Lessons learned

LCOs give tips on creating a lawn care program.

March 1, 2016
Kristen Hampshire

Creating the right lawn care program is a science, which means there are experiments sometimes—trial, along with error. Learn from the wisdom of these lawn care professionals.

In Florida, how you fertilize is critical, because a surprise freeze could sabotage turf that’s overfed. Tyron Jones of Deans Pest Control in Fruitland Park remembers about 20 years ago when the firm was applying much higher nitrogen rates.
    “We got hit with a fast-moving front that came through with a freeze and it damaged a bunch of our lawns,” he says. “In the lawns we treated that day, the nitrogen was caught up in the grass blade.”
    His crews re-sodded damaged sections of lawns. “You can’t push the envelope too far,” he says of timing and formula. “And if you make a mistake, stand up and fix it.”

Facing Weed Pressure
Weed pressure is no joke in Georgia. But when Chuck LeBar, president, Magnolia Lawn, was new to the region years ago, he wasn’t used to the constant fight against weeds. Ohio just didn’t experience weeds to the same level.
    “With the longer growing season here, we learned that you have to use a pre-emergent with very extended residual control,” he says. “In the spring here, we have to use pre-emergent twice, and we start early in mid- to late-January.”

Testing New Products
“We haven’t done our lawn care program the same way twice in 21 years,” says Wesley Ory, president of Heritage Lawns & Irrigation in Olathe, Kan. 
    His advice: Test, test and retest.
    This is how Heritage does it. They’ll test a new product or mixture on five lawns one season. “We choose one that’s irrigated, one that’s not, one high-maintenance level lawn and one lower-level maintenance lawn, and we get them in a similar area of town so we can track them and the results we’re getting,” he says.
    If the test “results” are pleasing, they’ll run a larger sample the following year – 300 to 400 lawns, an entire route. “If it’s still performing like it should, then we have two years of weather variations so we know one year’s success wasn’t just a fluke,” Ory says.
    After two test runs in consecutive years, the company may choose to roll out the product / mixture / technique to all routes. Ory says, “Every product we use starts this way, with a five-lawn test.”