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2010 Landscape Industry Trends

By Bruce Fordyce

In Palo Alto, California, the city handed over local golf course maintenance to a private company. The council also agreed to sell the course's fleet of landscaping vehicles for $125,000. The contract is expected to save the city $500,000 in revenue during the contract.

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Over the last year, Landscape Contractor o DBM magazine editors have noticed a number of industry trends. Several of these trends offer landscape contractors potential new business opportunities for 2011.

In Barstow, California, High Desert residents looking to save money on their water bill can apply for rebates through the Cash for Grass program. The Mojave Water Agency offers rebates to homeowners who replace their lawns with California native plants and desert-friendly landscaping. The agency has $580,000 available for High Desert residents.

Cities Contracting Out Landscape Maintenance

As tax receipts diminish due to an overall depressed economy, cities and municipalities continue to reduce their workforce to deal with budget shortfalls. One of the areas is reducing their public landscape maintenance staff, and contracting the business to private landscape contractors.

Reports from many city administrators are that this will increase in 2011 - in some instances, it is predicted to increase dramatically. This presents an opportunity for city contracts for maintenance landscape contractors. Landscape maintenance professionals should contact local municipality to see if the city/area is considering this.

Some examples:

  • The San Carlos City Council approved outsourcing its park maintenance to two landscape companies in a bid to help close a $3.5 million budget gap and prevent the outright closure of the city's parks.
  • In Phoenix, Arizona City Council members and top officials are assessing whether to privatize more services, such as park landscaping.

Increased Irrigation Restrictions And Rebates For Replacing Turf With Native Plants

Water shortages caused by drought, increasing demand and a leaking infrastructure, is pushing water conservation to the forefront of municipal policy. Contractors can use this reality to increase sales of water-efficient landscaping and water harvesting systems to their clients. Also, to cut water need at the source, cities in dry climates are offering incentives to replace turf with native plants.

Some examples:

  • In Las Vegas, The Southern Nevada Water Authority will rebate homeowners $1.50 for every square foot of grass they remove from their homes that they replace with desert landscaping.
  • In California, the Long Beach Water Department will open a new round of rebates to local residents interested in changing their grass lawns to drought-tolerant landscaping. Customers can apply for up to $2,500 worth of rebates.
  • Austin, Texas launched a new ''green landscapes rebate'' program, where residents can receive up to $30 per 100 square feet to swap grass for native beds and/or permeable hardscape. The categories include: stone walkways or patios without mortar; gravel; and, mulch. Landscape contractors can use this as a selling point to upgrade client property.

Water Restrictions

  • Concord and Kannapolis in North Carolina are reminding residents about water restrictions after the Catawba-Wateree Drought Management Advisory Group declared the Cabarrus County cities under a stage-one drought. Lawn irrigation will only be allowed on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
  • The Cohasset, Massachusetts Water Department imposed a mandatory water restriction for all customers. Under the restrictions, outdoor watering is allowed using hand-held water devices only. The restrictions do not allow permanent irrigation systems or unattended sprinklers to be used. Irrigation systems must be shut off.
  • In Pleasant Grove, Utah the city council passed citywide lawn water regulations. Residents and others with lawn space will be limited to watering their lawns three times a week.

In Branford, Connecticut all of the town's playing fields, parks, and public green spaces are managed without the use of chemical pesticides.

The New York Child Safe Playing Field Act requires that all schools, preschools, and day-care centers, both public and private, stop using pesticides on any playgrounds or playing fields.

Moving Away From Chemical Pesticides

States are moving away from allowing chemical pesticide use on city land, making an opportunity for ''green'' pesticide use. Landscape contractors who understand these products, can leverage that knowledge into more jobs.

Some examples:

  • Connecticut banned the applications of synthetic weed killers around schools and daycare centers in grades K-12. The Connecticut law extends the ban to include pesticides on grass or playing fields on the grounds of any public or private preschool or public or private school with students in grade K-12.
  • The Indiana Pesticide Review Board approved new regulations that impact how school corporations may use pesticides at both public and private schools. It states that a pesticide cannot be applied at a school during normal instructional hours when school is in session unless (1) the pesticide is applied to control an observed pest that poses an immediate health threat situation to the students present, or (2) the pesticide is applied to an area outside and not immediately adjacent to student-occupied buildings.
  • In Massachusetts, carcinogenic pesticides or products that contain EPA List 1, Inerts of Toxicological Concern can no longer be applied to school grounds, and no pesticides can be applied for purely aesthetic reasons.

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November 13, 2019, 7:45 pm PDT

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