lawn service - Knowledgebase Question

Clermont, Fl
Avatar for mkmalys
Question by mkmalys
June 23, 2010
what is your opinion of hiring a lawn service? In 10 years, we have maintained the lawn and it has looked good except for the last 3 yrs, we've had to replace some sod. Are most companies responsible for replacing sod if it is their fault i. e. not diagnosing cinch bugs in time? what questions should we ask? we just don't want to deal with it anymore. Thanks.

Answer from NGA
June 23, 2010
There are some good companies out there - and there are some not so good companies! You might start by asking your neighbors which companies they use and whether or not they are satisified with the company. Then phone a few different companies and ask them to come out and give you an estimate. Here are a few questions to ask:

What makes your service different from your competitor?
This is an open-ended question that can be asked for a couple of reasons. First, does the contractor understand his own services. Second, if he?s been around for some time, he will also understand his competitor?s services. I like this question not just for the factual answer but also to see the spirit of how it is answered. The contractor should be able to point out the benefits of his own service instead of bad mouthing his competition.

Do you have customer references I can call?
Unless the contractor is new, they should have some readily available references that you can either call or drive by. It is not unusual for a contractor to be hesitant to give out phone numbers of his customers, to protect their privacy. However, they should be able to give you the street address of customers that you can simple drive by and see the quality of their lawn. Most contractors are going to send you to see their "best" lawns, so the question has value in the fact that they are willing to give you the information.

How many years have you been in business?
The answer to this question depends on your personal preference. You may want an established company. However, lawn work is often a young persons business, so hiring someone who is eager to get started and make a name for himself may not be bad.

Do you have insurance?
This is simple ? do not hire someone unless they can show you a certificate of insurance.

Are all your employees licensed?
Each state has it?s own licensing requirements. All states require a license of someone who is hired to apply herbicides and pesticides to other person?s property. In general, the license is to be carried by the person. They should be able to show you an up to date license. Some states do not require a license if the products used are organic.

What products do you put on the lawn?
This is another open-ended question. The answer will let you know if the person understands his own products. There are always timing and weather issues for lawn care products. If the contractor is stumbling through the answer you should probably dig deeper: when do you apply pre-emergent; how often do you apply post-emergent weed control; do you use high nitrogen fertilizer; do you use a complete fertilizer (one that contains nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium) or an incomplete fertilizer; what effect do you products have on the root system and the soil properties, etc. You need to pin them down on this question. It?s your environment they are treating and you should know the warnings, value, and consequences of anything they use.

Are there any restrictions on using the lawn after an application?
You will need to know any restrictions on using the lawn following an application. Many applications require that you, your kids, your pets, etc. remain off the lawn for up to two days. If you have a sprinkler system, you may need to turn it off for a couple of days.

How often do you treat the lawn?
The general answer to this question is about every six weeks. What you want to discern is whether they come every six weeks because they have a tight schedule and that?s what works for them OR they vary the time increment to come at a time that is best for your lawn based on timing, rainfall, air temperature, etc.

Is your service guaranteed?
Contractors don?t like this question and with good reason. They are working at the mercy of Mother Nature and it?s hard to guarantee results when they cannot control the weather. What the contractor can guarantee is timely applications, timely control of most weeds, correction of the pH value of the soil, etc. If you chose to ask this question, you may want to let them off the hook by stating "under normal weather conditions".

Do you verify your employees using background checks?
My comment to this question is it?s better to be overly cautious. The typical time for lawn applications is summer. This is a time when kids are home from school and you know kids are always curious when someone new comes to their home. This is also a time when you have windows open to let the fresh air in. You need to know who is on your property!

How much is your service ? what does it include ? what does it not include?
Obviously you need to know the cost of the service. You should also inquire about a prepayment discount. In the lawn industry there are a number of add-on services and you should understand what is included and what will be an extra charge. Some common add-on services/charges are: pH (lime/sulfur), grub control, call back charges, and seeding. You can pick and choose which of these services you want, but have the contractor substantiate the charges such as: what is the pH of the soil, have them show you the grubs, etc.

What improvement can I expect to see in 3 months, 6 months, 1 year?
Use this question so that there is a mutual understanding of expectations. Companies that use synthetic fertilizer and herbicides will have a much faster improvement over companies that use organic fertilizer and IPM procedures. Knowing what to expect will alleviate frustration on both sides.

Hope this information is helpful!

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