Lawn Care, Landscaping, And Weather

October 13, 2021 // Article by: Bobby Bianco

If you are in lawn care and landscaping, one of the primary impacts on your business is the weather. Plus, if your company shifts to snow removal in the winter, the weather is your primary source of revenue. Zech Stauser from Strauser Nature's Helper's stopped by our Weatherworks podcast called The Weather Lounge. We covered everything from cutting lawns with robotic lawn mowers to how different weather situations impact his operations. 

First off, we began our discussion with the challenges that come with being a year round service.  For Zech, transitioning from Fall to Winter is the toughest part of the year as the first snow can impact your plans at any point. You have to be ready for it from October through December and there is no guarantee that it even occurs in that 3 month window. Whereas the transition to the green season in spring is a bit easier as you generally know the date of the first mow. If late season snow does interrupt your schedule, it is a pain breaking out the winter gear once again, but the snow typically melts quickly and you'll be back cutting grass in a few days to a week or so. Shifting back to the fall, it's quite challenging managing late season landscaping projects and preparing snow removal equipment at the same time. These overlap every year between September - December and makes for a stressful couple of months.

During the winter, weather can impact your operations in numerous ways, but for Strauser, one of the most important storm factors is the longevity of the snow. The start time, end time, and total duration always dictates most of your operations. These beginning and end times help you decide how many people are needed, when you pull in sidewalk crews, and shift lengths. Any drastic change to these times can throw a wrench into the plan, but quality forecasts and heads-up notifications help minimize the impacts. While timing is king, a large storm with 20 or 30"+ (like February 2021 in the Northeast), creates new challenges for Zech's crew. Instead of scheduling, figuring out where to pile the excess snow on site and if you need to transport it off site becomes top priority. Also, the morale of the crew will also need some attention as many will be working long shifts. Incorporating breaks for much needed sleep in certainly helpful in keeping employees safe and alert when operating equipment.

In active winters like 2020-21, it's inevitable salt supplies will be depleted and sometimes overused, however this excessive use is something Zech is trying to change. "Too much salt in the ecosystem can significantly impact our drinking water". This mainly occurs through run-off during rain storms, which can wash these road chemicals into streams, rivers, and lakes. An alternative solution to this problem is using more eco-friendly materials. This means incorporating liquid chlorides or organics which are safer and use less salt. 

The environment is one of the top concerns for Strauser Nature's Helper's and pushing some equipment to electric has been a goal. In fact, they've even tested electric/robotic mowers that can follow and mow programmed routes, while other workers are trimming hedges/blowing leaves etc. This saves man power, time, and money.

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