Lawn treatment do's and don'ts

Angie's List offers advice on applying treatments, hiring a professional

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Many homeowners strive for the perfect, emerald green lawn, but it takes more than regular mowing. Fertilizing is worthwhile in any climate, but a necessity when the soil lacks nutrients.

Angie's List asked highly rated lawn care companies about applying treatments to your lawn.

  • Organic and synthetic lawn fertilizers are a good tool for maintaining a healthy lawn: Fertilizer promotes a lush growth, strengthens roots and helps to prevent invasive weeds and pests.
  • There are many varieties of lawn fertilizer available: Most consist of three key nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The most popular types of lawn fertilizer are granule and liquid.
  • Avoid over-fertilizing: Spreading too much fertilizer can overwhelm your grass. Fertilizer adds nitrogen to your lawn, but if you add too much, it can actually dry it out and kill it. You'll be able to tell if you over-fertilized if you notice yellow or brown spots where the grass has died.
  • Don't overuse chemicals: Pesticides can be essential to preventing infestations and disease but should be used with great caution. Some pesticides are very harsh on a lawn and can cause as much new damage as it prevents in old damage. All pesticides should be checked for natural ingredients which should take preference over harsher chemical based pesticides.

Unlike with mowing, lawn treatment doesn't produce immediate results, so it can be difficult to monitor the quality of service. In some cases, homeowners went months or even years before realizing they were paying for shoddy service.

"When it comes to lawn care you typically aren't even home as a consumer when the job is done so unfortunately we hear horror stories where the company didn't actually do what they said they were going to do or they actually damaged the lawn so you want to be sure you have a good company that knows what they are doing," said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.

Angie's List Tips: Hiring a high-quality fertilization & treatment service

  • On-site estimate: Don't hire a company that won't inspect your grass before starting work. The technician should provide an in-home estimate and measure the size of your lawn, understand your grass type and take note of existing damage.
  • Don't trust generic, guaranteed, quick cures: Each lawn is a unique, growing plant, and even lawns side-by-side in the same neighborhood may need different treatment. Recovery will depend on a number of factors.
  • Beware low price: Be wary of treatment companies with flashy ads that sound too good to be true. If the price is extremely low, expect an aggressive upsell.
  • Think it over: Avoid companies that encourage you to sign a service contract on the spot.
  • Read before you sign: Get a written contract, read and understand it before you agree to hire. It should include a refund policy and guarantee. Get a detailed invoice after each visit that details the scope of work.
  • Check out your lawn: Make a point to look at your lawn if you are not home during a treatment. Lawn care specialist say homeowners should see fertilizer granules in their yard for at least a few hours after the application in most cases.

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