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WATER QUALITY AND USE: SELECTING PROFESSIONAL LAWN SERVICES
  MG Manual Reference
Ch. 16, pp. 19 - 20


When money is no object, time sometimes is, and a professional lawn service will take care of many of the time consuming chores of landscape maintenance. With professional help taking care of fertilizing and weeding the lawn, protecting it from insect damage, and sometimes even mowing the grass, home gardeners are free to turn their attention to other tasks that are more interesting to them. Hiring a professional is no reason to neglect learning about lawn care, though, for without some knowledge about lawns it will be difficult to select a company that can provide you with good, safe service and meet your desires to protect groundwater resources.
Your first decision when selecting a lawn care company is whether you want lawn care or lawn maintenance. For general maintenance such as mowing and trimming, a neighborhood teenager may be the cheapest solution, and with a little initial supervision will probably do the job as well as you would yourself. For fertilizer and pesticide application, it pays to hire trained professionals who know when and how to apply these chemicals in a manner safe to you, your neighbors, your plants, and the environment.
There are national and local lawn care services; the size of the company is not important, but the training, reliability, and experience is. When choosing a service ask for references and then review them. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any outstanding consumer complaints against any companies with whom you are considering doing business.
When you are satisfied that the company you are considering is reputable, have the representative come to your house to thoroughly discuss the services you require, the services the company can provide, and the prices involved. Walk together around your yard, noting any special problem areas and discussing how the company can treat them. Find out what the basic care package includes and the cost of additional services. Check into the fertilizer and pesticide schedule, and find out what chemicals are applied. The representative should be knowledgeable and answer your questions in a straightforward, concerned manner.
Make sure that the company follows good lawn care procedures. Discuss timing of weed control. The representative and the workers who perform the lawn care should show a healthy respect for and knowledge of the chemicals used. Proper application is necessary for proper results and for the safety of surrounding plants, neighboring property, and the environment. One national lawn service company is addressing homeowner concerns over excessive use of pesticides and pesticide drift with alternative lawn care programs. They offer a fertilizer only option, a limited pesticide option which involves spraying pesticides only when a problem is evident, and a dry option which uses granular fertilizers and pesticides which will minimize drift onto neighboring property. Find out if you can obtain similar options from the company you select. Lawn care services use low pressure sprayers which reduce the likelihood of drift, but extra care is never wrong when dealing with pesticides. And, of course, there is no need to apply pesticide to a nonexistent problem; the practice may only lead to contamination of groundwater.


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