Landscape Contractor / Design Build Maintain

FEB 2018

LC/DBM provides landscape contractors with Educational, Imaginative and Practical information about their business, their employees, their machines and their projects.

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30 LC DBM >> Aeration is a maintenance service that will not only improve the quality of turf for your customers, but increase your revenues as well. The season for aeration is early in the mowing season and late in the mowing season, helping to extend your total season billing hours to your existing customers. Aeration is also an opportunity to attract new customers. While the need for aeration is not new, consumer awareness of its benefits is on the rise. Once a customer realizes that aeration can dramatically improve the quality and health of their turf, they will likely continue this service as a normal treatment each spring or fall. Cost of entry requires a minimal invest- ment and the payback for the equipment is short. You can start with a low-cost, walk- behind product and as your customer base expands, you can then move into larger ride-on equipment for higher productivity. Aeration can be sold on multiple benefits: as part of a normal maintenance pack- age for healthier, greener turf, or as an individual renovation practice to reduce recovery time from damage due to compaction, drought or winter kill. You can also sell it for a secondary benefit of reducing thatch with less disruption than the typical process. You can promote the aeration process as having a longer lasting benefit than even fertil- ization (which has to be repeated several time a year). When done in the fall, it helps promote rigorous root growth, improving the turf's ability to handle winter, which promotes a shorter, healthier green-up in the spring. It enhances the drainage quality of the turf and since you're improving its root structure, it also helps reduce watering requirements while increasing resis- tance to disease. Simple flyers that you can leave with existing customers explaining the benefits and costs are an effective way to promote aeration. And add a note to your invoices or send clients an email prior to aeration season. To attract new customers, consider advertising in your service area and add signage to your trucks and trailers. Offering aeration shows a customer that your business promotes total turf maintenance - that you have the tools in your toolbox to provide healthier, better looking lawns - helping your company become a more complete turf main- tenance business. Adding Aeration to Your Business by Tony Weber, Schiller Grounds Care is empty. Some units also feature a seed dial and an instruc- tion chart on the overseeder that allows operators to set the machine for the desired grass seed type so no seed is wasted. Turf tread floatation tires offer stability on hills, minimize soil compaction and eliminate tire ruts. Maintenance and support are two more areas to consider. One area to reduce maintenance time is on the bearings. Greasable cast iron bearings on either side of the blade shaft require minimal maintenance and last longer than non- greasable cast iron bearings. Also, look for blades with a cut - ting edge on both sides for double the service life. Lastly, look for a reputable manufacturer that provides easily accessible resources, such as educational information, operational man - uals and phone support for quick answers to any challenge. Fertilizing Don't fertilize too early. Grady Miller, Ph.D., of North Carolina State University recommends apply - ing a pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet several weeks after the grass turns green. Be sure to follow the fertilizer manufacturer's application guide - lines carefully. Watering Irrigate appropriately. North Carolina State's Miller recom- mends watering to a soil depth of four to six inches. To see if a lawn needs to be watered, try pushing a screwdriver into the soil. If the screwdriver penetrates easily, the soil probably has enough moisture; if it goes in with difficulty, it's likely time to water. For lawn irrigation recommendations specific to your region, contact your county extension agency. Above When choosing an overseeder, recommendations include turf tread floa- tation tires that offer stability on hills, minimize soil compaction and eliminate tire ruts; tight blade placement (inset) for providing the best seed coverage, resulting in a thicker turf because there's increased opportu- nity for the new seed to reach the topsoil; and productivity-enhancing features, such as a hydrostatic drive, which provides variable speed in forward or reverse so operators can adjust their speed for the job's soil conditions, reducing grueling muscle-work from having to manually push the machine. PHOTO: RYAN

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