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One of my favorite shows on television, other than sports, is The Profit on CNBC. Marcus Lemonis takes faltering businesses, buys a majority stake in the business, and attempts to turn them around and make the successful. He’s the real deal, he tells it like it is, and has a big heart. Most of the businesses he buys into, after he implements his changes and principles, take off and thrive, while the employees are thrilled with the new changes and opportunities he has provided.

So I want to take the next three blogs and relate his three key areas of business success…. people, processes, and profit, and relate these to the lawn care business and specifically how customers can benefit when things are done right. I’ll start with process.

One process in lawn care can be the programs which lawn companies offer their customers. When homeowners or businesses contact us, they usually first want to know the price per application, or annual cost. Lawn programs can differ greatly however in our industry, so comparing just on price per treatment is foolish, as it’s often not comparing apples to apples. For example, many if not most of our competitors now will take the spring pre-emergent, divide it up into two treatments, and charge the customer a lower price, so that they think they are getting a great deal. While at LawnAmerica, we apply the full rate of pre-emergent for season-long control with one treatment. Our application price is often a little higher, but the customer is only paying once for the same if not better results. So in reality, we are the better value.

The same trick is often used by competitors in fall, with two pre-emergents applied, invoiced twice, when LawnAmerica can do it in one treatment by using the superior product named Specticle, which will be discussed when I share about products. Other companies may also send their technicians out to apply granular lime or a “winter fertilizer” to warm-season turf in November and December. This is usually a waste of money, and in reality, is something just to keep their guys busy and the cash flow coming in over the winter. Most areas in Oklahoma and western states are high in soil pH, so lime will actually do more harm than good. And applying fertilizers in the winter to dormant bermudagrass is not efficient and is a waste of money.

Our LawnAmerica programs are unique, and designed in the best interest of our customers and the technical needs of the turf. We apply a liquid pre-emergent first, then come in with a high quality 50-70% slow-release nitrogen granular fertilizer in Round 2 to supply nutrients for about 11 weeks. This allows us to come in in Round 3 with liquid Echelon, a unique product for nutgrass control, broadleaf weed control, and which supplies a booster pre-emergent for late into the summer. We know that most companies don’t use this product, as we’ve been told by FMC, the manufacturer, that LawnAmerica purchases more Echelon than any other lawn care company in the nation. We then apply granular fertilization, using organic components, and finish out with our Specticle pre-emergent in fall.

Our 7-Step Program is the best, most innovative lawn care program available, and will out-perform others with 7 or even 8 annual treatments. Even our 6 and 5-Step Programs will provide better results than many other programs with 7 to 8 treatments, since we do more with each of our treatments . And just as important as the program timing and products are the people doing the treatments on the lawn. I’ll discuss that part of the equation in one of my next posts.

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Red and Yellow Maple trees can be a nice addition to the landscape. Compared to the old Silver Maples used years ago, these have much better truck and branch structure while providing beautiful fall colors of red, orange, and yellow. Maples grow fairly quickly, and don’t become so large that they can outgrow a landscape and turn into a hazard.

Two common problems we see in Maples are Southwest Injury and girdling of the outer truck, both of which can be prevented. Maple trees do have a thin and somewhat sensitive outer layer of bark. When the tree is young, warm afternoon temperatures followed by cold nighttime temperatures can cause a freeze/thaw cycle on the southwest facing trunk. This can lead to cracking of the outer bark on the southwest facing truck with damage that exposes the inner bark. If damage is severe, this can lead to health problems and even death of the tree eventually.

By wrapping the trunk up to the first branch level with paper tree wrap every fall, this problem can be avoided. Tree wrap can be found at any local nursery and it’s a simple process to do. This wrap helps prevent the afternoon sun from warming the tree trunk and prevents the freeze/thaw cycle. When spring arrives just remover the wrap. As the tree matures after about 6-8 years and the outer bark becomes thicker, wrapping is not needed.

Another problem we see is leaving trees staked too long, with the wire basically strangling the outer trunk layer. This will harm, if not kill the tree, if the wire is left on several years and the tree grows around it. So we recommend just removing the stakes after a year, as by then, the tree should be rooted down well.

Maple trees can also be subject to insect scale problems along the trunk and branches. An application of dormant oil with a systemic insecticide in late winter can help prevent this problem.

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We are! The past two weeks have been very challenging when you are trying to care for lawns. One can’t really do much when there is a lot of snow on the ground and/or sub-freezing temperatures. Pumps don’t work when the liquid weed-control freezes, so we’re ready for some warmer weather to get our work done. And everyone is ready for a little sunshine and warmer days so we can all get outside more.

There is still plenty of time to apply our spring pre-emergent weed-control, as crabgrass won’t germinate until the 4” soil temperature stays at 56 degrees for four consecutive nights. We are a long way from that as most soils are frozen now! So as the weather warms, don’t let folks or other companies try to tell you that unless the pre-emergent is applied by mid-March that it’s too late, as that is just not true. We will have all of our customers serviced with their Round 1 by late March, which provides great crabgrass control for up to 7 months.

As a 30-year business owner in the lawn care business, I get a little annoyed and disappointed when younger competitors do things that are not right, and even unethical. I’m seeing more and more companies doing what they’ve learned from the big corporate guys, with breaking up the spring pre-emergent into two treatments, at half rates of pre-emergent, and billing their customers twice then. It’s all about cash flow for them and giving a cheap price, rather than doing what’s right for the customer and for the lawn. With LawnAmerica, we apply with a full rate, one treatment in early spring. That’s all you need, so that in our Round 2 we can then apply slow-release fertilizer, which is what the lawn needs then. The lawn is green and growing then, allowing us to come in during Round 3 a short 4-5 weeks later for our blanket treatment of Echelon Herbicide before going back to granular fertilizer treatments during summer.

So we’re ready for some green grass here at LawnAmerica, so that we can do our magic on the lawns. Let’s hope this coming snow is the last one and spring comes on strong after that. Give us a call if you have questions or need professional lawn care.

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If so, you probably have moles, gophers, or both in your lawn. Moles and gophers always seem to be a big problem in Oklahoma lawns at this time of year. The bermudagrass is dormant, lawns are not being mowed, so the unsightly dirt piles just stay there after the moles and gophers do their digging. Gophers are larger than moles, did deeper tunnels, while bringing up larger mounds of dirt. They eat plant roots, so they can destroy gardens if left un-checked. Moles on the other hand are much smaller, eat earthworms, grubs, and other soil insects, and make shallow tunnels as they search for food in the lawn.

There are many methods that homeowners have tried over the years in controlling moles and gophers, most of them failing. We do offer a mole control program at LawnAmerica which consists of setting baits that look and smell like earthworms, a major source of food for moles. We consistently set the baits as we come out for regular lawn treatments, and provide service calls in-between treatments also. This works well sometimes, but in other cases may not be as effective, so you just never know. We can’t make the mole eat the bait, but it does help in some cases.

Applying insecticide to control grubworms is not very consistent either, so we really don’t recommend that as a control method. Spray on products containing castor oil are not very good either. Other products are just a waste of money.

The best way to control both moles and gophers in the Tulsa area is to contact our wildlife trappers we recommend on our website. Both are very good, and charge a base fee plus a bounty per animal caught. If a homeowner is persistent and has plenty of time, you can learn to trap them yourselves. But from our experience, just pay these guys and you will probably be happy!

Read our mole control page for more information.

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We finally have some moisture in Oklahoma, in the form of snow and ice. Hey, we’ll take it in any form with it being so dry now. It wasn’t much, so let’s hope for some good, soaking rains soon.

We were able to fire up the snow plows and use some of the truckload of ice melt we have in the warehouse at LawnAmerica though. Some of our trucks are equipped with the capability of adding a plow and a large ice melt spreader, so we are able to help some of our customers with ice and snow control in the Tulsa area. It looks like the snow won’t last long though, and that’s fine with us.

As the snow melts into the soil, it will water in any pre-emergent weed-control applied last week. We are in the middle of applying our Round 1 Early Spring Weed-Control Treatment, and with decent weather, should have all of our customers lawns in the Tulsa and Oklahoma area serviced by early to mid-March. Crabgrass won’t even begin to germinate in Tulsa until late March at the earliest most seasons, so as long as the Barricade pre-emergent is applied before then, your crabgrass issues should be minimal.