Choosing the Right Lawn Care Company: Why UltraLawn Stands Out

Local, Iowa Lawn Expertise & Tailored Programs

If you’ve taken some time to look through our website, or are an existing customer, you’ve noticed the pride that we take in providing the best service possible! From using the most effective products available to thorough communication with customers (both existing and potential), we take every step possible to make sure we’re doing things the right way. ULTRALawn has served eastern Iowa homeowners since the 1970s, making us one of the longest standing lawn care companies in the area.

Our staff consists of educated and experienced individuals, most of which are native to Iowa. Having decades of local knowledge has been critical in helping us craft lawn care programs that utilize the correct products at the right times. We respond quickly to issues that are affecting our local environment, and we understand that our unique micro-climate requires the kind of care that may not fit into a “textbook” program.

Conventional wisdom has long recommended an application of pre-emergent crabgrass control in the early spring. Over the years, we’ve added pre-emergent herbicide to our second treatment in the spring. The window for crabgrass germination outlasts a single application in the spring, so we’ve modified our program to include a second dose of herbicide, ensuring that your lawn stays free of crabgrass and foxtail. While it is just one example, there is a constant evaluation of product usage and timing to better fit our unique climate.

Value Over Price

Cost is one of the most important factors a customer weighs when deciding between companies and products. UltraLawn will never sell itself as the cheapest lawn care provider, but we instead stress value. Our lawn program isn’t just like everyone else’s. What makes us different is what makes us better. It’s very important that we are proficient in communicating what sets us apart from our competitors. Here are some important points to convey if someone is trying to cancel, or wondering why they should consider us:

  • We are a LOCAL If they call, they are talking to someone in Hiawatha who personally knows the technicians that work on our customers’ lawns. TruGreen, Weed Man and Naturescape are national chains, and even though they may have a local number, there’s no guarantee that the person they talk to is actually in the area.
  • Grub Control is part of the 6-application program. Most importantly, anyone who receives the grub preventer is eligible for ONE FREE INSECTICIDE APPLICATION if there is an insect breakthrough. The product we use has a manufacturer’s guarantee and we honor that.
  • Nutsedge treatments are not an additional service. We do this when we spot-treat weeds as part of our mid-summer application. If necessary, we give our technicians the necessary product to spot treat for this when we complete our early Fall application as well. I have seen our competitors charge extra for nutsedge treatment.
  • Our fertilizer has a higher percentage of organic matter and biosolids than our competitors. This means that we are giving the plant the nutrients it needs AND building the topsoil with a superior product. Synthetic fertilizers are made with fillers that have no benefit to the lawn. We use products that are designed to release slowly, giving turf a steady diet of what it needs. Color and growth are more consistent using these products, and we avoid peaks and valleys in the appearance of a lawn.
  • We offer FREE service calls to any customer that receives 4 consecutive applications or more. These help us maintain our guarantee of satisfaction and are often necessary when dealing with especially persistent weeds.

At some point, a customer may show you an estimate or mailer advertising prices that we can’t compete with. More than likely, those are introductory prices meant to generate new sales. What will the prices be after the first season with that company? Our pricing is based strictly on the size of the lawn, making us consistent and fair.

UltraLawn isn’t just selling a quality lawn and healthy turf; we’re promising our customers a team of people that is approachable, friendly, cooperative, honest, and wants to work with the homeowner to give them the outdoor space they hoped for. Our technicians are the most important piece of that puzzle, and are the face that our customers most frequently see and recognize. When our customers feel like they have a relationship with their lawn technician, they are more likely to keep us as their lawn care provider.

Transparent & Consistent Lawn Care Pricing

There are many companies offering lawn care services in our area. In fact, you probably have received a call or mailer from at least a few of them! Larger, nation-wide companies (Tru-Green, NatureScape, WeedMan, Spring Green) can aggressively advertise and have marketing teams dedicated to soliciting new business. One marketing ploy we frequently see from our competitors is offering low introductory pricing. These discounts are great if the main goal is to save money, but those prices will inevitably rise, and the end result is a disappointed customer. We believe in consistency and honesty, and there will never be games with our pricing at UltraLawn. We promise results, knowing that the best value is achieved by doing our job better than everyone else.

Personalized Customer Service

We all have probably encountered a situation where we had to call customer service for an issue that seemed like a relatively quick fix. However, after being led through a maze of menu options, you’re left waiting on hold for several minutes. When someone finally does pick up on the other end, you’re forced to repeat all of your information again, the individual is in a call center far away from home, or you get transferred to another person who may or may not be able to actually help. It’s disheartening to know that if an issue comes up with your lawn, your call could be going to a main office in Chicago, Memphis, or Ontario!

When you call UltraLawn, you can be assured that your call will be answered by someone in our lone office in Hiawatha. If you need to leave a message for someone, your call will be returned by a trusted expert who has been to your property and has the knowledge to answer your questions. It can be very reassuring to know that, when dealing with a locally owned business, you’re more than “just a number”.

Choosing the right lawn care provider is about more than just prices. It’s about finding a company that values local expertise, offers exceptional value, transparent pricing, superior products, and personalized customer service. At UltraLawn, we stand out in all these aspects, and we’re committed to delivering the highest standard of lawn care to our customers. Contact us today to experience the UltraLawn difference!

What Did We See in 2023?

As 2022 was coming to a close, we did a quick synopsis of what we had encountered that growing season. The general feeling was that it was a very unique year and we were hopeful that some of the problems we found wouldn’t become new traditions. The good news is that insect issues were not nearly as bad in 2023, and that was a major concern of ours heading into this season! The bad news is that the periodic stretches of dry weather from 2022 turned into a near season-long drought in 2023.

Drought Stress Continues...

A relatively mild, dry winter started our year off with a moisture deficit. That deficit never went away, as every month of the growing season failed to provide the amount of moisture we needed to return our lawns and landscapes to a state of proper hydration. Without additional irrigation, plants lacked color and vigor. Flowers were sparse and small, and scenic landscapes lacked their usual “wow!” factor. Depending on species, some mature shade trees showed various signs of drought stress all season.

On lawns, the prolonged drought showed itself in a number of ways. The vibrant green color of spring was faded and lawns came out of winter more slowly. It is usually a battle to keep the lawn mowed in the months of May and June, because the grass is growing very fast. We did not have that problem this year, and the lack of growth meant thin or bare areas never fully healed. Lawns were battling dormancy all summer, resulting in a thinning of the turf and increased susceptibility to compaction, traffic, and insect damage. A reduced turf canopy opened the soil to warmth and sunlight, which gave weeds an avenue to break through. Luckily, some timely rains in the later part of fall helped hydrate the soil and give our plant life much needed water to help restore some of its lost luster. The late rains also gave us a clear picture on areas that may require seeding in the spring.

The Unexpected Culripts

Another issue that was frustrating to us and our customers involved the increased amount of raccoon damage that was seen for a few weeks in October. Whenever we see animals digging through turf, our immediate reaction is to assume that there is a problem with insects. Even after using a product that kills grubs and other surface insects, the raccoons were still digging! Why? Well, we learned a few things! First, raccoon populations have exploded across the state of Iowa over the last 15 years. The price for fur has gone down considerably, and fewer people are trapping them as a source of income. Due to several dry years in a row, it is becoming more difficult for them to find food in their natural habitat. As a result, they are searching around homes and in urban areas for something to eat. Second, they don’t care if their food is alive or dead. We found a few grubs on properties that were dealing with raccoons, but they were not white or lively. Those grubs weren’t damaging the turf, but a hungry raccoon doesn’t care. Third, raccoons are great at finding anything to eat. It turns out their presence doesn’t indicate an insect issue at all. The problem was the raccoons themselves. There are simply too many of them and the only solution that was found that had a positive impact was to trap or eliminate them. The state of Iowa has changed its laws around dealing with raccoons, and our hope is that their populations come under control and they stop being such a nuisance for our customers.

I Have My Own Irrigation System! Am I Doing This Right?

iowa lawn irrigation

Congratulations! You’ve just bought the house of your dreams in Iowa City or Cedar Rapids, IA! It’s a great feeling – this is the kind of home you’ve worked for and you just know that you’re going to be happy there. You’re a bit of a lawn nut too, and you’ve stumbled into a property that has an in-ground irrigation system. No more brown or yellow lawn in July and August when things get too dry. You can have a nice, lush, green lawn the whole season, and the title of “Turf King” is in your sights.

Oh, if only it was that easy! Water is essential for all plant growth, we all know this. But did you know that too MUCH water is actually worse for plants than too little? The tendency for homeowners is to water too much. If you water every night, then it won’t go dry! That may be true, but we’ll cover the danger behind that thinking in a bit. Or, the company that installed the system put together a schedule that doesn’t take into account the environment at your property; “factory settings”, if you will. Having an irrigation system can be a major convenience and a beneficial item in the quest for the best lawn on the block. However, they do require constant monitoring and maintenance to make sure they’re doing the job correctly.

Turf irrigation is a broad topic that could fill several hours and many pages of reading material. Turf professionals all across the world spend considerable time on the “simple” act of watering the turf. We’ll try to keep things relatively simple (after all, we’re not hosting Wimbledon or the Super Bowl on our lawns) and touch on the key points that will help you get a grasp of how to make your irrigation system work for you!


So, What is the Right Amount of Water?

In general terms, one inch of water per week is recommended for growing healthy turf. It’s a decent benchmark, but that number should change through the course of the season. When temperatures are cool, daylight hours are short, and if we go through a stretch of cloudy skies, your lawn will need very little water. At the peak of summer heat, one inch of water probably isn’t enough! The best way to determine how much water is enough is to examine the turf itself. Grass has an amazing way of telling us what it needs! This isn’t a difficult thing to do, taking a few minutes to walk across the lawn will give you an idea of what it needs for water.


What do I look for??

Luckily, turfgrass gives us ample warning when it starts to dry out. The first thing we look for is a change of color. The green color fades a bit and starts to take on a grayish cast. As it progresses, it starts to take on a purple cast as well. At this stage, the leaf of the plant breaks and bends easily. Walking on it will leave very noticeable footprints (as shown below). You may notice that the grass has stopped growing in those spots as well. This is the IDEAL time to water. A deep, thorough irrigation the night/morning after seeing turf at this stage will be extremely beneficial, and the best technique for the health of the turf.


If the turf doesn’t receive any water at the above time and goes a few more days without water, the purple cast becomes brown patches. If you pull at the turf in these spots, it will stay in place (meaning that it isn’t some sort of insect chewing at roots). The soil has very little moisture at this point, and a very deep irrigation is needed to bring things back. Watering a few nights per week may be necessary to give the turf enough water so green growth is again visible. Unfortunately, it may take a few weeks for everything to green up if the lawn is allowed to dry out to what is seen below. Once the leaf tissue is dried out, it takes time for the turf to regenerate enough new growth that the damaged turf is mowed off.


Anything past the conditions shown above means the lawn has likely gone into full dormancy. Dormancy means the plant has shut down and is waiting for conditions to be right again in order to revive regular growth. This could take several weeks or more.


Watering “Correctly”

Now that we’ve covered what to look for, we’ll discuss what it means to water properly (yes, there is a right and wrong way to water plants). The rule of thumb for turf is “deep and infrequent”. We want to water the lawn thoroughly, with the goal of putting about ½” water on the turf. When do we want to water? We talked about that earlier, we want to water the turf when it gets to the grey/purple stage we showed earlier. That is when the plant and the soil will be most receptive to moisture. 

When we talk about amounts of water, it can be confusing because irrigation controllers aren’t adjusted based on amounts, they’re adjusted based on time. How much water is a ten-minute cycle? Is thirty minutes enough? There’s an easy way to find out! You can place a few containers (empty soup cans, Tupperware containers, etc.) in the lawn a few feet apart. They have to be in a spot that is irrigated by one “zone” of irrigation heads, and they have to be the same container to give us consistent readings. A zone is a group of several heads that run at the same time, and water a specific area of the lawn. If you turn that particular zone on for 15 minutes, we can figure out how much water that area is getting in one hour by measuring the average amount of water in those containers and multiplying by 4. For example, if there is 0.2” of water in the container after 15 minutes, then you can expect 0.8” for an hour of operation. It’s expected to have some inconsistencies, but we’re hoping to get a ballpark figure to help guide our watering decisions. The more containers we can use, the better. In that case, running two zones at the same time might be necessary.

Depending on the weather conditions, we may be able to water once a week, or if things got away from us a bit, we might have to water two nights in a row. During a stretch where we’re getting ample rain, we could go several weeks without running an irrigation system. The key to all of this is being able to recognize when the plant needs water, and only watering when needed. 


So Why Should We Let It Get So Dry?

When plants are healthy, they grow. Not only are the leaves and “showy” parts thriving, but the roots are growing too. The thicker and deeper the roots, the more efficient the plant is at taking in water and nutrients. Drying the plant out actually encourages roots to grow deeper in search of more water.  We starve the plant of water until it shows signs of drought stress, then we give it a thorough drink to quench its thirst. In general, a ½” of water should moisten the soil approximately 6” deep. Maintaining this cycle of deep watering on dry turf will encourage a thicker root system to the point that irrigation becomes even less frequent.

If we water too frequently in small amounts, the roots never have a chance to go searching for water. Shallow root growth is going to lead to many issues and a plant that isn’t healthy. Over-watered turf will take on a bit of a yellow cast and will thin out over time. If the roots shrink, so will the plant. This watering patterns leads to excessive moisture in the thatch layer, which can lead to turf disease. In extreme cases of overwatering, the soil becomes soft and prone to mower damage. Weed infestation becomes possible due to the soil being wet and the plant thinning out. If we enter a period of very hot weather and the soil surface is wet, we run the danger of seeing scalded turf. The top layer of soil turns into an oven, and this deadly combination of heat and moisture literally cooks the roots. 

Water is a precious resource, and we don’t want to see any of it wasted. I’m sure we’ve all driven down the street in the rain and noticed irrigation running at a business or home. Those are situations we absolutely want to avoid. There certainly is a responsibility that comes with having an irrigation system. Being armed with the knowledge of proper watering techniques will help your lawn, the environment, and the level of enjoyment from having it. Irrigation doesn’t have to be irritation!

Tips for Getting Newly Delivered Trees & Shrub Healthy

tips for healthy trees and shrubs in cedar rapids

The extreme weather events of 2020 decimated and changed our environment. It has been estimated that 80% of the tree cover in Cedar Rapids is gone. Each year, that number goes up. Heavily damaged trees that have held on may not come out of the winter – increasing the number of mature trees lost due to the Derecho. On top of that, the damage from Emerald Ash
Borers continues to increase in severity, leading our municipalities on a project to eliminate all ash trees from right-of-way areas.

This has led to an explosion of tree planting in Cedar Rapids! While we love turf grass and helping you care for it, we understand and appreciate the value, beauty and environmental benefits that come from trees. UltraLawn offers a variety of services to help restore your landscape and maintain Cedar Rapids’ status as one of America’s best cities for trees.

Tips for Planting a Newly Delivered Tree

Planting a new tree is just the beginning. Any time a living plant is moved to a new location, it creates a stressful situation for that living organism. In order to package and transport a new tree, it must be dug from the soil in a process that removes root material. Roots are the life vessels for all plants, and there is a period of “shock” that we must help the plant endure. In addition to regular watering, supplemental fertilization will also help a great deal in restoring lost root material. When new grass is planted, we recommend watering until the plant develops a root structure that allows it to retrieve its own nourishment. Fertilization enhances the roots and helps the plant mature more rapidly.

Tips for Planting a Newly Delivered Shrub or Bush

The same thought applies to shrubs, but with a slower timeline. Once shrub or bush roots start to take hold, it is extremely beneficial to start deep-root fertilizations in the spring and fall. How can we tell if a shrub has started to take root? Simply look at the leaves! If they are green and full, that means the roots are effectively moving water and nutrients throughout the plant. If
you planted a bush in the fall, monitor the buds the following spring. If they emerge and enlarge, then you’re in good shape. Knowing this, we can get some nutrients in the soil to help replenish what was cut off in the transplant process.

In plants, the roots and shoots (all above ground growth) have a symbiotic relationship with the leaves. A healthy root system is able to absorb more water and nutrients, which are sent up to the plant to create more stems and leaves. With more leaves, the plant is able to manufacture more carbohydrates. Those starches are sent to the roots to create root tissue. Think of it as an engine, and fertilization is the fuel.

If you have new trees and are wondering how we can help give them a boost, please contact us for more information and a free quote!

When is it Time to Hire a Lawn Care Professional?

hire a lawn care professional

Since establishing our business in 1985 and helping thousands of customers across the corridor, we’ve encountered a variety of reasons why people have trusted us with their lawn care. No matter the reasons, everyone has their own motivation, or breaking point, for letting professionals help. We’ll talk about the most common discussions we encounter when chatting with new customers.

“I Just Don’t Have Time to Worry About It!”

In a 2007 survey, 30% of American homeowners hired an outside firm to help care for their lawn and landscape. In 2017, that number had grown to 40% percent. More recent surveys would likely reflect an even larger percentage hiring lawn care companies. There are many factors leading to this; working more hours and more time spent commuting to and from work leaves less time during the week to work on the lawn and landscape. After a long day of work, it’s understandable that trying to get everything mowed before sunset is less of a priority. With less time during the week, that leaves the weekend for tackling the list of tasks. Sounds great! Well, maybe NOT so great. It’s going to be rainy all weekend? The kids have baseball and soccer games two hours away? We all work very hard to do things that we enjoy, and the purpose of a weekend is for relaxing and doing fun things. You can see where I’m going with this; our time is valuable, and taking care of a home (inside and outside) is time consuming. Our job is lawn care. We do during business hours what our customers cannot. If Mother Nature interferes with our day, we can adjust and complete things as soon as weather allows. Many homeowners don’t have that flexibility. There’s a limited time to do things, and bad luck can ruin the best of intentions.

“Am I Even Doing This Right?”

Turf management requires a great deal of technical knowledge and experience, like other skilled trades and professions. Many people don’t feel comfortable taking care of their lawn or don’t trust their own level of knowledge. A lot can go wrong if products are used incorrectly. Having been in business since 1985, the staff at UltraLawn has amassed an impressive resume of education and experience. This experience and knowledge has been used to come up with the best blend of fertilizers and weed control. We also have developed programs for controlling insects and disease on landscape plants and ornamental trees, mosquito control, preventing various insects from entering the home, and controlling vegetation in areas that aren’t mowed.

The products that we use are not the same as what can be bought at the “big box stores”. Raw materials used to create fertilizers vary greatly. Naturally, a better raw material demands a higher cost, and those products are usually used by professionals. Because of recent issues with manufacturing and suppliers, it’s becoming more difficult for homeowners and smaller lawn care companies to obtain high-level products. As one of the largest lawn care providers serving the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City area, we have developed relationships with vendors that have put us in a favorable position to make sure that we have the right ingredients to help your lawn.

One obstacle that may make a person hesitant is the cost; the equipment and products needed for DIY lawn care are fairly expensive. Unfortunately, those costs don’t appear to be coming down any time soon. By hiring UltraLawn to feed your lawn what it needs and to eliminate weeds, there’s no need to keep bulky equipment in the garage that may only be used for a few hours every year. You won’t have the hassle of keeping pesticides or fertilizers, let us worry about keeping that product safe and sound. Products and labor aren’t the only thing you’re buying when you are an UltraLawn customer. You’re buying over 250 years of experience taking care of lawns in Iowa. That type of expertise isn’t easily found under one roof.

The turf industry is constantly changing, with new and improved products being released regularly. We are always looking for any way to improve results, and utilizing better science is an easy choice to make. As stewards of the land, we take very seriously our responsibility to care for the environment in a way that provides results for our customers and is kind to the ecosystem.

“The Work Has Become Too Difficult”

Lawn care is hard work. Mowing, mulching, raking, watering, pruning…not to mention an extremely rare hurricane-force weather event that turned everyone’s lives upside-down! As time marches on, we all slow down just a bit, and there is no shame in enlisting the help of others. “Many hands make light work”. We understand that some of our customers have taken meticulous care of their home for decades. The least we can do is approach their property with respect, care, and a keen eye for detail that leaves them satisfied and proud. We’re well-equipped and trained to do the job right!

No matter what reason someone has for calling in the lawn care calvary, the dedicated staff at UltraLawn is here to provide help in any way possible. And if you’re not completely sure about it, our estimates are free!

Tips for Seeding Lawns in Eastern Iowa

Seeding grass growing with UltraLawn

If you’ve been waiting to seed those thin or bare patches in your lawn, we suggest timing it between August and September to get optimal results for homeowners in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. Once the seed is down, it’s important to begin daily watering immediately. At least twice per day is a must in order to keep the surface soil moist. Depending on the heat, additional shots of water may be needed. If the seed has been properly irrigated, you should see germination (sprouting) within a couple weeks. Once the germination process has completed (around four weeks) you can begin to reduce your watering routine to two to three times per week – an application of 1.5” of water at a time is typically sufficient. Seeded areas will need to be watered and fertilized throughout the growing season to allow it to thicken. These first year seedlings will not take drought well and will require your attention to survive the remaining hot summer months.

Once seedlings reach around 3.5” tall, you can include those areas as you mow the lawn. Make sure to leave 2.5” to 3” of the blade remaining – mowing too short will stress this new grass which can allow weed infiltration. Remember, these areas of your lawn can’t receive weed control treatments at this time and you should expect some weeds to show up as the new grass matures.

Avoid heavy foot traffic on these new patches until they’ve been mowed four to fives times. It may take up to a couple full years until these seeded areas reach the full thickness and health of your existing lawn. The speed of recovery ultimately comes down to water access so keep this rhyme in mind – keep it wet to avoid regret!

Remember that Ultralawn is here to help. If you’d like us to assist you in seeding your lawn, give us a call or contact us online for a quote. Every invoice comes with tips and comments related to our visit. See why homeowners in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City know that the grass is always greener (and fuller) on the UltraLawn side of the fence!

How to Get the Best-Looking Lawn for your Time and Money

If grubs overtake your lawn this spring, will you know how to get rid of them? Do you have the time and skill to effectively patch those ugly bare spots that developed over the winter? A lush lawn and beautiful landscape are on virtually every homeowner’s wish list, but a lack of time and knowledge commonly keep people from effectively caring for their own lawns.

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