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Choosing The Right Lawn Care Service
Many people choose to hire a professional company to help maintain their lawn. Lawncare companies offer a range of services, from fertilizing and pest control to aerating,mowing and renovation. Here are some important questions to ask when deciding whichlawn care service is best for you:
Is the company licensed? Nearly all states require lawn care companies to be licensed. The qualifications for obtaining a license vary from state to state, but having a license isone indication that the company is reputable and operating legally.
Does the company have a good track record? Ask neighbors and friends who have dealtwith the company if they were satisfied with the service they received. Call the BetterBusiness Bureau or the state or local consumer protection office in you area; have theyreceived any complaints about the company? Determine from the state pesticideregulatory agency if the company has a history of violations.
Is the company affiliated with a professional lawn care association? Affiliation with aprofessional association helps members to stay informed of new developments in thelawn care field.
Does the company offer a variety of pest management approaches? Does it applypesticides on a set schedule or only when they are really needed? Does it use integratedpest management, or "IPM" - an approach that often reduces pesticide use by combiningit with other, non-chemical methods of pest control? More and more lawn companies areoffering integrated pest management (IPM) in response to public concern aboutpesticides. Be aware that IPM is a general term and that companies may use it to describea wide range of activities. Find out exactly what a company means if it says it uses IPM.
Is the company willing to help you understand your lawn's problems and thesolutions? Lawn services generally apply fertilizers and pesticides. But you may be theone who mows and waters - and poor watering and mowing practices can lead todisappointing results. The company should tell you how it plans to take care of yourlawn, and advise you about the work you need to do to keep your lawn in good shape.
Will the company tell you what pesticides it applies to your lawn and why, and whathealth and environmental risks may be presented by their use? You have a right to thisinformation. If asked, the company should readily supply it. All pesticides sold legally inthe United States are registered by EPA, but such registration is not a guarantee of safety.Ask to see a copy of pesticide labels to make sure they bear an EPA registration number,and to review the directions that should be followed.
Most lawns need to be fertilized every year because they need morenitrogen, phosphorus and potassium than soils usually contain. It'simportant not to over- fertilize - you could do more harm to yourlawn than good - and it's best to use a slow-release fertilizer thatfeeds the lawn slowly. It's also important to check the soil's pH.Grass is best able to absorb nutrients in a slightly acidic soil, with apH of 6.5 to 7.0. Soil that is too acidic can be "sweetened" withlime; soil that's not acidic enough can be made "sourer" by addingsulfur. If a professional service takes care of your lawn, make sure ittakes these same steps to develop good soil. There's no gettingaround it: your lawn's health is only as good as the soil it grows in.
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