With Spring right around the corner many homeowners are looking for a lawn care company to take care of their lawn for the season, but what exactly should they be looking for?
Proper Lawn Care is like a three legged stool with each leg representing 1) fertility 2) cultural practices such as mowing and 3) environmental factors such as rain and sunlight. Take any one of the legs away and the lawn will eventually become unbalanced and stressed.
The purpose of a Lawn Care Company is to provide the Fertility component of the above equation and to keep the lawn green and full without a lot of weeds. The right Lawn Care Program will usually contain a balanced fertilizer as part of each application to feed the lawn the proper nutrients to keep it green and full. Some people think that fertilizer will cause the yard to grow fast but actually the best companies use fertilizers that are coated with products that cause the fertilizer to release over time which limits the surge growth that could occur if the fertilizer were available to the grass all at once. I always use the analogy that fertilizer is kind of like meat where bologna and filet mignon are both considered meat but they are entirely different. The range of fertilizer is equally as broad. It is a good idea for the Homeowner to ask the company about the fertilizer that they plan to apply.
In addition to fertilizer, each Lawn Care application will contain a product to limit the growth of weeds. The first application of the season should contain a product to keep Crabgrass from growing known as a Crabgrass Pre-emergent. The timing of this application is especially important because it needs to be applied before the ground temperatures reach the mid fifties which usually happens around mid April in Central Ohio. The Crabgrass Pre-emergent forms a chemical barrier on the ground that kills the new crabgrass seedlings on contact. Keep in mind that this chemical will also kill newly planted grass seedlings so if you plan on doing any reseeding, be sure to communicate that to your Lawn Care Company.
The second application typically contains a Weed Killer that will take care of Dandelions, Thistles and other Broadleaf Weeds. Unfortunately, there is no Pre-emergent product available for broadleaf weeds as there is for crabgrass so the Lawn Care Company will be treating your lawn after those weeds have started to grow and because the active ingredient for the weed control only lasts for six to eight weeks a second application of Weed Control will be needed later in the summer.
Most Lawn Care Companies will offer an Insecticide to keep the populations of surface and sub-surface feeding insects such as Grubs and Sod Webworms down below the levels that could damage your lawn. These treatments are usually applied in May or June depending on the weather conditions and are time sensitive because they need to be applied before the first generation of Grubs begin to emerge in late Spring to early Summer but late enough that the chemical will still be available to also kill the second generation of grubs, which will emerge in the latter part of August and into September.
Your Lawn Care Company will also offer an annual Aeration which is the mechanical removal of plugs of soil. Lawn Aeration reduces soil compaction and allows air and nutrients better access to the roots of the turf where they can do the most good. In addition, lawn aeration prevents the buildup of thatch which is a layer of dead organic matter that can build up over the root zone of the turf. An excessive thatch layer will make it difficult for air and nutrients to get to the roots of the turf.
It is a State Law that Lawn Care Companies be licensed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture to perform chemical applications. This is a good thing because the law ensures that the Company has proven to the State that they know what they are doing and have the necessary insurance. Companies will have a Certificate issued by the State to prove that they are licensed.
Since homeowners see their lawn much more frequently than the Lawn Care Company it is important that the Homeowner notify the lawn care company if they notice anything unusual. Most Lawn Care Companies will perform free Service Calls to check on any unusual situations, spot treat weeds and offer advice that will help ensure a better lawn.
In summary, a good lawn care program will look something like this:
Application #1- Fertilizer with Crabgrass Pre-emergent (March/ April)
Application #2- Fertilizer with Weed Control (May/ June)
Merit Insecticide Application (May/ June)
Application #3- Fertilizer with Weed Control (July)
Lawn Aeration (September/ October)
Application #4- Balanced Fertilizer (September/ October)
Matt McCoy is the President of McCoy Landscape Services, and a Nationally Certified Landscape Professional and has been a Licensed Pesticide Applicator for over 20 years. McCoy Landscape Services is a full service Landscape Design/ Build and Maintenance company that was founded in 1977 and services the Central Ohio Communities of Powell, Delaware, Lewis Center, Westerville, Marion, Mt. Gilead, Upper Sandusky, Bucyrus, Galion and Mansfield.