Cultural Practices

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by Smallaxe, Nov 1, 2012.

  1. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    How many of you out there are dealing with clients that insist on cultural practices that are detrimental to the turf, but that they do anyway because they believe it to be good???

    For me it is,,, the ground always being wet, never letting the surface dry... the client wonders why there are all these dead spots intermingled with thin grass... :)
  2. Dave Stuart

    Dave Stuart LawnSite Member
    Messages: 98


    I have the same issues on the cultural end, over here in NJ and eastern PA most homeowners still struggle with the fact that if they refuse to water during the intense heat and weed pressures of summer the cool season grasses go dormant, thin out and sub come to invasion by C4 plants both grassy & broadleaf. The chemical barrier of a Pre-emergent will also be compromised by a thinning stand of turfgrass.

    The other cultural issue ignored here and probably the largest one is mowing. Time and again the lawns are mowed too short putting them under severe stress by reducing canopy height and precious leaf tissue needed for transpiration and CO2 exchange. The shortened height reduces resistance to pathogen activity such as leaf, dollar spot and brown patch 3 common culprits.

    I can see you deal with a lot of saturation and shade, 2 tough environmental/ cultural issues.

    I just keep plugging along and educating the clients as I go, there will be some we never reach. My take on it is to keep being as proactive as possible catching the problems while they are small.

  3. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    It continues year after year...

    Insanity,,, is doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting different results...

    You are right about the mowing thing, though... I often wonder if someone was writing about Bermuda grass and someone else thought it applied to KBG, because they sure won't accept that buzzing the grass is a problem...

    I still have fun doing this, moreso than anything else though... :)
  4. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378

    I’m basically at the point with the lawn biz where I’m going to dictate to the client, “ you want healthy, vibrant grass or NOT...?...” Basically a personal trainer for Turf. Put the focus on the what’s best for the lawn and move away from blaming the homeowner for their ignorance of “what’s best for the grass”.

    A number of my clients flat out have the best looking grass on their street if not neighborhood. The reason for this is the higher mowing height of 3.0 to 3.5” vs. the typical scalp mowing. Also on these accounts I’m in charge of how the irrigation is set, fertilization and if they need aeration or not. :clapping:

    What I’m pushing for 2013 is bundling a package that gets most if not all of my accounts up to these standards very close as what I have on my OWN lawn.

    For cool season turf - charge them the same amount per month for the growing season March/April through October/November and float the added expense of aerations, weed control, fertilizer and weed control equally across the growing season. This way it keeps the lawn moving in the right direction for constant improvement. You’re there every week and you can tweak fret inputs, spot spray etc.. They are paying the same amount per month so they won’t resist spending extra on proper fert inputs and aeration as needed.

    The CAVEATS are the clients main water cycles need to be early morning infrequent deep heavy watering no more than 3 times a week. Agree to higher mowing heights. If client insist on lower mowing heights especially in the summer drop client as per service agreement cancelation clause and get any extras back from them such as Spring aeration, fert, weed control or extras beyond regular mowing.
  5. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,138

    Well said. We should not be put into the position of being magicians that can make up for bad practices simply with the wave of a spray gun. This is how I always ran my business. The common downfalls of a lawn here are either a total lack of an irrigation system, a system with poor distribution uniformity, short cycling a system rather than applying the water in no more than 3 waterings per week and incorrect mowing height. BTW, I get the exact opposite problem where people think they are mowing a rye/blue or fescue mix. For lawn quality bermuda and zoysia, the preferred machine is a reel mower, not a rotary set to mow at 3". Trying to get a rotary to mow lower than 3 just makes a mess. I never priced my services on a per application basis. For the reason of not allowing people to short themselves by only doing the weed control treatments and opting out of the fertilization, disease control, insect control, etc. If a lawn is not going to be mowed at the correct height with the proper machinery after my initial consultation, I am gone. Touch the irrigation controller after I have set it, I am gone. Try to negotiate a lower price via deleting applications "can you do this every other month instead", I am gone.

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