The green industry is a sharing industry. That's one of the things I appreciate the most about it. If you've got an honest question or concern you can always find someone willing to share what he or she knows on an online forum.
The industry's largest and busiest forums are LawnSite
. Every day thousands of contractors and grounds pros trade ideas on procedures, products and general information on the two sites, including stuff you probably wouldn't think you'd find on an industry site. If you're in the landscape, lawn care or snow & ice management business you need to be a part of the some of the discussions taking place on these two monster sites.
But, there are more specialized forums, too. There are forums for landscapers interested in design/build, irrigation, business, sustainability - you name it.
For example, I've been following a fascinating thread on the Ecological Landscaping Association
Group forum discussing native plants. The specification and incorporation of native plants into residential and commercial landscapes is a trend that will continue to develop and expand due to their heartiness within their native ranges, and because when they're used as landscape plants they require fewer inputs (water, fertilizer and pest controls) than "exotic" species.
Boston-area landscape designer Risa Edelstein started the discussion by writing that she's compiling a list of native plant nurseries and asking forum members to share their favorites with her. As I write this short column the thread contains more than 170 responses with folks from all over North America sharing the names of individual nurseries and outstanding native plantspeople. Or, in some cases, already available local or regional native plant nursery lists and other sources.
Her single simple request resulted in an avalanche of valuable information. There's no doubt in my mind that many people (more than those that have freely shared what they know on the subject) will benefit from the free exchange of ideas and sources.
Apart from the value of what's being shared in this and the other forums, most evident is the great love most of the people participating on these sites have for what they're doing.
Whatever your green industry passion, you won't have to search long to find other equally passionate and helpful individuals eager to trade ideas with you. Join, participate and share in one of the many active industry forums on the Internet. You will find more like-minded friends than you ever imagined there could be.