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Landscapers struggle with lack of rain

Published On: Jun 19 2012 07:33:54 PM CDT   Updated On: Jun 20 2012 11:04:39 AM CDT
MIDDLETON, Wis. -

Sprinklers and hoses are working overtime in southern Wisconsin and summer hasn't even officially started.

The recent dry spell is making it feel like late August, with rainfall so far this month about 2 inches short, officials said.

Mark Neuendorf, of Middleton, has a $4,000 irrigation system that keeps his lawn green even in the dry conditions.

"When you walk barefoot on this, it's great," Neuendorf said. "Much nicer than an un-irrigated lawn. It's soft; it feels great."

But landscaping crews said they are hoping for some rain soon.

"The grass isn't growing," said Steve Olson, co-owner of Olson Toon Landscaping. "It's a problem for us all."

It's prompted the Middleton business to cut half of its seasonal lawn care staff.

"So for our employees who count on this, a seasonal job here in June, they're being laid off," Olson said. "It's devastating for them, and for the economy. Not just my company but in this whole area."

"I'm trying to keep it growing. It's tough in a year like this," said Tom Schwab, superintendent of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's O.J. Noer Facility, where grass is an academic subject. "It just makes you feel good when you see a lush crop of grass."

It's a familiar feeling for Neuendorf, who said keeping a good lawn isn't just another chore -- it's a way of life.

"I just like it, an irrigated lawn," Neuendorf said. "I like the feel of it. Like the looks of it. I like the way it makes my house look." 

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