Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by mrkosar, Jan 20, 2007.

  1. mrkosar

    mrkosar LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Posts: 664

    How do you guys deal with diseases? Insect damage (grubs), heat stress, and other common problems customers seem to understand and are willing to put the blame on mother nature. Diseases it seems they are less forgiving.

    How do you deal with the customers?

    How do you deal with the disease? Spot treat with fungicides? Blanket cover with fungicides? Definitely charge customer correct?

    Anybody have a good way of retaining customers after their lawn is destroyed by a disease? As much as you educate them it seems they will blame you no matter what...especially when it has never occurred before.

    I know aeration, and proper cultural practices are the best method to prevent diseases, but looking for ways to soften customers up in case they have to deal with these nasty funguses.
  2. cemars

    cemars LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 387

    Good question. IMO turf-grass disease is one of the most frustrating things we deal with in this business. It's hard to convince a customer that you can do everything right (strong agronomic program, quality products, etc.), they can do everything right (proper mowing, watering, etc.) , and still get disease! Granted, proper cultural practices and good agronomics will decrease the likelihood of a problem, but if conditions are prime it can still occur. I think the most important thing is to educate you customers about proper cultural practices, repeatedly offer preventative fungicide options, and make sure your agronomic program is sound. If you offer preventative fungicide applications, which are expensive, you can at least use that in your defense if they did not choose it and get a fungus. When disease damages turf, offer them a aeration/seeding or slit seeding at a discounted price if you feel you are at risk of loosing the account. We do spot spay disease as needed on our regularly scheduled visits, but the nature of the beast is that when you get a couple of nights with high humidity and night time temps in the 70's, get ready for the phone to ring.
  3. mrkosar

    mrkosar LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Posts: 664

    what about a letter going into the summer when the big boy diseases can hit? anyone know of one to get, have one, anyone do this, OSU or other college sites that might have a letter like this....etc???

    i would think being able to send a letter that is actually posted by researchers that do this stuff 365 days a year, the customer will be more willing to acknowledge that it does happen even with a good program and practices.
  4. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,231

    exactly what diseases are you talking about? We have a lot of red thread and dollarspot up here plus a few NRS, rust, snowmold, powdery mildew, leaf spot, pythium, slime mold, fairy ring. Brown patch is rare and gray leaf spot is not seen in Michigan--I think.
    Dont waste your time aerating--the fungus doesn't care.
    I don't know what is best. We have used fungicides and the results were not impressive. And you may need different costly fungicides for different diseases. We need a small package size for small lawns. I have some Compass on hand--its good on red thread--but now we need something different for dollarspot. We always have a paragraph or two in our summer newsletter about lawn diseases. True, hot humid nights --over 70--really cause disease to spread fast. Rumor has it that brown patch is a killer on tall fescue in the transition zone.
    For me it is costly to drain a tank and then fill with fungicide and make a special trip for one lawn.
    So it saves the trip and the hassle if I quote a high price, two aps and explain that the disease will disappear when it cools off.
    Whenever I can-- I recommend disease resistant seed. It is the only practical way to go--but so many people--and companies that should know better--buy inexpensive seed. A sure path to disease problems.
  5. mrkosar

    mrkosar LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Posts: 664

    mostly red thread, dollar spot, leaf spot, rust...but i've seen brown patch or necrotic ring spot destroy lawns. i still can't distinguish between the two and i've read tons of info on both. anyone????

    with the first ones i listed i just add a little fert to it, but the others the only thing you can do is spot treat with fungicide and reseed with newer variety grass seed.

    why are you against aeration to prevent in the future? i've heard someone else say something about aeration won't do anything....that confuses me. aeration helps reduce poor drainage = less water sitting on grass for long periods = less diseases, right?

    also, lots of disease germinate easier in a lawn with a large thatch layer, so reducing that will help minimize humidity in that area of the soil, and reduce spores of disease from germinating correct?
  6. tremor

    tremor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,476

    I would recommend some unbiased printed collateral support for the homeowners ego.

    You might try searching the better University websites (Like OSU) for their technical fact sheet series.

    The disease you have sited are spread (mostly) by airborne spores. You have done everything right so the turf looks like a full course meal on a finely set table. Who wouldn't want to sit down to the feast?

    Around here the more affluent clients often are willing to pay for some preventive fungicide treatments. I know this isn't an option for most of the country but it's worth a shot if you can manage the scheduling challenges.
  7. MnLefty

    MnLefty LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 367

    UMass extension is a nice place to start from...
  8. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,231

    Necrotic ring spot: Usually occurs on sodded lawns. Rings with a green center about 8 to 15 inches across. Rings persist for years. IMHO no fungicide is truly effective. Cut out the spot square, and patch with new piece of sod. Or reseed spot with a top quality disease resistant ryegrass/bluegrass blend.
    I am not really familiar (except with what I have read, about brown patch). Brown patch occurrs when night temperatures are high--over 70. I have heard that tall fescue is particularly susceptible, and that heavy fertilization in hot weather causes brown patch to spread fast.
    Does poor drainage cause disease? IMHO not really. We have just as much on well-drained lawns as on lawns with wet spots. (Except pythium needs poor drainage.)
    Will aeration cure poor drainage? I doubt it. Have you ever seen side by side university experiments on this point? I would like to see the photographs and see the data. What percentage of water was removed? Ever tried to aerate where there was an inch of standing water?
    Excess thatch causes disease--I doubt it. Fungi are small. You can get a million spores from one blade of dead grass. Enough to infect the whole neighborhood. Have you ever seen a university test, side by side comparison of disease in a thatchy and dethatched lawn? In an aerated and non-aerated uniform area of grass?
    The people selling these machines know that they work. Putting greens, football fields--fine. However you can damage a lot of sprinklers. Unless you are making money doing aeration--I would avoid it.
  9. dcgreenspro

    dcgreenspro LawnSite Senior Member
    from PA
    Posts: 688

    Disease pressure should be minimal in lawns, period. A lawn is under little to no stress all year and w/ proper fertility levels, should be almost disease resistant. I read on hear all the time about people not knowing what they have and just going out and putting some granular crap down to take care of something that they didn't even identify. This is wrong and that is the last thing they should do.
    Golf courses deal w/ disease pressure because of the many reasons. Bad air movement, poor location, excessive fert, drought,etc... excessive stresses that generally a lawn will and should never experience.
    You want to know the difference bwt nrs and brown patch?????take a turf sample about the size of a cup w/ 3 in. of root mass and send it to a lab, wait for results and recommendations.
  10. garydale

    garydale LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 813

    They are always there waiting to hit when conditions are right.

    As stated by others there is alot of info out there from Universities.
    Manufacturers will provide great photos and info.

    We don't push treatments unless it is a irrigated lawn, however we warn the client and lay the ground work for that possible attack.

    Red thread,dollar spot and brown patch hit every year for us, however the client has been educated ahwead of time.

    Just make education part of the sales pitch.

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