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Fertilizer question from a new guy

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by XH2Oskier, Aug 15, 2002.

  1. XH2Oskier

    XH2Oskier LawnSite Member
    Messages: 16

    Hi, my name is Jim and obviously, I'm new to this board, but I've been surfing BBs for years. Anyway, I've tried fertilizing on my own and I'm man enough to admit that my four-year old son could do a better job.

    I used to have lawn care service at past homes, but now that I'm retired, I would prefer to cut my own grass, trim my own bushes, etc... I would like someone else to fertilize though.

    My main concern is thistles, since my home sits next to a greenbelt, I get alot of stuff coming in from there. I really don't care if the lawn is greener than my neighbors and while I enjoy mowing, I really don't want a lawn that grows so fast that I spend more time on my lawn tractor than my boat. I just don't want my family to have to wonder if they can walk barefoot in the yard.

    I've read posts here about Chemlawn and even before reading them, I didn't think very highly of them. I would prefer to have someone do it who knows what they're putting on my lawn and will charge me a fair price. I'm located in Janesville, Wisconsin, so if anyone has any suggestions or referrals, I would really appreciate it. Thanks! :)
  2. swing blade

    swing blade LawnSite Member
    Messages: 123

    I am not sure what type of lawn you have or what you want to do with it. To make it grenner and grow better, I use Milorganite. As for the Thistle, you might try looking at weed control fertilizers that are for getting rid of crabgrass, spydergrass, and so on. Read the packaging and see what it will do.

    I live in indiana and I am not sur what your climate is so this is just a guess.

    good luck
    milo sivley
  3. HarryD

    HarryD LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,068

    man wish i could have retired when i was 30 :rolleyes:

    jim check the yellow pages for some local LCO in your area . scamlawn just wants your cash :mad: they could care less about your lawn
  4. Neighbor2NV

    Neighbor2NV LawnSite Member
    Messages: 29

    I thought I knew that name! You must be on the SLP forum or on one the has something to do with F-bodys

    I am Bill 97 SS #1422 on most other forums..

    Good luck with the lawn!
  5. XH2Oskier

    XH2Oskier LawnSite Member
    Messages: 16

    Hi Bill! I do post at the SLP site, as well as many others. I try to use the same name, so I have continuity throughout the Internet.

    I guess I should have been more specific in my original post regarding hiring someone to fertilize for me. BTW, my Father-in-law thinks the grass is Kentucky Bluegrass. What kind of questions should I ask a local LCO? Are there uneccessary options that LCOs add onto a job just to pad the bottom line? I don't have any idea what kind of square footage I'm dealing with, but what would a fair price be for a fertilization program on a typical lawn? Is there a typical price per ten thousand square feet? Thanks!
  6. The Mowerdude

    The Mowerdude LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 372

    I'm not sure you want to read all of this, but I can give you the quick fert primer according to Mowerdude. Even if you're planning on using a service, you should know at least a little about what it is that you're buying and the old adage "forewarned is forearmed" really holds true.

    Ferts, in my oppinion, break down into 2 catagories. Synthetic and Organic.

    Now I need to preface this by saying, that many times if you ask 20 different Green Industry Pros, you'll get 20 different answers. And that's one of the really big problems. There's a tremendous amount of CONFUSING info out there. And IMO Chemlawn capitalizes on the fact that their customers don't really know about it and don't really want to think about it, but just want to pay their money and get a nice lawn. Ok, back to synthetic and organic.

    Synthetic fertilizers are made from petroleum products. Putting them on your lawn is like giving your 4 year old son a candy bar. It would sustain him if he were starving, but it would also give him such a sugar buzz that he'd be climbing the walls. But every time he gets a sugar high, there is a corresponding sugar low that follows. Chemlawn knows this. They have a synthetic cocktail that gives a wonderful flush of growth that homeowners love. The problem is that it's like feeding your lawn candy bars and it does nothing to stimulate root development. If you're familiar with hydroponics, you'll know that the premise behind hydroponics is that plants can be grown in controlled environments by bathing the roots in a water/fert solution. Hydroponic plants do NOT develope large roots because it's not needed. It's the same with Chemlawn. They want to sell you a monthly service, so they sell you something that will settle into about the top 1 inch of soil and provide everything the plant needs albeit for a very short term. Then about the time it runs out, here they are for another application. If you discontinue their service, your yard will suffer withdrawal symptoms because it is literally addicted to their product and has no roots to withstand the shock. However, synthetics are valueable at planting time. When I plant a new yard, I like using a synthetic starter fert because it gives the seed just the kick it needs to speed germination.

    On the other hand, organic ferts settle in and permeate the soil slowly over a period of time. Eventually organics will work their way down to amazing depths and will be there waiting when your yard starts sinking roots deeper in times of stress. So organics really really encourage root development. I like to think of it as feeding your 4 year old son, steak. The instant energy rush will not be there, but in the long run, you're a lot farther down the road to a great lawn.

    For organics, l really like turkey poop. Chicken poop is a little high in nitrogen and can burn the lawn in a dry spell, but it should be fine if you're getting lots of rain. Turkey poop is lower in nitrogen and therefore, less likely to burn.

    Also, this once a month thing is for car payments, not fertilization programs. Give your lawn a big dose in the spring coming out of winter and again in the fall going into winter.

    The only final step is for you to keep me posted, because I want to know if I helped you out. :D
  7. XH2Oskier

    XH2Oskier LawnSite Member
    Messages: 16

    I appreciate your response mowerdude! That's exactly the kind of information I'm looking for. Armed with that knowledge, I now feel more comfortable discussing a fertilization program with a local service. I'll let you know how it turns out!
  8. MJStrain

    MJStrain LawnSite Member
    Messages: 156

    Heck, I even enjoyed THAT response!
  9. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,969

    Comparing organic vs. synthetic is the same as comparing meat eaters and vegetarians. You can find good and bad in both camps. Lawn health and appearance is not really as simple as synthetic vs. organic, and it is not very easy to find someone who will provide the lawn care program you desire specifically desire for your property.

    You need to refine your own expectations, as you have started to do (no excess growth, no thistles), and look for an individual to provide a specific service for you. Of course, you should be ready to pay 2x to 5x the cost that a big outfit will quote you. But that can sometimes be cheaper, LOL. (The big guy comes monthly for $30; the good one comes every other month for $55.) Your service provider may be a solo operator, or a knowledgeable, responsive person in a larger firm.

    As in every other area of our society (economy), you have to really look for an artist or technician to respond to your desires, rather than someone just trying to make a sale. I do not use "organics", but I have many lawns with fabulous root structure, and others I would never have as my own. They all don't look the same, because I am working seperately for each property owner.

    The appearance of a lawn doesn't depend so much on what is used on the site, rather what is used on the specific site conditions. And that would take several volumes to explain.
  10. XH2Oskier

    XH2Oskier LawnSite Member
    Messages: 16

    Once again, your response and input is greatly appreciated :)

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