How Your Lawn Crew Are Destroying Your Lawn (And What To Do About It)

Posted on 09. Jul, 2018 by in Lawn Care

More than Brown Patch and Chinch Bugs, compaction or even Sod Webworm, a bad Lawn Crew is the No. 1 cause of damage in Houston lawns and unfortunately, if you use a lawn crew, there is almost certainly some kind of damage in your yard right now due to them.

Happy Grass 🙂

 Sad grass 🙁

This year’s consistent heavy rains are compounding the problem. As week on week lawn crews cut on too-wet soil and stressed out roots, I am seeing much more weeds, ruts, browning, thinning and even grass dying, than is typical.

Read on and I will explain why that amazing deal you get to mow your lawn is not so amazing.

9 Ways Your Lawn Crew Is Killing Your Grass

  1. Do you have a receeding grass line?

    They use a weed eater to “edge” (scalp) areas around driveways, sidewalks, flowerbeds, lamp posts, fire hydrants, meter boxes and anywhere too small to fit their mower. This regular scalping stresses or kills the grass, and stops it from growing back. Suddenly you have a border of weeds around your fences, flowerbeds and driveways, or a growing gap I like to call a Receeding Grass Line.

  2. Blunt blades on their mowers tear at the grass and pull on the roots. Initially you see a brown appearance from discoloration of the ragged and split tips of the blades, later there is further browning and thinning as the roots that have been pulled away from the soil can no longer provide for the number of grass blades on the runners.
  3. Over-sized mowers have too much weight and power, leaving track marks and even bare patches if they have to pivot in tight quarters.
  4. Dirty or contaminated equipment spreads mainly weeds, but also insects and fungus from yard to yard. Just as they are creating weakness and stress with scalping and blunt blades, they are introducing new weeds, or spreading old ones, into the same areas.

    Mower tracks kill off lines of grass.

  5. Mowing when too wet (or too dry) often leaves tracks or ruts in wet ground, or stresses brittle, dry roots. Extreme conditions like drought or excess rain can create a base level of stress, add poor lawn care to the mix and you have compounding stresses that are far more likely to cause lasting damage.
  6. Scalping – blade heights are often too low for St Augustine, which is best cut to a minimum of 2 1/2″. Scalping makes it difficult for the grass to grow effectively and much more susceptible to other stresses.
  7. Bad or Lack of Training – technicians are unable to recognize areas of stress that need to be avoided, or are pressured to put profit before standards.
  8. Extras – there are crews out there that take it upon themselves to add or offer extra treatments like fertilizers, herbicide and insecticide. If you are lucky they may know what they are doing, if not, they can make things far worse.
  9. Mowing Bermuda or Zoysia grass with the wrong equipment. These grasses are very different from the more common St. Augustine, requiring a different mower or blade, different cutting height as well as different fertilization and watering.

You may be reading this smugly, thinking you are one of the lucky ones who has a very good lawn crew who would never stress your beautiful lawn. If these smug thoughts make it through a closer inspection of your fencelines, low spots and flowerbeds, then please share your lawn crew’s name and number with us in the comments section below and congratulate yourself on your excellent Lawn Crew picking skills!

A good lawn crew will know the difference between ‘scalping’ and ‘mowing’. 

Unfortunately it is more likely you are already aware of the damage wrought by your well-meaning and super affordable crew, but wonder what the real alternative is (and how much it will cost!?) Finding a crew who will come regularly is a hard enough battle, trying to find one who will do a good job as well seems almost impossible.

Here are some ideas on how to solve these problems:

Talk to your Lawn Crew

If you are able to communicate well with the crew, talk to them about some changes they could make:

Doveweed – Kill, don’t mow!

 

  • Use an edger and not a weed eater
  • Use a push mower, not a ride-on
  • Ask for them to come to your yard first in their day ( to avoid as much cross contamination as possible)
  • Do not mow when wet (or to check with you first if it has been raining)
  • Mow every other week during a drought
  • Raise their blades
  • Edge every other week
  • Mulch and leave the clippings at least once a month
  • Let you know if they are seeing areas of damage and/or weeds
  • Do not cut large areas of Doveweed. Ever. Doveweed needs to be treated with herbicide as soon as possible to stop further spreading.

If you cannot communicate with your lawn crew, or expect them to follow your express wishes, then don’t use them! Would you use a hairdresser who cut your hair the way they want, regardless of what you ask for? Of course not!

Do It Yourself

This option is definitely not for everyone, but some people really enjoy the feeling of accomplishment and pride in a self-cut lawn, it’s also a great calorie burn and fantastic detox in summer (you will sweat out all of your toxins and some extra to save for one more cold beer / glass of wine / slice of cake tonight.)

If you have a teenager around this is a great way for them to earn a little extra money, they just may need a little training first. (Effort of training a teenager also gets you said beer/wine/cake) 🙂

Provide the Equipment

This is not my idea but something one of my customers does which struck me as an excellent compromise. Providing the equipment, although costly up front, gives you so much more control over what goes on in your yard. You are now in control of blade height and sharpness, you avoid cross-contamination to help prevent the spread of weeds, and can even stop them from mowing when it is too wet by making the equipment unavailable (you would need to have an express understanding they are only to mow the lawn with your equipment.)

You are taking on the care and maintenance of the equipment which can be a nuisance, but many crews will be able to fix the majority of minor problems themselves and there are excellent warranties to cover more severe issues.

This is a great compromise that will make a big difference to the health of your grass.

Find a new Lawn Crew

Possibly the most difficult of the options, taking the time to find a well- referenced, cost-effective lawn crew may seem impossible (or you may have already taken the time for the same mediocre results!)

Ask any neighbors with weed-free, healthy grass, or your local independent nursery for a reference. I personally recommend JAB Landscaping and Pearcescapes as the two local companies I have been most impressed with over the years (I do not profit from these referrals).

A good lawn crew are not going to be your cheapest option, but this is definitely a cost vs. quality choice and please believe me when I tell you it makes a BIG difference to the yard!

Happy Lawn, Happy Lawn Owner

If you are reading this, then a good-looking lawn is obviously important to you and mowing & watering are the most important factors to a healthy lawn. There is nothing we can do about Mother Nature and her crazy ideas about what appropriate rainfall levels are, but you can control who/how/with what takes care of your lawn. The right crew and equipment can make all the difference in having a beautiful, healthy and happy Lawn.

If you have a good Lawn Crew reference for us, comments or questions about anything you have read, please let me know in the comments section below or contact me directly: 713 398 1464 or katy@northhoustonlawncare.com.

One Response to “How Your Lawn Crew Are Destroying Your Lawn (And What To Do About It)”


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