WHAT YOU SHOULD LOOK FOR BEFORE HIRING A LAWN SERVICE
QUESTION:Are you considering hiring a lawn service company?
Before you decide to hire a lawn care service, you may want to consider the
- Talk with others in your neighborhoods that have used lawn care services.
Find out which companies have done a good job and why.
- Talk with representatives from several lawn care firms and get estimates.
The lowest estimate may not necessarily provide all the services you need.
- Remember that each lawn is different and that your lawn does not necessarily
need the same treatment as another. Some companies may offer a free lawn analysis.
Make sure you are getting "custom" service.
- Even the best lawns have weeds and pests. Ask to see evidence of specific
and real problems before you agree to any treatment.
- Check to see if the company is State licensed. Licensing often requires employees
to have special training, especially those who apply pesticides to lawns.
- Ask what specific lawn care training the employees have.
- Check with the local Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints against
- Find out if the company has liability insurance to cover any accidents that
might happen in your yard.
- Ask if the company belongs to a professional pest control association. This
membership may help keep members better trained and informed.
If you select a lawn care service, you should put all your agreements with
the company into a written contract. You may want to keep the following information
in mind before you sign any contract.
- Read your contract carefully. Know what specific services and lawn problems
are covered and what are not.
- See if there are extra charges for special services, such as fertilizing,
disease control, or reseeding.
- Find out if the company guarantees their work. If it is, get the guarantee
(or warranty) in writing. Know what the guarantee includes and excludes, and
how long it lasts. For example, should a seeding job gain little improvement,
would they reseed during the same growing season for no charge?
- Know the duration for the services offered.
- Must you renew annually?
- What are the costs of renewal and how much might they increase?
- Many lawn service contracts require written notice to cancel. Find out how
you can cancel the contract you are considering.
Good-looking lawns may take a year or more of care to get that way. Although
you may choose to use chemical applications to quickly improve the appearance
of your lawn, you also may want to consider longer-term approaches to lawn care
that do not include pesticides.
One such approach is "integrated pest management”. This involves planting
several kinds of disease resistant grasses, properly conditioning your soil,
and using new low-toxicity pest control materials
Lawn care companies often provide pest, disease, and weed control services.
Lawn care companies generally maintain that the kind and strength of the pesticides
they use are safe. Some organizations, however, including the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), have some health and safety concerns. Before you agree
to pesticide treatment for your lawn, you may want to consider the following
- Although pesticides can kill unwanted weeds and bugs, the treatment also
may destroy the organisms that create a healthy soil for your lawn. Some people
feel that a lawn that is over treated will become dependent on chemicals to thrive.
- Find out their policy on pesticide problems.
- Get the name of the pesticide in writing. Ask to see the EPA label and read
it carefully before any lawn pesticide application.
- Find out about the harmful characteristics of the pesticide, especially to
those most vulnerable to its effects: young children, pregnant women, older people,
and household pets.
- Inquire about the availability of less harmful compounds.
- Inquire carefully about the training of anyone who applies the pesticide
to your lawn.
- Ask how they notify people in the neighborhood about any pesticides. A number
of jurisdictions now require this notice. If your city or county does not require
the notice, you still may want to let neighbors know -- to protect them from
any problems that might arise from the pesticide application.
- Find out what you need to do during the pesticide treatment -- and for how
long. Should you stay indoors, keep your windows closed, bring in your outdoor
lawn furniture and children's toys? How long should you stay off treated areas?
- Make sure windy weather cancels pesticide applications. This will prevent
their spreading to other lawns.
- Ask for alternatives to pesticide applications. Many companies now offer
a more "organic" and less chemical approach to lawn care.
- Ask about ecological effects, including danger to non-target species and
the possibility of groundwater contamination.
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