The season is winding down and coming to an end, and with good employees being harder to obtain, many lawn care companies are keeping employees through the winter for fear of losing them to another company or another industry altogether. So now you need to keep them busy—and hopefully making money. Equipment can be repaired and rebuilt, and there will always be some projects at the office, but how do you get more billable hours? There are several things you can do to have some money intake during the winter months.

The winter months are a great time to prune trees and shrubs. When the leaves are off, you can see the structure of trees, which makes it easier to see if there are structural flaws (rubbing branches or dead limbs) that need to be pruned out. Pruning can remove weak or dead wood as well as increase air circulation and light penetration in the canopy. Plus, during the winter, diseases and insects that can enter the tree through open wounds are dormant.

Many companies also offer snow removal and salt application services. While spreading salt for homeowners typically doesn’t require large equipment (a salt spreader is all you need), plowing snow is a different story. You’ll need heavier, more expensive equipment to get started. If you’re looking for an easy solution, there is a plow attachment available for Steel Green ride-on spreaders! The SG Snowplow attachment is a cost-effective way to plow small areas and sidewalks with the equipment you already have. The big issue is that in most areas, snow and ice aren’t a guarantee, so it can be hard to budget and manage snow removal services. Plus, plowable/treatable events are unpredictable. You also have to take into consideration overtime for extended snows. I know of a couple of companies who will simply deliver bags of salt to their homeowner customers just to make a little during a snow/ice event without having to invest in plows and equipment.

Dormant seeding can be done anytime in the winter as long as there isn’t snow on the ground. The freeze and thaw help move grass seed down into the soil profile. It seems that our falls are drier and can make that late summer/early fall seeding less successful. You could move to a dormant seeding schedule and have great success. The one caveat is pushing back your pre-emergent herbicide applications until after you have a few mows on the new turf stand.

Anti-desiccant or anti-transpirant applications on broadleaf evergreens are a great way to protect those plants from winter damage. Plants continue to transpire throughout the winter. However, when the ground is frozen, they cannot take in water through the roots but continue to lose water through their leaves. Needled evergreens are able to adapt to this better than broadleaf evergreens (boxwood, hollies, southern magnolia, some rhododendrons and azaleas, etc). You can treat needled evergreens, too, if there isn’t a waxy bloom on the needle-like blue spruces. This is a great idea on recently planted material. AquaLock is a polymer that helps prevent water loss through the leaves. Apply at a five gallon per hundred gallons of water rate minimum. These applications can be made anytime after leaf drop, but try to get them applied before the soil freezes. Anti-desiccant applications are beneficial to the plant and can help your bottom line.