#09- Killing weeds with.....water?!

Some new tech has been created on the other side of the world. They can kill weeds using only water. I have spoken with them and done some research. Will this be the future of weed control in the States?

Liquid aeration has been gaining more and more popularity over the last few years. It really challenges mechanical aeration. Could it be the future? I share my thoughts on liquid aeration after 3 years of testing the products. 

Transcript:

Hey, hey, what is up everyone? I hope you're having a great day. This is Ete here with another episode of Eco Lawn Science. Today I want to talk about aeration and I also want to talk about the most recent version of aeration. So, for those of you who don't know, aeration has been around for quite awhile and it's this process where you run a machine, there's different types of aerating, but the most common one is called core aeration. And you'll see it, you know, as soon as the snow melts in the spring, you'll see it in the fall before the snow comes. People are aerating, aerating. You can rent aerators. You can hire companies to do it.

But what they are is, are these heavy little machines with tines on them, you know, three, four, five inch tines. And you run it over the lawn, and the tine goes into the soil, pulls out a big 4–hopefully–a 4-5 inch core of soil out of the ground, and then leaves it on top. So often when it's done, it looks like, you know dog poop over the entire lawn. It's kind of crazy. And then what happens is they leave those plugs on the soil and they slowly break down, you know, from wind, from water, and they kind of, you get your soil back, it breaks down over a few months, depending on the weather, and settles back into the soil. That's overall what aeration is.

It's usually a low cost–I would say a low cost service–here. So back East, I had a company in Jersey and it was actually an expensive, it was very expensive, to hire a company. Well when we went and did aerations. Here, when I come to Utah it's not even...you don't even make a quarter of the price so it's not, sometimes it's not even worth doing from a financial standpoint in Utah. Cause what happens is you got these boy scout groups or church groups will go out, rent aerators for fundraisers and they'll aerate everyone's lawn for 40 bucks. And I'm looking at that as a business owner going I can't even send my guy, my expensive equipment, et cetera, out there for 40 bucks. So, you know, that's just where it is.

But it's been around for awhile. You know, there's a lot of people swear by it. Some people say it doesn't help. The concept is if over time your lawn gets compact, your soil–you're running on it, you're riding bikes on it, you're having barbecues, your animals are on it–and so just the soil gets compact. And so think about it. If you have a deep root system, it needs to breathe. If the soil up top is so tight and packed, it's not going to be to get the oxygen it needs to help the roots, to get it down to the root zone. And so by poking these holes, you're loosening up the soil, allowing oxygen to penetrate to the roots, and that will benefit the lawn. That will encourage the roots to grow deeper and be more abundant and healthier. So that's the concept.

There's some other benefits. If you have a lot of thatch in your lawn built up, it can help break that up. You know, if you have a...if your water retention is low and appears like it seems like the water's running off your lawn, this could help. So there's a couple, a couple of places where this could help. Core aeration has been the standard of the lawn care industry for, I mean I've been doing it for about 20 years, so probably way before my time, so maybe 40, 50 years. I don't know.

I can tell you some people don't need it. If you go out and your lawn is nice and it's not compact and you do some tests and you, you put a probe in the soil and it drops down and gets you 8-10 inches nice and smooth, you probably don't need this lawn aeration. It's not for everyone.

But again, if you have high traffic and your lawn is just compact, your soil is not as good. Often you're going to want to do it annually. And I think especially in Utah, it's a great bang for the buck for the 50 or 80 bucks. It depends on the size of your lawn obviously. For what you spend, you get a fantastic return because you're putting that money to the root system and that's where I like to see the money go, not just to the top part of the blade.

What I want to talk today about is the newest version, which is this liquid aeration. Now it's been around for about 7-8 years, but it's only been about the last 2 years where it's really started to rise up and become a contender. 

I stumbled upon it about 8 years ago and I was very skeptical. How can a liquid product loosen the soil and replace, you know, the big mechanical machine? How can that be possible? And then secondly, if it is possible, as a company, how is anybody going to believe me? Because they're so used to these big machines. When you're done, you see the cores, you know it was done. With a liquid aeration, it's a liquid. You spray it, it dries up. You don't even know it was done, right. So it just, it just seems something so tangible to change it into a liquid, you know, even if it works, you know, how am I gonna convince people? How am I going to make it better?

So let me tell you about some of the hard things about core aeration. A, the labor is intense from a production standpoint. If I can have a truck go out and fertilize 25 lawns in a day, if I have a truck about the same length of time in a day, they may aerate only 10 lawns, you know, and you're not charging double the price for the aeration. In fact, it's about the same price as a treatment. So financially, aerations are not profitable like lawn treatments.

They're very hard on the body. You have this big machine, you have to drop the tines, raise the tines, work it around. I mean, you get a shoulder workout. They're exhausting. There's a physical labor expense with aerations– and it's not fun to do–that is so high. And then there's so many times when you're limited, you know. If the weather's bad, shut it down. If it's too hot and dry, shut it down. And so you're just really limited.

The thing I love about the liquid aeration, it removes all that. You don't have the heavy machinery,. You don't have the overhead of all that extra labor. Liquid, you can do 25-30 lawns a day with the right equipment as opposed to, you know, 10 or 12 on a core aerator and you're just really beating your body up. The liquid, you can go out and spray 20, 25, 30 lawns in a day. So as far as a production standpoint, I'm loving it so far.

But let's talk about the product. Does it work? Ask 10 people: half of them are going to swear by it and half of them are going to say it's absolute garbage. What do you do? I just test it. I said, all right, well it sounds phenomenal. Like I've already mentioned on the production side, it could save me money. It could benefit my clients. It doesn't leave those cores everywhere. It makes the lawn look nicer. Let's try it out.

So about 3 years ago, I started running it. I tried...there's a few brands. I don't really want them to get into specific names. But anyway, I ended up finding one called Aerify Plus. It's on Amazon and I liked it. I saw great results. Now how did I know it worked? Here's kind of what I'm going by: I tested it on lawns I have been managing for over 7, some of them 8 years. And I tested out on lawns that had...First, I tested on lawns that already had core aeration every year. And so I just replaced it the one year and I applied this product and the next year the lawn looked as good. I didn't no-... It didn't look any worse. The roots were healthy, everything was great. So I found out by just replacing it, we're still in good shape. 

So there was another group of clients that I've had for about 5-6 years and they don't normally get aeration. And so I just mixed it in and applied it just as a test. And then the next year I found out that was the best year that those lawns looked over the last 6 years, was the year I used the product. So I'm pretty convinced and I'm excited about it. And so in 2018 we started switching from core to liquid and lawns look great. And then 2019 we did that and I think we only had about three people out of, you know, a couple of hundred that wanted the core aeration. We're at a point now where that's all we're offering for many reasons.

And one more thing I forgot to mention, it's actually cheaper because it's a lot less expensive for me to apply this product versus have a guy go out with a core aerator, and the labor time, I have decreased the price. So if you were paying 100 bucks for an aeration for a decent-sized lawn. For liquid, you might be at 75, you know, 60 somewhere in there. So you're still getting the benefit, but you're getting a discount. I'm saving money. It's kind of a win win.

The whole point of the aeration again is to loosen the soil, break up the hard spots, to allow oxygen to penetrate. And so now that I've seen it, of course it's going to work, of course a liquid with the right components in it can do that. And I think it actually could do it better because it actually goes in and it just starts dropping deep in. You apply it at a heavy rate onto the soil and as it soaks in, it gets down to that root layer and just starts loosening up, starts opening up the soil so everything could just start breathing better. And so it works fantastically. And they're usually combined with different type of microbes, some humates, and kelp, some organic soil conditioners. So they, it's kind of a really cool product depending on which brand you get.

And just quickly some of the other benefits that some of these companies are claiming. Some of them I have seen. Some of them I don't have enough research to know. It helps the detoxify buffer chemicals and salts that are bound up in the soil. It helps your fertilizers, your compost teas, work better. It improves your fertilizer availability in the root zone. It also can help stimulate root growth. And there's a few other things. So some of those I have seen work and some of those I'm still waiting. I need to have more time with them.

But yeah, I'm sold on liquid aeration. There are some cases where we still do a core aeration. Sometimes we'll do both, especially with a new property that's just the soils in awful shape. I may core aerate it right away and then spray it down with the liquid aeration and then hopefully in the fall, switch it to just liquid and then moving, moving on to the next year we can do it with just the liquid.

I think that's it for me on this one. I'm excited about liquid aeration. As a company, it's a game changer for us. As a homeowner, you're going to be able to save money and still get the great result. You're not going to have those cores on your lawn and there's a lot more flexibility in timing. I think it's a great tool. I'm excited about it and I hope more people give it a try and embrace this product.

So anyway, that's my take on liquid aeration. You go ahead and Google it. Look around yourself. But I'm excited about it. I believe in it and I hope this helps.

Hope you guys have a great day and I'll see you on the next episode.

Hiring a company to work on your property takes a lot of trust and sometimes a lot of money. Here we discuss 8 tips to help you find the best company that fits your needs.

Transcript:

Hey, hey, what is up everyone? I hope you're having a wonderful day. For today's episode I want to go ahead and give you a list of 8 things that you should look for when hiring a lawn company, specifically a lawn fertilization and weed control company, because that's the company that I have the most experience with. And so I can help from both sides to help you find the best fit.

So the first tip is: do they have a location near me? Are they local? And how local? And the reason is, is I have found as a service provider that the further the client is from the shop or the depot or the office, the harder it is to respond to them. I'll give you an example. Let's say it's April, end of April, and this is dandelion peak season here. And you know, your techs came out on–I'll make a date–April 15th and they sprayed for dandelions. And then let's say by about 10 days later, 2 weeks, you've noticed most of them are dying, or about a quarter of them are still not dying. So you call your company and say, "Hey, you know what? Just so you know, I got good kill on three quarters property, but the one quarter, I didn't see much progress. Can you go ahead and set me up for a service call?" Now most companies will offer a free service call and so they would schedule it and they'd come out. Again, but the further you are, if you're an hour away from the shop, that's not going to be easy for them. They're going to say, "Oh, when am I going to tie this in? We're not going to be in that area for another week or so," versus when their shop is 10 minutes away or 20 minutes or you know, somewhere around there, it's easy. They can swing by, they can do the touch up for you and you don't have to wait weeks. And so I would ask them, how close are you? Or how close is your location to my property? Because I've found the closer they are, the closer you are to them, the better service you will get.

Okay. Tip number 2: if a mistake were to happen–so let's say your techs made a mistake on my lawn–would you stick around to fix it or do I have to fight you? You know, what's the guarantee there? And I've had that happen before where we've had mistakes. You know, human beings make mistakes and we had one that, a mistake actually caused a couple of burn spots in a lawn about 15 miles away. And the customer called me. I sent someone right out as soon as–we didn't notice it till about a week later it popped up–we figured out what the problem was and we brought someone in to...We just called a third party company. I said, "Hey, go re-sod these little areas. I'll pay the bill," and that's what we did. And make sure that the company you hire will do that for you. Cause that's, that's all they can guarantee is...There's a lot of variables in lawn care mistakes can happen sometimes. And so when you make a mistake, are you going to stick around and fix it, you know, or are you going to try to blame me? What, what, what is your company guideline on mistakes? So that would be the second question.

The third thing I would do is I'd look at their Google reviews and I would look deep. Don't just look at the first two or the last two, but go through them and see if you could find any common threads. Are they, are people being honest? Are the reviews specific? Are there things that people like about this company? You know, maybe they have a great communication and you see a hundred reviews and 30 of them say, "wow, this company communicates well." Or, 25 of them say, "wow, this company's great, but I'm not comfortable with their technicians", you know, so go through the reviews and make sure you have a good feel for who they are. Generally, reviews are going to give you good insight, so take the time to go through them and figure out if it's a good fit for you.

What services do you guys offer, in all, all services that you offer? And the reason you want to find that out... There's a couple of reasons. The first one is if you have a company that says, "Hey, we do lawn care, fertilization, weed control. We also do mowing." Okay, well those are pretty similar, you know, and they can actually be hand in hand. And then "we also do window cleaning." Okay, you're getting further away for me "and we also do home catering and we deliver it to you." Do you know what I mean? And so you want to get a feel for them. Some companies just get too, too spread out. They try to do everything and sometimes when you try to do everything, you're not great at anything. And so there are services that pair nicely together. For example, mowing and fertilization that works because then they're on your lawn every week. Or fertilization, pest-control, tree care: those work. So make sure they're not doing just services that show that they're just trying to get a buck anywhere they can. Make sure they are related and make sure it's not too many. If you see a company offering 10 things, chances are they're spread thin, and it's like going to a restaurant with a million things on the menu. Often those places aren't that great because they have too much instead of focusing on something and doing it well. And when you find a company that just does lawn fertilization, weed control, they generally are going to have experts. They know what they're talking about and they're going to be the best for that.

The fifth thing I would ask them or read about is their core beliefs or core values or philosophy. What is your philosophy on lawn care? Why are you in the business? What sparked you to, to start this company and what makes you good? You know, ask the hard questions, especially if you're looking for a long term relationship. Cause you may find some companies have incredible stories, incredible visions, and you may connect with their story. You may agree with their philosophies deep down. I think it's hard when you hire a company that has a different belief system or philosophy than you. Somewhere along the line you're going to have a little bit of a conflict at some point. So it's great to really learn the core values of the company, what matters to the company and then see if they align with the core values of you. For example, if they swear by honesty and integrity and you happen to be an honest person with a lot of integrity, it's going to be a good fit. If their values are making money anyway we can, you know, in a million different services, any, anyone that wants to throw money at us, you might have an issue there. So really get to know their core beliefs and their philosophies on business and on lawn care.

The sixth thing I'd ask them is, what products do you use? I want to tell a quick story. I won't mention any names, but one of our team members called a large national company to ask them about the products. We were back East calling for a parent actually. They were back East at their mother's house and their mom actually needed lawn care. And so, but it was one of my team members, so they called the local companies and it was amazing. They came back and reported to me when they asked what products they use. Most companies had no idea, the people on the phone, some were making things up, they were lying and you can tell when someone's making it up, you know. And instead of just saying, you know what, I'm not sure, and let me find out. They were just making stuff up. Some had no idea. And some actually gave her bogus products that don't even apply. They said, "Oh, we use this type of weed control," which is for a weed that they don't even get back East. And so I think that's an indicator. If they don't know their products, everyone, I don't want to do business with them. And also I want to know about the products. Are they looking for environmentally friendly products? Are they, are they smart? Are they, are the technicians using the products properly? So definitely ask them what they use.

The seventh thing I would look for is look at their sales technique. Are they pushy? Are they in your face constantly upselling. So you go through their website and you get a feel for how they sell and you may pick up the phone and call them and just see, are they just saying, "Hey, this is what we offer. We're confident that we're a great company." Or are they so desperate to get you in the door that they're throwing discounts at you and they're adding things? Are they, you know, during the sales process, are they saying, "Oh, you need this insect and you need this fungus issue," where they don't even know, right? If you're a new client to them, they're just making stuff up. Not everybody needs everything. So see if, you know, if they're pushy, see their sales technique and get a feel for, you know, how they are with business. Because I've worked with large companies and sometimes the frustrating thing as a client is you're constantly every week getting phone calls and robo calls, texts about a new product, a new service they're offering. And it's overwhelming and you actually, you know, you feel like they're just marketing to you where you're already their client. So they shouldn't, they shouldn't be doing that, right? If you have... If they have a couple of solutions a couple of times a year, okay it's fine. But if it's all the time that's going to get annoying and frustrating and it doesn't build trust. I would look at that closely.

And the last thing that I would look at, it's a little bit different than some other lists that you might see, but I would look at what are they doing on an environmental level. Obviously a lawn care company has to do with your environment right around your house, your neighborhood, where your kids play. So just check around what, what are they doing, what are their...are they trying to find new ways, better products to get you that green lawn without, you know, having a toxic environment? Are they concerned about, you know, polluting and runoff? These are a lot of real issues that I think you need to ask them. There is a little bit of environmental stewardship that they have, as you know, people who are helping your environment be, look nicer, you know, protect it from invasive species. But I would make sure that they're thinking about it that, maybe, you know, that they have desires and goals and a vision to where they want to go. Because there are companies out there in every market in America that are, are doing this, that are looking for great ways, looking for safer ways, constantly. And so, I mean if it were me, I would get one of those companies. So anyway, that's the 8 things that I'd recommend you do when you're looking to hire a company. Look in, you know, ask about those things. Really pry. At the end of the day, you're just trying to find a company that fits you. Not every company fits every person, and as service companies, we're not meant to serve everyone, just our target audience. And so go through these 8 things, see what lines up with your core beliefs, with who you are, with what you're looking for. And if it fits, then hire them and have fun with it.

Hope you have a great day and I'll see you on the next episode.

Hey, hey, what is up everyone? This is Ete with another episode. We're going to dive into something that's kind of been a hot topic lately, especially in areas like Utah, California, Arizona, in these areas that can have drought conditions, where resources like water, like rain, can sometimes not come when you need them. And, you know, as part of that conversation on our side, there's a lot of talk about ripping out your grass. There's a lot of talk about the negative impact and the drain of resources that lawns are. And so I want to talk a little bit about it and offer my perspective because I know even just yesterday I saw an article–I can’t remember who it was; maybe I’ll dig it up and put the reference there–but they were saying in some areas in Colorado, the city or the government was actually giving you money to rip out your lawn because of it using resources. And so there's a big movement that's anti-lawn, anti-grass. And so I kind of want to talk about that and share some research that I found and let you come to your own conclusion. 

So as most of you know, I'm in the lawn care industry, and so this is a serious conversation for me. At the same time, I believe in the stewardship that we have over the environment, each one on our own property. And then when you're in a company that's impacting the environment, like myself, if you're applying things or you’re trying to control things, I think there's a level of stewardship and caution that you need to use, and balance because, yes, on one side I don't want to drain our resources. On one side, I don't want to apply nasty chemicals and things like that. And then on the other side, you know there's a business and there's a lot of benefits of lawns. So I’ve kind of been thinking quite a bit about this. So let's jump in. 

So the main argument that I've seen going around in these articles to get rid of your lawn, downsize your lawn, is especially in the areas that I've mentioned in the midwest and the west coast, where you just don't get the rain that they do in Jersey or Massachusetts. And so on the East Coast–and I’ve done business on the East Coast–it just rains and rains. You'll have your occasional drought late July, maybe through the month of August, but you get so much rain that it's easy to grow turf. So I remember there were times we would throw seed down–half the properties don't have irrigation–and it would grow. And lawns could look pretty decent without irrigation. 

Where areas like Utah, you have to have sprinklers installed, automated to really have a good looking lawn. And so the biggest argument I've seen against it is, you know, is how can you justify it when we're having a shortage here, in bad years. Currently, right now, we're having a great year. There's a great snow pack. It's winter. It's been snowing a lot. So that's great. Our reservoirs will fill up hopefully. But what about those bad years? You know, how do you justify taking all that money and resource and and using it to water your lawn when you could be using it for other things? 

That's a lot of the argument that I've seen, and I absolutely agree. It's, on one side, I understand. I think that it can be a little crazy if you have, you know, 2-3 acres of turf and you're in an area like our area or you're in an area like California and it's just taking so much resources that we don't have a lot of during a drought and utilizing it. And not to rip on anyone who has that, or judge them. Look, everyone's got their property. In my mind they have a right to do what it is they want to do on that property. But at the same time, there's got to be, back to that environmental stewardship, that protecting what we have. When we're in a drought, if the resource isn't there, it's just not there. And so I get that as well. So let’s talk a little bit about...That's kind of the argument for getting rid of our lawns. 

But what we don't hear as much is the benefits of turfgrass. So there’s a lot of benefits. One of them is it can reduce run off. If you think about it, you know, imagine your yard and imagine it was just all topsoil or something else. When you have a lawn, there's a lot of friction. There's a lot of grass blades. There's a thatch layer. You know, there's all this that makes up a lawn. And run-off can get trapped in there as well as pollutants–I said that funny–as well as pollutants. That's how I'd say it. As well as pollutants and other chemicals that rainwater can gather. And then it kind of just pushes it down as it runs off, and it can trap them in our soil, in the lawn. And so that's a real benefit to think about. 

One example is that as I was down in, there’s an area called Vineyard, here in Utah. It's off of Geneva Road. And if you go down there, it's always dusty. It's always, it just has a dirty feel right now, and it's because they're just starting to build, right, and so there's not a lot of lawns. There's not a lot of plants that are taking in these run-offs, and taking the pollutants out of the air and capturing them somewhere. And so I've noticed that you go down there. You're like, man, it's really dusty and kind of nasty out here. Now I believe as the area gets built up and and people start, you know, putting in some lawn, some landscapes and beds, things like that. It'll minimize that. It'll clear it up, it'll help. So that's one great thing. 

Another thing is, it actually helps prevent erosion, right, of your land, of soil, grass and its root systems. They all lock into the soil particles, and so there's a big part where it helps with the erosion. 

It helps with just safety. I mean, in a couple ways, if you think about it, you know, maintained lawns, they don't have as many ticks and other pests, you know, in that area versus just a wild native area. And so if you have kids out playing, you know that's a big deal, especially where I come from in Jersey. We had deer ticks everywhere. Now they could get into the lawn, but I'm just saying, a lawn area that's manicured versus a native wood area in my backyard, you're definitely going to see a decrease in certain insects. And just, you know, think about your kids playing and they fall down. You know that grass is always there to cushion and help the fall. 

Another thing that I really think we don't think about, is how it can help the air. So especially here in Utah, you know, we have an air quality problem in certain parts, you know, Utah County, Salt Lake. You know, sometimes there's, you turn on the news and it’ll tell you if you go outside today. It’s called inversion. And so the air quality is a serious thing around here and what's cool is, these plants and the lawns, they take up that carbon dioxide, and they release oxygen into the atmosphere. And grass lawns do that as well. And so, that just helps out with the air. You also have, you know, dust, airborne allergens that kind of get trapped, again, in the turf. 

And so just some other ways that it really helps. Another thing is like with temperatures, you know, temperature regulation. You know, lawns, turf is really cool compared to sidewalks, compared to, you know, other things. And you can test that. You go out on a hot day barefoot on the lawn and then you step onto the sidewalk. And it’s ow, you know. And so when you have, you know, lawn areas, it actually helps to cool down the environment around it, especially for plants and soil and things like that. 

And the last thing I was thinking about is just that lawns they can help with carbon. They actually play an important role of removing carbon from the atmosphere and then during the photosynthesis process the carbon dioxide is actually converted into plant biomass, and that allows the plant to really store that carbon below ground with the roots. So it actually plays a great role in that. So, a lot of benefits. 

And then, of course, the downsides of the, you know the resources and is and is it worth, can I justify using this precious resource in some areas? Is it eco friendly to even have a lawn. So I, you know, my opinion is this, and I have, you know, thousands of customers. Each case is a little bit different. And I say, look, this is your property. I'm not going to come in here and make you feel bad or judge you. If it were me, I would consider, you know, I have some clients that might have 3 acres of turf in Park City, which water is really expensive. It's hard to get up there. So I would say, you know what? I would consider taking some of that out, maybe dropping it down considerably so you can still have grass and have some of the benefits on your property, but maybe not as much. So you're not draining as much of the resources that you need. So that's one option. Another option is xeroscaping some of the area. Maybe take that three acres and you make 1/2 an acre lawn with a xeroscaped area that has nice, you know, native plants, a fire pit area, a tennis court. You know these type of things. 

But I guess what I'm trying to say is, I really think it's moderation here. I think the answer is in the middle. I think you have to be aware and realize that we are, we could be in a drought and you have to be responsible. But also look at the benefits at this place in my backyard, in my front yard. Maybe it's a combination of both having some lawn, but a lot less, smaller, so you're not draining resources. I know a lot of people love the xeroscape, rip out all their lawn, and I've seen lately they've gotten so good at that. It actually looks pretty great. And so I love that, too. 

But I guess my summary is, you know, I see both sides of it. I always like to have some grass. I think it's beautiful. It's fun to play on. It has all the benefits I've listed. But I don't like to have too much because of what I think about the amount of maintenance, the water it takes, the fertilizer it takes, and all that. So that's my opinion. And there it is. 

So I hope this helps. I hope you guys have a great day. I’ll see you on the next episode.

Hey. Hey, what is up, everyone? This is Ete with another episode of EcoLawn Science. Today I want to talk about noxious weeds. I spend a lot of time researching, treating, working with better solutions for noxious weeds in Utah, but it's actually a newer word to me. I did lawn care for years in Jersey, and we have them in Jersey, but it wasn't such a common term. We're now in 2020. You see noxious weeds actually, in the news, you see them in legislation, you see them everywhere. And so let's talk a little bit about noxious weeds. 

So the way areas like Utah and other states define noxious weeds is they're actually weeds that are harmful, or they can injure agriculture, horticultural crops, natural areas, you know, ecosystems, livestock. Often they will be toxic to dogs, to horses. Not all of them. But these are the type of weeds we’re talking about. What happens is they become such a pest in their native community that the government actually gets together and declares it, they have an act on, and we'll talk about that in a minute, and they say this is what a noxious weed is. And hey, you better be taking care of these weeds. 

And I’ll give you an example. In Park City, Utah, or Heber, Utah, it's a beautiful place. I love to mountain bike. People like to horseback ride. The same trails are used for runners, mountain bikers, horseback riders. So they're getting a lot of use, and people here utilize them. We’re outdoors all the time in the summer, even in the winter. And so I remember about three years ago, there's a trail I love here called Coyote. I think it's about a 22 mile loop, but there was a major section, we, me and my sister, would call it Thistle Forest. It's a downhill section, and you're picking up probably 18, 20 miles an hour. And it opens up with the trail, the land opens up, the landscape, with no trees. It's like a field, but the trail gets very narrow. And at one point about three years ago, these noxious weeds grew over the trail, probably for about 100 feet length of the trail. And it happened to be one called thistle, which can grow, you know, 10-12 feet high, and there's just spikes on every inch of this plant. And I remember we would drive through the first time, and I actually, like, fell off my bike because I didn't want to go into it. And then eventually I just started just cutting through it, and I’d kind of tuck my arms in so I’d get scratched up as least as possible. But this is a great example, because, like, these weeds take over areas. So that's that's what makes them, you know, noxious. Here's a biking path, horse path that people will utilize for enjoyment. And now we can't use that section because of these weeds. 

And so they're usually invasive. They're usually, they spread very quickly, which makes them scary. They can take over a barren area so fast, and most of times, especially here anyway, they are not native. They were brought in from another area, sometimes on purpose, sometimes by accident. 

I actually, recently, about a week ago, was on Channel Two in Salt Lake, and they were doing a series on Myrtle spurge, which is one of the noxious weeds. And when they brought me on, I was talking about it and and sharing with them how, you know, ten years ago, people were planting myrtle spurge everywhere in their yards, you know, in their fields because it did so good here in Utah, right. It didn't need a lot of water. It did great in drought conditions. But guess what happened. So they brought it from, like, Eurasia, planted it in Utah because, oh, it's a pretty plant. And it is. But guess what. It started spreading. And now it has taken over hillsides, mountainsides. It's really invading and taking over. And one of the negative sides is it really impacts the local landscape, and it really changes the soil, what's going on in the soil. And often it could be damaging to that soil. 

And so that's what you have. So these things can take over and, you know, so that's why the government has had to step in and say, hey, if you have these weeds, you know, we're gonna declare this a noxious weed and we're actually going to set up something about it. 

So let me tell you a little bit about what, what happens here in this state. And it could be, this is a Utah State Legislature. So I'm actually getting this off of the Utah state, the website, and it's called the Utah Noxious Weed Act. And so I think every state might have its own things. But here, because we love the outdoors, we've really buckled down. But basically, let me read what it says to you. So, “if the owner or person in possession of the property fails to take action to control or prevent the spread of noxious weeds within five working days after the property is declared a public nuisance, the county may, after reasonable notification and to the property without consent of the owner, perform any work necessary consistent with the sound weed prevention and control practices to control the weeds.” And then it says, “If the county controls weeds on a piece of property, as described in subsection one, and seeks reimbursement from the owner of record or the person in possession of the property, the county shall send the property owner or person in possession of that property, a documented description of the expense and a demand for payment within 30 days on which the weed control took place.” Now listen to this. This is wrapping up: “The property owner of record [or the person who gets that] shall reimburse the county for the county's expense within 90 days after receipt of the demand for payment.” And the last part, “if the demand for payment is not paid within 90 days, the charges become a lien against the property and are collectible by the county treasurer at the time general property taxes are collected.” 

So, in a summary, if you've got noxious weeds on your property and you're not taking care of them, they have the right to come in and just take care of them without you. And then they have, and then they have the right to send you that bill to pay for it. And if you don't pay it within 90 days, they can actually have a right to put a lien against your property. So I know that sounds crazy. The first time I read that about eight years ago, I thought, this is insane. And I can see both sides of it, you know. On one side, it's your property. Why should the government or anyone else be able to come in and tell you what to do? So I totally see that. 

And on the other side, knowing from my expertise in noxious weeds, the damage that these weeds can do and how fast they can spread, and I've seen it... I've seen people take care of their properties and then neighbors not, and it spreads on, and it's toxic to their dogs. The dogs get sick. 

So with all that being said, I can see why they had to come down so hard. Whether it's right or wrong, that's up to you, you know. But anyway, that's what it is. So these weeds, I mean, as you can see, the government will enforce the removal of these weeds. So it's a pretty serious thing. 

Let's talk a little bit about the ones that I see the most. Now remember that most of the noxious weed control that I do is in Park City, hundreds and thousands of acreage. But I also do quite a bit in Wasatch County, and then we do quite a bit in Utah County and we've got one massive project up in Salt Lake. These are the weeds that I see average of all four of those areas, three or four of those areas. 

So the most common one I see is thistle. And you've got, you know, musk, scotch thistle. You've got yellow star thistle, bull thistle, there’s, and there's a local thistle, which the name is not coming to me right now, but I've seen it in Park City. It’s actually a really pretty plant. 

So thistle, and that one, as you know, when the seeds germinate and its stalks, it's kind of crazy because each of these little seed heads could hold thousands of seeds. And so, like one. You know, one plant could have 10,000 plus seeds in it, and so after it seeds, the head goes to seed and the seeds open up. There's not much you can do. You have to cut it and bag it and get it out of there. Otherwise, that seed's going to drop on the ground, and that one plant could produce 10,000 plus seeds so you can see how, let it go for a few weeks, or maybe a couple of years, and it will take over. It's a nasty one. It's got the spikes. It can cut you up. 

You know, people make teas out of, out of some thistles. I was recently in Scotland, and it's like they're state flower, I think, or whatever. Like, the team, the football team was called the, what was...Inverness Thistles or something like that. You would go to some of the castles and thistles were literally on the buildings, like engraved in stone. So they love it there. 

So I didn't mention that we have to, you know, spend a lot of our time controlling thistle, but anyway, that's probably the biggest one. You'll see that in a lot of areas. You'll see it in lawn areas, flower bed areas, and then tons of native areas. And you'll see them get up to 10-12 feet. And so you know they’re, they’re, if you get them young, especially as rosettes, when they're little babies, they're easy to kill. There you can, you can actually treat them with organic weed controls and have phenomenal success. Once they grow up and they get 5-6-7 feet, it’s just a mess. And once they seed, there's really no point in spraying them because it's already going to die. It'll seed and die off. So at that point, you just want to get those seeds off. 

So the key to a good thistle control is getting there early in the season, as soon as it's a little baby and before it seeds. And either, like I said, you could spot spray with an organic weed control. You can get an over-the-counter weed control. You can pull it out. There's a lot of things you could do, but the key is get it out before its seeds. But yeah, there's five or six types of thistle. 

Another one you'll see a lot is Dyer's Woad. That's kind of a crazy plant. It's really waxy, and so it can be a little harder to kill, because when you spray it, um, you know the product can run off of it, but it produces these really yellowish flowers, and you wouldn't even know they're noxious weeds because they kind of look pretty. But they're a nightmare, and, and so again, get them early.

 And with all these weeds, the complicated part with noxious weeds is you could have 10-15 different types of noxious weeds, and they each have their own life cycle. So some may come up in, in May, drop their seeds and then the next, and then, seed and germinate in September. Some may not come up until July. Some, you know, and even within the thistles, the six types of thistles or whatever I said, some of those don't, they're on a different schedule that you have. 

Then you have your rhizomatous noxious weeds, which are the ones where the runners, like underground, the root systems, it runs on rhizomes, and they're all connected. So think of like one massive plant. Those are the hardest. That's where your Canada thistle, also your field bind weed or morning glory. That's that. And that's why that stuff is so hard to kill. You cut it, it comes back stronger. 

So anyway, you have a lot of different types. A lot of life cycles. And so a good noxious weed control program is really about timing. It's about understanding the weeds, their weakness, and understanding the best method to take care of them. A lot of noxious weeds you can maintain mechanically, which means you remove it with a shovel, with scissors. You cut the heads off. There's a lot of that. Some of them–depends on how infested this gets–some of them you, have to spray them, again. When they're young you can use good organic products, but when they get mature, you just don't have that option. So there you have to have all these tools and this knowledge in your tool belt to really do a good noxious weed control program. 

A couple other than I want to mention. So we talked about the thistles, the dyer’s woad. There's hoary cress, also known as white top. That you see a lot in disturbed areas, so when someone was digging or or installing new landscape or whatever, usually in the soil around that you'll see, you'll see that pop up. It's hoary cress, but it's called white top because once it flowers, it has these white little tops on it. There's poison hemlock you want to watch out for. knapweed, I see a ton of, russian knapweed, spotted knapweed. There's different types of that. Get them young, they're easy. Your field bindweed or your morning, your wild morning glory I talked about, is rhizomatous. It's very hard to kill. Canada thistle as well. 

A couple more. Houndstongue. I see Houndstongue everywhere in Park City. It looks like a pretty plant, but then later in the summer, it comes up as a big, thick plant. You would think it was a native plant, but then in the summer it gets this purple stalk, and it's very easy to identify. You've got quack grass and it just goes on. There's black henbane in Park City. I'm trying to think if there’s anything more that I've missed off the top. I mean, there's toadflax. There's oxeye daisies. There's the spurge that I talked about, the leafy spurge. The list continues.

 And so you can go, to, if you Google “noxious weeds Utah” or whatever state you're in, “noxious weeds Michigan.” If you Google it generally you–because we're so concerned about these weeds–your state will already have a plan in place, and they’ll already have these weeds identified. In Utah we have over 25 somewhere between 25 and 30 on this list, and there's three classes of lists. Some are like, Urgent, woah get them out! Some are like, all right, keep your eyes on it. Don't let it get out of control. There's a lot of different theories. Some people say spray everything and kill it off. Some people have learned how to utilize some of them and keep certain types in the soil, but keep them really at bay. 

So again, it's just having the knowledge of, first, identifying and understanding what type of weed it is, the best way to kill it with having the least amount of impact on the environment, and then the best time of year, and then just developing your plan. You may have to write it out, and often it's more than a one year plan. A lot of these will come back year after year, depending on the infestation. It may be a five year plan, but you can absolutely sit down and you can go through, walk your property, see what weeds you actually have. Write it down or take pictures. Do some research. Find out what they are, find out the best time to kill them, the methods that you feel good about, and then you can lay out a plan once you know their life cycles. Some of them you've got to check on 2-3 times a year. Some of you are going to be out there monthly. So you build your plan. And I would build out a three year plan. And the goal is to really minimize. You may struggle with some of them, completely eradicating them depending on how bad the infestation, but you just want to minimize, you know, the amount and the infestation. 

Of course, you know, if you don't want to deal with that, you can always call a professional. And you know, they're designed, they have larger equipment, specialty equipment, so they can do this very cost effectively and cover large areas. 

But yeah, that's in a nutshell, that's noxious weeds. And I hope this was helpful. Hope you guys have a great day and we'll see on the next episode.

Hey, hey, what is up, everyone? Hope you’re all having a great day. This is going to be a short episode about a topic that I've seen come up quite a bit over the last few months. I know it was daily on my phone, on my daily news feed, and that is about mulching leaves. 

What I've seen, a lot of articles from all over the UK, Europe and here in the States, are saying that we need to, instead of removing the leaves and and all the nutrients that come with it, we need to just kind of let them stay on the grass, and we need to let those nutrients be recycled. And so that was popping up all over. I had even had some clients that were calling me around the same time I saw the articles and say hey, what's going on with this?

 And so I just wanted to give you my opinion on it. I've researched all sides of it and I’ve, you know, from my point of view. And so my thought is this, on one end I love the concept, right. Leaves, they’re going to come from trees so they are a great source of organic matter. There are nutrients in them and so the idea is, yeah, let's recycle them. Instead of always having to put down new fertilizers, let's recycle what nature is giving us. And so I love the idea, and I think it's the right mindset. 

There's a few things that are a little tricky on it. And so, many of you have seen–and maybe you've done this before–you just didn't have a chance to get to your leaves raked up. The snow came. You said I'll deal with it in the spring, But often what can happen in the spring is under the snow or the freeze or the ice that usually covers the ground–you know, here in Utah, it's going to be feet of snow, back East it might be a sheet of ice or maybe just a hard frozen ground–those leaves can often sit there, and just basically suffocate the lawn, the grass areas throughout the winter. And then what can happen a lot of times is, because of it just sitting there, in the spring, you could see different fungal issues. One in particular I'm thinking of is gray snow mold. Also pink snow mold. That's kind of a negative side about it. 

I love the idea. And I think, I think the answer is somewhere in the middle. I also know just from seeing it years on end that, you know, if you just leave those leaves, your lawn is going to be mostly dead or destroyed, and you're going to need a major reseeding in the spring. My suggestion to my clients and to anyone who may be looking and trying understand what to do, is a little bit of both. So I love the idea. 

I would say if you have a great mower that's got a great mulcher on it, and you can really mulch those leaves up very fine and small and shoot some of those back on the yard, I think that way be able to get a benefit from the leaves without suffocating. The big thing you want to avoid is big piles or just thickness. No sunlight getting to the root system. You know, just constantly blocked from nutrients, from water, and create a great atmosphere for fungus. So I would say, if you have a great mower and it mulches really well, maybe you'd change or freshen or clean your mulch blades and then, you know, run it through and you can run it. But I would probably have you run over it a few times in different directions, really blade it up and then leave it. Of course, you just want to avoid the leaves building up and preventing sunlight, oxygen, and different nutrients from getting down into the soil. 

But I think there is some benefit here, and I think you can do it to a small degree, and I definitely like it, and I'd recommend it. And it's the same thing with lawn clippings during the year. You know, if you cut your grass at four inches and you’ve got two inches of clippings, it's going to suffocate and kill off the grass if you leave it there. But a little bit can go a long way, and it doesn't take that much. The risk, is especially like with the grass clippings, you know, if you have, if you have a fungus or an issue in the soil and you’re shooting that back in you could spread it. Same concept here with the leaves. But overall, if you've got a healthy lawn and you want to get a little extra kick out of your leaves, go ahead. Mulch them up multiple directions. Get them real fine, real small. Don't let it suffocate or cover too much of the ground, and you've got a great way to get a little bit of organic matter back into the soil. 

That's my thoughts on that, and I hope you have a great day.

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