Greg Stewart’s love of plants and trees blossomed during his high school job at a local nursery in his hometown of Medford, Ore. But he joined the military upon graduation, determined to see the world.
“I wanted to get away from southern Oregon, but when I got out of the service I realized the Valley wasn’t such a bad place to live,” says Stewart, referring to the lush Rogue Valley, dotted with vineyards and forests. “I came back and worked for the Grange Co-op, assisting customers with landscape and agricultural needs. They put me through turf management classes at the community college.”
Now the sole proprietor of Greenway Spray LLC, based in Eagle Point, Oregon, Stewart handles residential and commercial turf and ornamental spraying, structural pest control and agricultural crop protection applications.
“I went out on my own two years ago and I love it!” notes Stewart. “The difference between working at a store and working at a customer’s house is Night and Day. I spend time with them and get a feel for their expectations. I even know the names of their kids and dogs.”
One of his main customers is Dinsdale Sod Farm in Grants Pass, Ore., which grows turf-type tall fescue for shipment throughout the country.
“Right now, I’m focusing on balancing everything,” says Stewart, who handles all the work with one part-time employee. “I enjoy the agricultural work, but also love working one-on-one with my residential customers.”
Stewart finds that the biggest residential and commercial turf problems in his area are broadleaf weeds and nutsedge. After he puts down a preemergence treatment for general weed control, he comes back in with a postemergence application of Solitare® herbicide. A dual-action, all-in-one product, Solitare controls a combination of crabgrass, sedges and broadleaf weeds.
For spraying weeds on his turf farm account, Stewart finds that Dismiss® herbicide “does a great job” where only nutsedge is a problem. In areas with both nutsedge and annual grasses, he turns to Solitare for full control.
“What’s nice is that Solitare will cover a lot of ground,” adds Stewart. “We have limitations on certain products because of all the vineyards around us. For instance, we can’t use a broadleaf weed control product like 2,4-D near the vineyards. But we can use Solitare — which works extremely well — and we see results in only a few days.”
New Account, New Services
Greenway Spray is expanding into additional services this fall when a new account comes on board: the Jackson County Airport. The main terminal building and parking area encompass about four acres of turf that is in pretty bad shape.
“They have every weed under the sun,” says Stewart. “They’ve been watering several times a day so they have a couple inches of thatch. They have poor, natural clay soils and the pH is out of whack. Plus they fertilize with ammonium sulfate when it’s 100 degrees out…They need a lot of help!”
First, Stewart plans to aerate the airport property to reduce thatch and open up soils for increased gas exchange, water and nutrient availability to the turfgrass root system. He will also provide staff training on turf health. Then, he’ll apply herbicides, including Solitare, in fall and spring for broadleaf weeds and nutsedge.
“It’s exciting to me to conquer the challenges of new accounts like this one,” adds Stewart. “I would encourage anyone to start his own business. I didn’t know if I’d have the motivation to do it, but I definitely do. I’m 46 now and feel like I’m making up for lost time.”