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Common Lawn Care Disasters and How to Deal With Them

Posted by WintacLawn on Jan 13, 2017 3:43:27 PM

lawn care.jpgWhen you get those frantic calls from a customer or potential customer who is suddenly dealing with major damage or a dying lawn, it’s the perfect opportunity to showcase your expertise and gain a customer for life.

Here are a few common lawn care disasters that homeowners face and how you can position yourself as the right person to call for help:

Improper Fertilization

Accidentally overfertilizing the lawn is a common lawn care mistake that homeowners can make. As you know, there is a fine line between what constitutes a normal application and one that has gone overboard. Too much fertilizer leads to increased nitrogen and salt levels, which kill and burn the lawn.  

Repairing a burned lawn all starts with watering, as the water will flush out the excess chemicals. Advise the homeowner to water every day, completely saturating the soil. The extra chemicals must be leached out of the ground and washed away. After a couple weeks, rake out the dead material and evaluate the extent of the damage. If you’re dealing with just a small patch, seed the dead area and let new grass grow. If it’s the whole lawn, you’ll need to discuss the options of seeding or sod.

A lawn that is overfertilized may show these warning signs:

  • Fertilizer Crust: If fertilizer is crusting up and remaining atop the grass blades, it’s because there’s more fertilizer than the lawn actually needs.
  • Yellowing or Browning: A lawn that received too much fertilizer will begin to die, as the roots have been scorched.
  • Turning Black: As the lawn dies completely, it may wilt and blacken. This dead material should be raked up.

Preventing Future Fertilization Problems

If you have a client who has improperly fertilized his or her lawn and perhaps even killed it, this is the perfect opportunity to discuss the benefits of using an expert who is not only trained but is also licensed to handle fertilization materials properly. Oftentimes, it’s an at-home accident, such as killing the lawn, that leads homeowners to sign up for a lawn care program. Explain that you use materials of a higher quality than they can buy on their own and that your guys are trained to do proper applications.

Improper Watering

Lawns need water to thrive, but homeowners commonly don’t know just how much water is appropriate. Many homeowners assume their lawn is underwatered, which as you know, will cause it to yellow and wilt.

More often than not, homeowners actually overwater their lawns. When they see that their lawn has wilted, they then often become confused and water it more, which begins a vicious cycle.  In time, this can lead to the growth of fungal lawn diseases.

A lawn that is overwatered may show these warning signs:

  • Runoff: Water running into the streets is a sign that the lawn has received more water than it can hold.
  • Sog: A soggy lawn that squishes when you walk on it is one that has definitely been overwatered.
  • Wilting: This is the most confusing sign, as an overwatered lawn can begin to look like an underwatered one as the grass begins to curl up and wilt. This is happening because the roots are being drowned, and the grass is beginning to die.
  • Disease: A lawn that has been overwatered may start to show signs of fungus growth. Gray or red patches on the lawn are a telltale sign that it’s received too much water.

Preventing Future Watering Problems

Educating your customers on how much water their lawn needs and how to recognize signs of overwatering and underwatering is a great opportunity to position your company as lawn care experts. It’s also a great time to discuss the benefits of a smart irrigation system. The newest irrigation technology, which makes use of sensors that detect moisture levels, can ensure that a lawn is watered the perfect amount. Rain sensors also ensure that a lawn isn’t overwatered because of receiving irrigation watering and rain at the same time. The rain sensors tell the system to shut off during a rain event.Your customers can now have a perfect, healthy lawn with no effort on their part required.

Turf Disease

Turf disease can spread quickly and be very destructive if not managed properly. Rain and heat comprise the most concerning combination when it comes to the spread of disease, as most turf diseases thrive in these conditions. While that means that summer is a prime time for turf disease, heat and moisture can also exist in the dead of winter. When leaves and debris are left on the lawn and then covered with snow, heat can be generated. That combination of heat and moisture can lead to mold growth under the snow.

Regardless of the time of year, a lawn should always be monitored for disease in order to maintain optimum health.

A lawn that has disease may show these warning signs:

  • Patches of Color: Patches of brown, white, or red (to name a few) are all potential signs of various turf diseases.
  • Stunted Growth or Wilting: A lawn that is suddenly not performing like it once did should raise a red flag.
  • Dead Grass: If there’s no other explanation for dying grass (such as too much fertilizer or too much water), it may be due to a disease.

Preventing Future Turf Disease

Matters of turf disease are very complicated. There are many different types of diseases, and sometimes it takes an expert to identify them. It’s important to educate your clients about turf disease. Successful lawn and landscape companies inform their clients in advance which diseases will be prevalent in their region for the approaching season. Customers should be prepared to know what to expect. It’s also important that you make sure your clients know you are being diligent about looking for the first signs of disease on their lawn so that it can be treated immediately. It’s helpful for your clients to be aware of what turf disease is so that they don’t think it’s something you did to their lawn, should a disease arise.


Like disease, pests can emerge suddenly and become very destructive to turf. There are many different pests out there that are a concern, and it can vary by region, but one that has been getting a lot of press is the emerald ash borer. It has invaded a large portion of the East Coast and Midwestern regions, killing millions of ash trees in its wake.

A lawn that has a pest problem may show these warning signs:

  • Holes and Partially Eaten Grass: This is from pests that feed on your turf or its roots.
  • Unattached Turf: Pests such as grubs consume the turf’s roots and leave the lawn so that it can be rolled up like a carpet or picked up in handfuls, as it’s missing its roots entirely.
  • Wilted or Dead Grass: Like some of the other concerns we’ve discussed, pests can ultimately destroy a lawn.

Preventing Future Pest Problems

Like turf disease, pests are a complicated issue. When pests first invade, the damage is typically mild and not easy to spot. But it can quickly escalate into a major problem. It is of critical importance that pests are spotted early. Make sure clients (and potential clients) know that your technicians are always keeping an eye out for potential pest concerns. Clients should also be made aware that the better condition their lawn is in to begin with, the more resistant it will be to naturally fighting off pests in the first place. There is great benefit to clients signing up for a service and maintenance package that will keep their lawn in tiptop shape.

Some Final Thoughts

Whether you’re handling a problem that has already occurred or talking to your clients about some of the common lawn care disasters they may face, there is tremendous value in educating your customers. None of these common disasters have to be so catastrophic. With an experienced professional, many of these problems can be prevented in the first place or remedied so that they don’t happen again.

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