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Complaining Customer

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by jonthepain, Nov 9, 2010.

  1. jonthepain

    jonthepain LawnSite Senior Member
    from Raleigh
    Posts: 523

    Yesterday I aerated, overseeded, and CT'd a small yard. The neighbor came over and wanted the same treatment for his front yard. I looked at the yard and recommended a compost topdressing for the thin spots. He wanted it done right away, so I pushed back a couple of other clients and did his today.

    Now he is telling me he is not happy with "the quality of the work," because I did not cut the grass first. I told him that I do not cut grass; I do not even own a lawnmower.

    His neighbor had scalped his yard before I aerated and overseeded, so the difference is stark. He says I did a good job for the neighbor and a crappy job for him. I actually did more for him, because I did not topdress for the neighbor.

    I don't really think it's necessary or even advisable to scalp a yard that is in ok shape before aerating and overseeding. Am I wrong?

    Of course the neighbor told him that's it's absolutely imperative to scalp the lawn before aerating and overseeding.

    I told him that I'd overseed again after he has his lawn cut - if he can find another lawn mowing service (his old service quit on him.) It's only about 600 sq ft. But he keeps sending me emails denigrating my work (we really went the extra mile putting out the compost and topdressed a lot more than we promised and did 3 passes with our LS WB.)

    He's even complained to his neighbor who is not only a good client that has recommended several thousand dollars of business to me this year, but is also my pharmacist to boot.

    How critical is it to have the lawn cut low before aerating and overseeding at this time of year?

  2. knox gsl

    knox gsl LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,065

    The only reason I can see that it would be important is so that you can go a few weeks before having to put a mower on new seed other than that I don't see a problem.
  3. jonthepain

    jonthepain LawnSite Senior Member
    from Raleigh
    Posts: 523

    thanks gsl. I didn't think so but I wanted to be sure.
  4. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,896

    I agree with greenstar, it enables the new seedlings to get a start without having to trample with a mower right away.

    If you did a nice topdress, turf height doesn't mean diddly unless it was like over 3" tall or something like that Sounds like the guy wants a freebie out of you.

    Something you could do in the future, get a mower/bagger and add in the cost to do this end of things too. Easy way to make more $$.
  5. roccon31

    roccon31 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 119

    i have done them either way, i find that a scalped lawn is easier to topdress and like the others said, allows you to stay off the lawn for a couple weeks. is it necessary? heck no.

    good luck with that customer, ive dropped several of them this year for the same type of BS. money is tight, and everyone is complaining trying to get something for nothing. dont budge, collect your cash. if not, take pictures and take him to small claims for it. odds are he wont show up anyway.
  6. Puttinggreens

    Puttinggreens LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from southeast PA
    Posts: 376

    You are quite a bit south of me so this may not all apply, but,,,

    I look at it this way, the end goal is a thick healthy lawn regardless if we get there from the existing stand or new seed. If the some of existing turf is desirable why scalp it and put it in shock. We want to promote both the existing stand of grass and the new seedlings. In cool season grasses I would certainly say scalping before aeration and seeding is detrimental to the existing stand.
  7. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,157

    I could see scalping a bermuda but not a cool season... all you are doing is putting the exiting good grass under extreme stress
  8. jonthepain

    jonthepain LawnSite Senior Member
    from Raleigh
    Posts: 523

    My feelings exactly.

    btw this client wrote a check for the full amount even while he was denigrating the USA, telling me how much he hates it here, "and don't tell me to go back where I come from cuz I'm stuck here!" blah blah blah.

    I just told him that I'm sorry he feels that way. I didn't want the discussion to get off the issue, but I really wanted to tell him that my great grandfather fought for the USA in the Civil War (was wounded several times and his name is on a monument to his regiment at the Bloody Angle at Spotsylvania Courthouse,) my dad fought in WWII in the Pacific, and my brother in Viet Nam.

    Yeah I had a lot that I would have liked to say to the guy, but I'm glad I just smiled and yes sirred etc and deposited the check.
  9. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,834

    We don't scalp, but we will cut it as short as possible so the seedlings do not compete for sunlight. It is late in the season so most of the seed is going to be over wintering anyway. From a business perspective I strongly suggest you make this guy happy, trust me you don't want someone bad mouthing you. refund his money if need be.... or re-do.

    FYI the term "scalp" in lawn renovation is cutting the lawn as short as possible it is not to be confused with actual scalping. where parts of the lawn are destroyed.
  10. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,157

    still, any time you take more than 1/3 of the grass off you are putting it under stress and not the best health wise for the turf.

    Prior to our overseed, we perform a normal cut, aerate, seed and fert. and then no cut for 2 weeks...Any time you cut low you also open up the chances for weeds that have been previously unexposed to losts of light to start their germination process or to get a good foothold and start competing with your seed and grass

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