Posted by: In: Uncategorized 09 May 2017 0 comments

As with most trades, we calculate our billing based on something we call “man hours.” Yes, we also employee women haha, man hours is simply a more convenient and smoother sounding term then human hours. Anyways, we get asked ALOT about how our man hours work and there tends to be much confusion on this topic -so much so -I decided to write this. I hope it proves to be a helpful exercise.

For ease of explanation, I’m going to focus on our mowing service. We currently charge $45/hr for mowing in the Cowichan Valley. If a customer, lets call him Jerry, is being charged $45/visit, it is because that is how long it it takes for 1 human to mow, trim, and edge his property.  We run a busy business and often mow dozens of lawns a day so we work in crews of 4. This means our friend Jerry’s lawn will be mowed by 4 humans, not 1.. This is where the man hour confusion often begins. If 4 paid-by-the-hr-humans mow Jerry’s lawn, how long would you expect it take them? If you said 1 hr, you are wrong haha. With 4 humans, it should take no more than 15 minutes a visit. 4 humans x 15 min= 1 hr.  If it does take longer then 15 min, like 1 hr for instance, Jerry is not being charged near enough which means Lush isn’t able to pay its hard working employees and no one wants that! Lush pays its employees an average of $18/hr which means in this case, Lush, would be paying an average of $72/hr in employees salaries to mow Jerry’s $45 lawn not to mention other expenses like fuel, equipment, insurance, WCB etc. Although Jerry would be happy and we’d be happy that Jerry is happy, our accountants would be sad. We believe Jerry, our employees and Lush can all be happy. And that is why we charge based on the smart system of man hours.

Hope this helps! See you on the lawns 🙂

Posted by: In: Uncategorized 08 Jan 2015 0 comments

Pruning is the physical act of trimming branches, leaves or dead matter from a plant. Typically this is done to make the plant look more attractive or to help keep it healthy. Horticultural experts and landscapers generally agree that pruning is carried out for one (or more) of four different reasons: Training the Plant, Maintaining the Plant’s Health, Improving Flower / Fruit Quality and to Restrict Growth. With this entry we’ll take a brief look at each of these reasons.

Training the Plant: To keep a tree or shrub to a specific size or shape, it must be regularly pruned. The initial pruning of young trees or shrubs normally consists of removing broken, crossing, or any pest-infested branches. When pruning trees, the rule of thumb is to cut away 1/3 of the top growth during transplanting. This will compensate for root loss, a technique which is not necessary for properly pruned, nursery-grown plants. Excessive pruning at transplanting, according to research, reduces ultimate plant size and does not aid in plant survival. As a rule, the central leader of a tree should not be pruned unless a leader is not wanted, as is the case with some naturally low-branched trees or where multiple-stemmed plants are desired. Some pruning may be necessary to maintain desired shape and shorten extra-vigorous shoots.

Maintaining Plant Health: To prune a plant for health reasons first consider sanitation, which includes the pruning plants helps keep them healthyelimination of all dead, dying, or diseased wood. Any dying branch or stub can be the entry point or build-up chamber for insects or disease that could spread to other parts of the plant, with devastating results. When removing diseased wood such as a fungal canker or fire blight, it is important that the cut be made in healthy wood, beyond the point of infection and always with a sterile blade. The development of a sound framework through proper thinning will help prevent disease and loss of vigor while maintaining good form. Even evergreen shrubs will usually benefit from an occasional thinning of foliage. This thinning will allow penetration of light and air throughout the shrub, resulting in an even growth of the foliage.

Quality of Flowers/Fruit: The more flowers and fruit a plant produces, the smaller they become, as can be seen on a rose bush or fruit tree that has been left to its own natural devices. Pruning reduces the amount of wood and so diverts energy into the production of larger, though possibly fewer, flowers and/or fruit. Most flowering shrubs will bloom either on one-year old growth or on new growth. Properly timed pruning will increase the production of wood that will bear flowers. Some deciduous shrubs have colored barks which are especially delightful in winter. The best color is produced on young stems; the greatest stem length and most intense color results from hard pruning.

Restricting Growth: Over time, trees and shrubs will often grow to sizes that exceed the space allowed for them. Where space is limited, regular pruning becomes necessary to keep plants in bounds. Regular pruning is necessary on formal hedges to maintain a uniform growth rate. To reduce labor, select plants that will not exceed allotted space. A subjective thing, the gardener will maintain plant growth (such as with a hedge) to the size and shape best suited to their individual tastes or to the character of the lot. An extreme example of pruning to restrict size would be the traditional Japanese Bonsai Tree. Examples of these living art forms can remain in diminutive pots, yet are literally hundreds of years old. These elegant trees are testament to the skills and dedication of the artists who devoted so much energy and creativity to their appearance over the years.

If uncertain about your pruning requirements or needs, it’s always advisable to check with professional landscapers, such Lush Eco Lawns, to ensure the maximum benefit is achieved for your efforts.

Posted by: In: Uncategorized 16 Aug 2014 0 comments
Check out the dark lush colour! This is without fertilizer :)

September is the best month of the year to grow a Lush lawn!

Fall is best for many reasons.  1.NHL  2.NFL  3.CFL  4.MLB playoffs – there may be other reasons too… In all seriousness, Fall and its cooler temperatures and increased rains are just some of the reasons why when it come to growing lush lawns and gardens, it is definitely best!.

1. Coolness

If you read our post on Seeding you’ll know that all grass on Vancouver Island – even Canada, is cool season grass. Kentucky Blue, Perennial Rye, Fescues..they all prefer a milder (cooler), wetter climate which is exactly why lawns look their best in April, May, September and October and struggle in June, July and August.  This is also why Spring and Fall are the best times to a plant new lawn or renovate an existing one.  Your garden is no different.

2. Water

You can’t avoid this. Grass is a plant and needs water to stay healthy. Taking months off, while unavoidable does take its toll.  The great thing about Fall is the sky just brings the rain which makes September the best month of the year to feed, grow, replace or renovate your lawn and garden.

3.  Weeds 

Most of the weeds we love to hate – buttercup, dandelions, clover etc grow in cycles.  The best way to disrupt their cycles and slow their growth are cooler temperatures and growing a thick strand of turf (lawn).  This is why fall is the best time for you to focus on growing a thick healthy lawn.  You are going after weeds at their most vulnerable and by planting a healthy lawn or garden now, you will be greatly reducing your chances of a weed invasion the following spring.

4. Budget

Yes, money matters!  It’s expensive to replace or renovate a lawn but by doing it in the fall you are choosing a time of increased cash flow.  Not only that, there are even some companies that will allow you to pay over the winter!  Actually, we only know of one.  We suggest you talk to them.

 

“John rescued our property in every sense of the word. An inexperienced landscaper left over 20,000 sqft of our land in a sand covered disaster that wouldn’t even grow weeds. An email to LushEco changed all that. John had our lawn resurfaced and covered in rich soil that grew beautiful lush grass and now 1 year later it looks like a different lawn.  LushEco worked quickly and efficiently, my husband and I were so pleased. We both love the fact that no chemicals are used at all.  LushEco does a majority of the maintenance on our property now from pruning to putting down bark mulch to putting up gorgeous Christmas lights.  Every week that grey truck pulls up our driveway with filled friendly hardworking people and I always know my yard will look amazing each time they are done. We get multiple compliments on our property now and are asked who does our maintenance and I tell them LushEco.

If anyone needs their lawn to look amazing they need John and his team of experts!”

Vanita, Shawnigan Lake

Seeding

kentucky blue grass lawnSunny seed mix, Shade mix, Front lawn mix, Backyard Mix, Eco lawn mix, Drought resistant mix, blah blah blah. This is marketing at it’s worst. How is it possible for the seed companies to know how much sun, shade or even water your particular lawn gets? They’re guessing, of course, so why invest in a stranger’s best guess when you can intentionally buy the seeds that are right for you?

Generally there are 3 main types of seed varieties used in most mixes. Kentucky Bluegrass is found in Sunny or Front yard mixes and is a fan favorite for its thick blade of grass and beautiful bluish tinge. Perennial Rye is the best all around seed and is found in most if not all mixes as it has a medium blade with a nice uniform green that holds up well under most conditions (see above). Fescues are found in shade or backyard mixes as their extremely thin blades thrive in the shade, or so they say.

For the wet and sun deprived Vancouver Island, we recommend a mix predominantly Perennial Rye with a few Kentucky Blue mixed in for fun. This type of mix is traditionally called an Over-seeding mix or sometimes the bag will say the seed content on it. Perennial Rye is the best all around seed for our conditions and lifestyle. It’s the seed most common in parks and sports fields as it wears well (unlike Fescues) and doesn’t gorge itself or need as much as light as Kentucky Blue.

If you don’t have the patience or irrigation to seed your lawn, you can also hire a company to Hydro Seed your lawn. Utilizing the same seed varieties but covering them in a mixture of wet mulch for increased germination, the seeds will literally be sprayed on your lawn appearing as a green sludge. Before you know, that sludge will be a lawn. Finally, if you need a lawn right now, you can’t go wrong with sod. Sod is mature grass ready right now. All it needs is some good soil and a professional’s touch. As far as pricing goes, Sod is the most expensive, followed by Hydro-seeding and seeding.

Best time to plant any kind of grass is May and September but remember, all seed needs to remain perpetually moist until germination – that includes sod so it can establish.

Aerating

Aerating Lawns on Vancouver IslandAll soil needs air, water and nutrients for its plants to thrive. In the case of a lawn, when its soil is compacted, these resources become trapped and its grass roots are unable to access them. The result is always the same; crabgrass, weeds and moss take advantage of the lawn’s weakened state and gradually establish themselves. Aerating is the process of releasing the compaction so these vital resources are made available and the lawn can continue to grow lush and healthy. Aerating should ALWAYS follow power raking. There’s no point in trying to aerate through moss.

Not all aerating is created equal. Those spikes on the bottom of your shoes, for instance, add to your compaction problem rather than solve it. If you are going to aerate you must rent a Core Aerator from your neighbourhood rental shop. A typical Aerator weighs in excess of 400lbs and makes operating your lawn mower seem like that plastic toy you bought your grandson. Plus you have to transport it…and anchor it to your trailer….yes, you need a trailer. In the end, its much easier to hire someone and only marginally more expensive.

Once the entire lawn has been aerated, (hopefully you marked your sprinkler heads first) there will be thousands of holes with corresponding soil plugs. Just leave the plugs to decompose. Your lawn is now literally open to the possibilities of new growth. Best time to aerate is early spring and fall. If you’re aerating as part of a lawn renovation, you have just finished the tough phase 1! Congratulations! Phase 2 involves the much more fulfilling topdressing, seeding and fertilizing!

Power-raking

Thatching Vancouver IslandIf your lawn is currently covered in moss and it meets the two conditions for renovation (adequate sun, good drainage), it all starts with a vicious power raking (some call it de-thatching). We say vicious because most homeowners and even landscapers fail in this regard. The point of power raking is to remove all the moss (not some, or quite a bit). If patches of moss remain on your lawn, grass will not be able to establish in those spots so you’re best off to go vicious. Warning: Your lawn will look like a sandbox when you’re done 🙂 This is normal, it will have to get worse before it gets better.

Power-rakers/De-thatchers can be rented from your local rental store or Home Depot/Rona. They weigh a few hundred pounds and you’ll definitely need a trailer to transport them. Once you have managed to get them home, they are fairly easy to operate. Similar to a lawn mower, you walk behind them and they self propel forward ripping out large amounts of moss (and grass) as they go. Remember, this is all normal you need to get it all. Once you’ve gone over the lawn once, you’ll need to begin the process of manually raking it up and transporting it to a local farmer who may kiss you on the mouth for this great gift of compostable materials. If there is still moss visible in the lawn, you’ll need to go over it again and continue until all the moss is removed. Believe me, this is a weekend you’ll likely wish you had back so this is a service that is probably worth hiring a (Lush) professional 🙂

Once all the moss is removed, you’ll be shocked at the amount that came up plus your lawn will look terrible. Before you collapse into the fetal position, remind yourself that John said this is normal. Don’t stay down for too long though, aerating is next.

Moss Doesn’t Care

Moss removal Depending on your tolerance level, moss is either lawn that you don’t have to mow, water or fertilize (yippee) OR… the bain of your existence. For most of you living on Vancouver Island it’s probably the latter. It’s the same every spring…the rain slows the sun starts to peak out and the yellow fuzz monster returns on your lawn – again! Why me, you cry! I’m a good person, I pay my taxes, I floss occasionally…

Here’s the thing …Moss doesn’t care if you floss. It simply likes what it likes; shade and waterlogged acidic soils – aka the West Coast. Unless you plan to sacrifice a goat to appease the sun god or cut down all those beautiful trees lining your property, moss is likely to remain a constant pain in your grass. (nice one John). There is hope, but it hinges on the answer to one question, ok 2.

1. Does your moss-covered section of lawn receive more than 4 hours of sunlight a day?

2. Is that same section well drained? i.e. no water pooling

If the answer is no, you need to forget trying to grow lush grass there and instead plant something that wants to grow there (like moss 🙂 or shade loving plants) or forget planting altogether and instead cover the area with gravel, mulch, cedar chips, pavers or another low maintenance alternative.

If the answer is yes, the lawn does have adequate light and good drainage, its time to renovate, and it all starts with a vigorous power raking!