Customized Lawn Applications

Dear valued customer:

We live in a fast paced world and lawn maintenance is only one of numerous tasks that require your attention. I want you to be assured that as my customer you enjoy the benefit of my individual consideration of YOUR LAWN and my perception of YOUR EXPECTATIONS and BUDGET when preparing your annual proposal for lawn applications.  Please call or text with your questions or concerns.  I am willing to discuss options so that we come up with the best plan to meet your budget and expectations.  If you have questions or requests please call or text anytime so that we can make adjustments.  


Frequently Asked Questions:

NOTIFICATION OF PESTICIDE APPLICATION: Every time we apply pesticide-containing products to your lawn we place a notification flag in the front lawn. The flag says “CHEMICALLY TREATED KEEP OFF do not remove sign for 24 hours” and will include the date of application and a brief note describing what was applied. We try to place this flag at the side of the driveway where you will notice it when you return home and/or along the sidewalk where pedestrians are most likely to notice it. You can remove this sign the next day. Granular pesticide-containing products generally do not require any notification at all, but we leave one anyway so-as to act on the side of caution. Liquid applied products require that people and pets stay off the applied areas until the product has dried, which often takes only an hour after application. I prefer to err on the side of caution and place a flag that specifies a 24 hour restriction.

I strive to maintain a heightened awareness regarding homes with pets and children. To this end I may place additional flags on lawns where children play and pets are active and call or text message you when I am applying chemicals. I often place a flag where it is most noticeable when exiting the back door of the home where children or pets would encounter it before entering a lawn area. Please understand that I cannot make an absolute guarantee that these additional precautions are always taken, but you do have my assurance that I take seriously the obligation to notify you and your neighbors when chemicals are in use.  In practically all sensitive situations, I not only place warning flag(s), but I also make a point of speaking with you or texting you AND waiting for your acknowledgement BEFORE making the application.

MOWING AND WATERING AFTER AN APPLICATION: The most common questions I get regarding applications is whether there are watering instructions and whether it is okay to mow. This is a nuanced matter and there are two answers depending whether granular pre-emergent or liquid weed control has been applied.  In all but some specific situations, it is not going to matter when or whether you mow or water because I have a pretty good idea when I am at your home whether you are going to be mowing soon or not and whether your sprinklers are likely to run at a problematic time.  If I perceive a conflict, for instance in the rare instances that I make a heavy application to tall grass, I will contact you with special instructions.  For instance: no watering for the rest of the day, and to either not collect the clippings or not to use the clippings on a food garden.

When Pre-emergent has been applied (sometimes abbreviated as “PreM”), it is not a bad idea to water immediately since the pesticide does not start protecting the lawn until water carries it into the soil. Pre-emergent applications are made in the spring when weekly rainfall is commonplace, and this means rain is likely to occur in time to get the product working soon enough, in which case the budget-minded can avoid the time and expense of watering. If the weather forecast for the next 5-7 days is dry after a pre-emergent application is made it’s not a bad idea to run the sprinklers. Also, an important tip is that running the sprinklers then waiting for the lawn to dry will eliminate the chemical hazard to you, children, and pets thus an immediate watering will allow you to spend time on the lawn sooner than waiting for rain. If you choose to wait for rain to water in the pre-emergent, limit pet and child activity on the lawn and wear shoes until it rains. 

When the flag says that weeds have been sprayed (often noted as “spot spraying of weeds”) immediate watering is to be avoided. The product needs to dry on the plant before getting wet from rain or sprinklers to get the best results. This means you will want to avoid running sprinklers till the next morning. You can run the sprinklers the next morning to wash any residues off the plants and wait for the lawn to dry before allowing pets or children onto the lawn. If you are not in a rush to spend time on the lawn, there is no need or benefit to watering after spraying. Hold off on mowing weed infested areas for two days after spraying. This is mandated by the pesticide manufacurer, and it allows extra time for the product to translocate within the plant. If large weed leaves that were sprayed are cut off the tops of weeds, a significant portion of the weed killer will not make it to the root of the plant and the efficacy will be lessened.

FERTILIZER: In the past I have experimented with both organic and synthetic fertilizers.  I am now using synthetic fertilizers for the bulk of the season, and most lawns are getting one dose of organic fertilizer at the end of the year. “Synthetic” and “organic” fertizilizers are both entirely safe for pets and people and are no different from organics in this respect.  “Synthetic” in this respect does not mean the fertilizer contains a pesticide.  Pre-Emergent fertilizer, discussed below, does contain a pesticide.

PRE-EMERGENT (liquid or granular): Pre-emergent contain chemicals that inhibit the sprouting of weed seeds. This is a great concept since it is better to keep a weed from growing at all than try to kill it after it emerges. Pre-emergents are most enthusiastically used in the midwest states to control the annual grassy weeds crabgrass and foxtail. These annual weeds can ONLY regenerate season to season by casting seeds in the prior late summer season, and they emerge slowly throughout the following summer (when post-emergent herbicide sprays are not very effective). Pre-emergent does provide some control of perennial broadleaf weeds but the strongest control comes of those comes from spring and fall spot spraying.

There is cause to use pre-emergent controls sparingly, however, since they DO have a negative impact on root development of all plant roots and this is a stress on established and desirable grass, trees, and shrubs. The greatest weed pressure on many properties is on full sun areas in the front lawn along concrete. For this reason there are many lawns that will only receive pre-emergent along the driveway and in the parkway. 

LIQUID WEED CONTROL: I continue to use the safest and most appropriate of several liquid weed killers in the most environmentally responsible manner possible. I will spot spray for weeds when fertilizer is applied in spring and fall months, or on a separate visit if weather doesn’t cooperate. While it would be nice to kill weeds at peak emergence during the summer, the reality is that with increasing temperatures the herbicides have little or no effectiveness since they volatize (evaporate) before soaking into the leaf (and potentially odor drifts more readily resulting in an unreasonable exposure to neighbors) Also, herbicides are not translocated by weeds that are under drought stress—this is because the drought stressed plants are not actively growing when it is hot and dry and the molecular structure of the leaves are closed off to prevent wilting.

The best time to control most weeds is actually in the Fall—another notable point since this is long after most homeowners have quit thinking about their lawn. I will be spraying weeds when making the final fertilizer application in October. Watering the lawn at this time is a great help since it makes the weeds grow and therefore respond to (translocate) the herbicide, but, alas, sprinkler systems are often shut down in this period. If you have been disappointed by my control of weeds please call or text anytime to discuss. Better results can be had if we come up with a gameplan of watering weedy areas prior to the October application and keeping leaves clear so we can make a followup application a week or two later.

LAWN SEEDING: Second only to inadequate watering, lawn seeding is the major overlooked/important element in successful lawn maintenance. In all instances where weed killers are used repeatedly to control weeds, it is irresponsible to omit periodic lawn seeding to establish new turf where weeds displaced lawn. Other lawn services offer limited seeding or no lawn seeding at all. I am offering “dormant” seeding to many of you.  Less manipulation of the soil is used, just power raking and/or blowing out debris to create a direct path for as much seed as possible to contact the soilg.  We do rely on a heavy snow to pack the seed down to the ground and melt slowly in March to make the seed germinate, and/or early spring rain to make seed sprout.

FINAL NOTE ON THE PROBLEM OF CLAY SOIL: Lincoln lawns (particularly “suburb lawns”–on properties that were developed in the last 25 years and have the worst possible clay substrate) lack ideal topsoil. Clay is not as porous as black soil so water and nutrients do not exchange well with turfgrass roots. With some overreach, it can be said that lawns on clay soil do not have soil at all! “Carpet lawn” is my term for lawns that do not have deep roots; they instead have a matted layer of roots that does not attach to the soil. Water and fertilizer must be applied frequently to this matted layer since it slides off the clay surface below very quickly, and this is the modus operandi of services operating in Lincoln’s newer/outlying neighborhoods.

The necessary constant watering leads to fungus problems in the hot part of summer when overnight temperatures stay above 80 degrees. Fungus problems are expensive to treat due to the 4x cost of fungicides compared to fertilizer. Aeration really does not help since holes in clay close up very easily like a piece of Play-Doh after you make a hole in it with a pencil. This is rigorous problem and it takes the average homeowner many years to discover there is no real solution except constant water, fertilizer, fungicides, and more mowing because it grows so fast. Conventional lawn application programs work best in this environment but have a high cost economically and to the environment.

The solution to poorly performing suburb turf in clay soil is to change the soil, and I am among the very few to offer a service to correct it. It is labor and material intensive, however, so the cost to improve entire lawns is nearly always impractical. For this reason we commonly focus our effort towards improving only the weakest portions of these lawns by amending the soil with compost and overseeding. This is one example why my use of the highest quality seed and thorough methods often turn the worst part of a lawn into the best growing area of the lawn. It is largely a matter of experience and anticipating the pitfalls in the individual situation.

Hopefully the above information will help you to understand the methods I’m using in your lawn, particularly to understand the different ways I am working in your lawn and the ways I operate my lawncare business. Regardless of the level of detail we decide is best for your situation, I am proud to continue offering a highest quality possible service in the form of my personal hands-on performance of the work done on your property and look forward to working with you for this and many years to come.


Will Frerichs