Posts Tagged ‘Chemlawn’

Beneficial fall lawn aeration

Published by mrgrass on August 23rd, 2013 - in Aeration or Core Aeration

Fall aeration ranks high in terms of benefit to any home or commercial lawn for the money invested.  Proper lawn aeration will remove one inch diameter cores to a depth of approximately two to three inches.  Poor results may occur with dull or worn tines and very dry soil.  This process physically removes a plug by running a hand operated machine over your lawn, much like mowing.  Aeration removes thatch, soil, and grass plants in these plugs and deposits them on the surface of your lawn to decompose.  A good aeration will allow air and water to infiltrate into the holes, allowing surrounding grass plants an opportunity to expand with decreased compaction.  Aeration also allows for over seeding, a process in which hybrid grass blends are deposited into the core holes to germinate and fill in thin areas.  Much like hair plugs in people, over seeding is a great way to change the actual grass composition of your lawn over time, improving its ability to withstand drought, insect, and disease issues. 

Core aerator tines

Sharp tines are important to perform a high quality aeration job on your lawn.

Over seeding is not meant to establish a lawn in large bare spots or patches.  However, if you top-dress with compost or loam along with aeration and over seeding, you can create a nice seedbed and accomplish three tasks at once during autumn.  Fall is the best time to aerate and over seed because annual weeds are dying (the competition), soil is warm for faster germination, and moisture is generally adequate.  Since the grass seed is deposited down into the holes, irrigation is not critical, but recommended for optimum results.  Most soil types stay damp/moist at a depth of 2-3” so watering is not as important as surface seeding, but again, is recommended if possible.

With so much disease and chinch bug damage this past summer, aeration and over seeding could be your ticket to regaining and setting your lawn up for the spring of 2014.  If you are planning on waiting until next spring for lawn repairs, consider the fact that you won’t be able to apply crabgrass or weed control and seed simultaneously in most situations.  Also, take into account colder soil and later susceptibility to summer diseases and you are not obtaining the best value for your time and money with spring seeding.  Spring aeration on its own is fine if done in the spring or fall.   Although there are exceptions to these spring problems, fall is clearly the best time for aeration and over seeding. And after a tough summer, other wonderful fall treatments include lime, compost tea, fertilizer, and potassium.  

If your kids are headed back to school, put aeration and over seeding on your “to do” list along with clothes and school supplies!

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A cut above; what makes a great lawn care company?

Published by mrgrass on June 28th, 2013 - in Lawn Care Companies

You may be very satisfied with your current lawn care company or maybe you are shopping around for one.  Regardless of your situation, you undoubtedly want the best.  But what is “the best”? If you are like most consumers, price may pop into your mind as an initial factor in your decision.  However, if you dig deeper, you will find that price really is only one variable when comparing services.  As in any important decision, sometimes all you see is frosting on the cake and not enough substance.  The lawn care industry has evolved over the past decades and while there are many similarities, there are more differences which end up being the value of the service you ultimately hire.  Specifically, there are huge differences in a company’s real experience as it relates to company size, experience, and customer service.  Let’s examine each of these components in the context of a lawn care company in NH or VT.

A great lawn care company

 Company size relates to who created the lawn program and what materials are used or not used for a variety of reasons.  For instance, larger lawn companies have regional lawn programs that are pretty much the same over a geographic area for consistency and ease of implementation.  Smaller lawn care companies have a greater ability to offer more tailor-made offerings and make spontaneous changes during the year because they are not bound by a set program of an it’s either on the menu or it’s not.  While both types of companies and programs have a lot in common, there is more flexibility and ability to customize a program to your needs with a smaller organization.  In fact, what some of the larger companies offer can be very canned in nature, often with online measuring devices being used to price your lawn.  Personally, I cannot imagine getting a quote and recommendations without a qualified manager with the appropriate agronomic training providing an actual on site visit; like I do with Chippers’ turf division.  How can any real advice be provided if your property has never been seen or the sales rep just left a retail sales job to canvas a neighborhood and pitch a lawn program?  Clearly there are differences in price and approach, to each their own. 

How about experience?  Do you search for a doctor or plumber with lots of experience or are you content with an apprentice?  Again, the experience of your lawn technician is very important because nothing substitutes real life, hands on experience, both in diagnosis and proper application technique.  While anyone can learn in a short period of time the basics of good lawn care, time is the real teacher when it comes to creating and maintaining a high quality lawn.  Larger firms have a difficult time retaining and training massive amounts of employees because while some parts of lawn care are easier than others, the work is demanding and takes a special individual.  I have trained hundreds of employees and know this first hand from experience with 28 years in the industry.  When you look at a lawn treatment bid from two different companies, one is $45 and the other is $60; remember to consider the experience factor.  What are you really getting and what is important to you as it relates to experience?  Diagnostic skills are very important to determine what past, present, and future problems may impact the health of your lawn.  Experience shows that the more time in the field the better your program and results will be once in place.  I have written many blog posts about how difficult diagnosing disease, insect, weed, and environmental problems can be without substantial experience in turf care.

Customer service has become nonexistent in the service industry over the past few decades and in other businesses as well.  Customer service used to mean a real person answering a phone and if they did not know the answer, they put you in touch with who could.  How many businesses that you deal with today are not associated with an 800 number and you need to press five buttons just to reach a department?  I have found that consumers are starving for customer service at any level that resembles humanity and caring; this goes for lawn care as well.  At Chippers, we have real people answering the phone and if you want to reach a manager; your call will be returned the same day or the next at the latest.  Can you believe that?  I thoroughly enjoy giving my e-mail as a source of communication to aid Chippers’ lawn care customers so they can ask me questions any time.  I even provide a direct cell phone number since I’m in the field looking at lawns a lot!  If you have a lawn care company right now, can you reach a manager or quickly get an answer to your question?  If your lawn care company is large, my bet is an answer of “no” in most instances.  It’s just the way it is, good or bad; that’s your call as it relates to what is really important to you.  I have found many people who had been enticed by low prices become frustrated because their former lawn care company had no customer service at all, or very little.

There are not good or bad lawn care companies, but there many who will satisfy what you are looking for and they exist, you need only find them with a little work and luck.  You don’t have to settle for grape juice if what you really want is a great wine.  Don’t get frustrated, ask the questions and get what you pay for because customer service, experience, and knowledge are very important in the business world, lawns included!  Good luck and may your lawn be green and may you be happy with both the experience and the outcome.      

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Treating for weeds in a lawn

Published by mrgrass on May 24th, 2013 - in Broadleaf Weeds

 

June is normally a great month to treat for common broadleaf weeds in a lawn for several reasons.  First, June weather is generally ideal for attacking the weeds because soil temperatures should be above 50⁰F and your target weed must be actively growing in order to metabolize the product used to treat the weeds. There are weed control products for the common weeds we all know, such as clover, dandelions, violets, hawkweed, and lots of other equally pesky but lesser known varieties.  A lawn does have a more refined and clean look without weeds, however, there is a growing population that is much more tolerant of our weedy friends then in past history.  Reducing most weeds in your lawn must be a conscious, proactive effort in terms of timing and materials used.  Broadleaf weeds can be categorized into a range from easy to difficult to reduce.  Easy to control weeds include dandelions while those hard to control include ground ivy.  Ground ivy has a thick, waxy covering on the leaves and its viney nature puts it on the top 10 most difficult to reduce list.

Left side sprayed for weeds, right side left alone

Have no fear, with the right products and a good plan of attack, even a lawn infested with ground ivy can see a 75% reduction in a single growing season with an aggressive spray routine.  Targeting dandelions in the spring and fall tends to yield acceptable results because this plant is generally easy to control, especially during prime growing weather in the spring and fall.  Control measures can range from dry or granular coated products to area treatment in liquid formulation, all the way to a complete liquid spray blended with other products or alone.  Generally speaking, granular products are slower to control weeds and cause a slow disappearance of clover.  These types of treatments have a contact and root uptake mode-of-action in order to reduce dandelions in your lawn.  Granular broadleaf weed control products are more  gentle on your lawn providing a lighter touch.  If you watch your patches of clover for days, you will be disappointed and will not see the kind of “knock down” achieved by liquid sprays of a similar or same material.  When liquid weed sprays are combined with a sticker agent, this causes the product to adhere to the weed leaf surface and to be taken up by the root system once rainfall or irrigation arrives.  Because a liquid spray is soluble, you see faster evidence of the treatment often visible within days as leaves twisting, tanning edges, browning and other signs of imminent demise.

Organic weed control is also available and does a wonderful job controlling easy to knock down weeds and the bad boys such as violets and ground ivy.  Organic weed control will also reduce moss in your lawn; preparing it for future seeding. 

The picture in this post illustrates a clear line where chippers sprayed a liquid blend on dandelions and what the lawn looked like 10 days after the treatment.  The left side of the lawn was sprayed and the right side was not treated; pretty amazing.  Regardless of your priorities, weeds will always be present in our landscapes and the decision must be made to chemically remove them (remember, there are organic options), physically remove them, or just let them be weeds.  Have a great Memorial Day weekend and if you see a weed you don’t like, remember, you have options. 

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