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 turf 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 cavalry, 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!

What does Salt Damage look like on my lawn?

'Tis the Season For Salt...

As we wrap up our winter and prepare for spring, our attention turns to green grass and blooming flowers. Spring signals the season of regrowth and rejuvenation, but it can also pose many issues and problems left over from the winter. One of those problems is salt damage. Despite the necessity of using salt melt to keep us safe, there are downsides to its’ use as well! It’s use can be extremely damaging to turf and landscape plants. Salt granules will move off pavement to turf areas and landscape beds, where it dissolves and saturates the soil. This extremely concentrated saltwater dries out roots and makes the soil toxic to plants. Salt damage can also occur on bushes and shrubs when the foliage of these plants is covered in salt or salt water.

Salt-damaged turf and landscape plants damaged by salt show many of the same symptoms. In all cases of salt damage, moisture is lost from the plant or the soil. Salt absorbs incredible amounts of water, and the result is a plant leaf or soil that has had a great amount of moisture removed. That moisture is essential for plant health, so the effects are extremely detrimental! Salt-damaged turf is usually yellow/brown, accompanied by the turf having a very “crunchy” texture. Leaf edges on trees & shrubs will be discolored with curled/deformed edges.

Can Salt Damage be "Fixed"?

To a certain extent, yes. However, that extent usually isn’t known until late spring when plants have recovered from winter dormancy and are fully growing. Light salt damage will go away once spring rains begin, and salt is flushed from the soil. If salt damage is suspected, one could spray down the foliage of exposed plants, and saturate the soil to speed up this flushing process. New growth emerges and the damaged plant material falls or is mowed off. On slow-growing plants, this damage may take a few years to grow out, and be properly pruned off. However, part of that strategy being effective is making sure that no further salt damage is done (we’ll touch on that later). In our part of the country, where copious amounts of salt may be used in a bad winter season, the damage may not be so light. Plants may need to be replaced, and turf areas will require new seed or sod. Once the dead/damaged plant material is removed, new soil will need to be added in its place. In order to make sure salts are out of the soil, it is recommended that gypsum is applied. Gypsum contains calcium and sulfur, which help to counter the effects of salt. It is a good maintenance practice to apply gypsum in the spring and fall to areas where salt damage may occur, as building up calcium and sulfur in the soil will help mitigate further damage.

Can Salt Damage be prevented?

In a word, yes! In some instances, using ice melt products is unavoidable. The good news is that there are products available that are much safer to use around plants and turf. Our “typical” ice melt is made of sodium chloride. It’s inexpensive and effective, making it the most-used product. However, it is not kind to plants and can even corrode concrete and stone over time.  Magnesium chloride is much safer to use around plants and turf, but is more expensive and can be hard on certain flowers. It is a great option, as it is moderately priced compared to some other ice melt products while being gentle to most plants. Calcium chloride is a product that is effective at VERY low temperatures, and while it isn’t completely safe to plants, is a better option than sodium chloride. Potassium chloride is safe to use on plants but the cost of raw materials has risen over the last few years making this an expensive product to use. There are a few different Acetate products (containing calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium) that are “as corrosive as tapwater”, making them the safest products to use for plants, pets, and hard surfaces. Acetate products are used on airport runways and other critical areas where performance is paramount, but they are the most expensive products available.

 

While it probably isn’t feasible to treat our properties like an airport runway, plant damage can be avoided by using plant-safe products where necessary. The added cost for the right product is worth it, if it means saving time and avoiding the cost of replacing turf and landscape plants.

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