News and Announcement

Dicamba Application Deadline Extended

As the state with the most dicamba complaints in 2018, Illinois Department of Agriculture Director John Sullivan has made “a very tough decision” to extend the herbicide’s application deadline for soybeans until July 15. Originally set for June 30, Sullivan said the extra time has been allowed in consideration of the extreme planting and growing conditions from excessive rainfall, flooding...Read More

Hurricane and Wind Damage to Trees and Shrubs in Nurseries

Damage to woody trees and shrubs caused by hurricanes or high wind events is often not initially apparent. In some cases, damage can take months or even years to manifest, despite plants looking relatively healthy after the initial inspection by growers and insurance adjustors. This publication will describe damage commonly seen in trees and shrubs after a hurricane or prolonged high wind event. Read More

Record Keeping

Record keeping is an essential component of an integrated pest management plan. Records may include details on pest movement, site conditions, and successes or failures of treatments. These records allow applicators to determine which sites are more prone to pest issues and be able to track effective treatment options. While essential to successful pest management, there are also legal reasons...Read More

Selling Simplicity

At Eagle Creek Nursey in Indianapolis, landscape designer and project estimator Charlie Swartzell says lighting is all about accenting projects.
“We like to accent and add to the hardscapes the outdoor living environments that we create,” Swartzell says. “So it's putting lighting in for steps or safety or some spotlights on to highlight plantings.” He says they company always includes lighting...Read More

Pollinator Preservation Takes Center Stage

Pollinators are responsible for assisting more than 80% of the world’s flowering plants to reproduce, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Without them, humans and wildlife alike wouldn’t have much to see or eat. Because of this, there has been a resurgence in efforts to preserve and save our pollinators from extinction by creating pollinator habitats and continuing to educate the public on what can be done...Read More

Keeping Up

Whether you specialize exclusively in outdoor lighting or provide it as part of a full-service offering, there are plenty of sources where the pros can turn for bright ideas. So, how are contractors staying up to date with the latest landscape lighting trends? Read More

AmericanHort Announces the 2019 HortScholars

AmericanHort has announced its 2019 class of HortScholars. The 2019 HortScholars will be set on a path to success at Cultivate’19 where they will be exposed to the breadth of the horticulture industry, its opportunities, and its leaders. The program offers a beyond-the-classroom experience, giving insight and awareness of the industry, its supply chain, and where they might find a home for their passion. Read More

Bayer Commits $5.6 Billion to Glyphosate Alternatives Amid 13,000 Lawsuits Over the Weedkiller

Bayer AG will pump about 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion) of its research and development budget into alternatives to its weedkiller glyphosate over the next decade as it battles more than 13,000 lawsuits claiming the herbicide causes cancer. Trying to ease concerns about the controversial compound, the German chemical and drug company said it will seek more public feedback during the coming safety...Read More

New Anthony Tesselaar Plants Website Offers Additional Resources

Anthony Tesselaar Plants has announced the launch of its new website. The new site is easier than ever to view and navigate from both desktops and mobile devices. The expanded format is simple and user-friendly. Just two to three clicks takes you anywhere you need to be on the site. The array of photos show plants as close-ups with detail in containers as well as garden and landscape settings. Read More

What Your Website Should Say

At Lawn & Landscape’s 2019 Top 100 Executive Summit, Marcus Sheridan said that 70 percent of the clients you meet with have already decided if they’re going to buy your service. Sheridan, a full-time professional speaker and also the co-owner of IMPACT and River Pools and Spas, encouraged attendees to consider a different approach to marketing their services. Simply put, the work in closing sales...Read More

Drip Makes Every Drop Count

It’s a beautiful summer day, the sun is shining and the sprinklers on a lawn pop up out of the ground, spraying a lush, green lawn with droplets of life-giving water. This is what the majority of people, including contractors, probably picture when they think of irrigation. Most don’t automatically envision the more silent and stealthy method of watering — drip irrigation. It may not be as satisfying to watch in action...Read More

When a Buyer Comes Knocking

Mergers and acquisitions are commonplace these days, buoyed by strong industry interest and performance, availability of capital, and low interest rates. In this world, it is not uncommon for nursery owners to receive unsolicited offers to purchase their company. These can come from both financial and strategic parties. Simply because an offer is unsolicited does not mean business owners...Read More

Horticulture Program Offers Lessons in Finding Jobs After Graduation

There tends to be a lot of talk about new members of the horticulture industry struggling to find jobs after graduation. However, for graduates of the University of Georgia (UGA) College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Department of Horticulture, most new alumni have job offers waiting for them, or they have been accepted into graduate school. According to a story on the UGA Department...Read More

Opening Doors

Having entered the workforce in the early 2000s, it’s hard to remember a time when I ever felt I couldn’t aspire to or achieve anything I wanted in my career. Maybe I’ve been fortunate to have had great employers who valued talent over whatever gender someone happens to be. If that’s the case, it wouldn’t have been possible without those women who fought so hard for workplace equality back in the ’60s,’70s and ’80s, proving that they were every bit as smart and capable as men.  Read More

Could ‘Native Fungal Pathogens’ Help in Fight Against the Spotted Lanternfly?

The results looked promising. Cornell University researchers last October visited an apple orchard in Berks County, to check out reports of a potential new ally in the fight against the spotted lanternfly that is threatening agriculture in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. “It was clear anywhere you walked, you’d see dozens of lanternflies killed by Beauveria on the ground, and then you’d see cadavers...Read More

Superweed Resists Another Class of Herbicides

We’ve all heard about bacteria that are becoming resistant to multiple types of antibiotics. These are the so-called superbugs perplexing and panicking medical science. The plant analogue may just be waterhemp, a broadleaf weed common to corn and soybean fields across the Midwest. With resistance to multiple common herbicides, waterhemp is getting much harder to kill. Read More

Minnesota Will Pay Homeowners to Make Their Lawns Bee-Friendly

Homeowners in Minnesota can benefit financially if they forgo the grass and instead grow a lawn for bees. State lawmakers have approved a new spending program that would set aside $900,000 annually to pay homeowners who replace traditional lawns with bee-friendly wildflowers, clover and native grasses, reports the Star Tribune. The spending plan has been sent to Gov. Tim Walz for his signature. Read More

Is the Train on Track, Off Track or Not Moving?

Now that we’re closing in on the halfway point of the calendar year, it’s an appropriate time to evaluate how the year is going. Many of you are on track to meet, or even exceed, your goals for 2019. This may be due to strong economic demand, good teamwork or other factors. If this describes you, what needs to happen to finish strong in the second half of the year? Read More

Planting Your Solution Contest Winners

Seed Your Future and Scholastic are proud to announce the winners of the Planting Your Solution Contest. Hundreds of middle-schoolers across the country identified environmental challenges in their communities and proposed their own unique plant-based solutions to those issues. The entries included an illustration and an essay describing the environmental challenge and the proposed plant-based...Read More

U.S. Utility Patent Granted for Beacon Impatiens

PanAmerican Seed has announced that a United States utility patent was granted for its new Beacon Impatiens, having a form of disease resistance to Impatiens downy mildew. U.S. 10,285,362 covers all six colors and two mixes of Beacon Impatiens walleriana. Additional patent applications are pending.  “Since its official debut earlier this year, the excitement around Beacon Impatiens has been outstanding...Read More

Dicamba Battle Lines Drawn

At a state pesticide regulatory meeting this week, some state officials threatened to stop reporting their dicamba damage incidents to the EPA during the 2019 growing season, after their past reporting efforts did not bring about substantial changes to agency’s dicamba registrations. “They felt like they provided a lot of information [in 2018], and it took a lot of their staff time to generate that information...Read More

Communication + Collaboration = Successful Irrigation

Keeping the lines of communication open between landscape and irrigation professionals is critical in creating new, well-functioning landscape projects. While searching for components for a bathroom remodel, I fell in love with a vessel-type sink. Unlike a traditional sink, it sits atop the vanity like a bowl. I thought I’d told the contractor how it should be installed. However, the message had not gotten through...Read More

Elm Flea Weevils Shoot Elm: Leaves Full of Holes

Although the canopy of many newly planted elm trees may look tattered, elms are vigorous growers that can survive the onslaught of defoliating beetles. Leaves infested with elm flea weevil have one or more brown areas produced by leaf mines feeding inside the leaves. Leaves may also be peppered with holes in early spring and in late summer. From a distance the accumulation...Read More

Make Your Distributor Your Best Ally

An irrigation and landscape supply distributor shares how developing a good rapport with yours can benefit your business. A relationship with a distributor is one of the most important relationships you will have as a landscape or irrigation contractor. Distributors are the ones who can help make sure you have the equipment and supplies you need to get the job done on time and the right way. They...Read More

What Landscape Professionals Need to Know About Heat Stress

Heat stress can be a major concern for outdoor workers, especially during the summer months. Working long days outside in the hot sun brings leaves landscape professionals at risk. Heat stress can result in a  stroke,  exhaustion,  cramps or  rashes. Heat rash and cramps are the mildest forms of heat stress. Heat exhaustion can occur when workers are exposed to high temperatures...Read More

Stop Sabotaging Your Own Good Ideas

One of the biggest challenges for any green industry business owner is learning a better a way of doing something and sticking with it. It’s always tempting to try a new approach to some aspect of our business, so we go for it. Initially, the new way works well and we implement it. We keep using it for a while, but eventually, for one reason or another we stop and go back to doing it the old way. Why does this happen? Read More

IDOA Extends Application Date to Apply Dicamba

The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) announced today it will extend the application date the herbicide dicamba can be applied on soybeans in Illinois for the 2019 growing season until July 15. In February, the Department approved state-specific labels allowing for dicamba use on soybeans only until June 30. Dicamba is primarily used on soybeans to control post-emergence broadleaf weeds. Read More

Syngenta Flowers Completes Acquisition of Varinova's Cyclamen Business

Syngenta announced that it has completed the acquisition of Varinova’s cyclamen business. Varinova is a Dutch company that is fully dedicated to the breeding, production and commercialization of cyclamen. et. The acquisition of the cyclamen business of Varinova is strategic for Syngenta Flowers. “Cyclamen is a focus crop for us in which we are determined to grow through a broader...Read More

Needlecast in Colorado Blue Spruce

The Colorado Blue spruce is not native to Indiana and tends to be susceptible to disease.  One common disease, caused by the fungus Rizosphaera kalkhoffii, results in the defoliation of the tree.  If left untreated needlecast can lead to the death of the tree.  Symptoms of needlecast don’t develop until two to three years after initial infection.  Needles will turn a purplish brown color and fall from the tree. Read More

Plant Disease Identified in Rhododendrons in Kansas

The Kansas Department of Agriculture’s plant protection and weed control program this week confirmed the presence of a plant disease in hundreds of rhododendrons sold at large retail stores in Kansas. Sudden Oak Death (SOD) is a plant disease that has killed large tracts of oaks and other native species in California and Oregon, and infected rhododendrons have been identified in 10 states in the Midwest...Read More

Creating a Mail-Order Service at Your Garden Center

As independent garden centers continue to look for ways to boost their bottom line in an age of online shopping, mail-order services continue to become increasingly popular. The convenience of ordering items off sites like Amazon, Target and others have made it easy for consumers to get the goods they want without leaving their homes or waiting in line. So how can IGCs capitalize on this sector...Read More

How NPR, Washington Post, Bloomberg and Other Media Botched Reporting on EPA’s ‘Ban’ of 12 ‘Bee-Killing’ Neonicotinoid Insecticides

If recent headlines are the measure, advocacy groups making a case that bees are endangered because of the misuse of pesticides just scored a significant victory. On May 20, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that after a 6-year-long legal battle with anti-pesticide activists, it endorsed a voluntary withdrawal of 12 insecticides by a group of agri-chemical companies...Read More

Texas A&M AgriLife Researchers Gain Ground in Rose Rosette Battle

A comprehensive national effort among 30 industry and academic entities led by Texas A&M gains ground in the battle against rose rosette. The team has tracked the disease across the U.S., developed new diagnostic tools and expedited breeding with hundreds of new molecular markers.  Since the project’s beginning in 2014, part of its $4.6 million grant helped establish The website serves to track...Read More

Eriophyoid Mites Found on Healthy and Rose Rosette Diseased Roses in the United States

Eriophyoid mites are extremely small mites among which Phyllocoptes fructiphilus has been shown to be the vector of Rose Rosette Disease. Various microscopy techniques were used in this study to produce high resolution images of outstanding quality, for the correct identification of the mites and their locations on the rose plants. Surveys of roses from several states within the US indicate the presence...Read More 

Flower and Gift Delivery Company FTD Seeks Bankruptcy Protection

Flower and gift delivery service FTD filed for bankruptcy protection Monday with an agreement to sell some businesses while paying down debt and pursuing sales of its other brands. The nearly 110-year old company, based in Downers Grove, began restructuring and reviewing strategic alternatives last year. FTD warned in March that it could go out of business or shrink its operations this summer if it didn’t find a buyer...Read More

Get Involved in Horticultural Therapy

People seek out different forms of therapy for many reasons in their lives. Whether it be recovering from an injury or suffering from a mental illness, the benefits of therapy can help assist in the healing process or getting back to normal. Horticultural therapy has been around since the 19th century and today, it’s used within a broad range of rehabilitative, vocational and community settings. Read More

Flooding Injury and Subsequent Disease Infection of Fruit Crops

Fruit crops have a wide range of tolerance for flooded or waterlogged soils. Roots of peach and apricot trees are highly sensitive to waterlogged soils, roots of cherry and plum trees are intermediate, and those of apple and pear are the least sensitive. For small fruit crops, the most sensitive to flooding are strawberry (can tolerate submersion in water for up to seven days), blackberry, raspberry and currants...Read More

Raising Future Retailers

Several FFA members have used their experience at A+ Garden Centre to land part-time jobs at local nurseries, including independent garden centers and the garden departments of retailers like Home Depot and Walmart. Kelley hopes the program could inspire entrepreneurship that will help the industry. “I believe we’ll see several students opening their own garden centers in the future,” Kelley says. Read More

Making More Green with Ornamental Grasses

If your ideas about ornamental grasses start and end with Purple Fountain Grass, a whole other world is out there just waiting for you to explore it! And it’s not too late: There’s still time to produce and use ornamental grasses for your late summer and fall programs. Consider first how you plan to incorporate ornamental grasses into your production plans, then work to create your orders. At this point...Read More

Creating Awe in the Outdoor Room

Balconies are more complete with baskets, patios more welcoming with planters and outdoor kitchens more entertaining with combos—and more functional if they’re filled with herbs. Plantings around a house are decorative. Plants displayed in an outdoor room make it a home. June is the ideal month to get your creative outdoor room juices flowing—both for your own garden center displays...Read More

Death By Marketing

An Italian proverb reads, “He that deceives me once, it’s his fault; but if twice, it’s my fault.”  The fastest way to put a bad business out of business is for this operation to advertise to bring customers in and see why they wouldn’t go back there in the first place. If you’re spending money in hopes that people will come and do business with you—don’t, until you’re sure they’ll be likely to WANT to come back. Read More

The Latest Information on a Hitchhiking Pest

The Spotted Lanternfly represents a new pest challenge to those in the horticulture industry due to its wide host range and potential for damage. In our previous coverage, we had preliminary information about this pest, as it had just been detected and not much was known about it. But the first, and arguably most important, update is that the geographic range has increased. Read More

Pricing: Think Beyond the Loaded Truck

Recent changes in the management and buying structure at some of America’s big box stores provide an opportunity to re-visit how these retailers have impacted pricing strategies in our industry. But even if you’re not selling to box stores or selling in a pay-by-scan environment, it pays to think beyond the truck being loaded to how retail pricing and merchandising affects your profitability. Read More

Farmers Are Using Flowers To Beat Back Pests Instead Of Chemicals

A farm is its own ecosystem, but many conventional practices strip away the life cycle of all the creatures living in it by using pesticides. This makes sense, since crops can be decimated by the wrong kind of insect or other invader. But pesticides have created a number of problems; not only do pests become gradually resistant to the poison, the use of the chemicals...Read More

Launching Careers

In 1968, when Cape Abilities was formed, it was unlikely that the Cape Cod families involved could have predicted the organization’s successful move into farming, greenhouse growing, and food and garden retail, but opportunities of this magnitude are seldom anticipated.
James Barnes, director of social enterprise with Cape Abilities, explains that in 2006, a board member donated...Read More 

New Rules Providing Relief for Truck Driver Hours Coming Soon

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is scheduled to unveil its highly anticipated changes to truck driver Hours of Service regulations in early June. According to an article from CDL Life, which covers the trucking industry, new regulatory reporting posted by the DOT indicates that Hours of Service changes are scheduled to be published on June 7, 2019. Read More

Sudden Oak Death in Indiana Deemed Worse Than Initially Thought

After a dangerous disease that could prove fatal to Indiana's oak trees was discovered in the state last week, officials now are saying that the problem is "bigger than [they] realized." The fungal pathogen called sudden oak death was detected in several varieties of rhododendrons being sold in what was first believed to be in about 30 stores across the state. That number has now tripled, and infested...Read More

How an Online Costing Course Improved Hoffman Nursery’s Bottom Line

One of the biggest problems in the greenhouse and nursery industry is slim profit margins. For our industry to continue to succeed and further prosper, there has to be more knowledge of true costs. Last summer, I was lucky to take the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) Extension online Costing and Profitability course. I first heard about it at Cultivate 2017 when Dr. Paul Fisher...Read More

EPA Cancels Registrations of 12 Neonic Pesticides

On May 20, 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published notice in the Federal Register canceling the registrations of 12 neonicotinoid-containing pesticides (neonics). This cancelation was the result of a lawsuit settlement reached by the agency with several environmental groups. The lawsuit settlement also requires that EPA conduct a review of all neonics, so there could be more registration cancellations...Read More

Student Develops an AI App to Diagnose Plant Diseases

For some, a rose is a symbol of beauty or love. For Shaza Mehdi, it is a connection to her mother, but also a gateway to innovation. Mehdi’s mother, Afshin, grows rose bushes at their Lawrenceville home. But a few years ago, the plants kept getting diseases, ruining the blooms. Mehdi tried diagnosing the flowers by Googling images of plant diseases and comparing those images with the sick roses. Read More

Industry’s Choice Best New Plant Variety Finalists Announced for 2019

Greenhouse Grower‘s Medal Of Excellence has become one of the premier recognition programs of plant breeding excellence. The Industry’s Choice for Best New Variety award is selected by a panel of industry members who attend California Spring Trials and see the new plant introductions in person. Read More

Back to Basics

The common inputs (water, heating, labor, etc.) may be what you automatically think about when you’re looking to find ways to save a little time/money. But the final product—the plants themselves—can also provide some money-saving solutions. Kris and Todd offered some suggestions on what you should be doing before and during production.  Choose the plants you grow carefully. You don’t have to be a plant breeding...Read More

The Microbes Move In

Last year’s wet, cool spring gave growers ample reason to apply a fungicide. At some points, the GGSPro technical services team could have answered the phones with, “Botrytis Central. How can we help?” To be sure, we recommended applications of traditional foliar fungicides to many, many growers of ornamentals during that time. Read More

2019 Top 100 Lawn & Landscape Companies

The 2019 Lawn & Landscape Top 100 is based on 2018 revenue from landscape profit centers. Most information is reported by each company listed, and supplemental data are sourced from public records and reporting by L&L staff. Companies on the list earned a combined revenue of $10,221,735,143 in 2018, which is an increase of $603,045,036, or 6.27 percent, compared to 2017. Read More

France Becomes The First Country To Ban All Five Pesticides Linked To Bee Deaths

In May 2018 the EU banned three of the significant pesticides implicated in the collapse of bee populations. Clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam are now prohibited for use on crops. However France has gone a step further and set the high bar in the effort to save the bees. Given the importance of pollinators to nature and the survival of the biosphere, this could not happen...Read More

Mycorrhizae 101

There’s more awareness about the use of beneficial organisms and active ingredients for the production of ornamental crops. Active ingredients enable growers and homeowners to enhance and protect plants without the concern of chemicals. One beneficial active ingredient is mycorrhizae, which is a naturally occurring, beneficial fungus that’s safe to use. Mycorrhizae improves overall plant growth...Read More

**SPECIAL ALERT** Sudden Oak Death

Sudden oak death, as the name suggests, is a disease that is capable of rapidly killing certain species of oaks.  It was first identified in California, in 1995. Two years earlier it was identified in Germany and the Netherlands, killing rhododendron. Because the pathogen originally infected and killed tanoaks, an undesirable, understory scrub tree, it generated little interest until other, more desirable...Read More

Hardscape Mishaps

Some mistakes are tough to predict. Patrick Perugino of Picture It Landscape & Design in London, Ontario, recalls a time when a sealer sprayer exploded on his crew member toward the end of a residential construction job. “It went all over the place,” he says. “It was right at the end of the day – I was about to collect the check, get the invoice and be on our way. So, it was the worst time to happen...Read More

Something Bugging You? Then Get Bugs!

Each year, I help numerous growers with their insect and mite management programs. Admittedly, most of these growers are looking to using insecticides and/or miticides to keep their pest problems at bay. However, I wanted to remind you how effective beneficial insects can be. Many growers are effectively managing their pests using beneficial insects. Like anything in life, there’s a learning curve, but...Read More

USDA Publishes 2018 Floriculture Crops Summary

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently published the 2018 Floriculture Crops Summary — a report that came about as a direct result of lobbying by the Society of American Florists and meetings in Washington, D.C., between SAF members and their lawmakers during the group’s annual Congressional Action Days. The report provides reliable benchmarks to identify market trends and project sales...Read More

Challenge Accepted

After a lengthy and rigorous dissection of its practices, Loma Vista Nursery entered a program that will drastically reduce pest-related risks and enrich the company. Late last year, the nursery received SANC certification. SANC — Systems Approach to Nursery Certification — is administered by the National...Read More

Native Plant Propagation Techniques That Really Work

Perennial plant propagation can yield a multitude of new plants in a few months to a few years. There are various ways to propagate plants including seed, tissue culture, bare root, divisions, and unrooted cuttings. The propagator’s desired outcome and the limitations of the plant will determine...Read More

Precision and Patience

Hardscape construction jobs require patience since estimating and rushing on these jobs can result in a poor final product. For example, contractors should avoid guessing how much bedding sand to use on a pavement project. Patrick Perugino, owner of Picture It Landscape & Design in London, Ontario, says he sees many contractors put in too much bedding sand as a result of guesswork on projects. Read More

Want to Understand the Biodiversity Crisis? Look at the Trees in Your Backyard

Wander into the woods in most places in the eastern United States and you’re likely to come across a towering trunk with sandy-colored, diamond-shaped ridges rising to bare forking branches and little holes peppering the bark, signaling where small, green beetles have crawled out and flown away after doing their dirty work. This decaying monument is — or rather, was — an ash tree...Read More

Are You Misclassifying Independent Contractors?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. Department of Labor will be cracking down on employers who pay workers without withholding and remitting proper employer payroll taxes. In fact, over the past year, many states have signed on with the feds to exchange information. This means if you are audited and found delinquent in your federal employment taxes, you will almost...Read More

Work to Do: Tackling the Industry’s Labor Shortage

In the face of dwindling H-2B acceptances, fewer enrollments in horticulture programs and the ongoing search for qualified workers — the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) hopes to promote the landscaping industry as an attractive career option and help add 100,000 jobs to the industry. Here, we explore how landscape companies, national associations...Read More

AmericanHort Welcomes New Board Members, New Slate of Officers

AmericanHort announces the election of three new members to the board of directors, along with the installation of a new slate of officers. These individuals are from across the horticulture industry and encompass various experiences, skills and backgrounds. The official welcome will take place at Cultivate’19, July 13-16, in Columbus, Ohio. “It’s important that all segments of our industry are represented...Read More

Smart Phone, Meet Smart Controller

Attention: Your smartphone is getting smarter. Already, the number of devices it can control is staggering. It can start your coffee maker, lock your front door, adjust your thermostat, turn off your lights and yes, even begin cooking a delicious roast in your slow cooker, all with a few taps on its screen. It’s all part of a giant technological wave that is just beginning to hit us. Read More

Treat Your Hiring Efforts Like a Marketing Campaign

What do recruiting and marketing have to do with each other? Practically everything! Recruiting is marketing, particularly in today’s tight, competitive labor market. To attract and hire great talent you need to leverage your marketing expertise more than ever. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, as of January 2019 there were 0.9 workers for every job available. That means there are more jobs...Read More

Navigating the Green Minefield

“You can’t identify me because—I admit it—I’m afraid of Amazon. I’ve heard enough about how vindictive they can be. I’ve seen stories of Amazon resellers who’ve been thrown off the site or sometimes had their payments withheld for unspecified reasons. I’ve built a niche selling garden accessories online during slower seasons. I need that volume to continue. Read More

AmericanHort, HRI Seek Grower Input on Neonicotinoids

AmericanHort and the Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) seek to better understand the industry's usage of the following nitroguanidine neonicotinoids: Clothianidin (Arena), Dinotefuran (Safari), Imidacloprid (Merit, Marathon, others)...Read More

It's 10:00am Do You Know Where Your Trucks Are?

GPS-based fleet management systems allow contractors to keep a close watch on their trucks and the people in them. It used to be that once your fleet pulled out of the yard in the morning you, the landscape, maintenance or irrigation company owner, had to have a lot of trust. You had to trust that your drivers wouldn’t get lost, wouldn’t drive recklessly and wouldn’t dilly-dally too long at the gas station buying snacks...Read More

Getting at the Root of the Problem Above Ground

Using ground penetrating radar for belowground tree root detection is a noninvasive method that can be applied just about anywhere. It’s eight o’clock in the morning and your phone rings. The caller says he has a 90-year-old redwood tree (Sequoia sempervirens) in his backyard that is cracking the concrete slab of his patio and garage floor and would like the roots cut. This type of scenario plays itself...Read More

Seneca FFA Horticulture Team Wins State Title

Seneca FFA’s Horticulture Career Development Event team had a record-breaking year, concluding its season by winning the state contest at the University of Illinois. Winning the CDE propels the team into the national championship in Indianapolis in October at the National FFA Convention. Dylan Woodard was the CDE runner-up followed by Ian Wilkinson in fifth place, Mark Mehochko...Read More

Delving Into New Disease Foes

Biological controls can have a propensity to confuse and challenge growers, says Michael Brownbridge, research director, Horticultural Production Systems at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Ontario. Consider, for example, Bacillus subtilus, a common active ingredient. Different strains may have different properties. For example, some promote plant growth and others control disease. Read More

Maryland Court Case Upholds Ban on Outdoor Pesticide Use

A legal decision in Maryland that upholds a ban on outdoor pesticide use on private property could have ramifications for both growers and independent garden centers that sell crop protection products. The Maryland Court of Special Appeal in Montgomery County, MD v. Complete Lawn Care, et. al., found that the county’s ban on outdoor pesticide use on private property by residents and professionals is valid. Read More

How to Manage Succession Planning When There is No Succession

According to the Price-waterhouseCoopers Family Business Survey, 48% of business owners don’t know how to or haven’t even thought of preparing for the sale of their company. Things get more complicated when there are no family members ready and willing to take over the business. What is clear is that the best business transitions...Read More

How Proposed Building and Energy Code Changes Might Affect You

One of the primary roles of the National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association (NGMA) is to monitor building and energy codes as they apply to the horticulture and greenhouse crop production industries. Through its Codes and Standards Committee, NGMA proposes appropriate changes and clarifications, opposes proposals that have a negative impact on the industry, and provides resources...Read More

How to Answer your Customers' Toughest Questions

“Why are your prices so high?” “Why do you charge more than the florist down the street?” “You guys did it for me last time I was here. Why not this time?” Let’s face it, in a retail floral business, you are bombarded with tough questions every day. When put on the spot, it can be difficult to answer gracefully and confidently without becoming defensive; but never fear, there are strategies. Read More

What’s Driving Greenhouse Innovation?

Labor is a pain—and the pool of potential agricultural workers is thinning faster than many growers can find ways to fill the gaps. “Demographic and societal changes have unfolded over the last 100 years or more, and those have built up over time,” says Craig Regelbrugge, Senior Vice President of Industry Advocacy and Research for AmericanHort. Read More

The Purple Squirrel

I don’t know about you, but it’s getting old hearing the, “It’s a candidate’s market,” comments from everyone all over social media, in news articles and far too many blogs to count. It’s one thing to call it out, but its entirely different to solve the problem. And while there are currently no silver bullets to take down this problem, there are some innovative and different ways of looking at the workforce...Read More


The spotted lanternflies are coming. These sneaky invaders are a menace to more than 70 types of plants. Viral videos have raced across social media, showing hordes of lanternflies covering buildings and tree trunks. They hop from plant to plant, sucking sap from branches, stems and trunks. The epicenter of the lanternfly invasion is Berks County, Pennsylvannia...Read More

Fast Growing Trees - Are They Out of Bounds?

Word on the street is that customers no longer have the patience for trees to grow in their urban landscapes. Many are hesitant to spend the money on large B&B tree specimens, but they also want privacy now. To feed their need for instant gratification, retail garden center shoppers are increasingly asking for fast-growing container grown trees. Where do these specimens fit into your selection — or should they? Read More

Picture This

You’ve got two events to promote, an upcoming sale on six-pack annuals and a company blog or website that needs updating. The employee who does your Facebook posts wants to highlight the nursery stock and a request has come in from a regional magazine for photos that feature roses. Suddenly, you find yourself wondering if you work at a garden center or a stock photo service. Read More

A Farewell to Lawns

About four years ago, Jay Keck started letting a portion of his lawn go back to nature. Habitat education manager for the South Carolina Wildlife Federation—a National Wildlife Federation affiliate—Keck began by planting bushy bluestem, green-headed coneflowers and other native flowering plants. “Asters, goldenrods, boneset and other wildflowers started coming up on their own...Read More

Look Beyond the Mirror: A Diverse Workforce

This month, we’re diving deeper, beyond policies (though we will discuss some of those) and getting to the root of our businesses: the people. Specifically, about building workforces that aren’t homogenous (everyone looks and acts the same), bringing together staff with different backgrounds, racial heritage, genders, and life views, in a functional—rather than a dysfunctional—way. Read More

Big Box Pay-By-Scan Pricing

In this segment, Dr. Charlie Hall is specifically targeting growers who sell to box stores and particularly those selling in a pay-by-scan scenario, cautioning them to not make the same mistakes that growers made a decade ago when Home Depot initiated pay-by-scan in their lawn and garden department. By making sure all costs associated with shrink and merchandising costs are considered...Watch Video 

The Point of Raising Prices

“The laws of economics are coming into play in our industry because it’s down to the survival of the fittest,” said Kube Pak’s Bill Swanekamp. “People who are making the best choices and decisions are surviving.” What Bill is referring to is the state of churn that North America’s culture and economy has experienced during the last 10 years, and our industry is now feeling the effects...Read More 

AmericanHort Issues Timely Update on Additional 30,000 H-2B Visas

The Departments of Homeland Security and Labor (DOL) plan to officially release a rule on Wednesday, May 8, that kicks off an application process for an additional 30,000 H-2B visas for fiscal 2019. According to a statement from AmericanHort, these visas will be limited to returning workers who received H-2B visas in one or more of the previous three fiscal years (2016, 2017, or 2018). Read More

Boxwood Blight Look-alikes

With the recent detections of boxwood blight in Illinois, the importance of scouting landscapes and new plants for the disease is greater than ever. Boxwood blight can be a challenging disease to identify outside a plant diagnostic laboratory. Many of the symptoms associated with the disease are similar to other common boxwood disorders. One major difference between boxwood blight...Read More

Alumnus Gives MIT $4.5 Million to Establish the Broderick Fund for Phytocannabinoid Research

Charles R. Broderick, an alumnus of MIT and Harvard University, has made gifts to both alma maters to support fundamental research into the effects of cannabis on the brain and behavior. The gifts, totaling $9 million, represent the largest donation to date to support independent research on the science of cannabinoids. The donation will allow experts in the fields of neuroscience...Read More

Recession Outlook Discussion

Dr. Charlie Hall talks about the recent yield curve inversion. While several folks are talking doom and gloom, Charlie talks about why we shouldn’t over-react to this news and what indicators he is following that back up this reasoning. Watch Video

Glyphosate and Risk Communication

Currently, there is much perceived risk associated with using glyphosate. It is all over the news and in the papers. We are receiving more questions and calls on this topic, and from what you have told us, you are too. Clients are concerned. Applicators are concerned. Recently a second jury found that glyphosate was responsible for causing the plaintiff's cancer. Many experts disagree with these verdicts. Read More

What is Your Nursery's Brand?

If you own a nursery, garden center or landscape business, you are in the branding business. The real question is “Are you creating a valuable brand and are your leveraging its value?” Brands have been in existence for a long as people have put up store signs. The word “brand” was derived from “brandr,” an ancient Norse word meaning “to burn” or more specifically it referred to a burning...Read More

2019 Perspective on Profit Margin: Part I

Horticulture is an ever-changing industry. Watch the first part of Dr. Charlie Hall's Industry Insider Report: 2019 Perspective on Profit Margins to learn how cost inputs changed in 2018 compared to previous years. Read More

Montgomery County Pesticide Ban May Go Into Effect, Following Court Ruling

Montgomery County’s 2015 ban on “cosmetic pesticides” for lawn care may finally be implemented. It would prohibit the use of certain chemicals that have been linked to cancer and other conditions. The law was overturned by a Montgomery County circuit court in 2017. Now, an appeals court has struck down that decision. Montgomery County Councilmember Tom Hucker...Read More

EPA Releases Draft Guidelines for Plant Regulators

In recognition of the growing categories of products generally known as plant biostimulants, this draft document gives guidance on which products are (and are not) subject to regulation under FIFRA as plant regulator pesticides, and what kinds of claims can be made for them. The draft guidance provides examples of each. EPA is taking this step to provide clarity to our state....Read More

EPA Reaffirms Safety of Glyphosate, Environmental Groups Disagree, Controversy Continues

On April 30, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an interim decision on the herbicide glyphosate that states, in part, “EPA continues to find that there are no risks to public health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current label and that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.” Read More

Illinois Schools Receiving 5,000 Trees from IDOT

The Illinois Department of Transportation once again distributed 5,000 seedlings to schools throughout the state in cooperation with Living Lands & Waters in honor of Earth Day on April 22. The “Trees to Schools” initiative helps offset the loss of trees removed or otherwise affected by construction and maintenance activities. Each of the nine IDOT highway districts...Read More

Greenhouse Employers Stress Need for Vocational Training in Middle, High Schools

Following a detailed discussion Friday with Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th District, on the need for immigration reform to address workforce demands, representatives of a family-run greenhouse operation in Orange County called for increased efforts in public education to steer students toward careers. “We need skilled people, we need...Read More

Industry Veterans Take Lead Roles at BASF, Profile Products, AmericanHort

BASF, Profile Products, and AmericanHort are among the several organizations who have boosted their management teams over the last month. As part of a strategic effort to support the ornamentals market, BASF has named Jennie Smith as the new Greenhouse & Nursery Sales Manager and Biologicals Team Lead in the company’s Professional & Specialty Solutions group. Read More

Rising Fast

Land Program Manager Lori Zatroch of Cuyahoga Community College found their horticulture program’s future stationed in the middle of Wisconsin. No, they weren’t planning on relocating the two-year university from its home in Cleveland; instead, they visited Mid-State Technical College for a tour. They wanted to see a school that had already built a facility similar to what Tri-C hoped to create...Read More

11 Tips for Effective Workplace Housekeeping

To some people, the word “housekeeping” calls to mind cleaning floors and surfaces, removing dust, and organizing clutter. But in a work setting, it means much more. Housekeeping is crucial to safe workplaces. It can help prevent injuries and improve productivity and morale, as well as make a good first impression on visitors, according to Cari Gray, safety consultant for the Ohio Bureau of...Read More

Unpredictable Pests

With much of the country coming out of a warmer and wetter winter, experts across the nation say it’s hard to anticipate how the weather will affect the insect pressures once the summer gets rolling. However, one thing’s for sure: Damaged or diseased turf means there’s an increased chance those spots are susceptible to pest problems this season. “The best defense against any pest...Read More

New Hortica Head Talks Challenges, Opportunities

When Tim Noble took over as president of Hortica at the beginning of the year, it marked a significant change in company leadership. He succeeded Mona Haberer, who retired after a 30-year career. Noble, who joined Sentry, Hortica’s parent company, in 2011, brought with him a wealth of experience in insurance, a personal connection to family businesses — and a desire to get up to speed...Read More

Money from Within

As James Martin Associates – with locations in Chicago and Boulder – celebrated 40 years of business in 2017, owner James Martin wondered if there was a way to thank his employees differently than the company had done in the past. So, two years ago, the company opted to start a scholarship for employees’ children, helping them offset the cost of college tuition. Martin says starting this scholarship...Read More

The One Thing Millennials Haven’t Killed Is Houseplants

Aisha Richardson, a 34-year-old designer living in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, started buying plants a few years ago to relieve job stress. Before she knew it, Richardson was hooked. She now has about 30 plants—minus one that her cat ate—and follows dozens of plant-focused Instagram feeds. How much does she spend? “I don’t want to think about it,” she says. Read More

Make Your Specialty Known: Sensitive-Crop Registry Included in Dicamba Requirements

Brown Farms planted signs in their Decatur, Illinois, fields last spring. The wooden markers identifying the soybean field as non-GMO or LibertyLink were visual reminders that the crop within was sensitive to certain herbicides. This year the farm has the option of calling on the power of digital signs, as well, said David Brown, who farms with his brother, Joe, and son, Chase. They plan to map their...Read More

Pearing Down: Why Even Tree-Huggers Want St. Louis to Cut Down These Pretty Bradford Pear Trees

At first glance, the white flowering trees lining Interstate 270 and Highway 40 look lovely. The roadside thicket where the highways meet burst this spring with some of the first blooms in St. Louis. But, conservationists say, the trees are more like a menace in disguise — an unexpected result of decades of neighborhood landscaping that are putting local plants and animals at risk. Read More

Growers Address Increase in Illegal Plant Propogation

Growers, garden centers and consumers pay a price when patented and trademarked plants are counterfeited and sold illegally. This is why a group of plant patent and trademark owners and stakeholders gathered at the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS) on January 10 to discuss reports of unlicensed propagation of patent-protected plants in the United States. Read More

Why Garden Tourism is Good for Garden Centers

For many years if you mentioned Buffalo, New York, in a conversation, people would immediately think about snow. But lately, many find that this city on Lake Erie is associated with gardens. The festival of open gardens known as Garden Walk Buffalo has become a major tourist attraction that is good for area businesses, has transformed whole neighborhoods...Read More

Ornamental Pear Fallout

I’ve attached pictures of the only tree we have on our property. Because it is our only tree, I am deeply concerned with the possibilities of irreparable damage to it. As you can see, one of the branches broke off during a November windstorm. Unfortunately, that left a bare gap on the trunk. Please let me know how to treat this damaged area so no further damage is done to it and tell me what can be...Read More

USDA Looking to Streamline Importing of Plants in Growing Media

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is accepting comments on a draft environmental assessment (EA) for importing plants in approved growing media into the U.S. The EA considers the potential environmental effects of having a standardized set of pest risk mitigations for routine market requests to import plants in approved growing media. This approach...Read More

Star Power

Which Hollywood Hibiscus are you? A stylish and confident Bombshell, perhaps? Or maybe you’re a Jolly Polly — cheerful, enthusiastic and ready to brighten someone’s day with your infectious charm. These questions are part of the Hollywood Hibiscus Quiz, brainchild of J. Berry Nursery and horticulture marketing firm Upshoot. Launched in early January following its promotion...Read More

Tornado Strikes Close to Home

In December 2018, a tornado struck Taylorville, Illinois, injuring more than two dozen people and damaging hundreds of buildings and trees. Retired Trees Forever Field Coordinator Barb Grabner-Kerns lives in town and was fortunate that the disaster bypassed her, her home and her trees, but after working with Trees Forever’s Recover, Replant, Restore! program, she knows that recovery is a long process. Read More

The Value of the Green Label

We've all heard it. People are worried about pollinators and want to do what they can to help. Some are planting pollinator gardens, taking up beekeeping, or choosing organic foods to try to help save the bees. At the same time, many plant growers are recognizing that using pesticides can be risky for pollinators as well as beneficial insects. Many growers are increasingly using...Read More

Getting Over the Delegating Dilemma

Arnie is a good manager. He treats his employees well. He communicates clearly to them and is always willing to listen when they come to him with a problem. He encourages them to take training and self-development classes and grow their skill sets. He discourages them from working more than eight hours and encourages them to get home to their families after a hard day’s work. However, one area...Read More

Four Ways You Can Better Communicate With Your Team And Your Industry

CareerUP is an AmericanHort program tailored to the unique situations young or new-to-the-industry professionals might encounter. CareerUP provides access to best practices in the workplace and the opportunity to learn soft skills that can make or break your professional success. At AmericanHort’s CareerUP Workshop at Cultivate’19, attendees...Read More

5 Ways You Can Combat Burnout

Are you or members of your team continually stressed out? Do you worry about burning out? Are you confident in your ability to recognize symptoms of burnout in yourself and others? Extended periods of stress and/or frustration, often caused by having too much to do, plays a key role in burnout. Stressed individuals tend to be easily frustrated, take things personally and be either agitated...Read More

Using Career Fairs to Your Advantage

When Kurt Bland first sought a full-time job after college, he went to a career day in Mississippi. While he eventually would return to manage Bland Landscaping, the company his parents started when he was an infant, he wanted to leave North Carolina after graduation because he desired experience at a company that wasn’t owned by his family. Read More

Cultivate’19 to Feature Workshop Aimed at HR Professionals in Horticulture Businesses

One of the Saturday workshops taking place at Cultivate’19 will focus specifically on human resources (HR)-related issues. Designed for horticulture HR, safety professionals, and green business owners, the “It’s All About the Workforce” workshop is for those who source, recruit, onboard, and train employees. Topics to be covered include H-2A reform...Read More

Community Competition

While addressing the crowd during the opening ceremonies of the National Collegiate Landscape Competition, Andrew Ziehler told the students in the audience a valuable lesson he learned from starting a business from scratch. He said in the early years of owning his company, Ziehler Lawn and Tree Care near Columbus, Ohio, he was always concerned about keeping information from his competition...Read More

Why Garden Centers Should Be Ruling Facebook

My dad always told me that you fight battles from your strengths. Facebook for business is intimidating for both beginners and experts, but our industry has strengths built into it that we can use to rule Facebook. Let’s start there. If you think you have a tough time making interesting Facebook posts, try being a mortgage...Read More

Inspiration for Food, Flowers, Company

Transforming outdoor spaces is one of the hottest home trends today. Landscaping expands living space square footage, makes a property more usable, and keeps homeowners healthier whether they grow vegetables or swim laps. It also makes a neighborhood more aesthetically attractive and community-minded. Read More

When Plants Get Salty

While diseases are important in plant health, they are not responsible for every browning or plant death. Abiotic diseases can cause problems too. Things like drought, freezing temperatures, herbicide drift, dog urine, nutrient deficiencies – anything negatively impacting plant growth that isn’t caused by a living agent. That includes salt, the kind used for deicing purposes in the winter. Read More

Five Things We've Learned About Dicamba

As we prepare for another year with the Xtend soybean and cotton system, we thought it would help to briefly summarize some of the most important things we've learned about dicamba as a result of the research our outstanding graduate students have conducted over the past several seasons. Dicamba Can be Detected in the Air Following Treatment. This isn't really any grand "new" finding; we've seen this trend...Read More

The Bane of Boxwoods

Poor boxwood. They’ve had a rough go of it in recent years. Not only have North American shrub growers and landscapers been dealing with the scourge of Boxwood Blight for the past seven years, but now they have a possible new pest to lose sleep over—the box tree moth (BTM). We’ll talk about blight in a bit, since there is current research that’s been published and there are more-tolerant cultivars...Read More

USDA Update on Farm Bill Implementation Progress

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the implementation status of the 2018 Farm Bill. President Trump signed this Farm Bill into law on December 20th, 2018, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) promptly began implementation of key programs. USDA held several listening sessions with stakeholders and the public, specific to each agency’s respective mission areas. Read More

A Pocket Full of Rewards

In an age when consumers can get anything they want delivered to their front door with a pocket-sized device, it can be difficult for physical retailers to compete with that kind of convenience. Garden centers in particular have relied on their ability to forge personal connections and offer in-depth solutions for their customers, but the competition with online shopping remains fierce in the retail world at large. Read More

National Green Industry Survey Begins Data Collection

The Green Industry Research Consortium, with funding support from the Horticultural Research Institute (HRI), is launching the National Green Industry Survey this month. This represents the seventh time that this survey has been conducted since 1989. The purpose of the survey is to document trends in production, marketing, and retailing practices in the U.S. Green Industry. Read More

Expanded BLOOM! Campaign Connects Youth with Plant-Based Solutions to Today’s Biggest Challenges

Today, Seed Your Future announced the launch of its expanded BLOOM! campaign to excite young people about the power of plants and their unique ability to help solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Teaming up with Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education, and media company, BLOOM! provides free eye-catching, fact-based content delivered both inside...Read More

Pollinator Gardens Do Best With a Variety of Plants

Pollinator gardens are most beneficial to pollinators when they contain a greater variety of plants, according to new research from the University of Georgia. Researchers in UGA’s Odum School of Ecology conducted a review and meta-analysis of advice for creating pollinator gardens, sifting through a multitude of studies to formulate a more focused approach to establishing healthy...Read More

How to Control Respirable Silica During Handheld Saw Use

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) respirable crystalline silica standard (29 CFR 1926.1153) stipulates that construction workers not be exposed to more than 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air (25 μg/m3 ) containing respirable crystalline silica as an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA). Crystalline silica is a mineral found in a number of construction materials, including sand, stone, concrete...Read More

Quality Over Cost

I’m a third-generation garden center owner. We’ve built our brand, and the backbone of our revenue, on the 4 acres of annuals we grow for spring sales. Promote the fact you are a grower-retailer with consistent, strong branding. Whether you’re in retail (as I am) or a wholesaler, being a grower-retailer is exhausting. You freeze your cash into a million plants before selling one...Read More

Lavenders for the North

Lavenders have long been cultivated for their broad herbal and medicinal uses and are enduringly popular as ornamentals in gardens and landscapes around the world. Famously, bountiful fields of lavender grown for its fragrant oil are the essence of France’s Provence region. Lavender derives from lavare, Latin for “to bathe or wash”, because...Read More

The Spotted Lanternfly and the Trucking Industry

No, it’s not the name of the latest mystery novel, TV series, or movie, but an insect that’s the cause of major problems for the trucking industry. The Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) is an invasive insect native to Asia that was first discovered in Southeast Pennsylvania. It has the potential to greatly impact the agriculture industry, including grapes, hops...Read More

How To Remove Half-Assed Responses To Requests For Customer Service

A friend of mine was at a restaurant the other day. She was told they would have the next ocean-view table. The hostess seated someone else at the table they were waiting for; the server apologized and said they’d have the next one yet let it slip away. One of my clients left a list of calls with her staff that were to be made to customers about an upcoming event while she enjoyed a day off. The crew...Read More

Government Affairs: Are you ready for the new federal overtime rule?

On March 7, the Department of Labor (DOL) proposed regulations concerning the much-anticipated revised threshold for workers exempt from overtime pay. The rule proposes to raise the minimum salary threshold for employees exempt from overtime pay to $679 per week ($35,308 annually) from the current $455 per week ($23,660 annually), an increase...Read More

Last Year It Was Dicamba, This Year It's 2,4-D

A volatile weed killer linked to cancer and endocrine issues will likely be sprayed on millions more acres of soybeans and cotton across the Midwest and South starting this year. In January, China approved imports of a new genetically modified soybean variety — Enlist E3 soybeans jointly made by Corteva Agriscience, a division of DowDupont and seed company MS Technologies — that can withstand the herbicide 2,4-D. Read More

FMCSA Hopes to Clarify What Constitutes an “Agricultural Commodity” With New Rule

Compared to previous sessions at trade shows, Joe DeLorenzo’s time in front of the trucking industry at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville on March 28, 2019, must have seemed like a breeze. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) director of the Office of Enforcement and Compliance, has often had to stand in front...Read More

Updates to Resources for Pest Management

Maps that forecast the life cycle stages of twelve insect pests critical to landscape management and nursery production have recently been improved. The pests include apple maggot, Asian longhorned beetle, bagworm, bronze birch borer, Eastern tent caterpillar, emerald ash borer, gypsy moth, hemlock woolly adelgid, lilac borer, magnolia scale, pine needle scale, and winter moth. The database is maintained by the U.S. National Phenology Network (NPN) and is accessible to anyone. Learn More

AmericanHort Welcomes More Seasonal Worker Visas

AmericanHort is very pleased to report that on March 29, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it plans to release an additional 30,000 H-2B workers for returning immigrant workers. This progress would not have happened without the steady advocacy push by our advocacy team, industry leaders, association members, state association partners, and like-minded industries participating in the H-2B Workforce Coalition...Read More

Fayetteville Offers a Free Tree to Anyone Who Cuts Down a Bradford Pear

Fayetteville is offering a bounty on Bradford pear trees this spring. Bradford pears are considered an invasive species that can spread quickly and choke out the area’s native trees, shrubs and flowers. In an effort to spread awareness and discourage the spread of invasive trees...Read More

How Growers With Limited Resources Can Plan for a Software Upgrade

For those smaller greenhouse growers who may have limited resources allocated for a software  upgrade, it’s important to know where you should focus your attention. Experts from leading software companies offer their suggestions below. Build your software up slowly, over time. Anything you can do to reduce your order fulfillment costs will help you grow your business. Read More

Dan Collins Scholarship Open for Horticulture Students

NaturaLawn of America is accepting applications for The Dan Collins Scholarship Award in memory of Dan Collins, a past franchise owner who passed away from cancer in 2005. In honor of Dan, the NaturaLawn of America franchise system created the scholarship to help students with the cost of their higher education. The scholarship currently provides a one-time $4,000 stipend to the winning student...Read More

H-2B Lottery System Modified for Applications This July

The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced updates to its procedures for processing H-2B applications. Because of the intense competition for H-2B visas in recent years, there have been challenges to handle the increasingly large volume of H-2B applications filed on January 1 of each year. As a result of stakeholder comments and the most recent filing period...Read More

Congress Must Clarify Trucking Regulations for Agricultural Products

When it comes to government regulations, clear wording and definitions are a must to those who must comply with the rules. Such is the case with the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) hours of service (HOS) and electronic logging device (ELD) regulations for the trucking industry implemented in late 2017. Inconsistencies and a lack of clarity in the regulations has led to confusion and higher costs...Read More

Incognito Irrigation

The topic of water is a hot one, especially as communities expand restrictions and homeowners look for alternative ways to keep their yards looking refreshed. If customers in your area are looking to replace sprinkler systems in their yards, it might be valuable to suggest a drip irrigation system. Unlike traditional systems that spray water above ground to keep plants and turf...Read More

Illinois Tightens Dicamba Restrictions as State and Company Officials Grapple With Complaints

If the Illinois Department of Agriculture sees an increase in complaints related to the herbicide dicamba this year, state agriculture officials worry lawmakers may consider banning its use altogether. “If this year we see that number of complaints go up again, that’s going to be very disturbing to everybody,” said John Sullivan...Read More

Train Your Employees on Proper Lifting Techniques

Lifting or moving heavy objects such as shrubs, cement blocks or bags of fertilizer can result in injuries to your back, shoulders, knees and other body parts. The resulting injuries can be painful, long-lasting and costly. Proper lifting techniques are important. With the help of OSHA and the National Association of Landscape Professionals...Read More

New or Used?

New and used work trucks each have their perks. The perks for new trucks are that they have no wear-and-tear, no mileage and a nicer look. Morton’s Landscape Development Company in Columbia Station, Ohio, generally prefers new trucks. The company’s fleet has 26 work trucks, and only one or two of those were purchased used. Out of the company’s 10 pickup trucks, three...Read More

ScottsMiracle-Gro Sells TruGreen Stake to Retire Debt

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company recently announced that it has sold its approximate 30 percent stake in TruGreen to the majority owner, in a transaction in which ScottsMiracle-Gro received approximately $234 million. In 2016, the company contributed its wholly owned subsidiary, Scotts LawnService, into a joint venture with TruGreen, creating one of the largest lawn service companies...Read More

Long Haul

To extend the life of vehicles and make quick repairs, Morton’s Landscape Development Company employs two full-time and one part-time mechanic to maintain its fleet. The company has always tried to fix vehicles on its own as much as possible, but for the last 10 years, it has had two full-time mechanics. “Because we’ve got our own mechanics, if we need something fixed...Read More

Retail with Love

In South City St. Louis, the Dutchtown neighborhood is dotted with eccentric architecture. Rich history, classic buildings and autumn leaves are what most will find when visiting in mid-November. Amidst eerily similar buildings is an odd green building that appears to have no business in such a scene. That green building is home to Urban Buds—City Grown Flowers...Read More

The Cost of Keeping Up

The easiest way into the landscape maintenance market segment is also the least likely to help you sustain your business in the long run, says Joel Korte. Korte, CEO of Moore Landscapes in Chicago, says lining up jobs with HOAs or in other residential areas can help you get started with landscape maintenance service. But expecting those clients to stick around for the long run is a mistake...Read More

Second Chance

There’s a stark contrast between James Langley’s garden and the chain-link fence surrounding it. Brick walls and barbed wire enclose the greenery, but the plants are lush year-round, sustained by the toasty Huntsville heat and the people who live behind those walls and wire at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Ellis Unit. Langley goes by Scooter, in part to differentiate...Read More

Houseplant Comeback

On a plant collecting trip in the 1980s, Joy Logee acquired an unusual plant with pancake-shaped leaves that she brought back to Logee’s Greenhouses in Danielson, Connecticut. It took years to identify the untagged specimen as Pilea peperomioides, a funky tropical variety commonly known as the Chinese money plant. It eventually faded out of Logee’s collection — until recently, when Pilea suddenly surged back into popularity, taking every plant nerd’s social media feed by storm. Pictures began popping up on Pinterest...Read More

Material Matters

Pavers, brick, cultured and natural stone are the foundation of an outdoor living room – literally, these design-build materials create the grounds for building functional, beautiful spaces in the natural environment. The range of products and creative applications implemented by landscape designers allow for surfaces and structures that complement surrounding buildings – or stand out...Read More

8 Garden Design Tips for Customers, Staff

At your store, you’ve likely assisted customers who want to improve their gardens but don’t have any idea about how to start. They know when their yard needs work or appears less than exciting, but they can’t articulate why they are unhappy. You’ve also assisted customers who have a new landscape and don’t know...Read More

Trucking: Agriculture Commodity Bill Introduced

Representative Austin Scott (R-GA) introduced H.R. 1673, The Agricultural Trucking Relief Act of 2019, last week. H.R. 1673 would provide clarity for the definition of “agricultural commodity” as it relates to transportation policy and compliance with new Electronic Logging Device (ELD) and the Hours of Service (HOS) rules and regulations. Scott, a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee...Read More

Landscape Contractors Band Together to Create Healing Space

Some Bakersfield, California residents recovering from substance abuse will be able to enjoy a tranquil, healing refuge thanks to a group of landscape contractors. According to a story by Joseph Luiz posted on, the group of business competitors worked together to install a garden behind Bakersfield Recovery Services, donating...Read More

Texas A&M’s Hall receives AHS Great American Gardeners award

The American Horticultural Society, or AHS, is honoring Texas A&M University’s Dr. Charlie Hall as the 2019 recipient of the Great American Gardeners teaching award. According to the AHS, the award is given to an individual whose ability to share horticultural knowledge with others has contributed to better public understanding of the plant world and its important influence on society. Read More

Water World: Balanced Approach

The Kemper Lakes Business Center is a multitenant corporate campus surrounded by 150 acres of grounds, all of which are managed by Balanced Environments. The company took over the landscape contract for the property in 2017, when a new management company took over the campus. “Irrigation on this site is crazy,” says Gayle Kruckenburg, senior account representative...Read More

Blooming With Possibilities

Incorporating new plants in your palette not only keeps your landscapes looking fresh to customers but keeps your job new and exciting too. Each year, new plant varieties with unique, vibrant colors, eye-catching patterns and sweet fragrances are introduced to the market. And while plant genetics are getting better with each passing year, growers are constantly having to respond to ever-changing factors...Read More

New Association Formed to Unite California Nursery Industry

Today members of California’s nursery industry announced the formation of a new organization to be known as the Plant California Alliance. The new organization has been formed to unify two organizations — the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers and the Nursery Growers Association. "Plant California Alliance was created to advocate for nurseries, horticulture...Read More 

Going Up Against Giants

Is bigger always better? Not necessarily when it comes to recruiting talent. Today’s job seeker is looking for more in a new position than just how big a company is. Just as David killed the giant with a strategic blow to the head, small companies can beat their larger competition by knowing their strengths — and the competition’s weaknesses. A quick scan of job postings will confirm...Read More

Plant Pricing Begins with Costs, but Doesn’t End There

I don’t get fan mail, but I did receive an interesting email from an independent grower not that long ago. He wrote, “Now that the busy season is almost over, we are delving deeply into planning for next year. We are going into our third season of growing in our greenhouse, and of course, pricing is an issue that never goes away. We find it very difficult to feel as though we are making enough profit, yet staying...Read More


There’s no shortage of associations or resources dedicated to people with disabilities and special needs, but this segment of the population still faces significant barriers to employment. According to some surveys, as many as 85 percent of people with disabilities don’t have jobs, although they are willing and able to work. The executives of recognized the lack...Read More

DOL Announces Long-Awaited Proposed OT Rule

As a follow up to our March 4th blog, three days later the DOL announced a proposed OT rule increasing the minimum salary required for an employee to qualify for exemption from federal overtime pay requirements. The proposed increase in salary level is from $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $679 per week ($35,308 annually). In addition, the proposed rule includes the following...Read More

Organic Plants Require Organic Food

As organic choices become more prevalent on grocery store shelves and restaurant menus, consumers also expect more options for growing organic food at home. To fuel this rising interest in chemical-free edibles, gardeners are looking for natural fertilizers that provide a healthy boost of plant nutrients without the additives they’re trying to keep out of their diets and their gardens. Read More

Meeting New Needs

Speaking to a room full of landscapers about the next generation of horticulture professionals, Brigham Young University professor Phil Allen shared some recent stats about his post-Millennial students. “They have an attention span of three minutes and 19 seconds. They change tasks every 19 seconds, and they’re on their devices over six hours a day,” says Allen, the program leader for the university’s landscape...Read More 

Box Tree Moth: Coming Soon to a Boxwood Near You?

A new insect pest, box tree moth, will likely make itself known to the U.S. soon after being found in a few Toronto area landscapes in fall 2018. An online, citizen science group first reported the sightings after a homeowner submitted photos of the pest that were then verified by an entomologist. This marks the first reports of this pest...Read More

Harrell’s Explains its Move to Discontinue Distribution of Glyphosate Products

Jack Harrell Jr., CEO of Harrell’s, wrote a letter regarding the company’s recent decision to discontinue distribution of glyphosate products. There has obviously been some discussion and concern about our decision to stop selling glyphosate products. I apologize for any confusion about this, and I would like to explain why we made this decision. First, Harrell’s is not making...Read More

Feeling the Squeeze

When it comes down to making the decision to stay or go, employees are more closely scrutinizing pay parity within the workplace than they have in the past. Not just equal pay for equal work and talent, but whether new and less-qualified employees are being paid the same, or more, than seasoned staff. Pay compression could be putting the squeeze on you and your best...Read More

Landscape Architecture Earns National Recognition

With a total of 60 students, one of the smallest departments at the University, the Department of Landscape Architecture, may not always receive acknowledgement from the campus community. However, the department’s bachelor program was recently ranted No. 3 in the country by College Factual, a website which compares universities for upcoming college...Read More

What's Up with Amazon?

With three retail garden centers, Pennsylvania-based Esbenshade’s Garden Centers began selling on their own website in 2005. “We were looking at opening new stores or creating a new revenue stream, and we decided to start offering the products we sell in our stores to customers online,” says second-generation owner Terry Esbenshade. Read More

The Overlooked Management Tool

I sit right next to them. We don’t need to have a staff meeting. I used to have staff meetings, but we stopped having them. Nobody had anything to talk about. We have enough meetings. We certainly don’t need another. For myriad of reasons, many managers don’t hold regular staff meetings. And those who do, don’t get the most they could from them, and that’s too bad. Good staff meetings can focus a team...Read More

AmericanHort Supports Need to Release Additional H-2B Visas

AmericanHort strongly encourages the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to exercise her authority to release the nearly 70,000 additional temporary, non-immigrant H-2B visas in excess of the statutory annual cap of 66,000. On March 4, 2019 a bipartisan group of 27 Senators and 110 Representatives printed a letter from the Congress of the United States to Kirstjen Nielsen...Read More

Bringing New Employees on Board

We’re elbow deep in our exploration of creating a green industry culture that not only inspires everyone to do their best, but also helps recruit the ideal team members and empowers them to do their best work. The recruiting process should help you find staff that matches your company values. Once they’re on the job, training will help you determine whether they’re actually a good fit to stick around. Read More

Is H-2B Reform Stuck in a Time Loop?

For those of you who have seen the Bill Murray classic movie, “Groundhog Day,” the H-2B saga seems reminiscent. As part of the deal to end the partial shutdown of the federal government, H-2B advocates in Washington secured language in the bipartisan compromise appropriations bill to allow the secretary of homeland security, in consultation with the secretary of labor, to increase the number of H-2B visas...Read More

Up to 120 Plant Species Considered for Regulation in Pennsylvania

From the Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association – The Pennsylvania Invasive Species Council (PISC) is considering recommending that as many as 120 plants identified as potentially invasive be recommended for regulation by the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Committee (CPNWC). The PISC will consider sending all or some of these plants to the CPNWC for regulatory consideration. Read More

When Tragedy Strikes

“I regret to inform you…” While I’ve only heard these words once, they still evoke sadness. Our company president died unexpectedly, and each department received “the call.” The task of informing others fell to me. Despite the fact none of us really knew her, it was a tough message to deliver. Stunned silence ensued. One employee began to wail. Not knowing what to...Read More

Explore the Benefits of Biological Fertilizers

Pat O’Bryan was ready to leave the lawn care industry. The owner of Jamison Pest & Lawn in Cordova, Tenn., was tired of promising customers lush, green lawns and ultimately delivering lawns that were “just OK.” Set to focus solely on pest control services, O’Bryan decided to make one last effort and explore the realm of biological fertilizers, hoping it might make some sort of difference for his customers’...Read More

Protect Your Profits

For as long as J.R. Pandy can remember, he’s been involved with the day-to-day operations of Pandy’s Garden Center in Elyria, Ohio, a business his parents founded around 1961. “I think I was born here,” Pandy says of the grower/retailer he’s worked at since he was 12 years old. Unfortunately, Pandy can also scarcely remember a time his family business wasn’t victimized by burglars, thieves, arsonists...Read More

Under Control

Pesticides, herbicides and other control products are an important aspect of managing a healthy garden, but many consumers lack the knowledge to be successful with these products, and often, control products are sequestered to the back of independent garden centers, with very few instructions and little signage. There are also misconceptions about control products that can...Read More

Stormwater Retention? 100 Percent!

Meadowood Senior Living in Worcester, Pennsylvania, envisioned a transformation of the retirement community's central courtyard. Design for Generations, LLC from Medford, New Jersey, and Eric's Nursery and Garden Center out of Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, designed and developed a resort-style outdoor space that is striking in its beauty and engaging in its varied features and amenities. Read More

Fungicide Costs

Fungal diseases of ornamentals will always be a limitation to profitable plant production and management—how significant that limitation is in your hands. Fungicides are effective in reducing the risk of loss– in numbers, in quality and in terms of aesthetics. However, fungicide costs in terms of product cost, number of applications and labor need to be evaluated against the benefits...Read More

Fraudulent Landscape Architect Faces Jail Time

A contractor in Salem, Mass., who maintained he was a landscape architect, will be reportedly sentenced to prison for swindling customers. He posed as an established landscape architect and promised customers he would complete projects. Most of the projects were paid upfront, but never completed. The website he used contained pictures from other landscape architecture firms, and he asserted those projects...Read More

What's My Job

One of my favorite workplace comics is a Dilbert cartoon where Wally asks the boss, “When will my raise be effective?” The boss answers, “The same time you are.” Poor Wally. Maybe he just doesn’t understand his job duties. How can Wally be effective if he doesn’t know what duties he is required to perform? Answer: He can’t. How can Wally get a grip on his job duties? Answer: A job description. Read More

Watch for Potential New Boxwood Pest

Boxwoods have so many pests it’s a wonder we continue to grow them. On top of boxwood mites, psyllids, and leafminers boxwood blight has been spreading since 2011. Boxwoods are special though so we work to protect them from each new threat. That work will get harder if box tree moth gets established in North America. The box tree moth, Cydalima perspectalis, feeds on...Read More

Sugar Grove Resident Wins Competition Sponsored by National Horticulture Association

Sugar Grove resident and College of DuPage horiculture student Elaina Blankenhagen recently won first place in the individual category in a video competition hosted by the National Association of Landscape Professionals, the college announced in a news release. Blankenhagen received $250 for her winning submission. Read More

Bend Before You Break

Spring is just around the corner for some of you, and already kicking into gear for many others. That makes this a really good time to talk about managing your stress. It’s also time to plan on how you’ll manage your staff’s morale. After all, if you can’t manage your stress as the owner or manager, it’s probable your staff’s morale will suffer. Read More

New Tips for Managing Emerald Ash Borer

When emerald ash borer swept through the Midwest it left three kinds of ash trees in its wake: the dead, the dying, and the diligently protected and thriving. The hunt was on for ways to stop this insect and save North America’s ash trees. Now, nearly 20 years later, not only do we have tools to fight this insect but we are developing better management techniques every day. Read More

How You Can Work With AmericanHort to Be a Voice for the Industry

At AmericanHort, we represent the horticulture industry within government and with legislators on important issues that affect our future success. Our advocacy team works diligently to improve labor, transportation, and the regulatory environment to make it easier to run your business. But it’s important that we work together to ensure our industry’s continued growth and success for generations to come. Read More

H-2B Cap Limit Met for Rest of Fiscal Year

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has received enough petitions to meet the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the second half of fiscal year (FY) 2019. Feb. 19, 2019, was the final receipt date for new cap-subject H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before Oct. 1, 2019. Any new cap-subject H-2B petitions received after Feb. 19 that request employment in that time span...Read More

How to Establish Boundaries at Work

Football fans may lament that the 2018 NFL Season is in the rearview mirror, but lessons linger long after events fade. The Pittsburgh Steelers / Antonio Brown drama grabbed the headlines this year as he missed practices, walked away from the team multiple times, had sideline flare-ups, and went off on present and past teammates, proving once again the wisdom of Dr. Brenda Freeman...Read More

More Than One Million Strong: National Pollinator Garden Network Surpasses Goal of One Million Registered Pollinator Gardens

In just three years, 1,040,000 gardens were registered with the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge (MPGC) involving an estimated eight million people, concentrated in the United States, and Canada with some in Mexico, and across the globe. From tiny yards to public gardens, the million plus gardens add up to a network of approximately five million acres of enhanced or new pollinator habitat. Read More

Practice Being Present

We have so many distractions throughout the day, emails, texts, phone calls, interruptions of all kind…it’s difficult to focus. But one thing great leaders have in common, they focus, when they are talking to you, they are talking to you, “they are present.” Learn more

USDA Announces $66 Million for Pest and Disease Management Projects

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is allocating $66 million to support 407 projects that will strengthen the nation’s infrastructure for pest detection and surveillance, identification, threat mitigation and safeguard the nursery production system. Also included is $6 million for the National Clean Plant Network that will support...Read More

Dicamba Update: In Illinois, Will it Be Three Strikes, You’re Out?

Jean Payne has served as President of the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association since 2004, “back in the days when we didn’t dream dicamba would be used in the summertime,” she tells CropLife in an interview on Feb. 20. She opens up on the current challenges and future of dicamba for U.S. retailers and growers in a state ruled by urban politics. Read More

Ready, Set, Go

Gearing up for the lawn care season can seem daunting. Between hiring seasonal staff, selling contracts, training crews and making schedules, it’s easy to let something slip through the cracks. But making sure your equipment is ready to start service will help you save time and money all season long. We gathered up some tips from LCOs across the country to see how they get their equipment ready...Read More

Get Ready for Your Closeup

Being on television or even appearing in a YouTube video can be intimidating. The thought of hundreds, thousands or even millions (should your video go viral) of people watching you can cause some to struggle to be themselves when the lights and cameras go on. But appearing in television segments can help position your garden center as the local expert and is a great way...Read More

Starting Your Spring the Right Way

While many LCOs practice training year-round, the spring season can be especially busy and it’s easy to let things slip through the cracks. Still, contractors say that the beginning of the season is when training is most vital. “It’s something I believe in. From a landscape company we pride ourselves in not just training. We put a lot of effort into safety training. When we spend time on training...Read More

How Stories Can Help You Sell

Let me tell you a story. I was on a design consultation a few years ago, and there was a perfect spot for three dwarf Hinoki false cypress. Because my consultation customers can go anywhere to buy the plants I have recommended, I decided to use a story to illustrate the importance of buying just the right variety. I didn’t want them to end up at the box store where someone would put just any random evergreen...Read More

Planting a Future

The presence of horticulture within education tends to be limited past the third grade, according to data compiled by Seed Your Future. With climate change, community gardens and organic grown products becoming more prevalent in our everyday lives, students are actively seeking out ways they can make a difference and participate in the industry. The horticultural industry...Read More

Biological Control - Reinventing Pests

How do we decide that a pest is a pest? On the surface, this may sound like an absurd question, but it becomes legitimate when we step outside our conventional pest control box. Some old horticulture text books list spidermites not as a pest, but as an indicator for poor climate control. Whitefly was considered economically unimportant by several authors. The greenhouse pests that everybody...Read More

Embrace Modern Media

We’re living and working in times where marketing and media are ever-moving targets. Technology continues to evolve at a pace that’s tough to match. With the way media continues to redefine itself, choosing and executing the best marketing tactics can be confounding. If you’re still trying to use conventional sales channels to capture marketing share...Read More

Tell the Truth and Tell it First

From local newspaper and television stories to social media reviews, coverage of your independent garden center sways the opinions of consumers interested in your store. When press is positive, everyone basks in the warmth. But when negative media hits, what you say and do are crucial to weathering the storm. The following principles can help your IGC navigate negative media coverage...Read More

2019 Recruiting Maneuvers

Are you ready to implement new recruiting strategies and become a “warrior” in 2019? Or will you be left behind your competition? Make planning and preparedness your goals for the recruiting year ahead of you. The following eight concepts will help you become the recruiting warrior you were destined to be.  Read More 

Saving Our Ashes

As far as insects go, it’s not unattractive — it could even be considered beautiful, especially if you’re a bug fancier. One could imagine an amateur entomologist gleefully photographing the bullet-shaped adult with its metallic, iridescent green wings, or a middle school science student proudly pinning it to a board alongside butterflies and rhinoceros beetles. But make no mistake: emerald ash borer...Read More

Cloud Computing for Garden Centers

Most people use cloud computing on a daily basis without realizing it. Typing a query into Google via a home PC sends your words to a Google data center, which finds the results and promptly returns them to you, no matter where on the planet you’re located. “The cloud,” as it’s known colloquially, also holds numerous advantages for several industries, including horticulture. Greg Lafferty, a computer...Read More

Get the Most Bang for Your Equipment Buck

The term “heavy metal” is used to describe a genre of ear-splitting, head-banging music. But it’s also a good term for describing the large equipment you must use as a contractor. Do you remember that first piece of big iron you bought for your business — that first zero-turn mower, dump truck or skid steer? There may have been some head-banging involved there, too, depending on how the transaction...Read More

Taking Wireless Into Uncharted Waters

It’s official. The future of irrigation is going to be a wireless one. Rain, evapotranspiration, soil moisture and flow sensors, and now, even entire irrigation systems have exchanged wires for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular and 900 megahertz. Anyone who attended the recent Irrigation Show and Education Conference in Long Beach, California, last December got a glimpse of that future...Read More

USDA Provides $66 Million in Fiscal Year 2019 to Protect Agriculture and Natural Resources from Plant Pests and Diseases

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is allocating $66 million to support 407 projects that will strengthen the nation’s infrastructure for pest detection and surveillance, identification, threat mitigation, and safeguard the nursery production system. USDA provides funding for these projects under the authority of the Plant...Read More

Marketing the Benefits of Native Grasses

Native grasses have become increasing popular, however, many garden centers have a difficult time selling them in the spring without showy flowers. The University of Minnesota, thanks to grants from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the USDA's Specialty Crop program, has developed marketing materials to help retailers sell more grasses. Read More

Don't Send Your Employees in Blind

Recently, we had a plumbing issue at the house. I began to research how to make the repair myself but decided to call a local plumbing company instead. A service technician from a local plumbing company showed up at my door. He was on time and seemed like a perfectly nice young man. He even had those little shoe covers. However, he was apparently...Read More

NALP Starts Landscape Management Apprenticeship

The National Association of Landscape Professionals recently announced its creation of the Landscape Management Apprenticeship Program. The program, which is registered by the U.S. Department of Labor, offers job seekers a path to a new career in the industry through a paid apprenticeship with a professional landscape company. The partnerships could boost recruitment through school...Read More

Don’t Read Them the Recipe, Feed Them the Cake

As local gardening experts, garden centers help customers create beautiful landscapes. We are asked for advice about everything from assembling combinations to preparing gardens. Yes, we help people through the process of planting and maintenance, but we also need to remember that people buy with their hearts, not their heads. Although some grow to love the act of gardening...Read More

5 Giant Takeaways To Heed From Sears Withering Bankruptcy Tale

You can’t open a webpage, a newspaper, or turn to your video channel without someone somewhere coving the story that Sears went into bankruptcy Monday morning ahead of a $134 million payment due today. The easy narrative to write is they couldn’t compete with Amazon. Let’s get this straight from the start…Read More

Should I Use Facebook Ads or Google Adwords?

So, you want to advertise online after realizing that newspaper ads aren’t working. It’s overwhelming when you first look at it, so let’s break it down. There are two dominant platforms: Facebook ads (also known as “paid social”) and Adwords (the ads that appear when you enter search terms on Google). They operate completely differently. Here’s the key difference: Facebook ads are based...Read More

ICPI Launches Online Learning Center

The Interlocking Concrete Paving Institute (ICPI) launched an online learning center this month, which features educational opportunities for two key professional groups: installers and sales pros involved in segmental concrete pavement. Read More

7 Ways to Say 'No' Without Explanation

You are a highflier. When you say you’ll do something, it gets done well and on time, regardless of the personal cost. It’s your character, and a huge part of the success you so richly deserve. Unfortunately, being highly responsible also sets you up to be the parade pooper-scooper. If you’re someone who regularly cleans up messes, you know exactly what I mean.  Read More

Status Checks on H-2B and New Pesticide Rules

After a 35-day partial government shutdown, Congress passed a temporary three-week spending bill without — you guessed it — H-2B reform language. It was a long shot that H-2B would be included in the temporary spending bill, but advocates for the program, including AmericanHort and the National Association of Landscape Professionals put on a full-court...Read More

Profit is Determined at the Sale

Start with the end in mind! While efficient production makes you money, your ability to make a good profit doesn't start there. It starts at the sale. There are two main ways to control profit through your sales: Setting a realistic sales goal (billable hours goal) so you can safely cover your overhead. And by selling each job including enhancements/change orders for a profitable amount. This is why...Read More

Hickman Resigns as NALP CEO

After nearly 12 years of service to the professional lawn care and landscape industry, National Association of Landscape Professionals CEO Sabeena Hickman is stepping down from her leadership position. Hickman will serve as a consultant to the organization for the next six months to help transition the leadership responsibilities. “I am extremely proud of all that this association...Read More

OSHA Releases New Silica FAQs for General Industry

On January 23, 2019, the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) released a new set of 64 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for its Respirable Crystalline Silica for General Industry (silica standard) to provide further guidance to employers and employees about the silica standard's requirements. The silica standard took effect on June 23, 2016, and the compliance deadline...Read More

Securing Sales with Good Questions

Making a sale can seem like second nature to account managers, but Jason Miller of Procare in Grand Rapids, Michigan says asking the right questions can increase those sales even more. At the Bach Business Partners Sales and Manager Boot Camp at Seven Springs Resort, Miller and attendees held a roundtable discussion on asking questions during a sale. First and foremost, steer clear...Read More

Campaign to Weed out European Buckthorn Across the Suburbs

A public campaign against a pesky invader is being launched across the region. European buckthorn, an invasive plant that gobbles up valuable space and light wherever it grows, long has been a bane to conservationists and natural resource managers. Forest preserve districts and other organizations for years have been waging war against the pesky shrub or tree that forms dense thickets and crowds out native...Read More

Wounded Warrior Visits Vernon Hills Company James Martin Associates to Receive Donation

At this year’s 11th annual Partner Appreciation Event, landscape and snow management company James Martin Associates (JMA) and its partners raised $4,710 for charity, with Russo Power Equipment making a substantial contribution to the total. Roger Fick of Wilson Nurseries won the raffle drawing and selected the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) to receive the donation. Read More

Spinning Wheels

The ELD rule required most FMCSA-regulated motor carriers to convert their records from paper to an electronic format. That rule brought to focus HOS regulations, especially certain regulations that affect ag and horticulture. In the fall of 2018, FMCSA sought public comment on revising four specific areas of current HOS regulations, which limit the operating hours of commercial truck drivers. Read More

Tailored Appreciation

While I am confident you regularly express appreciation for your employees, unless you’re expressing it in multiple ways, chances are some of them aren’t getting the message. That’s because not all employees respond to the same type of recognition and praise. Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Paul White, coauthors of “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace,” offer suggestions to ensure that each...Read More

Pilea Aphid First Reported in the Western Hemisphere

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Division of Plant Industry has released the following pest alert: On August 22, 2018, from Longwood, Seminole County, Florida, Jesse Krok (DPI) collected a sample of aluminum plant (Pilea cadeirei Gagnep. & Guill.) infested with all life stages of the aphid Myzus fataunae Shinji 1924 (after Takahashi 1965). Myzus fataunae is native to Japan and Korea...Read More

Horticultural Research Institute's Funded Research Projects for 2019

The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI), the foundation of AmericanHort, is pleased to announce the portfolio of research projects to be funded in 2019. Projects range from innovations to crop production for both greenhouse and nursery segments, water management in landscapes, emergent pest issues, and economic and marketing analyses. A total of $437,200 will be awarded...Read More

Seed Your Future Launches Free Horticultural Exploration Tool

Seed Your Future has launched its new free online horticulture career exploration resource. Much more than a basic alphabetical list of the almost 100 careers in the horticulture industry, the tool first asks site visitors to consider what they are interested in, and then lists careers in horticulture that might match their interests. Each listed career...Read More

The Government is Back for Now: Employers Should Address E-Verify Compliance Over the Shutdown Period

The US Government was shut down for over a month, and the government’s E-Verify system was down from December 22, 2018, to January 27, 2019. During the shutdown, employers who are E-Verify users were unable to enter any of their newly hired employees into the E-Verify system.  But E-Verify users shouldn’t fret.  USCIS is giving you a grace period to catch up.  Read More

Must-Have Meters for Measuring Light

One of the most important ongoing challenges for greenhouse growers is light management. Energy costs for artificial lighting can quickly cut into profit margins, while providing too much or too little light can impact your final yield and the quality of your product. When considering lighting in your greenhouse, you should ask yourself two main...Read More

Yesterday's Wisdom is Fresh Today

Understanding our past helps us make better decisions for our future. This requires an understanding of how things have changed over time, while also understanding how things have stayed the same. This month, when we honor our past presidents, Washington and Lincoln, let’s also take the time to consider the wise thoughts of another of our celebrated forebears. These ideas were valid...Read More

Live By the Calendar to Create Generous Marketing

I was doing some discovery work with a new client, our first meeting together. She said, “Marketing is difficult.” Marketing used to be easy. You could pay for an ad and recoup its cost plus a profit. This was the power of a full-color Yellow Page ad. The more you paid the more you got back in return. Marketing is now difficult because it’s different. You can no longer win by outspending...Read More

Heated Up

It’s been a while since U.S. growers have experienced a cold winter with soaring fuel prices. And for many, the incentives to go renewable—be it for heating or electricity—vary from robust to fading. In the last few years, U.S. growers have met roadblocks and just plain uncertainty with the USDA’s Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) seeing ups and downs in funding. Today, its future funding...Read More

2018 Landscaping Trends: Which Ones Came True?

Every year, experts make big bets on what will happen in the next year on almost any subject, including landscaping. But how often do they go back and analyze those trends? To kick off the new year, we thought it would be beneficial to talk about which of last year’s predictions came true. Some of these trends are a bit subjective...Read More

2019 Economic Trends To Watch

The United States government and media outlets regularly report that the economy is strong. But what’s really driving growth, and what are possible concerns and setbacks? Being aware of some key economic indicators and wage trends could help retailers and growers make more informed decisions to stay ahead, especially as the busy spring season approaches. Read More 

Get Back on Track

It’s the New Year and you know what that means. ’Tis the season for resolutions and goal setting. As we all know too well, goal-setting and making resolutions can be double-edged swords. On the one hand, if you don’t set specific goals, you can’t realistically expect them to manifest out of thin air. What’s the saying? It’s never going to rain roses, so if you want more roses, you’ll have to plant them. Or something like that. On the flip side, setting specific goals...Read More

Solving the Millennial Riddle

Meet Ashley. You know who she is. She’s young, she’s independent, and her eyes sparkle when she arranges her succulents. She’s the Millennial woman we all want in our stores. Compared to our Baby Boomer female base (who make up about half our sales right now), she takes a radically different approach. She’s also the future of our industry. In 20 years...Read More

What You Need to Know About Tax Reform Laws Affecting your Agribusiness

Taxpayers can now see the full results of the tax changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that legislators signed into law more than a year ago. Will everyone see benefits? As with anything coming out of Washington, it’s complicated. The bill, which passed along party lines in a flurry of activity in the second half of 2017, aimed to simplify the tax process while reforming corporate and individual income tax rates. Read More

Savor Expands Retailer Support With New Retro-Inspired Point-of-Purchase Signage

With the popularity of herbs and vegetables projected to continue again in 2019, and Spring just eight short weeks away, it’s time for retailers to think about how to attract even more customers to the edibles section of their stores. Knowing this, Savor has further expanded its set of retailer support tools to match itsedibles and fragrants offerings. Motivated by the retro-styles so prevalent in today’s world of fashion...Read More

NALP Announces Annual List of Landscape Trends

The National Association of Landscape Professionals has released its official list of the top 2019 landscape trends. Drawing upon the expertise of the industry’s 1 million landscape, lawn care, irrigation and tree care professionals, NALP annually predicts trends that will influence the design and maintenance of backyards across America in the year ahead. NALP develops its trends...Read More

Help Customers Make Good Choices

Imagine for a moment that you’re led into a well-stocked kitchen and asked to create a delicious meal. There’s just one problem — you don’t recognize any of the available ingredients. There is seafood you’ve never seen and don’t know how to prepare. It’s not clear if the fruits need to be peeled or not, or if the vegetables should be served raw or cooked. You have no idea...Read More

Diving Into Loss Deductions

Losses suffered by those in the greenhouse business come in many shapes and forms. There are those losses that result from natural disasters, losses caused by dishonest employees and/or customers, financial losses from bad business decisions, or those resulting from a poor economy. Although insurance may help defray some of the costs associated with restoring and replacing...Read More

Detectives of Irrigation

The methods and skills required to detect irrigation system problems are like solving a Sherlock Holmes mystery. When I was in high school, I read all the Sherlock Holmes stories I could get my hands on. It was fascinating how the great detective eliminated first one possibility, then the next, and the next, until he figured out exactly what happened and “whodunit.” How, from a cigar ash, Holmes...Read More

Out of Sight, (Not) Out of Mind

Everyone knows the old adage. In fact, it’s probably older than the foliage industry itself. “That which is not seen is often forgotten” is a scenario that applies to almost any facet of life. However, in our industry and in plant production, nowhere is it more applicable than your irrigation system. Your irrigation system is indeed the lifeblood of your facility and often one of the most neglected...Read More

It's a Candidate's Job Market. Now What?

The favorite interview question a decade ago was, “Why do you want this job?” Candidates needed to demonstrate their interest and prove themselves worthy of consideration. The question that now needs to be answered is, “Why should I take this job?” And it’s the candidate who is doing the asking. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that times have changed. Read More

The Plastic Crisis

A growing outcry against single-use plastic and the burgeoning amounts of plastic found in Canadian environments is spurring an ever-broading, grassroots sustainability movement. Our greenhouse, nursery, garden centre, and landscaping industries have largely flown under the public radar, but it won’t be long before customers and clients start sounding an alarm...Read More

Beyond the Paycheck

Unhappy employees are costly. Poor morale can destroy teams, erode profit and ultimately destroy your business. Managing employees is already a tough job; managing their morale can be one of the toughest challenges you face as an owner, CEO or middle-manager. Company culture may be built from within, but it typically starts at the top. Know your limitations as an owner...Read More

Does Your Customer's Experience Match Your Marketing?

Imagine this scenario: you see Apple’s commercials. They’re full of young people having fun, living their best lives (we’ve all seen them). You see Apple’s advertising — slick, smooth, promising technology that changes your life and leads you into the future. You hear about Apple’s products and how innovative and game-changing they are for the tech...Read More

Follow Your Intuition

A new business owner recently told me, “We didn’t hire the best people, and it’s been a bit rough.” He went on to share that they consciously hired people less skilled than themselves so that they would look better. The co-mingling of ego and low self-esteem creates a toxic brew, and without change, their business will either limp along or quickly go under. How tragic. Another business owner...Read More

Best Practices for Irrigation Installation Contracts

Making sure your irrigation contracts protect your business and ensure you won’t be left in the lurch should something go awry is almost as important as landing a big irrigation installation. Greg Winchel, owner of Winchel Irrigation in Grandville, Mich., knows a thing or two about securing irrigation contracts and making sure they protect his employees and his company. Winchel Irrigation...Read More

Achieve the Ultimate Customer Experience

We all seem to get it by now — more engaged employees perform at a higher level. The organizations that get their strategy right in this area provide a superior customer experience, have lower levels of employee turnover, higher morale, and ultimately much higher financial performance. Their customers love them more. What are some things you can easily implement...Read More

The Growing Problem of Inventory Shrinkage

As we’ve seen in this issue of Garden Center, retail store security is a pressing concern for many businesses; especially those that suffer continual break-ins. But thefts can happen during business hours just as easily as after dark, and a store’s employees can be just as willing and able to steal as outside parties. Information from...Read More

Examine Your Reputation

Unemployment rates have fallen again. This is great for the economy and job seeker, but not so wonderful if you are struggling with staffing. Just as it is easier and cheaper to keep a customer than to acquire a new one, it’s far better to retain great employees than to have to attract and train new ones. Before you post your next job...Read More

Why the Horticulture Industry Must Overcome its Generational Divide

My journey into the horticultural world got a late start. Originally intent on medical school, I followed a pre-medical track throughout my undergraduate career. During my last semester, however, I finally admitted something I had desperately tried to ignore: I was miserable. I decided to scrap my medical school applications and instead apply...Read More

Best Practices for Homepage Banners

Making a good first impression on customers, even before they visit your independent garden center, is crucial to growing your business. One way retailers are doing this is by adding banner videos to their websites’ homepages to give customers an idea of not only what they’ll find in the stores, but also a behind-the-scenes look at the companies. Rob Lucas, website developer for Johnson’s Nursery, says having...Read More

Travel & Taxes

Industry events are a good way to gain know-how, find new suppliers and network with others in the industry. Best of all, Uncle Sam, in the form of our tax laws, is willing to pick up the expense of attending many of these events — at least for some. Bottom-line, green industry businesses can deduct all non-extravagant “ordinary and necessary expenses” incurred attending business-related meetings...Read More

Creating a Smarter Recruiting Mindset

Brad Leahy, vice president of Blades of Green, said his company hired 37 people in 2018 and holds a retention rate of 84 percent. He credits the hiring success to the company’s unique approach at recruitment. At Real Green’s Solutions 2019 conference in St. Pete Beach, Florida, Leahy shared some ways to change the way you look at hiring. “We’re the problem...Read More

Do What Online-Only Retailers Can't

There should be no doubt in the garden center industry that online sales heavily compete with brick-and-mortar businesses these days. Amazon is the retail site of the masses; hydroponics retailers have also been aggressive about their digital presence and online sales capabilities. Garden centers, in general, never got in front of the online sales movement...Read More

Worth the Wait

The Green was everywhere. Green cupcakes with green icing, Granny Smith apples, Mountain Dew – and it wasn’t even St. Patrick’s Day. Instead, it was a “Green Fiesta” organized by Molly John, co-owner and CEO of M.J. Design Associates, and her husband, Joel. The duo owns M.J. Design Associates office in Columbus, Ohio, and they threw the party when the first of their crews’ green...Read More

Working Together to Protect Bees

Growers, landowners, and beekeepers can learn from each other. Protecting pollinators from pesticides is a challenging task that requires beekeepers, growers, landowners, and pesticide applicators to work together. Openly communicating hive locations and pest management plans can make an impact in pesticide exposure to bees. Start taking steps today to protect the bees in your area. Read More

Rethink Employee Relationships

You give them the world, whether it be 401(k) plans, telecommuting options, vacation time, profit sharing, mentoring, flex time and costly insurance, but they are moving up and out as quickly as you can train them. Savvy employers recognize that the influx of Millennials has fundamentally altered the workplace and calls for new employment relationships. Read More

AmericanHort Welcomes Applications for Annual Program

The 2019 AmericanHort HortScholars program is now accepting applications through March 1 from students in horticulture-related degree programs of any degree level. Students wishing to apply may do so online at HortScholars is a seven-day program that exposes horticulture...Read More

Managing Reputation in the Age of Infinity

More junk every day. And they know this. They sell junk that would never, ever be sold at a Wal-Mart store. That’s because in order to get into a store, a buyer, a human being with a reputation, has to allocate shelf space. The easiest way to lose your job as a buyer is to put brand-destroying lousy products on a valuable shelf. Amazon, on the other hand...Read More

Annual Training Required for Dicamba Use

Whether you’re a farmer, commercial operator or someone mixing or loading dicamba for soybean application, you are required to undergo certification once again this year. “I’m running in to a lot of growers who think that because they went last year, they don’t have to go to training again, and that is not the case,” said Jean Payne, Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association...Read More

H-2B Reforms Fall Victim to Border Wall Fight, but Brighter Days Ahead?

A tentative agreement to double the number of H-2B visas and implement other reforms to the guest worker program did not move forward in December, as hoped, with critical federal budget bills. The package of H-2B reforms was slated to be included with a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has been without a fiscal year 2019 budget since Oct. 1, 2018. DHS has been...Read More

Growth Requires Ownership at All Levels

Some owners lament that they made more money when they were smaller, and they make less now. Why is that? One reason is their inability to build a strong, dynamic, nimble organization that operates as well as the owner could on his or her own. To scale your business effectively, you have to successfully scale your organization, and this requires that your leaders—from laborers and foremen...Read More

Step by Step: How to Identify Trees

There are an estimated 23,000 different kinds of trees in the world. While it’s impossible to know them all, it’s important for landscape contractors to be familiar with the varieties found in their parts of the country to ensure proper treatment and care. To begin the identification process, contractors should thoroughly inspect the tree, making note of its prominent features, such as the leaves, bark, canopy, fruit...Read More

Electric Avenue

Dan Delventhal, founder of MowGreen in Fairfield, Conn., has been using battery-powered landscape equipment since 2006 in an effort to lighten his environmental impact. Dan Mabe, former owner of The Greenstation in Los Angeles, used electric equipment because he says it’s much quieter than gas versions. David Mitchell, owner of Mitchell Landscaping in Amarillo, Texas, began converting...Read More

Tips for Choosing the Most Effective Methods of Communication With Employees

People on your staff in different generations may have different communication preferences; from talking face-to-face to email and texting. Remember the 1979 song “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles? While radio didn’t disappear, video — and now streaming services — forever altered the music industry. Social media is having a similar effect on today’s relationships. Consider...Read More

Congress Passed the 2018 Farm Bill, Legalizing Hemp

Congress federally legalized hemp with the Dec. 12 passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, opening a market that Brightfield Group estimates will reach $22 billion by 2022. The $867 billion agriculture law cleared the Senate Dec. 11 with a 87-13 vote before gaining approval in the House Dec. 12 with a 369-47 vote. The bill has been sent to President Trump, who is expected to sign it into law. Read More

National Garden Bureau Releases 2019 Varieties Information

For more than 30 years, National Garden Bureau (NGB) has been showcasing and promoting their member’s new plant varieties in the inspirational program appropriately named “New Plants.” You can search through 120+ new plants to find what your customers are seeking. This is your one-stop-shop for the newest of the new! Use this link to view ornamentals and this link to view edibles...Read More

Award-Winning Greenhouse Growers Offer Labor-Saving Solutions

Many of Greenhouse Grower’s Grower of the Year award winners and finalists have something in common: the ability to come up with practical answers to challenges facing their businesses.We asked some of these individuals about the advice they might offer to their peers to address labor challenges at their operations. Here’s what some of them had to say. Read More

Four Issues AmericanHort's Tal Coley is Monitoring in 2019

The 2018 midterm elections are behind us, and the makeup of Congress changed, but AmericanHort director of government affairs Tal Coley says the association’s goals remain the same. “I think we’ll still be able to get a lot of things done, primarily because we have champions on both sides of the aisle,” he says. “I think as a trade association, you never want to gravitate toward...Read More

Resolve to Improve Recruitment Efforts, Culture

Paid sick and parental leave, pay history bans, predicable scheduling statutes, mandatory E-Verify, compensatory time off, an increase in the guaranteed salary level for white collar workers; and the list goes on. While it is yet unknown which of these employment regulations will impact your business, one thing is certain — it will be challenging to find and hire qualified workers, regardless...Read More

High Performance: The Ultimate Recruiting Method

What’s the best way to recruit people? This question is asked of me more than all others combined. Everyone is looking for the answer, and I’m going to give it to you. The ultimate recruiting method is for your current team members to become your recruiters, not because recruiting has been assigned to them or because you have incentivized them, but because they cannot help themselves. Read More

Target Your Ideal Customer

No one company can serve all the customers, all the time. Nor, can I imagine, would you want to. Charging prices you feel your products are worth and netting healthy margins comes down to finding the right customer. The last thing you want to do is waste efforts on the wrong customer; they eat up valuable time and resources that you should be spending on your ideal customer. Do you know which customers...Read More

High Standards

Before Mark Chisholm’s team even picks up a chain saw, they’re required to look around the yard and mentally note its appearance. Chisholm hopes his Aspen Tree Expert Company leaves each work site without a trace, only leaving behind the results of the work they were hired to do. He says many homeowners don’t sit around and watch his crews operate, so if his employees leave things behind like leftover limbs, debris...Read More

Show Me The Money: A Look at Incentive Programs

They say money talks. And it seems lawn care technicians are listening. Companies are offering commission, bonus and incentive programs to increase production rates and motivate their lawn care crews to go the extra mile. “In today’s competitive workplace, it takes a whole lot more than just a flat hourly rate to attract...Read More

Could You Get Hacked?

It’s the news du jour: large companies’ computers coming down with viruses, suspected foreign interference in our election process and on our social media platforms, retailers’ credit card systems getting hacked. It’s a scary proposition and even more of a possibility for businesses now than ever before. Many experts believe that the next Cold War will be fought over the Internet. With more...Read More

Raise Prices Without Raising Eyebrows

In the crowded garden retail space, where customers can choose to purchase garden and landscape plants at an independent garden center, a big box store, the local hardware store or online, how can independent garden centers best convey the extra value and expertise they bring to their products? It’s a question Steve Bailey of Steve Bailey Consulting and financial adviser...Read More

What Lies Beneath

Outdoor living spaces are recognized by their intricate pavers and designs, but what lies beneath is actually more important to the overall success of the design. Before a contractor begins to lay a section of permeable pavers, a solid base or drainage system needs to be established. The different types of bases depend on the overall scope of the property, the location and the use. “Within those permeable...Read More

OSHA Frustrates Employers With Inconsistent Regulatory, Enforcement Actions

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s top 10 list for the most frequently cited workplace safety violations has remained remarkably consistent in recent years. But the agency’s regulatory and enforcement actions in 2018, particularly in the absence of a confirmed head of the agency, continued to puzzle and often frustrate the employer community. Read More

ASLA Reveals 2018 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends

Sustainability, space for outdoor fitness activities and the ability to charge mobile devices are key residential landscape trends, according to the 2018 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). Architects were asked to rate the expected popularity of a variety of residential outdoor design elements in 2018. The survey...Read More

EPA, Army Propose New WOTUS Definition

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) are proposing a new definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) that clarifies federal authority under the Clean Water Act. According to the EPA, the proposal contains a straightforward definition that would result in significant cost savings, protect the nation’s navigable waters, help sustain...Read More

Breaking In

As commercial property managers incessantly handle daily responsibilities, the last thing they want to take care of is a minor landscaping hiccup. That’s what Marc Fisher says. Fisher, president and CEO of InspiRE Commercial Real Estate Services, has worked as a property manager for over 25 years. “You want to be a solution provider,” Fisher says. “What you really want to talk about...Read More

Why You Should Let Your Employees Attend Conferences

When companies consider letting their employees attend conferences and seminars, the only thing that might be deliberated is the expense: hotel, meals, travel, let alone the cost of the conference itself. Instead, companies should focus on the benefits of having a smarter workforce as a result of providing training and development opportunities. Read More

13 Things We Learned From BrightView’s SEC Filing

Earlier this week, BrightView revealed its intent to go public when it filed a form S-1 with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC). An S-1 is the document a company uses to file its public offering of shares. We read the document, so you don't have to. Here are 13 things we learned...Read More

Seed Your Future

This program aims to improve awareness of horticulture in the U.S. and to promote horticulture as a viable career path for the nation's youth.  The Seed Your Future initiative aims to create a favorable perception of horticulture careers among youth and their influencers. These efforts will increase the skilled workforce in horticulture and develop a strong pipeline of future talent.  Learn More

Shed Some Light on Indoor Growing

If you’re like most garden centers around the country, you’ve probably seen a good boost in indoor plant sales over the last year or two. If you’re doing your due diligence and following plant trends on Instagram, then you’ll also know there’s a big indoor green wave enveloping many younger plant consumers. Indoor plant parenting and collecting is in. Plant collectors are filling their spaces...Read More

Take Stock of Sexual Harassment Policies

Check any news outlet today, and you’re almost certain to hear about a new sexual misconduct scandal involving an executive, politician or entertainer. I don’t know about you, but I’ve lost count of the number of alleged harassers. The allegations are nothing short of shocking, ranging from offensive acts of sexual harassment to criminal acts of sexual assault. In response, a multitude of corporations...Read More

Top Plant Performers: Midwest Region

We did not get to test our trials for drought tolerance much, as central Iowa received significant rain this season. Celosia argentea ‘Asian Garden’ was planted in several locations and appeared as a welcome volunteer in others. Lack of rain or irrigation did not slow the growth or blooms on this recent All-America Selections winner — it was still happy when the zinnias around it were starting to droop. Read More

Family Matters

Family-owned businesses can be both a blessing and a curse. On the blessing side, they generate wealth, create jobs and often prioritize serving their communities, donating their time or resources to better the areas surrounding their companies. On the flip side, family relationships can suffer damage so severe it can rip a business — and the family — apart. Additionally, contentious or preferential...Read More

Trialed & New

What qualities define a well-performing plant? Fortunately for the horticulture industry and end consumers, growers, breeders, universities and botanical gardens employ trial garden managers who monitor the progress of numerous varieties in their gardens, and welcome visitors to observe plants’ performance for themselves. Some of the attributes they look for include drought...Read More

Farm Bill 2018 Includes Wins For Greenhouse Growers

On Wednesday, Dec. 12, Congress sent its approved 2018 Farm Bill legislation to the desk of President Trump, who has until Dec. 22 to sign it. It’s expected that Trump will enact the legislation into law, and once that happens, the 2018 Farm Bill will be the first to pass in the same year it was legislated since 1990, when President George H.W. Bush signed the 1990 Farm Bill. The 2018 Farm Bill cleared...Read More

Find Your Brand Ambassadors

BRAND AMBASSADORS ARE defined as people enlisted to represent a company in a positive light, and by doing so, help to increase brand awareness and sales. Finding the right brand ambassador who fits these criteria and complements your business is the key to a successful partnership. One company that has actively recruited brand ambassadors is GrowIt!, a social gardening...Read More

Bayer Committed to Transparency 

Today, Bayer marks the first anniversary of its Transparency Initiative, designed to enhance trust in the science behind crop protection products. As another important milestone in the company’s efforts to make science more accessible, Bayer is making available more than 300 study summaries on the safety of glyphosate on its dedicated transparency platform. “Trust in the integrity of...Read More

EPA and Army Propose New "Waters of the United States" Definition

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) are proposing a clear, understandable, and implementable definition of “waters of the United States” that clarifies federal authority under the Clean Water Act. Unlike the Obama administration's 2015 definition of “waters of the United States,” today’s proposal contains a straightforward definition...Read More   Fact Sheet

Tropical Plant Retailer Sells Domain to, Inc.

Glenn Stokes, owner of Stokes Tropicals in Jeanerette, La., has been a tropical plants enthusiast for decades. He has offered tropical plants online since 1996 through Stokes Tropicals, his mission being that “wonderful, exotic tropical plants should be available and accessible to everyone,” including “the average gardener,” according to the company's website. As retirement...Read More

Congress Delays Possible Vote on H-2B Reforms for 2 Weeks

Last Friday, Dec. 7, funding for several federal agencies was due to run out unless Congress passed a set of appropriations bills, which we hoped would contain reforms to the H-2B guest worker program. Unfortunately, the death of former President George H. W. Bush and his state funeral last week brought official activity in Washington to a halt. Congress decided to defer action...Read More

The Power and Potential of Retail

Stats shared during the National Retail Federation’s 2018 Big Show revealed the importance and relevance of brick-and-mortar retail and the motivations of shoppers. Bobbie Schwartz wants gardeners to be successful in beautifying their outdoor living spaces. She also has ideas for how garden centers can help customers achieve their gardening goals. In her book, “Garden Renovation...Read More

English Gardens Acquires Plymouth Nursery

English Gardens, No. 10 on Garden Center magazine’s Top 100 Independent Garden Centers list, has acquired Plymouth Nursery in Plymouth, Michigan. The announcement was made jointly by John Darin, president of English Gardens; and Jeff Jones, owner of Plymouth Nursery. This marks English Gardens sixth location in the Metro Detroit area. The family-owned company currently operates...Read More

2019 Garden Trends: Finding Joy in Nature

The future for gardening looks joyful and holds a connection to Mother Nature that just may be the saving grace of the planet. This bold prediction comes from Garden Media Group’s 2019 Garden Trends Report: Rooted Together – Reconnecting with the Natural World. The 18th annual report dives deep into the intrinsic connection people have with nature and how banding together is the best defense to protect...Read More

Boxwood Blight Reported in Michigan

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) reported that boxwood blight was detected for the first time in Michigan. Three separate locations in Oakland County located the disease, including a landscape firm, a homeowner’s yard and in holiday wreaths being sold at a retail store. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer...Read More

Senate Approves Farm Bill

After months of debate, the Senate approved a farm bill on Tuesday. The Senate voted 87-13 in favor of the legislation, the details of which were released Monday evening after months of closed-door negotiations. The bill now heads to the House, where a vote is expected this week. The bipartisan agreement between Republicans and Democrats on this crucial piece of legislation caps a months-long...Read More

A Fresh Start

When Adrienne Simmons reviews applications for seasonal positions at Kaw Valley Greenhouses, she does not immediately discount candidates who disclose previous criminal convictions. Instead, she makes hiring decisions on a case-by-case basis. “We recognize that people have made mistakes in their past, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be good employees,” says Simmons, HR manager...Read More

Grow with Gunder: How to Get Home by 5

All of us at The Grow Group enjoyed an exciting few days of presenting, learning and having fun at GIE last month. One of the talks I delivered was called “Home by 5,” and we had a packed house for it. Why? Because we’re all struggling to juggle the demands of work and time away. We all feel as if there’s not enough time in the day to get done what we need to, and we all want to be home by 5 p.m. with...Read More

5 Steps to Creating a Five-Year Marketing Plan

When tasked with providing a path to a five-year marketing strategy for this month’s issue, the classic interview question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” immediately came to mind. Now, if you and I happen to be personally acquainted, then you may know I often throw many conventional rules out the window when it comes to things like hiring, business strategy and marketing. So, attempting to answer...Read More

The Demand for Dialogue

Not so long ago, most people in the workplace received feedback once a year during a performance review. An employee didn’t expect a development plan, a career track or anyone to take an interest in his or her professional growth. That responsibility was often a solo activity. In fact, as recently as a couple of decades ago, there wasn’t a great deal of help on the road to career success, and most people...Read More

2019 Pantone Color of the Year - 16-1546 Living Coral

Vibrant, yet mellow PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral embraces us with warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy in our continually shifting environment. In reaction to the onslaught of digital technology and social media increasingly embedding into daily life, we are seeking authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy. Sociable and spirited, the engaging...Read More

10 Things to Include in Your Employee Handbook

One of the main functions of an employee handbook is to set expectations across the board that apply to all employees. Patrick McGuiness, an attorney representing green industry businesses, says you can’t just assume your workers have read the handbook because you’ve given it to them. An effective employee handbook should offer guidance for staff of every level, and provide a unifying mission statement...Read More

Study Helps Predict Which Plants Become Invasive

Jane Molofsky is a professor of plant biology at the University of Vermont. In the beginning of November 2018, she worked along side an international team of researchers that published a paper in Nature Communications that took a closer look at why certain plants become invasive. What they found was that certain plants species that are able to occupy...Read More

Manners in Modern-Day Retail

As an army brat, I grew up overseas, unlike my Louisiana-born-and-raised parents and extended family. While I may not have grown up in their southern culture, my parents made one thing abundantly clear when it came to southern hospitality: Always be a good hostess. That’s our job in retail, really — to be good hostesses and hosts. Otherwise, our guests aren’t going to feel at home enough to look...Read More

Be Careful With Your Content

Why should you fertilize in the fall? According to one fertilizer distributor’s website, fall fertilizer helps turf “store carbohydrates in colons, crowns and rhinezones (sic).” Say, what? When it comes to content marketing, quality varies. Some content is garbled garbage assembled from copied-and-pasted bits. It hopes to impress prospects with “knowledge” that will hopefully result in a quick...Read More

Ahead of the Curve

For most nurseries considering automating a part of their production process, the most important question is simple: what does it cost? But at Willowbend Nurseries, the most important question is different: “How many guys am I going to need through the year if I buy that machine?” says Chad Unger, operations manager of the Perry, Ohio, wholesale grower. “Some can save...Read More

Direct Mail Isn't Dead

Joy Gendusa, CEO of Postcardmania, a marketing company that specializes in lead generation, says using a direct mail campaign is feasible for anyone in the green industry. From irrigation professionals to mow and blow companies, owners can approach this type of marketing from a DIY perspective or hire a company that specializes in these types of campaigns. Read More

Guys in the Garden Center

For years—as long as I’ve been in this industry and that’s 15 years—we’ve focused heavily on the affluent female aged 45 to 65, as that was the conventional wisdom of who shopped independent garden centers. Recently, however, we’ve started to see somewhat of a shift in the demographics of shoppers and it’s something worth noting. Based on recent survey data from the National Gardening...Read More

Breaking Barriers

Maria Costa-Smith should be an NFL coach. You can picture her on the sidelines during a game, all 5 ft., 2 in. of her petite frame, headset on, playbook in hand, determined look on her face, making the tough decisions and calling the right plays. She’s got all of the qualities that a good coach should have: a strong history and passion for the game (in this instance, the hort game); the ability to motivate...Read More

Helping Others Overcome Adversity

Are your employees, clients and neighbors loyal to you and your company? My father taught me a lesson years ago that really stuck with me, that will help you grow their loyalty. Here is a very short video to explain how to create loyalty by helping others overcome adversity. It is a good message for this time of the year. Watch Video

Filling Your Shoes

“Succession is a fact. It’s going to happen sooner or later to every family business,” Matthias says. That includes those that don’t have a next generation to take over. But fear not: the process for that kind of succession plan is almost identical to family succession. The big difference is that you get to choose your replacement.

4 Political Issues American Hort's Tal Coley is monitoring in 2019

The 2018 U.S. midterm elections are behind us, and the makeup of Congress has changed, but AmericanHort director of government affairs Tal Coley says the organization’s goals remain the same. “I think we'll still be able to get a lot of things done, primarily because we have champions on both sides of the aisle,” he says. “I think as a trade association, you never want to gravitate toward...Read More

What Message are You Sending?

What’s your stance on breaks? Do you believe they are crucial and helpful, that they improve employee morale, job satisfaction, creativity and productivity? That individuals, particularly those laboring in the heat, need recovery time? Or, do you see breaks as a necessary evil? Think back to your previous jobs. How were breaks and meals managed? Did the rules apply consistently...Read More 

Retail Outlook for 2019 Positive

In 2018, several major retailers, including Toys R' Us, Mattress Firm, Nine West, Claire's and Sears filed for bankruptcy. Every other day we're seeing headlines about the end of retail as we know it, or how Millennials have killed yet another beloved retailer. The news is chock-full of articles about iconic retailers like, Macy's, Foot Locker and Rite Aid (to name a few), closing stores. This ongoing chatter of the retail apocalypse...Read More

Determining Design

When it comes to creating a functional and beautiful outdoor oasis, structures like decks, pergolas, pavilions and fences offer plenty of design options. “I ask homeowners a lot of questions when we first meet. You have to get a sense of what makes your clients tick,” says Joshua Dean, landscape designer with Wheat’s Landscape in Virginia, Maryland, and the suburban...Read More

Do You Know Your Metrics?

Industry consultant Ian Baldwin says when he travels the country, the question he most often gets asked is, “How are other retailers doing?” It’s part of the reason he partnered with (developed by industry vets Kellee [Magee] O’Reilly and Corey Bordine), so retailers can answer that question for themselves. Through the new Five Numbers Project, which is...Read More

How to Leave Good Voicemail Messages

Have you listened to your voicemail message on your personal phone and/or office? What do your clients hear before they leave their message? When you leave messages on other peoples voice mail what do they sound like? The Harvesters are going to give you some excellent tips so listen carefully and make any needed changes. Learn More

Garden Center Promotions and Marketing

Data from our State of the Industry surveys reveal just how much garden center marketing has changed in the past five years. In 2013, 68% of retailers reported they were using social media platforms. That number has steadily increased over the years, and this year, 90% of IGCs are using social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram or others to connect with potential customers online...Read More 

Next Gen Mindset

A spot on the local news gathered a few pieces of technology from decades past—a Sony Walkman, a pager, film, a floppy disc, an old TV “clicker”—and showed them to school-aged kids of today to see if they knew what purpose each item served. Hilarity ensued. The kids ranged in age from maybe five to 12—members of Generation Z or the newest group, Generation Alpha. Read More

An Evolving Nursery Market

Despite a fairly steady nursery market, with close to half of responders reporting increased profits this year compared to 2017, 2018 saw some high-profile closures and bankruptcies. However, two heavy hitters in the market — DCA Outdoor and TreeTown USA — have been acquiring operations across the nation this year. In June 2018, Gardens Alive! announced that it was seeking...Read More

Dissecting the Dollars

Get a better idea of how you compare nationally when it comes to pricing and pay. Obviously, we know you need to adjust to your local market when it comes to pricing and pay, but over this next handful of pages, you can get a better idea of how you compare nationally through our 2018 Benchmarking Your Business Report.  One note about this year’s report: the survey is sent randomly to our readers...Read More

Proposed H-2B Rule Modernizes Employee Recruitment Process

The Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Department of Labor, has published a joint notice of proposed rule making that would modernize recruitment requirements for employers seeking H-2B nonimmigrant workers. The H-2B program allows U.S. employers or U.S. agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill...Read More

5 Strategies for Overcoming Labor Challenges in the Greenhouse

Based on feedback from Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Growers survey, 89% of growers say labor is a top concern, and 82% say the availability of skilled labor is an issue, too. About 20% of these growers are using the H-2A program, and 47% of the Top 100 say they will look into guest worker programs in the coming year. Read More

The Inventiveness of Nursery Growers

Recently, Bennett’s Creek Nursery in Smithfield has focused more on the quality of their water, said CEO Matt Sawyer. And in order to address the need for more control over their irrigation system, they installed a high-tech pumphouse, complete with sand filtration, acid injection for pH, chlorine injection for sanitizing and fertilizer injection. Read More

Young Blood

If you want to keep your Millennial workers, you’ll have to start thinking like one. Here are five tips from a panel with young professionals at LANDSCAPES 2018, the National Association of Landscape Professionals’ educational event held during GIE+EXPO. Read More

Selling Succulents as Holiday Plants

Even if the weather outside is never frightful, and there’s no white Christmas in sight, people still love decorating their homes for the winter holidays. In mild climates, “decking the halls” is tradition, and consumers are looking for the best ways to brighten up their indoor and outdoor areas. Shannon Kuhrt, vice president of M&M Wintergreens Inc., based in Cleveland, Ohio, says the demand for traditional...Read More

States Untangle Dicamba Rules

Just how complex will dicamba use be in 2019? So complex that the three new dicamba labels released by EPA last week are each around 40 pages long and accompanied by nearly 200 pages of documents detailing the herbicides' registration requirements and their potential impacts on the general population, farmers and endangered species. States are working overtime to interpret...Read More

Employees Your Business Can’t do Without

“Congratulations on your new beginning” read the card accompanying a beautiful bouquet of flowers my friend recently received from her husband. What a magnificent way to celebrate a new job, don’t you think? Only thing is, she wasn’t starting a new job. She had just learned that her division, along with her job of 23 years, was being phased out. “What a sweet message that provided just the right...Read More

ONLA Hosts More than 200 Students in Annual Landscape Olympics

The Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association hosted 230 future workers, managers, and owners in the industry during its third annual academic competition on Nov. 1 and 2. Nufarm Turf & Ornamentals served as the leading sponsor for the Ohio High School Landscape Olympics, a hands-on competition at The Ohio State University Agriculture Technical Institute in Wooster. Read More

Beyond Damaging Crops, Dicamba is Dividing Communities

John and Lisa Zuhlke used to get along well with their neighbor of 10 years. Before they began raising more than 350 varieties of heirloom vegetables and honey on their five-acre operation in Aurora, South Dakota, two years ago, they maintained an amicable relationship with the soybean grower next door. He would scoop snow from their driveway and road and let them hunt his land...Read More

What's Your Paycheck?

You assume great risk. You provide jobs that support others’ families. You can’t remember the last time you only worked a 40-hour week. As an owner, you deserve to get paid at least what you’d make as an employee at another landscape company. Don’t you? “We take a lot of risks every day as owners, and to not pay yourself regularly is a mistake,” says Karl Schottler, who started...Read More

Sonny Perdue Praises Proposed Department of Labor Rulemaking for H-2A Visas

On Nov. 8, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue praised proposed rulemaking by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), which could help growers advertise job openings to domestic workers as required under the H-2A visa program. The DOL rulemaking would require that employers seeking to hire temporary workers post the employment opportunities online, rather than in expensive...Read More

Package Deal

There are loyalty programs for everything from hotels to restaurants that reward customers for making purchases. It only makes sense for customers to take advantage of these perks for things they are already going to buy. But what about mower fleet loyalty programs? Should landscapers consider a rewards program or purchasing their entire fleet from one mower manufacturer? Read More

OSHA's Most Cited Violations of 2018

The annual National Safety Council Congress & Expo is being held this week, and with it comes the annual release of OSHA’s most cited violations for fiscal year 2018. For the eighth straight year, fall protection –general requirements (1926.501) is OSHA’s most frequently cited standard, according to Safety and Health Magazine. The rest of the top five – hazard communication (1910.1200), scaffolding...Read More

Small Box Retail

A monthly subscription is the gift that keeps giving all year. From makeup and razors to food, drinks and dog toys, there are subscription boxes in every product category you can imagine. According to research from McKinsey & Company, 15 percent of online shoppers have subscribed to receive products on a recurring basis. So, could a plant of the month club work for your garden center? Read More

More Than Dust in the Wind

Business owners and managers are often suspicious of new regulations. This skepticism is often based on the sheer number of new enforcement actions that are introduced on an annual basis. For concrete and demolition recyclers, a pending United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation regarding airborne silica dust has been among the industry’s most...Read More

Native Plants: A One-Size-Fits-All Solution?

Living and gardening in a state such as Texas teaches you a few lessons about adaptability. Most important of these lessons is that growing conditions are never easy, so your plants had better be tough. Sometimes that means a native plant, sometimes it doesn’t. Texas ranks first in the U.S. for its frequency and types of natural disasters. Drought may not be one of the quickest or dramatic of such disasters...Read More

Utilization of Lighting for Safety Purposes

Besides utilizing lights in the landscape to illuminate aesthetic qualities or enhance security, lights can, and should, serve an integral part of providing safety as well. It could be considered common knowledge that a well lit public area reduces crime and thus, in-turn, increases safety. Riding on that same train-of-thought, an adequately lit landscape, whether it is public or private, can be a simple tactic...Read More

USDA Debuts Emerald Ash Borer Interactive Map

The USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has developed a new interactive tool to explain the story of emerald ash borer (EAB) in the U.S. The ‘Story Map of EAB’ includes pictures and details of symptoms of EAB infestations and an interactive map illustrating the spread of EAB from 2002, when it arrived in Michigan, through its current status in 2018. Read More

How Important are Pollinators to Your Business? Bee Counted!

The National Pollinator Garden Network (NPGN), a unique collaboration of conservation, garden trade, and civic groups is closing in on the goals of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge. Co-founders include AmericanHort, National Garden Association, National Gardening Bureau, National Wildlife Federation, Pollinator Partnership, and American Public Gardens Association. The NPGN is developing a report that will be released in early 2019 that shows how the public and the garden industry have responded to the plight of pollinators and monarchs. Your input is needed. Complete the Survey

Gardening on Demand

Each year when I’m asked to weigh in on the state of the garden center industry for this special issue, I pause for a moment and consider how to best deliver opinions that are useful. While it’s tempting to want to cheerlead, regardless of realities, that’s not really my style. So, here it is: modernize is the name of the game right now. If you aren’t quickly adapting, you’re going to get...Read More 

Recruiting Strategies That Work

Here’s a frightening thought: It’s all up to you! The company’s future growth and success are directly proportionate to your ability to hire and retain talented, productive employees. Yikes! This is easier said than done in today’s intensely competitive job market, which has fewer people who are willing to perform manual labor. With fewer candidates available in the job market, employers...Read More

High Performance: Recruiting in a Tight Labor Market

When employers are struggling to fill open positions, it becomes even more important to be very selective during the hiring process. This may seem counterintuitive, but let me explain. Do you remember a time when it was relatively easy to fill an open position? I sure do. I recall looking through a stack of applications whenever a position opened up. At that time, I had zero concern about not being able...Read More

EPA Dicamba Ruling Raises Spirits, Questions, and Concerns

Mixed reactions reign following new rules issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last night for the use of dicamba formulations in dicamba-tolerant crops in the Roundup Ready Xtend System. Companies manufacturing and marketing the products — including Bayer Crop Science and BASF — are pleased. University and Extension weed scientists have questions and concerns...Read More

Crafting the Right Management Team

When companies start small, Bill Silverman, owner of Springboard Business Coaching, said managers are like 80s TV hero MacGyver. “He had this skill to solve problems with his creativity and ingenuity,” Silverman said. “I think MacGyver is a model of what a small business is. You have to be able to do everything from accounting to finance to the actual landscaping.” Once a business grows...Read More

Preparing your Hardscape Employees and Business for Success

With labor still ranking as a top challenge in the industry, Jerry Gaeta, owner of J. Gaeta Business Planning said contractors need to focus on the good workers they already have. “We sell time and professionalism, field labor is your greatest asset,” Gaeta said. He offered several tips to better utilize your employees...Read More

A Long-Term Energy Outlook

Worldwide crude oil prices will average $73 a barrel (b) in 2018 and $74/b in 2019, according to the Short-Term Energy Outlook by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In August 2018, global oil prices averaged $73/b—about $1 a barrel lower than in July. Prices are easing after traders bid them higher in response to the November 2017 OPEC meeting when the oil...Read More

U.S. Department of Labor Proposes Protecting American Workers by Requiring Advertising Jobs Online

To make it easier for Americans to find and fill open jobs, the U.S. Department of Labor today announced a proposal for employers seeking temporary labor certifications through the H-2B and H-2A visa programs to advertise jobs online. Under current rules, an employer advertising a job for which it seeks a temporary labor certification must publish two print advertisements in a newspaper...Read More

11 Ways

Machines can be the answer, yes … and to more than just the “How do I reduce labor?” question. In fact, over the years, we at GrowerTalks have identified 11 different ways that you can justify an equipment investment, both immediately and over the long haul. This article covers those 11 ways; in addition, we’ve talked to three greenhouse operators with plenty of automation experience—Suzie Raker...Read More

Stachys ‘Hummelo' Named 2019 Perennial Plant of the Year

The Perennial Plant Association has awarded the title Perennial Plant of the Year 2019 to Stachys ‘Hummelo’. Stunning in massed plantings, and popular with designers, this late June-July bloomer is as trouble-free and dependable as it is eye-catching. Selected and introduced by famed German grower Ernst Pagels in the late 1990’s, this perennial further gained popularity as it was used by...Read More

Save Water, Save Money

In locations where water is limited or the price of water is high, the value of conserving and recirculating nutrient solutions are important factors in the irrigation system design. In this article, we present two case studies of the benefits of recirculating nutrient solutions in greenhouses producing ornamentals in containers.  Read More

Department of Labor Announces New H-2A forms

On Oct. 25, the Department of Labor published a 60-day notice in the Federal Register announcing its intent to revise application forms, instructions, and other information collected under the H-2A temporary agricultural visa program. This is the beginning of a larger roll-out of H-2A administrative reforms from the DOL in cooperation with the Departments of Agriculture and Homeland Security. The proposed revisions...Read More

Communication in the Age of OmniChannel

Communications to retail customers before ecommerce meant selling one thing to many people using the same message. Omnichannel retail (in a post-ecommerce world) is selling one thing to one person through a continuous, personalized flow of communications across multiple channels from first point of contact with a customer to the point-of-sale (with that one customer)—and beyond. In truth, “SELLING” is superseded...Read More

GIE+EXPO Continues to Grow

The 2018 GIE+EXPO broke records again this year. The show, held Oct. 17-19 at the Kentucky Expo Center, topped the last four years' records in both attendance and exhibitors, making it the largest ever. In fact, it's one of the largest tradeshows in the U.S. More than 24,7000 people from around the world attended, representing a 3 percent increase over 2017. And with 1,000 exhibits, the indoor show...Read More

State of the Industry 2018 - Explore the Possibilities

As the industry struggles to find and retain quality labor, it’s critical that growers discover ways to become more efficient. In our exclusive 2018 State of the Industry survey, more than three quarters of responders said that labor was the greatest problem facing the industry in 2019. Increased expenses came in as the second-greatest problem followed by weather. Read More

Chalet Honors the Life of Lawrence J. Thalmann, Jr.

Lawrence J. Thalmann, Jr., 88, son of Chalet’s founder Lawrence J. Thalmann and second-generation co-owner of Chalet, Wilmette, Ill., passed away last month, leaving a thriving business and legacy of beauty that spans generations. Last year, Thalmann, Jr., together with Larry, his son and current Chalet president, celebrated the company’s 100th year in business, a milestone that positions...Read More

NALP Attends White House Workforce Event

The National Association of Landscape Professionals, along with five other associations, recently attended the Our Pledge to America's Workers event at the White House. NALP was chosen to attend the exclusive event to reiterate its commitment to grow the lawn and landscape industry and expand training opportunities for more than 150,000 people over the next five years. Read More

Waste of Space

Because greenhouse production is highly capital-intensive, it’s important to know exactly how full your greenhouse is on a weekly basis. Empty greenhouse space increases the cost of plants grown in that space because overhead costs—for example, depreciation and heating—have to be divided into fewer plant products sold. Increasing “space-use efficiency” (the proportion of your production...Read More

Nature Rambles | A New Invasive Species

It’s not everyday that I get stumped when I’m out in nature, but every once in a while, I see something that I have no idea what it is. A few weeks ago, Peoria Park District staff and volunteers were out working on the hill prairie in Forest Park South, along the Pimiteoui Trail. It is a nice little hill prairie with several species of native plants. We happened to be there when the goldenrods, asters and blazing...Read More

Working Wonders

There was a time, up until 2006 or 2007, when Robinson Nursery in McMinnville, Oregon would lay off at least 30 percent of its workforce every year, just after the fall season and heading into winter. Back then, the nursery industry’s labor pool included a significant amount of migrant workers, and the business itself was much more seasonal than it is today. Read More

Web Marketing Ideas for Landscape Design Firms

Growing your landscape design business is vital to your firm’s longevity. There are lots of options when it comes to promoting your brand, and you could spend plenty of time trying to figure out which ones to pursue. However, you’re busy running your business, so we’re sharing some great web marketing ideas to boost your business. Read More

EPA Announces Changes To Dicamba Registration

Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is extending the registration of dicamba for two years for “over-the-top” use (application to growing plants) to control weeds in fields for cotton and soybean plants genetically engineered to resist dicamba. This action was informed by input from and extensive collaboration between EPA, state regulators, farmers...Read More

The 'Tangled Root Ball'

Each June, family business owners interview with a panel of peers to compete in the Excellence in Family Business Awards. Judges consistently ask each CEO how they carve out time for their family. To date, the most memorable — and perhaps practical — “policy” came from a father with three very accomplished sons. He replied, “If my boys and I start talking about business...Read More

Fall for Perennials

I can hear you now: “Paul’s on his soap box, pushing fall perennials again.” And my response is, “And why not?” Whether you’re a grower or retailer, I can’t imagine any business who wouldn’t mind extending their sales windows or generating more sales revenue. If these are of interest to you, please read on—I have two approaches to marketing perennials in the fall I’d like to run by you. Read More

The New ICE Age

It’s a myth that the only reason why any employer would hire foreign workers it because it’s “cheap labor.” There’s absolutely no incentive for any employer to hire a foreign worker over a U.S.-born worker. It’s at least three to four times more expensive to hire a foreign worker over a U.S. worker due to legal fees, government filing fees, advertising costs, and consular fees and transportation costs. Read More

Tracking Technology

The green industry has certainly come a long way during the 24 years that I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of it. It’s amazing to see how technology has influenced its direction. Irrigation controllers, for example. The days of electromechanical time-based irrigation controllers like the Rain Bird RC-7 are certainly in the past. When these controllers first came out, they were ahead of their time...Read More

The Case for Better Plant Labels at Garden Centers

A few months ago, I was walking through the houseplant section at my garden center, and I saw a customer frowning. She was holding a Peperomia and was clearly unhappy. I don’t normally work in that section of store, but after seeing her face, I stopped to ask if I could be of assistance. “You can tell me what this is,” she responded. “The tag only says ‘Tropical Plant,’ and that doesn’t tell me anything.” I sighed...Read More

The Workforce Shortage is Real...Here's How the Green Industry Plans to Cope

The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), through the Industry Growth Initiative, recently held a Workforce Development and Recruitment Summit at its office in Fairfax, Virginia, to address the industry’s workforce shortage. Approximately 50 attendees from major regional green industry associations, as well as experts from other major industries, attended the event...Read More

People Problems

With labor topping the list of concerns in the industry for several years running, immigration and the visiting worker program are also coming to the forefront of worries for contractors. Immigration and customs enforcement arrests increased overall by 30 percent last year compared to 2016, with a total of 143,470 arrests, according to the last fiscal year’s ICE Enforcement and Removal...Read More

Beyond Mow and Blow: New Approaches to Park Maintenance

“How can we make maintenance sexier and more fun?” This was the question moderator Joey Hays, ASLA, posed to the crowd at the ASLA 2018 Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, in a session entitled “the disturbing pleasures of maintenance: audacious strategies for public parks,” which sought to address the increasingly-fraught issue of public parks maintenance...Read More

Not Big Brother

There’s one big mistake contractors make when it comes to implementing GPS systems: communication. GPS tracking can help companies manage fuel costs, routing, driver safety and job times, but if you don’t get employees on board, the whole system falls apart. If crew members are suspicious of a new GPS tracking system, it will be hard to use the software to its full potential. Explaining...Read More

Dale Bachman Plans to be More Present, Stay Connected to Industry After Retirement

In February, Dale Bachman, CEO of Bachman’s, based in Minneapolis, Minn., announced he was retiring Oct. 20, 2018, after a 46-year career working at the company his great grandparents founded 133 years ago. Bachman, a fourth-generation owner, will still resume his responsibilities as chairman of the board for the company, which operates retail locations in the Twin Cities, including six full-service...Read More

Responding to Wage & Hour Investigations: Advice for Nursery & Landscape Employers

AmericanHort offers the following guidance for its members regarding U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) investigations by the Wage & Hour Division (“WHD”). In recent months, there has been a marked increase in WHD investigations, particularly in the nursery and landscape industry, and recent public announcements by Labor Secretary Acosta signal further increases in the degree...Read More

Staying On Track

Pruitt Lawn Service has grown substantially in the last decade, now with 25 full-time employees and 10 trucks in the field servicing mostly commercial accounts, primarily HOAs in the Athens, Georgia, area. Founder Bill Pruitt, who started the business 33 years ago, has always been a hands-on guy. “Bill makes trips out every day with his crews,” says Lacey Pruitt, office manager. Read More

The Five Numbers Garden Retailers Should Be Using

Traveling the country working with independent garden retailers, I know that owners and managers constantly wonder how their year compares with that of their peers 300 or even 3,000 miles away. The fear of falling behind industry standards is understandable when you are working hard in your own trenches. It’s easy to feel isolated. I get asked a lot, “what are you hearing this year, how are others doing?”...Read More

Shifting Gears

Since the beginning of time, we humans have innovated, inventing tools and machines to help us accomplish tasks more quickly and precisely. And whether it’s the Stone Age or 2018 A.D., the primary goal has been the same — to save the amount of time and manpower that must be expended. In today’s economy, when it’s hard to find workers to perform manual labor, getting the most from the ones...Read More

Gather Around the Fire

There’s nothing necessarily new with fire, so you might not hear contractors buzzing about trends. But by embracing the timeless, primal allure of fire to add warmth and ambiance to any outdoor space, contractors are finding hot growth opportunities in this niche. "Our love of fire is instinctual. We’ve enjoyed being around fire since the beginning of time,” says Scott Cohen, garden artisan and owner...Read More

What to Do When the Phone Won’t Stop Ringing

Accepting every new client who comes your way might seem like a quick way to make more money, but in the long run, it often leads to stretching crews thin on time and resources. That’s why Nick Cooper said he turns down roughly 95 percent of new business leads each day. The Greathouse Company business development manager told a LANDSCAPES 2018 audience that it’s essential...Read More

Rules of the Shipping Game

In late August, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that it was exploring measures to provide flexibility for Hours of Service (HOS) rules. (Note that even with the new Electronic Logging Device [ELD] mandates, the HOS rules never changed.) According to AmericanHort, the agency issued an advance notice...Read More

The four areas that are being considered for

Bailey Nurseries to Acquire Carlton Plants

Bailey Nurseries is acquiring Carlton Plants as of Oct. 31. As a continuation of its principle of Growing What’s Next, Bailey places a strong focus on supplying the grower market with top quality plants supported by excellent service. Integrating one of the industry’s most well-respected bareroot growers into the Bailey organization offers customers an expanded product portfolio...Read More

Great Ideas: Improve Your Time Management

“Until We Can Manage Time, We Can Manage Nothing Else.” These words of wisdom come from the late, great management guru Peter Drucker, and for me they really hit home. Because while there are many strategies for improving your business, you won’t succeed at any of them if you don’t first figure out how to manage your time, and your team’s time, well. Read More

Keep Your Millennials

As Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers all learn how to work together, it’s key to understand how company culture is changing. At a panel discussion at LANDSCAPES in Louisville, Kentucky, on Friday, three members of the National Association of Landscape Professionals Young Professionals group discussed what they look for in a workplace. Read More

New Terrain - Debbie's Green Infrastructure Frames

I’ve rarely included my opinion in this space, but since this is my last issue, here are just a few thoughts that frame my thinking on the future of green infrastructure. I see an emergent way of developing landscape spaces that is in flux. Existing disciplines are competing for position, and new players are entering, seeking to define a new industry. Policy is pushing green infrastructure. Read More

Boxwood Blight Found in Indiana

The DNR Division of Entomology & Plant Pathology has discovered that a shipment of boxwood plants infected with boxwood blight was shipped to Indiana in May. This is important because boxwood blight (Calonectria pseudonaviculata) is a fungal disease that infests members of the popular Buxaceae family, and is often transported through the nursery trade. Hosts...Read More

Using Science to Sell

Consumers are fickle. Dr. Charlie Hall, professor and Ellison Chair in International Floriculture at Texas A&M University, articulated this during his keynote at Cultivate’18 in Columbus, Ohio, when discussing the consumer confidence index and why the economic indicator has its limitations. It’s something independent garden centers are keenly aware of, too, but to succeed...Read More

Lawn & Landscape Shines a Spotlight on Decades of Leadership

Four new green industry professionals were inducted into the Lawn & Landscape’s Leadership Class of 2018, and, for the second consecutive year acknowledged an industry up and comer. The Lawn & Landscape Leadership Awards, sponsored by Syngenta, are given annually to those in the green industry who have had a positive effect in the world of landscaping and lawn care. Read More

How to Know You’re Compliant With HR Issues

When NALP General Counsel Richard Lehr pulled up a chair and table to discuss common labor law issues at Landscapes 2018, he ran through a list of seven typical problems that arise in human resources. At his presentation at Landscapes 2018, there was no slideshow or formal presentation. The session was more of a hands-on exercise than it was anything else...Read More

Profit Power: Partner-Leadership Trumps Command-and-Control

In today’s global economy, even the world of landscaping is being affected. The world has become more transparent and the rate of change has increased around us. To succeed in this fast environment, the leaders in your company need to have more control over their work environment and more authority to make decisions. They need to have the power of a partner...Read More

2018 PPA Includes Inside Look at Amazon

This past July, the Perennial Plant Symposium was held in the Raleigh, N.C., area for the first time since 1997. During the event, which took place July 30 through Aug. 3, both established professionals and the next generation were recognized, Amazon’s lead horticulturist presented information about the retail giant’s plant-oriented space in downtown Seattle, and attendees toured several...Read More

Hard-Learned Lessons

It’s true in sports and it’s true in business: individuals win games, but teams win championships. Ross Bernstein, best-selling sports author and Fortune 500 award-winning speaker, shared his insights from years of talking with top athletes at the National Association of Landscape Professionals CEO Forum at LANDSCAPES Wednesday morning. It’s the little things you do every day...Read More

Irrigation Foundation Opens Annual Scholarship Submissions

The Irrigation Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2019 scholarship program. The annual program was created in an effort to promote careers in irrigation by providing financial support for the education of worthy scholarship candidates. The scholarships, ranging from $1,000 to $2,500, are awarded based on the candidate’s letter of intent, financial need, resume, list of irrigation...Read More