Archive for Thursday, January 12, 2006

Investigate charges, services by lawn care providers

January 12, 2006

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Although the lawn is dormant and the landscape is far from needing attention, now is the time to begin thinking about a lawn care professional for the coming year. For the next several weeks, contractors will be renewing their accounts and making bids to find new customers.

Arguably, a lawn care professional can be considered a luxury and not a necessity. However, taking time to choose the right company for your job could lead to fewer headaches and a greener, more pleasing landscape. Here are a few tips and hints to help you choose a lawn care pro for the coming season.

Begin by deciding what you want from a lawn care service. Companies provide a range of services that include mowing, maintenance, aeration, seeding, landscaping, fertilizer and pest control applications, and ornamental and small tree care. Create your list of needs and write it down. Prioritize to help decide what you can live without if the need arises.

Next, talk with friends and neighbors to find those companies that provide service in your neighborhood. Before looking in the phone directory or answering an ad, ask your neighbors for a recommendation. It's a great way to determine the reputation of a company and to see the quality of service it provides.

Then contact the company and request a lawn inspection and a free estimate for service. Companies that quote a price without seeing your lawn are only guessing at what your lawn might need. Without knowing what is needed, the company may not be able to provide adequate service.

Be sure to ask about the pricing system and what services are included in the price quoted. Get an explanation of what the service can and cannot do. Agree in writing to the kind and amount of treatments in the proposed program, approximately when they will be applied, and what results can be expected. Find out what happens if you have a problem between applications. Will the service calls be free, or is there a charge? Then, find out what is, and is not, guaranteed. Some services may offer a guarantee of performance. Others may offer refunds if they fail to meet your expectations.

When making the decision, compare the annual contract option to the cost per application. Many companies allow you to pay after each treatment and may offer a discount if you pay the annual cost upfront. However, pay attention to what is being applied each application. Make sure you do not agree to or pay for treatments that are not needed.

Finally, make sure the lawn care service is licensed for the application of lawn care products as required by Kansas state law. Any company spraying, spreading or applying insect, disease or weed killers must have a Private Certification applicator license as well as a business license. Failure to do so is a violation of the law. Also, ask if they have any professional membership. Ask whether the company is affiliated with a professional lawn care association or other turfgrass associations. Professional organizations keep members informed on new developments in pest control methods, safety, training, research and regulation. Most associations have a code of ethics for members to follow. Affiliation with a professional group indicates the company strives for quality in its work.

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