Pennsylvania: “Spring is coming, and I am dreading the fert-and-squirt guys pounding the lawns with 1 pound of fast-release nitrogen (N) per thousand square feet in the spring. Those of you that do this, why in God’s creation do you use so much fertilizer in the spring? This is garbage and harmful to the lawn, so please explain.”
Utah: “Get into spraying, that way you can do the lawns you mow and do it right. I’m with you on this. I am getting into spraying this year, so I’ll let you know how it goes.”
Pennsylvania: “I worked for a company for seven years, and that was my job. I ran that whole division, the owner never had to touch a lawn. I never put that much down, maybe on some shade lawns that needed a boost. Since I have been on my own, these guys pound them, and I never understood that. Maybe I will be enlightened by some of the pros here.”
The 19th Hole: “The big outfit does it to gain customers through neighbor envy. They don’t mow, so what do they care?”
Florida: “I have wondered the same thing, and like you, I am dreading all the needless top growth that makes my job that much harder—30 percent more time to mow, trim and blow, not to mention all the extra gas my mower uses to get through all that thick grass. It aggravates the s**t out of me.”
South Dakota: “Super green and thick lawns. They look really good, but are a pain to maintain. Everybody wants to be the first on the block to have the thick, green lawn of the spring.”
Pennsylvania: “Since it has to do with cutting, I thought I would post it here. Now nobody has an answer? So, the fert/squirt has no technical reasons?”
Indiana: “Some of my commercial customers do that, so I just mow twice a week and make double the money. No complaints here.”
Utah: “I have done that, too. I tell the homeowner that it is growing too fast (some from overwatering, plus fertilizer), and I will be coming every five days instead of seven. They usually slow it down one way or another.”
Indiana: “I had one place last year that I was doing every three days. Like I said, I wasn’t complaining. That’s like having two more big accounts.”
Virginia: “You do know spring is, by nature, the hardest growth season of the year, right? Yes, N or not, there is no other season when the grass grows as strong as spring. You do know this. OK, because I can’t think of any companies dropping N as you describe. That the grass grows like crazy, no argument there.”
Pennsylvania: “Well, my reason for posting here is to educate so we can have better relations with our customers—education is key. The reason is because they use a cheap ammonia sulfate, and to them, who cares? So, if you are cutting, see the flag and a week later there is heavy top growth, approach the customer and explain the situation.
“Where I am from, cutting every five days is really not a option. The reason is the money issue. That would be a good thought, but in an old steel mill town, money is not that good. Heck, you would be lucky to get every seven days.”
North Carolina: “I don’t understand how they don’t have the money to pay you to mow, but they pay the fert/squirt guys to fertilize. It may be they just want a thicker, greener lawn.”
Pennsylvania: “They want the look, but don’t want to spend the money.”
The 19th Hole: “I would guess that more homeowners overfertilize in the spring in pursuit of the artificial-looking, darkest green lawn, than professionals do. Maybe that’s where your education should start. Knock on the door or call those customers with super-green, mega-growth lawns and figure out who the culprit is, instead of assuming it’s the work of some professional. True professionals don’t force excessive spring growth. It’s bad for the lawn agronomically and costs more.”
Ohio: “Call them and ask why. I’m being serious, the answer you get will surprise you. Also, ask why in mid-May to June, at the fastest growth period, they are hitting lawns with 1.5 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. I changed every account I have from five applications to four last year. Next, ask them why they put down the crabgrass preventer in April when in only works for three months and crabgrass doesn’t germinate until mid-July.”
Kansas: “People are wired to get the most bang for their buck and will go with five applications instead of four. The squirt-and-fert folks design their literature to get the most money out of their clients, and more applications at what appears to be a better price will do just that. Here is where we come in. We need to educate our customers, and if our services cost more or more frequent mowings are required, they may learn a bit quicker.”
New York: “I’ve never heard of anyone other than a homeowner throwing down that much nitrogen. I doubt you have either. My first app is 50 percent scu (sulfur coated urea). I wait about two to three weeks before using Pendi. The timing can change based on spring temps, but if I waited until June for my preemergent, I should lose my certification!”
Canada: “You can always improvise. If you were to mix your liquid fertilizer with a PGR (progressive growth regulator), you could slow the rate of plant growth by 30 percent or more, all the while maintaining the green, lush look without added mowing. Another idea would be to add chelated iron to your program while cutting the fertilizer rate in half. The chelated iron would give you the same green effect as N.
New York: “I put down .5 pound of 50 percent scu with 3 percent iron. I don’t think I’ll mess with a grown inhibitor though. The iron, that does work to green the turf up nicely. I know guys that throw down 10 percent iron. That’s a bit over the top, I think.”
“In Your Own Words” is contributed from the lawn and landscape forum at www.lawnsite.com. Visit them, and join in the discussions.