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Home improvement: How to choose a lawn care service

By Darrell Blackwelder

For the Salisbury Post

Lawn care and landscape maintenance has become a big business in Rowan County. Beginning with a handful of landscape maintenance companies in the mid-1980s, the county now has more than 50 established lawn care and landscape companies, and the number is increasing.

Increased popularity in these services can be attributed to several reasons. Many home and business owners are increasingly busy and don’t have the time for landscape maintenance and prefer to hire a company.

As homeowners age, they don’t have the physical ability to maintain their lawns and landscapes.  Others simply don’t understand fertilization and weed control practices necessary for proper maintenance.

Budget-oriented homeowners have done a cost analysis and determined it’s more cost effective to hire a company and not invest in the tools and time needed for proper upkeep.

Regardless of the situation, there are an increasing number of homeowners and property owners considering a lawn maintenance company. There are basically three different types of service: partial/part-time lawn care, total lawn care and those that offer full lawn and landscaping services. Below are a few tips in selecting a lawn care company.

• Determine which level of service you need. Some lawn and landscape owners may only want weed control and fertilizer application and opt to cut grass themselves. Others will want a total package, including handling everything from lawn weed control to adding an outdoor grilling patio.

Part-time lawn care workers often fit the bill for those who only need their lawn trimmed occasionally. But keep in mind, those that offer limited services often cannot apply pesticides. Those for hire that apply pesticides to a landscape must have a valid N.C. commercial pesticide license. This licensing process requires 10 hours of training every five years.

• Make sure the maintenance person or company follows proper lawn care procedures as recommended by N.C. Cooperative Extension. Do these companies offer soil testing? Do they follow accepted recommendations when applying seed and fertilizer?

Lawn care and landscape companies should be able to outline their maintenance program in detail to give customers assurance of their capabilities. Often these companies will provide homeowners with an annual maintenance calendar with their procedures.

• Lawn care companies should provide some guarantee of their work unless, of course, there are extenuating circumstances such as bad weather, insects or diseases. Customers must realize that some problems take time to resolve and that if they impose certain restrictions, problems may still exist. For example, some want a weed-free lawn without the use of herbicides. Unfortunately, this is quite difficult, bordering on impossible, in most situations.

• Obviously, another important method of choosing a lawn maintenance company is to review their work. Successful lawn maintenance companies are very conscious of their work, regarding well-maintained landscapes as a living billboard for advertisement. A personal inquiry from friends and homeowners is a key factor in choosing company that will meet your expectations.

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