Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Is this a challenging econonmy?

I certainly can't say that we have not been impacted by the down-turn in the economy. We have been both by customers who have had to suspend their service until they find employment again and by those customers who have trimmed back on the amount of service they receive as they look to tighten their personal budgets. Many would find this disheartening and would become discouraged. Maybe it's my entrepreneurial spirit that doesn't accept 'no' as an answer that keeps me pushing forward and seeing this period of time a wonderful opportunity.

There are many homeowners who want to hire a professional landscape company for a project or some assistance with their maintenance but don't know where to turn. We have heard more stories this year from homeowners about bad experiences with so called "landscapers" that turned out to be little more than a couple of guys with a lawn mower and wheelbarrow. We have heard time and again how they hired a particular person or company and had hoped for the best and ultimately were disappointed by the experience and outcome.

Some have told me this spring that they thought they could save money by hiring the one or two guy outfit, even though they knew they were taking a risk. They decided afterwards that professionalism does matter and it often saves them time, money and unnecessary frustration.

When I'm on sales calls I am always looking for ways to help the customer maximize their budget and get the best value. I will even recommend that the small guy be brought in at certain points based on the owner's needs and priorities. I learned a long time ago where we fit well into the equation and where we should defer to someone else. We are not interested in doing anything for anybody, but rather serving our customers where we know we can provide results and value.

I'm proud of our team this spring - they are working long hours to make sure that our current customers are pleased with the service they are receiving. They are also working hard to develop and build new relationships in the neighborhoods where we already work.

I am excited every time I am able to give one of our current customers a $50 service credit on their account as a result of their referral. Not only does it tell me that they are happy enough with our service that they would refer us to a friend or neighbor, but it is also good for the customer because they have saved on their landscape cost. Our referral program has introduced us to many people and I'm thankful for these new relationships.

Tough economic times many will ask? Not for us - I reply, it's an exciting and rewarding time to be in business. It's fundamentals really. Listen to your customer, offer them options, provide consultation, deliver on your promises and follow through. We're certainly not batting 100% this spring, but we're working hard to make sure that each person gets what they need.

Thank you to our customers for making this a great spring and an inspiring time to be in business.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Will your lawn survive the summer heat?

Here are some tips for growing and keeping a healthy lawn.

Mowing tips

  1. Mow the grass tall, at least 3 inches, but 3 ½”. The taller the better. Longer leaf blades collect more sunlight for increased photosynthesis, which is how the plant creates food for itself. More food means more energy and stronger grass plants and healthier roots. Tall grass shades the soil, keeping it cooler and minimizes sunlight that weed seeds need to germinate.
  2. Cut shady lawn areas less frequently, allowing the grass to grow taller so it can capture more sunlight.
  3. Sharpen your lawn mower blade before summer heat, and again in late summer for best results, or any time you run over sticks or rocks.
  4. Change the direction of travel with each mowing to help stand the grass up.
  5. Mulch the grass clippings back into the lawn. Rake out clumps of clippings. Clippings are more than 80% water and they will return nutrients and water to the lawn. Clippings do not contribute to the build of thatch.

Watering tips

  1. Measure the amount of water your sprinkler delivers by setting out some cake or pin pans. Measure the water collected in the tins on a level surface after ½ hour to determine how much total time is required to deliver one inch of water each week.
  2. Supplement rain fall as needed to make sure your lawn receives at least one inch of water per week.
  3. Break up the watering into several sessions, watering for as long as possible without allowing the water to puddle. When puddles form the soil is saturated and can not absorb any more water and water is being wasted. If you have watered less than one inch you will need to water again.

Other tips

  1. Clean up leaves, sticks and other plant litter before mowing. Plant litter and debris may contribute to excessive thatch build up and should not be left on the lawn. Mowing over sticks and other debris will dull your mower blades more quickly.
  2. Do not leave hoses, children’s swimming pools or other items on the lawn for an extended period of time. Hot plastic items will heat up and bake the lawn creating dead spots.
  3. Fertilize the lawn with either traditional or organic products to deliver the equivalent of four pounds of nitrogen per thousand square feet for the season. Break up the fertilizer into four or five applications. Reduce the amount of fertilizer you apply in shady lawn areas by half or two-thirds.
  4. Avoid aerating and de-thatching the lawn when dry and hot. Wait until cooler temperatures return this fall, or if you must do it now then water the lawn thoroughly.

It is easier to keep a lawn green and healthy than it is to make a lawn green and healthy. Follow these tips to avoid having to repair or renovate your lawn this fall.