Cool season turf and the customer that MUST have their lawn power raked...?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by Exact Rototilling, Mar 7, 2014.

  1. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,362

    Typically these are the same folks who skip out on the most important fertilizer application in the Fall when it benefits the most.

    So....this question is for those of us who understand that the habitual Spring dethatch/power rake drill is not what is best for the lawn.

    Do you still perform the service as requested since that's what the customer wants or think they need....or have you been successful in talking a client out of the service in favor of better cultural practices such aeration, correct fert schedule and water cycles.

    I have one client who thinks aeration doesn't do anything, insists on heavy growth hyper green lawn in the hottest months and thinks he knows best.

    If it was not for the fact he pays well and on time and he's a snow customer...I would of already told him get someone else.

    So guess who is doing a power rake as soon as it dries out? Spring time rake not the flail blade kind.

    Like this:


    In my flyer factoid style marketing I have considered telling folks that the service is generally a poor choice and not a good value and frankly it is a rip off.

    In repeated test on my own grass and clients test areas a lower than normal mowing in fact greens up turf faster than power racking/dethatching of any form. Low mowing is hands down faster in green up than doing nothing. It in fact stimulates the crowns of the grass and get the dormant debris out of the way.
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    Last edited: Mar 7, 2014
  2. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,362

    So my question is how do I approach this and not make the other LCO's look misinformed and perpetuating the myth that the service is habitually needed...? It has been mentioned here before on LS if you don't jump on the power rake band miss out on the $...even if it is a waste or even destructive to the turf.

    I only aggressively push detatching as requirement for an over seeding.
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  3. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,776

    Take a core sample in their lawn and show them that they don't have a thatch layer that needs to be power-raked.

    Or, if you do pull a core sample that shows that a lawn needs power raked, then both you and client are more informed that it does or doesn't need done.

  4. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,362

    Excellent point and I keep my test step aerator on my truck or trailer 24/7. My own lawn had 3/4" of thatch when I moved in here and it is mainly KBG. I have pulled test plugs in lawns in my area and it is not uncommon to have well over 1" of thatch. These lawns are over watered and given the Scott's treatment.

    It's very rare to see a lawn like that aggressively flail bladed and truly dethatched to the point where rocks are flying and thatch is ripped out. Those kinds of jobs creates a HUGE amount of haul off.

    Folks here think mission accomplished with X# of bags of debris hauled off.

    Meanwhile thatch is still there....:hammerhead:

    It really is a customer ignorance/education issue. :(

    As the saying goes, "don't bother me with the FACTS my mind is already made up".

    I will be offering a progressive aeration package this year. What this means is numerous aerations will be done in throughout the season at a slighly discounted rate. No more than a double pass with my Plugr 850.

    Sorry folks those rolling tine units simply lack the dense plug pattern needed to assault the thatch layer and this is evident in my YouTube video.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2014
  5. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,362

    The point is more than a double pass with a Plugr 800 or a Ryan 28 simply leaves a tremendous amount of plugs all over the lawn. Even a single pass with a reciprocating aerator in a thatchy lawn makes a triple pass with a rolling tine unit look like it's slacking.
  6. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,362

    I have been made aware of an aerator that is reciprocating and can continue to aerate forwards then transition to reverse. It looks to be infinitely variable hydro drive so the sky is the limit on plug count. Folks have accused me of being OCD on that plug count per square foot issue.

    So if a lawn you're aerating really has a ton of thatch....I'd much rather do some slow boat single passes maybe (2) passes with this unit vs 8 or more passes with a rolling tine unit....than flail blade and literally tear up a lawn with a true and proper dethatch....not a flimsy cosmetic scrape the turf and miss label the service as dethatch...yet still the thatch remains.


    Last edited: Mar 7, 2014
  7. Trees Too

    Trees Too LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,513

    STATE: "We do not offer this service due to_______________". And provide a basis as to why.

    Due to the frigid temps, and several feet of snow on the ground (in the north) this winter. The best education for the customer is how to minimize the impact of SNOW MOLD damage. And the benefits of light hand raking of the matted turf areas as soon as conditions permit! :clapping::clapping::clapping::clapping::clapping::clapping::clapping::clapping:
  8. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,776

    What about Spring aeration's do you think is beneficial.

    From a thatch standpoint, that would be the only reason I would do a spring aeration.

    Otherwise, compaction shouldn't be an issue in our Zones due to the frost heave in the spring.?

    Any thoughts?

  9. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,362

    Spring aerations are all the rage here. Many consumers and contractors in my area believe Spring is the Key time to aerate. Some do occur in the Fall but it is a 4:1 in favor of Spring here.

    You are correct that frost heaves do reduce compaction. however there are areas here where the soil is a sandy/pea gravel consistency and yes those lawns with poor subsoil will still benefit from Spring Aeration. And if those lawns are in thatchy it will get fertilizer and nutrients to the root zone. I am NOT a fan of the early fert drill the other Co's do here. My lawns do not require any fert input till mid to late May.
  10. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,230

    Good question--if they want power-raking, I say do it. If you don't like it you can always use one of those organic enzyme products to eat the thatch--probably don't work--but a lot easier to apply. You are probably wise to explain how an early short mowing is the best way to stimulate quick green up. Keep in mind some types of grass ( like the high-quality Kentucky bluegrasses) just simply green up very slowly--its their nature. Maybe they do better in the heat of summer.

    Actually, I am not a fan of aeration. Customer has a good point--in 6 weeks it looks the same.

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