Correct, Headz. Get your house in order, disavow everything (LD had a lot to disavow), and submit your site for re-inclusion. If it's an algorithmic hit, you have to fix and then wait for the next update.
If you pop up on Google's radar and receive a manual penalty, that means they specifically singled you out and will likely continue to monitor you, post re-inclusion. That's both good and bad.
If you were hit by an algo update, this was automated and simply part of Google's filtering process, meaning they don't likely know your site even exists. This would be better, however recovering from the penalty can take longer, and still not necessarily re-include you after the next update.
For me, I'd rather it be a manual penalty, fix the issues, get reinstated, and then walk the straight and narrow. Unknowns are significantly worse to deal with.
One thing that is interesting, in terms of Lawn Doctor, is that since Google was manually involved in this, they seem to have given their blessing to LD's on-site over-optimization. That says a lot about the way Google says one thing, while clearly allowing another to take place, and win. Google still has a lot of work to do when it comes to really creating a level playing field.
a guy who knows both the lawn business and web strategy