Posts Tagged ‘Chemlawn’

Spring Lawns After a Harsh Winter

Unusually large amounts of snow and a late winter thaw can spell trouble for home lawns in VT and NH.  Massive piles of snow and ancient icy banks are determined to persist well into late April.  Slow melting ice and snow is anything but good news for grass buried deep beneath the arctic wasteland we call home as temperatures remain far below average in the last days of March.  The real damage from the copious use of rock salt will become apparent as the snow recedes, exposing brown and yellow patches along walkways and driveways.  Pieces of turf now flipped upside down lie like fish out of water from plow damage after each successive storm in what has been called a “real winter”.  Cue the spotlight on snow mold as the cold temperatures, with just the right amount of humidity, are ideal for this disease to thrive.  Pink and gray snow mold may be widespread and hamper the ability of your lawn to recover successfully from the trauma dealt by Mother Nature.  If I had a batman lamp, I would surely turn it on and point it into the night sky; our lawns need help.

Help our lawns
Fear not, Mr. Grass is here and although not a super hero, I am well versed in the green art of lawn care and helping the innocent lawns which have been beaten down from a harsh winter.  You can help your lawn immediately by breaking up piles of ice and snow, scattering the chunks onto warmer surfaces to melt; a driveway or patio perhaps.  The faster the snow goes, the quicker the soil will warm and awaken your dormant lawn into recovery mode.  If there are excessive leaves, debris, branches and other objects, try and remove them before the lawn begins growing to prevent mulching and unnecessary damage.  This is especially true of gravel and rocks that may have been pushed up and onto lawn surfaces from winter plowing.  Rake and remove any gravel and sand from your lawn.  If you do have visible turf chunks, help them by flipping the root surface over and put it back on the ground so when growth occurs, some root regeneration can occur.  Leaving chunks of lawn in pieces lying on each other will also damage the healthy lawn below; acting as mulch.  This phenomenon is especially true as things really warm up and the grass begins to grow again.

Big pile of snow
Additional winter recovery can be obtained by firing up the friendly soil micro-organisms with compost tea, a high quality lime, or fertilizers.  I do not recommend heavy dethatching because the damage inflicted may well thin out or even kill portions of your lawn under such stress.  I do recommend lightly raking out any matted snow mold and ice damage which will speed up the drying process, warm the soil, and promote new root and shoot growth.  Your lawn will need extra help this spring so plan on doing your part.  As your lawn recovers, using crabgrass or other broadleaf weed controls become more practical as tools to protect future infestations.  Good luck and may the temperature rise in your neighborhood creating more green and less white!

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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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