I am an Assistant Store Manager of a JDL location and I get these questions all day long. The first thing I tell my customers (both homeowners and business owners) is to try and wait until at least September 1st to do this type of work. It's too complicated right now to try and get it done as there's way too much crabgrass pressure, weed pressure, drought, intense heat, threat of Pythium, etc.... From there, we discuss different types of seed, irrigation vs. non-irrigation, and then Starter Fertilizers.
I can usually convince the majority of my customers to wait until that September 1st date, or sometime during that week. I don't recommend seeding later than that unless they're going to use a Perennial Ryegrass or a Fescue type of seed, as their germination rates are a lot quicker. For Bluegrass, it's essential that they seed that week as they'll need a full 8 weeks to grow it thick enough to withstand the cold temps that we normally get around late October/early November.
That being said, I usually ask them what they're looking for out of their lawn. If they have tons of Crabgrass, I recommend that they scalp the lawn with the lawnmower on the lowest setting and then to remove the clippings. I then recommend slice seeding with the grass seed of their choice (in both directions), and then to use an 18-24-12 Starter Fertilizer. Once this work is completed (again, usually around September 1st), I then recommend follow up starter fertilizer applications on October 1st and November 1st, and then a "Winterizer" on December 1st (weather permitting). This type of schedule works wonders and will grow the new seed in so that it will look like sod the following spring. You'd be surprised at how many people think that this won't work and that they need new soil! If I can convince them of this plan, they come in the following spring with smiles all over their faces and have a renewed interest in maintaining the "new" lawn.
If their lawn is in very good shape and doesn't need to be slice seeded (but has weak areas), I recommend an aeration for the entire lawn and stress that they beat up any weak, thin areas really good. For those areas, I recommend that they overseed them and then apply Starter Fertilizer. On October 1st, I recommend another dose of the Starter as well and then to follow that up on November 1st with the "Winterizer".
These types of recommendations go a long way in gaining customer trust, repeat business, and good customer relations. I love it when they bring me in pictures of their beautiful lawns and thank me. I always tell them that they deserve the credit 'cause they did all the hard work!
Last edited by Hissing Cobra; 07-21-2012 at 11:56 PM.