Striving for low maintenance

You only can achieve maximum productivity and efficiency with forethought and action. Every move you make--or don't make--whether it's a task you perform, decision you make or something that you put off for another day affects circumstances that lie ahead. For instance, plant materials that you select for your site will impact the amount of labor you later must devote to their care. For example, if you choose trees that bear a lot of fruit or nuts you must clean up, they are going to require more care. Annual flower beds are more labor-intensive than wildflowers in the long run. The same principles hold true for pest control. Having the forethought to use pre-emergence herbicides in the beginning of the season will save you a lot of headaches later on. In business, it's usually better to deal with problems immediately, rather than putting them off for another day. In most cases when you do put off the problem, it generally becomes a bigger, more urgent problem that is more difficult to handle. The old adage, "Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today," still holds true. By thinking ahead and putting your plan into action, you realize greater efficiency and productivity. Considering these points, this issue focuses on maintaining efficiently.

As I mentioned, your choice of trees has a great impact on your future labor needs. But you don't have to sacrifice visual impact for the sake of maintenance efficiency. Many trees offer aesthetic appeal, tolerate stressful conditions and require minimal maintenance. Sound too good to be true? Take a look at what Dr. Susan Wiegrefe, researcher at Morton Arboretum, says about minimal-maintenance tree species in "Effortless beauty" (page 14).

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No matter where your site is located, broadleaf weeds are a persistent problem in any turf. Fortunately, many post-emergence, broadleaf herbicides are available to help you combat these weeds. But sometimes logistics, weather or other hurdles prevent you from applying these herbicides at the best time. Have you ever considered pre-emergence broadleaf herbicides? Applied in the fall, these pre-emergents help you get a jump on broadleaf weeds that could plague you in the spring. Dr. Jeffrey Derr, weed specialist at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, discusses pre-emergents that you can apply in the fall for controlling not only winter annuals but spring-germinating weeds as well. Check out his article on page 44. Speaking of logistics, how efficient would you be without a pickup to get you around in this business? The new 1998 trucks include many new features that will help you be more productive and comfortable on the job. Before you rush off to the nearest truck dealership, see what these new models offer in "1998 Light-duty trucks" (page 28).

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