Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dallas firm gets into true spirit of the Xmas

DALLAS — Moore Lawn & Garden and Moore Tree Care employees organized a food drive to help the less fortunate here this Christmas.

“The economic downturn has affected many individuals and we wanted to assist those families in our area, ” said Brenda Scott, Garden Manager for Moore Lawn & Garden. Beginning December 8 employees delivered bags to every client, with each bag containing a letter explaining the food drive and that Moore would pick up the donations when the regular crew came by on the scheduled maintenance day.

“Our very generous clients and employees,” provided more than 950 lbs of non-perishable items such as canned meats, soups, cereals, instant breakfasts, rice and pasta, equaling 850 meals, said Ken Fischer, Director of Moore Lawn & Garden. Employees from Moore delivered the donations to a North Texas Food Bank.

Moore Lawn & Garden and Moore Tree Care have been serving the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex since 1962 and today are a division of Lambert Landscape Company.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ruppert Nurseries donates 5% of profits to charities

Ruppert Nurseries pledges to share at least 5% of the company’s budgeted profit, which is budgeted at $300,000 for 2008, with charitable causes in the community each year. A major recipient of donations this year was Easter Seals, but Ruppert has supported at least 50 nonprofit organizations with financial, in-kind or labor donations.

The Easter Seals’ Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Inter-Generational Center in Silver Spring was the recipient of a $100,000 donation from Ruppert Nurseries in 2008. In addition to the financial support, Ruppert employees have helped landscape or spruce up various sites, made friends with Easter Seals clients and attended events in support of Easter Seals.

Other events and organizations that have been supported by Ruppert in 2008 include: Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, Home Health & Hospice, Becca’s Run, D.C. Students Construction Trade Foundation, Friends of the Patapsco, Lions Club Mulch Delivery, Capital Area Food Bank Drive, Waterford Park, American Diabetes Association and more.

Source: Dolan Media Newswire

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Where consumers cut back during a recession

Many companies can anticipate the performance of their sectors in a recession. McKinsey research shows that during the 1990 – ‘91 and 2001 – ‘02 downturns, for example, U.S. consumers reprioritized their spending rather than cutting it across the board. Consumer spending dropped in discretionary categories like dining out, personal care products and charitable donations. But expenditures for groceries, reading materials, and other options that substitute for more expensive ones actually rose. So did outlays on insurance, health care, and, above all, education.

Average growth in U.S. consumer expenditures (1990-91 and 2001-02) compared with average growth for entire period (1984-2008); index: average growth for entire period = 0

Increased spending over period average

Education (eg. tuition, textbooks)....................90
Reading (eg. newspapers, magazines) ..............53
Personal insurance, pensions ..........................43
Health care (eg. health insurance, services)........29
Food at home 28

Decreased spending over period average

Entertainment (eg. tickets for events, trips).............-06
Tobacco products..............................................-13
Cash contributions.............................................-28
Apparel & service...............................................-45
Personal-care products & services.........................-78
Food away from home ......................................-110

Source: The McKinsey Quarterly (https://www.mckinseyquarterly.com)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Am I missing something on this phosphorus issue?

Having lived literally within sight of the Great Lakes almost all of my life, I’ve seen what pollution can do to a body of water, especially Lake Erie, which now supplies my drinking and washing water, and provides me, my family and friends with excellent recreational opportunities.


I saw the lake covered with algae during the summers of the 1960s, and witnessed the decline of the sports fishing industry through 1970s. About that time the federal and state governments began taking serious action to reverse (slow is a more accurate word) the Lake’s decline. They forced communities within the Great Lakes watershed to upgrade their sewage treatment plants and they mandated the removal of phosphorus from laundry detergents, inasmuch as phosphorus promotes the growth of algae. This brings me closer to the point I want to make. And to a question for anyone reading this blog.

Why are some people in the lawn care business so opposed to legislation aimed at restricting the use of lawn fertilizers containing phosphorus near streams, lakes and bays, especially when the legislation, on the surface, seems reasonable?


Let’s take a look at recent legislation in Annapolis, MD. That city regulates the use and sale of fertilizing containing phosphorus to limit runoff into the Chesapeake Bay. The law applies to home lawns, parks, cemeteries and golf courses. It also forbids the application of lawn fertilizer when the ground is frozen or where it will run onto any impervious surface, such as parking lots, sidewalks and roadways, and not be collected or applied to the turfgrass.

That said, there are exceptions that allow the use of phosphorus-containing fertilizers:

— on turf or lawn areas where soil tests performed within the last three years confirm that the phosphorus levels are deficient
— on newly established turf or lawn areas during their first growing season.
— on gardens, including vegetable and flower, trees, shrubs, and indoor applications, including green houses.
— on yard waste compost or other similar materials that are primarily organic in nature and are applied to improve the physical condition of the soil


Lake Erie improved dramatically through the 1980s and 1990s because of the above-mentioned actions (and others). The recreational boating and sport fishing industries boomed as a result. Unfortunately, researchers and other knowledgeable experts are telling me the Lake is going back the other direction again.

I don’t know how large a role that lawn fertilizers are having on the quality of Lake Erie, not a clue. But it seems to me that limiting the use of phosphorus-containing fertilizers on soils that are tested and already have sufficient phosphorus for plant health is reasonable and I don't see any reason to kick about it.

Now my question — Am I missing a key element of this issue, the reason why lawn care applicators sometimes oppose this type of legislation? — Ron Hall

Monday, December 15, 2008

How the Brits view the landscape biz in '09

Source: Horticulture Week, which covers the Green Industry in Great Britain

"It is hard to say exactly what the outlook is going to be for 2009 but if I'm honest I'd say there is going to be more of a slowdown.

"It is still busy at the moment but without a doubt there has been a slowdown in enquiry rates. A certain sector of the market in smaller projects has fallen away. The larger private contracts are still there but they are going to be hard-earned. I don't know whether projects like the Olympics will help.

"In a recession, people will spend more on their gardens - but the early part of the year will be difficult. January to March will see a big slowdown." - Robin Templar Williams, managing director, Robin Williams & Associates

"The recession is going to be worse than people think and next year will be tough. I think the outlook is pretty bleak.

"Housing is obviously the worst hit - it's fallen off a cliff. Commercial will be hit but not as hard, and grounds maintenance clients will be looking for savings, particularly in local authorities. I don't think the weaker companies will survive. I think it will be a short, sharp shock and by 2010 or 2011 we'll see recovery because there are major capital schemes that will boost the economy - roads, Crossrail, the Thames Gateway and the Olympics." - Neil Huck, senior contracts manager, Ground Control

"It is going to be tough for all sectors of the industry. But it is an opportunity for professional businesses to look at how they do business. It is about sharpening up and looking at systems of working and labour.

"I think it will be short-term pain and long-term gain because it will get rid of a lot of the dross in our side of the industry. Contractors will have to be careful how much credit they give people and everyone will have to raise their game.

"For the past five years it has been too easy and, in this sharper market, to look at all your costs is a good thing." - Mark Gregory, director, Landform Consultants

"I think that, paradoxically, once people understand they are in a recession they are more likely to treat their house as a home and invest in enjoyment of that.

"That includes investing in their gardens rather than trying to sell their house.

"It can be hard as an individual garden designer to gauge how the industry is going to look next year but I have already had enquiries from landscapers looking for work to build my designs.

"They are obviously feeling the pinch in other areas - there is a seasonal aspect to that but it's clear they are nervous." - Peter Thomas, chairman, Society of Garden Designers.

Click on the headline to register and receive HortWeek's weekly enewsletter. It's a quick, informative read.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

New Cowboys stadium will be incredible!

How bot dem Cowboys, eh?

Apart from the New York Yankees, what other team is ready to plunk down a cool $1 billion for a new stadium, in this case $1.1 billion. For that price, the stadium better get lots of use, and it looks like it will. It's already being touted as perhaps "the most used stadium ever built." In addition to being the home field for the NFL Cowboys, the Stadium, designed by HKS Architects, is going to host the 2011 Super Bowl, the 2010 AT&T Cotton Bowl, the 2010 NBA All-Star Game, the 2014 NCAA men's Final Four basketball tournament, maybe even World Cup soccer and NCAA lacrosse.

The retractable roof stadium will have three different Matrix synthetic fields being installed by Hellas Construction, Austin, for three different sports -- one for the Cowboys, one for college football and one for soccer. The Matrix trademarked field is an advanced version of the RealGrass surface that the Cowboys have played on at Texas Stadium the past eight years.

"This is the only stadium in the NFL that has the option to have as many different kinds of fields as they want and can change out for every event," said Reed J. Seaton, CEO of Hellas Construction, which is installing the fields.

The new field is unique in several other ways, including its "roll-up" design. The field can be rolled up in strips and stored under staging areas along the sidelines at field level. In other words, one field can be rolled up and another laid down, reportedly within a day's time.

The Stadium, which will seat 80,000, with the possibility of expansion to 100,000, is to be done in August, and the Cowboys will play its first home game there in September. Although the Stadium is yet to sell naming rights, some folks are referring to it as "Jerry World," in reference to team owner Jerry Jones.

It replaces Texas Stadium, which opened in 1971, as the Cowboys home.

Click on the headline and see the video of the new stadium being built.....It will blow you away!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Can Canada's ag community stand by and watch?

OTTAWA, CANADA- Author and Ottawa Citizen columnist Dan Gardner was the guest speaker Wed., Dec. 3, at a national agricultural conference co-hosted by CropLife Canada and the Grain Growers of Canada.

Gardner, author of Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear, will talk about why - at a time when the world population is the healthiest and safest it has ever been - people worry about things they don't need to worry about and don't worry about the things they ought to. He will also talk about how that applies to chemicals and the huge gap between what chemical experts know and what the average person worries about.

"Mr. Gardner's book is very thought-provoking. As an industry that has been under attack recently, we thought our audience would be interested in hearing more about how fear can drive people to behave in ways that really don't make sense," Dr. Lorne Hepworth president of CropLife Canada said.

Following this year's keynote address, CropLife Canada will be commenting on draft regulations to ban the sale and use of some pesticides in Ontario. The association is highly critical of the government for failing to articulate scientific criteria, arguing that citizens are safer with science-based regulations.

"The agricultural community cannot stand by quietly as the Government of Ontario ignores the fact that these products are rigorously reviewed to ensure they will not harm people, animals or the environment before they are permitted for sale. It's a dangerous precedent that could have dire consequences for agriculture because it contributes to heighten and unmerited perceptions of risk."

CropLife Canada is the trade association representing the manufacturers, developers and distributors of plant science innovations - pest control products and plant biotechnology - for use in agriculture, urban and public health settings.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Dallas plans first fully sustainable urban square block in U.S.

The City of Dallas will host a full-day "Design Charrette" Friday, Dec. 5, to examine the necessary framework and community impact of what will become the first fully sustainable, urban square block in the United States. The Charrette, attended by community design and urban planning experts from across the nation, will be held at City Hall from 8:30 am until 5:30 pm.

The outcome of the day will include a series of recommendations, which will in turn structure an international design competition to create the actual block. That competition, which kicks off in January 2009, will invite architects and planners from around the world to translate the needs of the Dallas Community into structural designs for the future city block.

"The goal is to create the first fully sustainable block downtown," said Brent Brown, Dallas architect and founder of the Building Community Workshop (http://www.bcworkshop.org). "And by sustainable, we mean a place that is socially, economically and environmentally healthy. We'll take the first step in that effort on Friday."

Hosted by the City of Dallas, San Francisco-based Urban Re:Vision (http://www.urbanrevision.com) and Dallas' Building Community Workshop, the Charrette will look at the common city block in an uncommon way, examining the impact of this particular city block's development on the City of Dallas and its surrounding area. In rethinking the city block, experts will re-assess the potential value of available resources like water, waste, and air and how to strike the delicate balance between economy and equality.

"Our job on December 5th is to explore how pivotal the city block is in the urban landscape, and how it can be used as a catalyst for a whole new way of living," said Stacey Frost (http://www.urbanrevision.com/biography/stacey-frost), Founder of Urban Re:Vision.

"This process is one that puts real people first and promotes sustainability." Potential requirements, barriers, and changes will be examined in an effort to pave the way for the implementation of the proposed site. This examination will also serve to aid both site-specific, and regional decision-making.

Topics will include: energy systems, transportation, the natural and developed environment, community, the economy and technology.

Additional groups involved include Downtown Dallas, The Real Estate Council, Central Dallas Ministries, The Institute for Urban Policy Planning, Dallas Institute for Humanities and Culture, Enterprise Foundation, Fannie Mae Foundation, Vision North Texas and others. Participants from outside the Dallas area include representatives of the Biomimicry Institute, Architecture for Humanity, ARUP, Organic Architect, United States Green Building Council, and others.