Posts Tagged ‘lawn contracts’

Time to review and renew your 2011 lawn care program

Published by JKeefe on January 3rd, 2011 - in Lawn Care Companies

The winter months bring back not so distant visions of once green lawns and surrounding trees.  As odd as it may seem, scheduling any kind of lawn program while snow is on the ground is actually a sound process.  There are many good reasons to activate a lawn or plant health care program during the winter to insure prompt service once mud season arrives. 

Review your lawn proposal this winter

The weather plays a large role in the spring as to what and when certain treatments can be done- mostly due to temperature and moisture.  High heat speeds up insect, weed, and disease development- in some cases by weeks not days.  While this may not seem of great importance, temperature plays a huge role in advancing or retarding certain pathogens, ultimately affecting your landscape.  If you do not have a program “online”- ready to go- this timeframe can easily be missed.  Cold weather can slow down the ability of your lawn to recover and green up fast.  The later the first application of fertilizer, compost tea, or lime is applied, your grass is missing vital time for improved color and recovery from winter damage.

I have seen several years where the temperature rose into the high 70’s to lower 80’s in April and May- making some types of weed control applications harmful to turf without proper precautions.  The same can be said about not scheduling early plant health care sprays- you simply miss the window of opportunity for obtaining decent results on a variety of insect and disease issues.

Moisture content can wreak havoc on turf and shrubs in the spring- especially if the spring is cold and rainy.  Such weather greatly advances snow molds and leaf spot on turf while creating apple scab on fruit trees.  Low moisture can reduce seed germination without proper irrigation if aeration and overseeding are done in May or June.  Having overseeding or aeration already scheduled during the winter insures they can be completed at the proper time frame in the spring since they are already booked.  A great green care company will watch weather trends and activate services during the appropriate time frame- you deserve this kind of service.

Timing is the third reason to have your program already setup during the winter.  Many applications have a narrow window of opportunity and if missed, results suffer such as pre-emergent crabgrass control or broadleaf weed control.  Soil temperature and timing are very important on these kinds of applications.  If you think you may remember to call- it may already be to late- spring is a crazy time of year.  Another fabulous reason to schedule your green care treatments during the winter includes a signing bonus if available or a prepay offer for sending in the contract early.  Look for these kinds of financial incentives in addition to a high quality- diversified green care company.

If you have not read the “researching a lawn care company” series on this blog- be sure to check them out since they were statistically the most read in 2010!

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Review your lawn contract before renewing

If it seems to good to be true- you may be right

Did your doctor ever tell you to get a second opinion?  Hundreds of commercial lawn care contracts will be mailed out shortly to residential homes in remote parts of NH and VT.  Even more lawn contracts will be mailed out to commercial customers in the hopes that those in the appropriate position will sign, mail, or simply fax it back with no questions asked.  I propose that each contract deserves not only a second opinion, but a thorough examination line by line item.  The national and larger regional lawn care companies typically roll your program over from year to year.

Most lawns are not being examined to determine true needs but rather recycled in archives from prior years like a CD player on repeat.  While this automated process may approach adequate at best, I sincerely doubt you are receiving a turf care program worthy of your hard-earned dollars.  Furthermore, I doubt most existing clients even understand what they are receiving and why versus what is available in their market area.  Let me expand on this theme.

Many remote lawn accounts are labeled and classified as ”commercial”, with most customers unaware of this practice.  These kinds of accounts are processed at a high volume utilizing heavy machines called Turf-Trackers or even tractors.  These machines do a decent job on large properties or fields but are anything but light and are not ideally suited to home lawns or smaller settings.  An inexperienced operator can easily cause damage while running the machine over frost covered lawns, shaded locations, and especially slopes.  Turf can be easily torn, compacted, and ripped up without careful attention from the driver.  These machines make it easy to operate at an aggressive speed as they work to achieve the goals set for them by the larger corporate office.  If these facts don’t cause you to raise an eyebrow, please read on.

Unfortunately, many of these “commercial” contracts are recycled revenue without any fresh investigation data to support the renewal.  In fact, I would wager that most if not the majority of these accounts are seldom looked at beyond the production dollars they represent each year.  Simply put, the large national chains are usually too far away and their attempts to service remote regions often severely stress their limited staff and outsourced customer service centers.  Most national lawn care companies utilize lawn programs like McDonald’s “Happy meals” except without the toy because you get a few fertilizer visits, grub control, and a lime treatment.  Who would question that?

Does your phone call get forwarded to a call center or does a real person answer your call?  Are you able to reach your lawn care office or do you even know where it is?  Are you supporting your local economy or something much larger?

How can these large lawn care services claim and advertise to be local when they drive nearly 2 hrs to service lawns in remote areas of NH beyond their primary service market?  Is that local service?  Again, any company that pre-mixes fertilizer in a liquid medium and then applies it to every lawn in a single day is doing their clients a basic injustice as outlined in my blog post (http://mrgrassblog.net/2010/04/22/price-and-the-…awn-treatments/ ‎).  Mixing concentrated fertilizer into a liquid is an easy and inexpensive way to administer a lawn program.  As I said before, yes it works well for some lawns but not all lawns.  You get exactly what you pay for with this type of treatment, a quick buzz of green.  There are lots of natural and organic alternatives to this kind of turf care.

Before you sign on the dotted line, before you pre-pay for your entire year upfront- get a second opinion from a local lawn care company.  I welcome the questions and the challenge to take your property to the next level.  If you are not in our service area, I have companies I can recommend to you- just leave a comment to this post.  Even if you decide not to make a change, doesn’t it just make sense to get another opinion like a car or house repair?  Don’t just sign without thinking about what things could be like in 2011.  I know it’s easy to just send the lawn contract back, but a free second opinion from any other turf health care company is time well spent.  Make this winter the time where you decide to explore what has been going down on your lawn in the past and why!  Support your local economy and research who services your town for lawn treatments.  Exploring new options can be educational, fun, and you might even receive better results!

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