Spring has just arrived. The sun is shining. Birds are singing. The neighbor's lawn is starting to look green and alive. So why is mine still brown and dormant? Ete takes a look at some of the factors that affect exactly when turfgrass comes out of winter dormancy.
Ete realizes that having grown up with a gardening mom, and having himself been in the fert business since the age of 14, fertilization has always just been part of life, not something that he's ever really questioned. After a few people recently asked him whether lawns even really need fertilization, he gave it some thought. Today Ete discusses the whys of lawn fertilization.
Hey, Hey, what is up everyone? This is Ete with another episode of Eco Law Science. Today I want to talk about a question that I actually had never thought of because I've been in the lawn care industry since I was 14 years old. I'm 36 now, so I'll let you do the math. And so it's a question I actually never considered. But this is it–and apparently a lot of people are searching for this and want an answer for this–and the question is, do I need to fertilize my lawn? Why is it important to fertilize my lawn?
I guess I'd never thought of it cause I've always been around fertilization. I've always been around plants. My mom was a gardener. She still is. She's got a property back in Jersey that she loves to weed and to grow. And it's really, it's really incredible what she's done there. It's just...people love it. So we always grew up around, you know, things that flourished. And my mom would always fertilize her plants and her beds, you know, with the Holly Tone. I remember as a kid, that stuff smelled so awful. So I never thought about it, but yeah, this question came up a few times recently and I thought, wow, I guess, I guess some people didn't grow up in that and didn't, weren't always around it, and so it wasn't part of their life.
So I think the best analogy for that, I really, I look at the body. I think...you look at the human body, you know, there are things that it needs to survive. It needs obviously a lot of water and needs, you know, minerals. It needs macro/micro nutrients. We need sunlight. We, yes, we do. We need, you know, to keep healthy and for our mental state, we need sunlight. We need exercise and we need to nourish ourselves. So those are, those are just some basics, you know, then we need, you know, there's this whole gut thing with the probiotics. So there's all those different elements and that's a very simplistic description of the most complex thing in the world. But when we look at the lawn, it's not that different. And that's why I use the human body analogy. You need...It's a living, breathing things that are alive and there's biology and it all has to work together. Just like the body. Somehow the blood is pumped from your heart to your brain through the body. You know, it's really incredible, incredible science. But lawns are complex also because it's just basically, it's a, it's an ecosystem of living organisms and things.
And so just like the body, we need macronutrients in a lawn, you know, the N-P-K. We need micro nutrients: we need zinc and copper and calcium just like our bodies do. And so for our bodies, we take, sometimes we take a vitamin pill or we get through our foods. Same thing with the lawn. It needs those nutrients. Lawns don't naturally have everything they need to flourish. You know, and I've talked about this before, if you were to go in a jungle, in a forest, you may see that happening. But there's also no mankind interrupting what's happening. There's no interruption. So in a home...in an area where you're trying to have a healthy lawn, it's just like the body, and just like the body, you need macro/micro nutrients. You need organic matter. You know, as we put in the body's needs, you know, vegetables and plants. And then it also needs, you know, like I said, a probiotic. You take those in your body. There's these millions of little bacteria, same thing with the lawn. And that's where the compost teas come in, to boost the immune system, and the carbon sources.
And so why do you need to a fertilizer lawn? Because just like a body, it needs assistance, it needs, it needs extra help. Lawns naturally fall short on nitrogen. They naturally fall short in some areas of, on iron and other minerals. Some of them, you do soil samples, they will have no, or low, organic matter. So they need, you know, some organic compost built into the soil. And so it's kind of a similar thing that if you were to pull it off, what happens to your body? You get, you usually get sick. You can kind of tell when someone has that look like, ooh, they don't look good. They look, I don't know, maybe they're pale and they don't look healthy, you know. Same thing with a lawn. You can see it when you see a lawn that's not nourished and taken care of, it is yellowish often chlorotic. It's not attractive. It's not thriving. And it's because it's sick. And so the real way to counter that is to feed it properly. And just like the body, you know, you don't want to put 20 Big Macs in a day and say, oh, I overfed myself. You know, like the lawn, you don't want to overfeed in one one nutrient, you don't want to. And the synthetic at that, you know, you want to do balanced meals and it's the same thing for your lawn if you feed it balanced, using the proper micro/macro nutrients and the proper organic soil conditioners and you know, all these other things that we do, you'll have a healthy lawn.
And so, yeah, just like anything else that's living and breathing, it needs to have food. It needs a food source. So I hope that kind of answers the question, why do I need fertilizer? Do I need to fertilize my lawn? And also hope it answers the question or makes you think, how, how do I do that? And just a little bit back to, you know, like I was saying, just, just a balanced, healthy meal is your best win. So anyway, hope that helps. Have a great day.
There is a big debate in the lawn and plant health care world about compost tea. Many say it is a cure-all wonder product and many others say it is snake oil. I have been working and researching compost teas for about a decade. I share the pros and cons of compost teas.
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.
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.