Guest Blog by Chamber Member Bill Deeds, American Green
January: NOW is the perfect time to find YOUR perfect lawn care provider. The Christmas decorations are back in their boxes, New Year’s Eve has come and passed, we are still writing 2021 on all of our checks and the lawn is covered in snow. This hardly seems like the time to be thinking about pretty green grass but in actuality, this is the perfect moment. We have time to really analyze and plan what we want from a turf management company now so we are not making a snap decision come March. So where do we start? In this month’s article we will discuss the top 5 considerations in choosing the lawn care company that fits you and your lawn the best. 1) Communication. This is generally not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about your grass but this is actually where it all starts. Are you ok with dealing with a large corporation where you never talk to the same person twice? Do you prefer dealing with a salesperson as your contact whose solution is always the next thing to sell you? Or do you prefer a more local company, one where the main number of the company rings the phone in the owner’s pocket? The larger the company, the less your voice is heard, although, most people never realize this until they are two years into whatever was sold to them only to realize that technicians are still missing the side yard, the bald spots are still in the front and after 8 different calls and waiting on hold you still have to explain everything from the beginning all over again. The very best communication with a company occurs when you have the same technician every time so they are familiar with your lawns needs, you have a one person contact who is familiar with what your personal needs are as a customer and someone who will show accountability for the results of your service and will take initiative in caring for your lawn. This is the importance of proper communication with your lawn care provider. 2) A plan for the new season. Every good project needs a proper plan and each company you speak with will have their very own “program” for your lawn. This can be very confusing and frustrating when trying to compare apples to pears to oranges. Whatever company is setting foot on your lawn must have a plan that addresses all the basics during the year. In the spring the lawn will need pre-emergent (crabgrass preventer) and light fertilization. In the summer there has to be protection against insects and disease and in the fall the lawn has to have soil amendments like lime, core aeration with seeding and the proper fertilization. And let’s not forget the changing needs for broadleaf weed control all season long. So how does the planning begin? With a comprehensive soil sample. There is not a single company out there that can offer your lawn a customized service without knowing what to base it on. Lawns are like people. We all have basic similarities but we all have different needs. You are not your neighbor and your neighbor’s lawn is not yours. Be sure to ask questions about how your lawn care is being tailored to the specific needs of your property. Have the company explain in detail exactly what is included in every single application made to your lawn. That way you will be able to know exactly what you are getting for your money and can feel comfortable that your lawn is getting what it needs. 3) Proper licensing, training and testing. This is another overlooked aspect of hiring a lawn care provider. While the turf management industry is very heavily regulated, not every provider adheres to the laws and regulations. Every turf management company must have a business license, a pesticide business license and the proper license for every type work they perform. For instance, a company that treats your lawn, trees, and shrubs must keep an updated Core Pesticide Applicator Certificate, a 3-A Ornamental tree and shrub certificate, a 3-B Turf Pest Control certificate AND a Certified Fertilizer Applicator License. By law, all of these licenses must be obtained and renewed on a regular basis. The renewal process is up to every two years and the specialists must attend a state approved training class in order to keep their certificates. Your lawn care company should be comprised of professionals. Always be sure to ask about training courses and ask to see copies of certificates. 4) Organics. We are all familiar with our Virginia heavy clay soils. Our soils are missing the high content of organic materials that feeds the bottom of the food chain and makes the soil fertile. In order to have a great lawn the proper foundation should be laid so the environment that the turf is living in is conducive to growing a healthy stand of grass. In the not so distant past the only real way to introduce organics to the soil was either loads and loads of compost or manure. Over the past few years, though, science has developed new, concentrated liquid organics that actually “feed” the soil so that the soil molecules are able to “release” bound up nutrients like phosphorous and potassium. In turn, your lawn is not only greener, it will be healthier and thicker with little or no bare spots. Make sure to ask any potential lawn care provider if they offer any types of organics with their services. 5) Contracts and Payment Options. This can be two very important considerations in making a choice for who you give your business to. As for the first, contracts are never a good idea for the consumer. The main goal of a company requiring contracts is to lock in your business for 1-3 years. This actually reduces the company’s motivation to go “all out” for the customer. They simply do not have to try as hard to keep your business because you are locked in. This can lead to disastrous situations for the customer. Instead, look for a company that offers a Service Agreement. Service agreements do not bind either party but instead they spell out exactly what goods and services will be performed and how much the customer agrees to pay. If the customer wants to discontinue services they may, without the worry of having to pay off the remaining contract or any early termination fees. As for payment options, ALWAYS look for a lawn care provider who never requires any money upfront and only invoices the customer AFTER work has been completed. By not having contracts and not requiring any upfront payment, this forces the company to fully concentrate on quality of products and workmanship so that you not only pay for the work completed, you stay a satisfied customer for years to come. In all, taking the time to consider all of these points while shopping for a turf maintenance company will ensure the best experience possible. You will not only enjoy the service; you will be able to rest assured that your choice of provider will be professional and have your best interests at heart. Thank you for your time today and please feel free to call us with any questions you may have. American Green 540-406-1766.