How to Buy Lawn Care Services
You want a nice lawn and are considering hiring a service provider. It could be for your kids and pets to play on. It could be a lawn to be proud of. It could also be for your neighbors to envy.
Where do you start and what do you need to know before talking to a provider? What do you actually need to reach those goals? And how do you know the lawn care sales representative you speak with has your best interests in mind?
Here are some ideas to consider when contracting for lawn care services.
Start with the End
Know your goal. How do you want your lawn to look on a beautiful summer day? Do you want a lush, green carpet you’re comfortable going barefoot on? Do you want it free of weeds? Are you concerned about the use of chemicals? Do you understand your part of the process?
Common Homeowner Goals
How’s your lawn doing today? If it’s thick and green, fertilizer treatments will keep it that way. When thinking about fertilizer, you’ve got two options, granular and foliar. Lawn care companies will tend to use one or the other.
Foliar feeding is top-down nutrition sprayed on the lawn. Liquid fertilizer is applied to the leaves themselves, where it’s absorbed into the plant. It works quickly but can be washed away. Foliar fertilization is a meal, not a cupboard. Nutrients are delivered effectively at the time, but there are no leftovers. This means a quick green up and feeding for the plant, however, very little impact on developing a healthy root structure.
Granular feeding works from the bottom-up. Solid pellets of fertilizer are applied to the ground and are dissolved by water and absorbed into the soil. The results are slower, even feeding, with residual nutrients remaining in the soil to sustain the grass between applications while promoting healthy root growth.
If your grass isn’t doing so well – if it’s patchy or thin – consider overseeding and aeration. Overseeding adds new, healthy grass seed to your lawn. Aeration loosens the soil, allowing vital nutrients to circulate and giving seedlings an easier job of putting down roots.
A lime treatment can also be a big help. Lime balances the pH of soil, allowing the grass to more effectively use the nutrients it needs and contributing to great color.
You’ve got invaders: dandelion, thistle, creeping charlie. Even if you don’t know its name, it’s competing with your grass for space and nutrients.
In terms of treating weeds, the biggest question is: do you have grass? If you fertilize a yard without grass, you’re only feeding the weeds. Herbicide treatments work, but only temporarily. The best defense against weeds will always be dense turf. If you’re having a hard time growing grass, the problem may be your soil.
The local soil is rich in clay, making it prone to compaction. In compacted soil, weeds win. Help your grass outcompete the weeds with an overseeding and loosen up the soil with an aeration.
To kill crabgrass and weeds as they sprout, some fertilizers have a pre-emergent component. These treatments are performed in the spring while unwanted seeds are waiting to sprout.
Depending on the provider, you can expect between one and three pre-emergent treatments in a year. When done as a single treatment, a larger amount of product is added. This effectively interferes with weed growth, however, it becomes less effective over time. When done more often and at lower doses, weed growth is reduced with the protection lasting longer into the season.
Are you concerned about the risks of man-made chemicals to your kids and pets? Worried about their effects on the environment?
Because all herbicides are synthetic, there are challenges to all-natural lawn care, but it’s possible. With an all-natural approach, the focus is placed even more on the weed-stopping power of turf density.
To give your grass the best chance against weeds, overseeding and aeration are necessities. Overseeding ensures new, healthy seed is ready to go when old grass dies off. Aeration, a companion process to overseeding, helps both old and new turf access air, water and nutrients.
Lime treatments are also very useful to ensure the right soil pH to maximize nutrient availability.
Lawn Care Is a Partnership
A lawn care provider can feed your lawn, treat your weeds, amend your soil and answer your questions. But if you want your yard to look like a fairway, you’ll also have to do your part.
Water your lawn deeply, but infrequently; maybe once or twice a week. Between rainfall and the hose, grass should get 1” to 1.5” per week.
It’s best to water in the morning. If you do it in the afternoon, much of the water will be taken by evaporation. Watering at night leads to pools of standing water, which can become breeding grounds for mosquitoes and fungi.
Mow your lawn high, but frequently. Try not to cut more than ⅓ of the grass’s height at one time. The best height for a healthy lawn is 4” to maintain health and motivate root growth. Keep your mower blade sharp. A sharp blade means cleaner cuts, reducing water loss and risk of infection.
Ask your service provider questions and give them feedback. If you’re confused about some part of the process, speak to your technician or call the office. If things aren’t progressing like you expected, let them know and find out why.
If you find yourself engaging with a lawn services provider who is not asking about the results you want and the current condition of the lawn, be cautious. Most lawn services sales people are paid for the sale, not for the results and could make promises they can’t keep. The best advice before picking up the phone is to know your lawn and what your goals are. The right provider will help you reach them.
We’re Here if You Have Questions
Whether you’re looking for a natural approach, a lawn free of weeds or the thickest, greenest turf, we’re here to help. When you need a lawn care partner, give us a call or use the nearby form to get in touch.