Thursday, June 22, 2006

GIE-OPEI Trade Show merger a done deal

This year's Green Industry Expo, the landscape trade show founded in 1990, will be the last GIE. At least as we've come to know it over the past 16 years. The GIE started as a collaborative effort among three, and then two associations - the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS), the Professional Lawn Care Network (PLCAA) and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA). PLCAA and ALCA merged in 2005 to form the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET).

The legacy associations built their educational programs around the trade show.

This year's GIE will be held in Columbus, OH, the first week of November. The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute's EXPO, an annual event in Louisville, KY, takes place a month earlier.

We reported in October '05 that folks from PGMS and PLANET were strolling the show floor and outdoor exhibits at the OPEI Expo 2005, mostly an equipment trade show. It was the first time most of them had ever set foot at the Expo. They were scoping out an impending marriage.

While the GIE has always been touted as "the national" trade show for the Green Industry, it rarely strayed west of St. Louis. Other factors that made the decision easier to make were the expanded and renovated facilities at the Louisville Convention Center and the huge outdoor demo area at the Center. Two years ago the OPEI moved the date of its Expo from the blistering heat and humidity of July to October, just a couple of weeks earlier than the GIE.

The EXPO has, for all of its 24-year history, been a dealer show and an iron show.

It will be interesting to see how the major suppliers of chemical products -fertilizers, pest controls, etc. - embrace the merged trade show in L'ville. - Ron Hall

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Talk about a hot foot

Some of the methods that Mark Hecker used to kill weeds at the pesticide-free park in Lawrence, KS, have included a machine known as a Flamer that burns weeds in the cracks of sidewalks and a horticultural vinegar. The Flamer discolored the concrete, which stayed hot for another 15 or so minutes. The vinegar killed the tops of the weeds, but they returned in a couple of weeks, he said.

Hecker, the parks and recreation superintendent there, says you don't need pesticides to maintain a nice, green city park — not if you can muster a lot of old-fashioned elbow grease. Hecker's department has been maintaining one of the city's nicer parks without pesticides thanks to a lot of hand-weeding by employees and park volunteers.

It's not likely the program will expand much unless a lot more volunteers step forward, though.

"With just doing the one park, it hasn't been that difficult to juggle our staff around and get done what we need to do," he was quoted in the local newspaper. "But it would be a much bigger concern if you did it systemwide."

In this case that would mean 52 city parks, requiring perhaps hiring four additional crews of three people each. The crews would also need trucks and equipment. And, of course, there's the matter of weed control in 200 landscaped flower beds located in parks throughout the city.

At least from this corner it would seem that the parks budget AND the environment come out losers if the city implimented a pesticide-free approach in all of its parks. In other words — more workers, more trucks, more energy used, more vehicle emissions, etc.

Click on the headline or visit for the article in the Lawrence Journal-World at — Ron Hall

Friday, June 16, 2006

Big Box mishandles pesticides; pays big fine

The Home Depot will pay a $425,000 fine and is changing the way it handles pesticides and fertilizers after being cited by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, reported the Hartford Courant newspaper. The penalty includes a civil penalty of $99,000 and $326,000 that will go to a fund to educate other retailers in Connecticut about the proper handling and storage of hazardous materials.

The home retailing giant says it's changing the way it handles pesticides and fertilizers. To find out more, click on the headline of this article or visit the Courant's Web site at,0,118447.story?coll=hc-headlines-business. — Ron Hall

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A really nice gesture

The Airforce Times magazine carried a recent article about Project Evergreen's "GreenCare for Troops — Serving You While You Serve Us" program, which began May 22. In the program, lawn care companies provide free services to families of service members who deploy to the Middle East.

Katherine Brandenburg of Swanson Russell in Lincoln, NB, has been doing a great job of getting the word out. Nice going Katherine.

More than 1,000 lawn care companies signed up within the first month. (That number reflects branch locations of national companies, too.) So far about 100 families are taking advantage of the offer. You can bet the number will grow as word gets out. The magazine provided a link to the Project Evergreen Web site — www.projectevergreen — where companies and families can sign up. — Ron Hall

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

O.J. and seed field days

Can it be 12 years and a day since the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were found in the courtyard of Nicole's condo in Brentwood. The murders initiated one of the most bizarre chapters in U.S. legal history, the O.J. Simpson trial.

It doesn't seem that long ago (6/17/94 to be exact) that colleague Bob Mierow and I were driving down I-5 in Oregon on our way to turfgrass field trials when the radio in Bob's old Volvo crackled with a second-by-second account of O.J., in a Ford Bronco driven by friend A.C. Cowlings, being tailed by dozens of police. The chase that unfolded in slow motion and ended in O.J.'s arrest, even to this day seems almost surreal.

I recall that afternoon, and watching the entire episode rebroadcast on network television later that evening, whenever the turfseed companies in the Pacific Northwest invite us for a June visit.

If you're interested in refreshing your memory of that strange O.J. experience, visit or click on the headline above. — Ron Hall

Friday, June 09, 2006

Wow, this is brazen

Even with security at maximum level because of a visit by President Bush earlier this week, someone drove off with landscaper Lee Helmberger's pickup and trailer, which contained three mowers and other maintenance equipment. And they did it in broad daylight, reports the the Omaha, NB, NBC affiliate, Channel 6.

Helmberger told Channel 6 that he parked the truck and trailer at the Lewis & Clark Landing at the riverfront and when he returned they were gone. He says they were taken between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. at a time when the area that was being patrolled by Secret Service and police preparing for George W.'s arrival. — Ron Hall

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Florida city 'certifying' lawn service companies

Environmental stewardship is becoming a huge issue in the landscape industry. It will grow. All of us are going to have to realize this. Yes, I know that what we do enhances the urban environments that receive our services. But we live within a bigger world than just the lawns we treat or the properties we mow. That's the one we must protect (and be recognized for protecting) while we provide our services.

With that said . . . the Florida Gulf Coast city of Naples passed a law Wednesday, June 7. The council there agreed that all professional landscape companies providing services within city limits there to have at least one supervisor and at least 10 percent of their workers certified by the city by Sept. 30, 2007. The measure also requires companies that work as contractors for the city certify at least 10 percent of their workers within six months of entering into a contract with Naples, and certify at least 50 percent of their workers within a year of that date, reports the Naples Daily News newspaper.

Six hours of study on a range of subjects, including the effect of chemicals in the environment, proper plant selection, etc. will be required to earn a city certification, which can be renewed annually by taking more courses, says the newspaper.

The purpose of the law is to reduce the amount of pesticides and fertilizers that end up in ditches and canals that flow into Naples Bay and into the Gulf of Mexico.

This program sounds reasonable even with the modest administrative fee attached to it.

To see the Naples Daily News article visit — Ron Hall

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

It's been dry in merry old England

One government agency in England recently said that, per head, there is more water in some parts of Sudan than there is in London. Parts of England are suffering through their driest 18 months in a 70-year spell. Water restrictions have popped up all over the country, with many gardeners forbidden from turning on their garden hoses, a huge inconvenience for flower-loving Brits.

Not all the news resulting from the drought bad, however. Sales of drought-tolerant plants and rain catchment systems are brisk. And well drillers are as busy as they want to be.

The last time it was this dry for this long in England was 1932-1934, but the island nation didn't get much rain in 1976 either, reported The Christian Science Monitor in a recent article. — Ron Hall

Monday, June 05, 2006

Just how many would show up?

Some big numbers are being thrown around about how many legal immigrants might be coming to the United States and becoming red-blooded Americans (just like the rest of us) if the Senate's immigration bill (S. 2611) becomes law.

Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, says that if the bill became law we could expect 50 to 60 million new legal immigrants to the United States over the next 20 years. He says if the bill hadn't been amended in its final hours of debate as many as 103 million could have been allowed.

There are too many "ifs" in this equation to start counting now though.

Chances that the House, which has a bill of its own, will adopt the "guest worker" provisions in the Senate bill are less than slim. But something's going to happen in regards to immigration reform someday; you can bet on that. But it will be after the midterm elections. This Congress isn't going to do a darn thing that might rile constituents until after the dust of the election clears.

Meanwhile, members of the Utah National Guard, on George W.'s orders, headed to the U.S. Mexican border to start building fences, installing lights and whatever else is necessary to keep illegals from heading into the desert on their way to U.S. jobs and earning Yankee dollars. Today, the temperature is expected to be between 105 and 110 degrees F. in the southern Arizona desert. — Ron Hall

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Vicious baby groundhog attacks landscaper

An English springer spaniel named Wanda saved a female landscaper from a painful ordeal the last week of May. According to a report in the Weston Forum (CT) newspaper, the landscaper (unnamed in the article) was working in the backyard of a client's property when she felt scratching on the back of one of her pant legs. Looking down she saw an immature groundhog clinging to and trying to nibble on her leg. The landscaper screamed and Wanda, napping nearby, sprang up, leaped on the woodchuck and shook it to death.

Tests confirmed the groundhog had rabbies. The landscaper got a rabies booster shot and Wanda was confined to the family home for 45 days to make sure she hadn't contracted the disease in her defense of the landscaper.

Read all the gory details at, — Ron Hall