dethatchers have been the big sellers for Toro. Walker’s dethatcher has also been its most popular option.
BOB-CAT and Steiner haven’t changed their offerings much in terms of attachments, but people want bigger and more powerful attachments, Sanicola says.
Ariens has noticed that as landscape businesses grow, operators are starting to cut grass in all kinds of weather conditions. “While all-weather performance has always been important, it is now critical that all of our attachments perform no matter when an operator chooses to cut,” he says.
That includes mowing in low light conditions, Minas says, adding that he’s seeing contractors add front light kits to zero-turn mowers.
“With a front light kit, you can start mowing a little earlier or mow past sunset, which can be a big boost to productivity,” he says.
Husqvarna has seen dump carts and sweepers gain popularity in recent years. John Deere has also seen a lot of popularity with its 14-bushel dump-from-seat system which allows a longer mowing time between dumping.
When it comes to installing and maintaining an irrigation job, a trencher or vibratory plow is an essential piece of machinery for a contractor. Both machines can move soil and make a path to install conduit. Each machine can accomplish the same job, but approach the turf differently, according to manufacturers.
Lawn & Landscape spoke with manufacturers about the pros and cons of these machines, how to best maintain them and what to look for when purchasing:
L&L: What are pros and cons to using trenchers for irrigation?
Andrew Schuermann, product manager, Ditch Witch: “They’re very widely available, they require just a very simple operation and they’re easy to use. It’s a technology that’s been around for a very long time.
“They can be used in almost any ground condition around the world. It allows you to inspect the job before, bury and cover everything back up.”
Katie Althoff, attachment specialist, Bobcat Company: “With the trencher, you get to actually see the pipe. Like if you are adding sprinkler heads, that’s a big advantage to actually see it.”
Schuermann: “Disadvantages of trenching are going to be obstacles, whether it be crossing sidewalks, other utilities in the ground that you’re trying to avoid.
“And another disadvantage to a trencher is just the nature of that activity, you’re removing the earth from the ground so there’s just a larger ground disturbance when compared to a vibratory plow.”
L&L: What are pros and cons to using v-plows for irrigation?
Tim Phelps, product manager, Barreto Manufacturing: “The vibratory plow’s going to be cleaner, less invasive on the soil. You’re not going to have this huge trench to deal with when you’re done.
And to put it back, you’re not going to have to worry about the sod re-growing, because you’re just going to have a slice in the ground. And also with that, I could see a vibratory plow being faster.”
Josh Beddow, marketing manager, The Toro Company: “If you are able to use a plow, because the ground conditions are conducive for plowing, you don’t have to worry about rehabbing the turf or the ground as much as you are going to when you compare that to a ride-on trencher.”
Phelps: “Vibratory plows, from what I’ve seen, have a set depth and once you have that depth set that’s all you can do. A lot of times, if you’re doing irrigation for a lawn, typically you don’t have to be very deep, and that’s usually not an issue.
However, getting the supply line to your manifold you would probably have to be underneath the frost line. In that sense, you would have to have a pretty deep trench.”
L&L: What are some other applications a trencher or vibratory plow can be used for?
Beddow: “We’re seeing them (plows) used for electrical or fiber optics to the home connections, different things on the utility side, lighting, electrical lines for lighting. Basically anything that is a small diameter product.”
Phelps: “Drain tile is a big one (for trenchers). You have your irrigation, you have your drain tile, you have electrical line, propane lines. Sewer lines. We sell trenchers with a minimum depth. Our depths range from 12 inches up to 48 inches.”
Schuermann: “Trenchers can be used for creating an edge around a flower bed. Wires are being installed with vibratory plows. Basically any other pipe and cable that they might be installing, you could use these machines for.”
L&L: What should irrigation contractors consider when purchasing a trencher or vibratory plow?
Schuermann: “Ease of use, ease of maintenance and then production is going to be a key factor for these guys who are literally getting paid by the foot.
The quicker they can get those lines installed the more they can get paid. The easier the machine is to operate, the easier it is for them to switch operators between different crews.”
Phelps: “Visit with rental companies and see what machines that they rent.
Look at the overall machine to see how it’s constructed, see where it’s constructed and also look at the serviceability of the machine. Are things easily accessible on it? Are the controls easy to operate? Is it an intuitive machine to where they can put any of their workers on it to where they would understand the machine?”
Althoff: “With trenchers, you really need to know what type of chain you want. With ours, it’s really easy to get a different chain on there, if you go to an area with different soil conditions. On the Bobcat Trencher it is easy to change both the width and the depth of your trench. To change out the width we provide add-on spacer kits to widen the trench width. To increase the digging depth, we offer an add on that increases the size of the boom and then the customer can buy additional links and cup and or carbides.”
L&L: What kind of maintenance is needed on these machines and how long do they typically last?
Beddow: “It’s really important to maintain the tension on the trencher chain and then you are looking at the teeth and tooth wear and making sure that on a regular basis, inspecting for any damaged teeth which can be replaced or repaired. Running a dull chain is really going to hurt you in terms of productivity. Kind of similar goes for the plows as well, making sure your blade is right for your conditions.”
Schuermann: “The biggest thing to maintain on these pieces of equipment is going to be your engine, making sure you’re using clean fuel, and the air filters are clean; making sure that engine stays maintained. Obviously, both these pieces of equipment have hydraulic systems. Make sure your oil stays clean and your hydraulic oil filter is changed on a routine basis. What’s good about irrigation installation, you typically have pretty good life of all those components because you’re typically only running shallow depths across topsoil within someone’s yard.”
Phelps: “We’ve been building trenchers since 1996, and we still have original trenchers out there. And we’ve been building track trenchers since 2008, and we still have those machines running in the field. Typically, in rental, you’re probably seeing 1,000 to 1,500 hours on a trencher.”