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Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by mikey, Jan 16, 2002.

  1. mikey

    mikey LawnSite Member
    Messages: 81

    i always hear about a lot of horrer stories about how a landscaper burned a persons lawn.Waht causes this?Is it cuz they used to much fertilizer?Also how many passes do u make withthe spreader?I just do what the back of the bags says to do.
    Im just starting out, and ive only done 1 lawn this past fall and it was fine.now im paranoid maybe the soil was different i dont know or i might use the wrong fertilizer...help?
  2. greensman

    greensman LawnSite Member
    Male, from Akron,Ohio
    Messages: 46

    "Keep it simple stupid" That is running your business right now stick to what you know. If you can't find someone to show you the ropes in person. Then you will go through a tough school of hard knocks.

    Do more with the equipment you have now. Do not get more equipment. :cool:
  3. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,028

    If you really don't know what you are doing then sub it out until you learn and become certified.

    You might think that anyone can apply fertilizers and pesticides and you are right, anyone can.

    The difference is that you own a business and are a professional and should know all the details of what you are doing and why you are doing it. Call your state Ag extention and find out the requirements for certification.

    BTW a couple of reasons for burning lawns are excess nitrogen application, inadequate watering and the wrong time of application. There is more to it than just throwing the fertilizer down and you are doing the right thing by asking.

    There is much to learn and that knowledge will make you money. Good Luck.
  4. tremor

    tremor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,476


    Try to take an adult education course at a local school. You can probably get tied into the right contact people through your local cooperative extension service. They may offer courses themselves or will certainly know where to turn.

    To answer the question as simply as possible. All plants have salts in solution in their cells. Nutrients that are in the soil solution (water & nutrients) are "pulled" into the roots from the area of lesser salt (soil) towards the area of greater salt (root). The process is called Osmosis. You've probably seen this phenomonon when a high salt product like calcium chloride is dropped onto dry asphalt on a humid day. A small wet spot forms around the prills as the salts draw moisture right out of the air.
    All fertilizers (organic or synthetic) contain salts. Apply too much of any source and the soils "salt" concentration becomes too high. Water is then "pulled" from the roots, back into the soil solution. This effect is called "reverse osmosis".

    Reverse osmosis can be as mild as to cause a wilt or the appearance of drought stress to a plant or lawn that is growing in soil where adequate moisture exists.

    When moisture stress is allready borderline, we may induce more stress or complete dormancy by applying fertilizer to the plants (or grass).
    Go too far, and the effects can be severe enough to kill the targeted subject. This can happen where too much overlap occurred, spills, trim areas, or the entire lawn.

    It's all a matter of degree. Learn as much as possible before engaging in this new venture. Many seasoned veterans don't even know how to calculate the effects of a fertilizer salt indeces. Suffice to say that slower release fertilizers are generally safer than soluble ones (to a degree). But the factors that determine the potential for stress include the soil type, fertilizer salt index, fertilizer rate, available soil and atmosphereic humidity, plant type/variety, other forms of stress, temperature, and exposure to sun.
    Rate has the biggest affect. Yet all these factors combined are what determines the effect and extent of "burn".

    Other factors can cause what appears to be moisture stress too. Mowing with dull blades will "white out" the blades tips. Mowing in full sun on a hot day can cause undesirable stress. Foliar & root disfunctions caused by insect & disease sometimes mimic or even cause drought stress (pythium root rot, chinch bugs, leaf spot/melting out, etc). Excessive foot traffic on even moderately moisture stressed turf will exacerbate the situation.

    Certain grass types are more prone to water stress than others. You may get a call to look at "burn" where none is evident. Soil moisture may be adequate too, even though some Creeping Red Fescue is going dormant from drought. Yet some clients won't tell you that they watered like mad to prevent your accurate diagnosis, in the hope of getting something for nothing. If you applied anything to a lawn in the days prior to the on-slaught of symptoms, you will probably be blamed for it.

    This has been a bit of an over-simplification & may attract some criticism, but it should help explain the issue a little.

    Don't worry that this sounds like a lot of information. Seek out the proper training, get licensed, join a trade association, allie your business with credible suppliers, etc. When you're ready you can offer this as an add-on or even a primary service and with some hard work & a little luck, retire a wealthy man.

    Good Luck

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