Angie's List: Lawn Care

The quest for a lush, green lawn takes a lot of work, and involves more than just mowing. More on treating your lawn without getting mowed down, in Friday night's Just before Six.

Denise Wallace enjoys her yard, but she didn't have the time to keep up on lawn maintenance, so she hired a company to spray and take care of the weeds. But she wasn't fully satisfied with the work.

"We never really actually saw them spray the yard, there would just be a little sign in the yard that said they had done the spraying and on the yard itself the weeds would be brown at the tip but they would never go away,” says homeowner Denise Wallace. “Several times we called in and asked them to come back out and retreat and they would attempt to and another sign would be left, but the weeds would never go away."

"When it comes to lawn care you typically aren't even home as a consumer when the job is done so unfortunately we hear horror stories where the company didn't actually do what they said they were going to do, or they actually damaged the lawn so you want to be sure you have a good company that knows what they are doing," explains Angie Hicks the founder of Angie’s List.

Fertilizing your lawn is worthwhile in any climate and can help your lawn stay healthy. Other than seeing the little flag in your yard, how can you be sure the company is applying the treatment?

"Fertilizer granules colors are usually white or yellow, sometimes they can be a purple or aqua color, but typically white or yellow are the ones you are going to see usually,” says lawn care contractor Marcus Hoone. “The size is usually about cat litter size, so that is what you are looking for when you look for the granules along the edges."

You'll also notice spreader tracks in the grass. If you have your lawn sprayed for weeds, the weeds should curl up in about a week or two.

"When hiring a lawn care company to work on your lawn it's going to be a long-term relationship,” says Angie. “A beautiful lawn is not made overnight so you want to establish a relationship with a reputable company."

And don't fall in love with the first lawn care company you meet.

"When hiring a lawn care company get at least three estimates, they should be estimates at your home where they evaluate your yard,” explains Angie. “You should get a written document of what is going to be done on each application and be there for the first couple of applications so you can ask questions and learn how to best take care of your lawn."

Fertilizer adds nitrogen to your lawn, but if you add too much, it can actually dry it out and kill it. You'll be able to tell if you over-fertilized if you notice yellow or brown spots where the grass has died.

And be careful using pesticides, check the ingredients. Some can be very harsh on a lawn and cause damage.

Content:
Many homeowners strive for the perfect, emerald green lawn, but it takes more than regular mowing. Fertilizing is worthwhile in any climate, but a necessity when the soil lacks nutrients.

Angie's List, the nation's leading provider of consumer reviews , asked highly rated lawn care companies about applying treatments to your lawn.
• Organic and synthetic lawn fertilizers are a good tool for maintaining a healthy lawn: Fertilizer promotes a lush growth, strengthens roots and helps to prevent invasive weeds and pests.
• There are many varieties of lawn fertilizer available: Most consist of three key nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The most popular types of lawn fertilizer are granule and liquid.
• Avoid over-fertilizing: Spreading too much fertilizer can overwhelm your grass. Fertilizer adds nitrogen to your lawn, but if you add too much, it can actually dry it out and kill it. You'll be able to tell if you over-fertilized if you notice yellow or brown spots where the grass has died.
• Don't overuse chemicals: Pesticides can be essential to preventing infestations and disease but should be used with great caution. Some pesticides are very harsh on a lawn and can cause as much new damage as it prevents in old damage. All pesticides should be checked for natural ingredients which should take preference over harsher chemical based pesticides.

Unlike with mowing, lawn treatment doesn't produce immediate results, so it can be difficult to monitor the quality of service. In some cases, homeowners went months or even years before realizing they were paying for shoddy service.

Angie's List Tips: Hiring a high-quality fertilization & treatment service
• On-site estimate: Don't hire a company that won't inspect your grass before starting work. The technician should provide an in-home estimate and measure the size of your lawn, understand your grass type and take note of existing damage.
• Don't trust generic, guaranteed, quick cures: Each lawn is a unique, growing plant, and even lawns side-by-side in the same neighborhood may need different treatment. Recovery will depend on a number of factors.
• Beware low price: Be wary of treatment companies with flashy ads that sound too good to be true. If the price is extremely low, expect an aggressive upsell.
• Think it over: Avoid companies that encourage you to sign a service contract on the spot.
• Read before you sign: Get a written contract, read and understand it before you agree to hire. It should include a refund policy and guarantee. Get a detailed invoice after each visit that details the scope of work.
• Check out your lawn: Make a point to look at your lawn if you are not home during a treatment. Lawn care specialist say homeowners should see fertilizer granules in their yard for at least a few hours after the application in most cases.


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