s I travel around the country to industry events, I am often asked questions that are

Rex Bishop, NALP Director of Technical Education

technical, operational, and hypothetical. How- ever, the most frequent questions are related to determining the best plants for a landscape; identifying diseases, insects or weeds; best time to prune and how to find workers. I’d like to focus on these areas this month.


Plant material changes around the country de- pending on your hardiness zone. What is best in Atlanta is not best in Boston or Kansas City. I recommend that you form a good relationship with your supplier—not a big box store, but a true industry supplier. They can help you select the best plant materials for your situation. Another suggestion is to take a plant identifi- cation course through the local community or technical college or the continuing education division of a university or local school system, if possible. Get a good plant identification book suited for your area and check out the techni- cal tip sheets in the members center of NALP’s website. There are many plant identification sheets that may be of assistance to you.

INSECTS, DISEASES AND WEEDS There are many resources to identify insects, diseases and weeds. First, remember you have a camera in your pocket, so use it to take some good photos of the problem. Then look for re- sources to help with identification and control. The member center of the NALP website has a lot of resources, including weed, disease and insect identification technical tips for turfgrass, trees and shrubs. Also, reach out to the local cooperative ex- tension service in your state for help. They can provide identification help and all you must do is forward them the photos from your phone. They also provide information on control

of any problems in the landscape. Plenty of resources through university extension websites, mobile apps for your phone and your chemical supplier can help as well.

PRUNING, FERTILIZING AND MORE For technical information on a wide range of topics, including pruning and fertilizers, use the technical tips available to you through the NALP website. These can be used as additional resources for your staff training.

RECRUITING QUALITY WORKERS My best advice is to be proactive. Running ads in the paper, on internet job sites, or on Facebook is not enough. I recommend that you take long-term action to improve your hiring practices.

Speak to Scout troops, 4-H and FFA chapters

to recruit future workers. Be involved in your community. Visit local high schools, technical and community colleges with agricultural or horticultural programs. Host a Landscape Career Day at your facilities. Don’t just recruit; use it as an opportunity to inform them of the great work we do as an industry. Let them know about the opportunities for growth and advancement. NALP’s Industry Growth Initiative has facilitated the creation of collateral that can be used by industry companies in employee recruitment. Find career videos, printable handouts and more on NALP’s careers website, If you are having trouble finding workers,

you have to sell your company just like you sell your services. And you need to do it constantly, just like you sell and market your company. Check with the athletic departments. Members of the golf team like to be outdoors, so maybe a lawn care or landscape professional job might be for them. We can’t sit back and wait for the employees to show up. We must be proactive.

My best advice is to be proactive. Running ads in the paper, on internet job sites or on Facebook is not enough. Take long-term action to improve hiring.


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