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As my wife and I drove to church yesterday, she exclaimed, “Wow aren’t those pretty purple flowers” as we drove past some farmland exploding with purple from thousands of purple flowers. I laughed and told her that those are weeds…..Henbit, which comes up every March in untreated home lawns. In this case, the farmer had not planted anything, and Henbit had overtaken his field.

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As of yesterday, we shot through the 13,000 customer mark at LawnAmerica. We are thrilled to be able to serve more homeowners and businesses with their lawn care needs than anyone in the state of Oklahoma. And now, we are helping folks in Charlotte and Asheville North Carolina, and in the Greenville/Spartanburg area in South Carolina, along with being down the road in Oklahoma City. For all of this we are very grateful!

For customers, it’s a good thing when we are large. For example, because of our size, LawnAmerica is able to obtain better pricing for our lawn care products. This allows us to use better products, such as the unique new pre-emergent Specticle, which we apply in the fall. Most small companies cannot afford to use it because of the price, but we can with our volume. We buy our fertilizer direct from the plant by the truckload, so we’re able to use a super slow-release fertilizer in our Round 2 treatment, a 36-0-5, with 70% slow-release nitrogen. This quality product spreads out the nitrogen release slowly and efficiently over 11 weeks, allowing us to then apply the unique Echelon weed-control product with our Round 3. Again, most companies cannot do these things, because they cannot afford to pay for the quality products and fertilizers that we use.

Having a lot of LawnAmerica trucks in the field also leads to better service for our customers. If one is in need of a free service call to spot-treat weeds, or a lawn problem such as turf disease, chances are your LawnAmerica guy, or gal, is fairly close in the neighborhood. So they can often be there that day to solve your problem.

Although we are large, we have not lost that personal touch either. In fact, because of our growth, quality, and company culture, we attract the best people in the business. Our front-line people are the best, averaging over 6 years in lawn care experience with us. They earn about 35% over industry averages for their great work, which leads to outstanding results on the lawns and a fanatical level of service. Think about it. Who would you want to operate on you if you needed brain surgery? A resident MD practicing family medicine, or an experienced, highly-paid brain surgeon? Not that our guys are as smart as a brain surgeon, but they are pretty darn good on lawns!

We could not grow without our happy customers, referring us to their friends and neighbors, so thank you again. Most of our growth is due to referrals, so we’ll continue working hard in order to earn that trust, becoming larger in order to serve more people, provide more opportunities for great people, and to do more good in our communities.

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There really is gold in your grass! Not just on St. Patrick’s Day, but every day your lawn and landsacpe is healthy can add value to your home and our community.

According to Smart Money Magazine, a nice lawn and landscape added up to 11.3% to the value of a home. Money Magazine states that: “attractively landscaping your yard can be one of the most cost-effective ways to boost your home’s curb appeal.” And for businesses, greening of business areas increases price and draws customers to the businesses. A study in Boulder, Colorado neighborhoods showed that property values decreased by $4.20 for each foot away from a greenbelt.

LawnAmerica provides great jobs to 54 families, so we have a personal vested interest in caring for lawns and landscapes in the areas we serve. We are just a small part of growing industry though with tremendous economic benefits. According to a recent USDA-funded research project, the green industry provided the following benefits:

  • $147.8 billion in output
  • $64.3 billion in labor income
  • $6.9 billion in indirect business taxes
  • $95.1 billion in value added

Green spaces and healthy lawns and landscapes benefit us in so many other ways also. Environmental benefits of healthy lawns and landscapes include oxygen generation, soil erosion prevention, cooling or urban areas, and carbon dioxide absorption just to name a few. And then there is the aesthetics and physiological benefits that green spaces can provide.

So if you’ve not done so yet, make an investment in your lawn, by becoming a partner with LanwAmerica, and allow us to help you find some gold in your grass.

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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.