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Spring project weekend; Lawn service rant

Monday, March 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


There’s something about spring that compels me to clean (inside & out) and take care of big household projects. I worked outside all weekend long, and also did a lot of outdoor projects during the week preceding the weekend. I am beat!

Here’s this spring’s list of outdoor projects (completed items are crossed out):

  • Pressure wash the paver driveway and walkway
  • Pressure wash the sidewalks and street-side gutters
  • Pressure wash the back patio
  • Pressure wash the house and the rain gutters
  • Pressure wash the backyard fence (front-facing)
  • Pressure wash the backyard fence (rear-facing)
  • Pressure wash and clean all patio furniture
  • Caulk and touch up paint exterior of the home
  • Clean all exterior windows/screens
  • Check entire sprinkler system for coverage and leaks, adjust/repair as required (10 zones)
  • Thoroughly clean grill
  • General pond maintenance (replace/clean filters, check auto-fill/timer function, adjust rocks, etc)
  • Trim all plants, trees, fruit trees and palms
  • Fertilize all plants, trees, fruit trees, palms and flowers (front and back)
  • Spread mulch
  • Re-sod bad areas
  • Select and plant this year’s crop of peppers, herbs and tomatoes
  • Check function of automatic irrigation system for peppers, herbs and tomatoes
  • Weed all flower beds (front)
  • Weed all flower beds (back/pond area)
  • Plant annuals and assorted other plants
  • Clean and organize entire garage/bike shop
  • Clean all outdoor lighting fixtures, check motion sensors, replace bulbs as needed
  • Clean and adjust all outdoor security cameras

I’ve accomplished a lot, but obviously still have much more to do.

My lawn company manged to ruin this.

My lawn company manged to ruin this.

You may have noticed “re-sod bad areas” in the list above. I had to fire the company that has provided fertilization/weed/disease/pest control services for our lawn ever since we bought the house in late 2007. For the first five years or so our lawn was absolutely stunning. I’m a perfectionist, and the lawn was damn near perfect. The company was doing a great job, and I was very happy.

Well, a couple years ago we started to see some small brown patches in the front and in the back. I called to report the issue, and they sent someone out to deal with it. Over the next couple of months the patches grew larger and larger, and new spots were appearing here and there. I kept calling, and after a few more weeks they sent a supervisor out. He said the issue was not bugs, but I (and every one I know, including a couple of competing companies) thought the damage was caused by chinch bugs. My lawn company claimed the problems was my irrigation system. This didn’t make sense to me, because at the time we receiving an extraordinary amount of rain. Still, I called the irrigation company they recommended and had a full inspection and adjustment done.

After the supervisor came out and treated the lawn (along with a couple of follow-up visits) the patches stopped growing in size, but over the next few months the lawn was struggling to recover. Then winter came, and a couple of hard freezes really hurt the weakened/damaged areas.

Spring arrived, and after a few months the bad spots were looking as bad as ever. The lawn company again blamed my irrigation system. When I reminded them that I’d had the company they recommended come out, they said, “Oh, we don’t recommend them any more, here’s the guy you need to call now.” So I called the new company. They came out, and did another full inspection and adjustment.

About a month after the second company came out, I noticed some hot spots that I’d never seen before. Clearly these areas were not getting enough water. Over the next week I called the irrigation company, left multiple voice mails and got no return calls.

Meanwhile I had the supervisor back out, and this time he blamed the sod. He said the sod (which was installed when we had the house built) was not heat tolerant. Irritated I said, “It’s the same goddamn sod that looked amazing for 5 straight years under your care!”

A couple weeks later I’d had enough. I called and said that I was not paying them another cent until my lawn was restored to its former state. I told them if they could not commit to doing that, cancel my account. They said they would have a supervisor come out, and that they valued my business. No one ever came.

The whole reason I paid a company to do something I could do myself is because they promise “guaranteed results”. Here in Florida lawns can be tricky business, and I was willing to pay a little more for professionals who deal with things like bugs and disease every day. Turns out there is no real guarantee, they just pass the buck when things go wrong. I did every single thing they said, and all I have to show for it is a messed up lawn and a lighter wallet.

I’ve decided that I’m going to order a pallet or two of sod and fix the bad areas myself. I’m probably going to do my own fertilization from here on out, too. Some of my neighbors have been through pretty much every lawn company out there. They all seem to do a great job at first, and then–for whatever reason–things quickly go south.

If you want something done right, do it yourself. Truer words have never been spoken.

John Stone Fitness Comments

6 Responses to “Spring project weekend; Lawn service rant”
  1. Sorry to hear about lawn care issues. We’ve had the same issues up here in Spokane, WA. Moved here in 2013. Great lawn service the first two years, then last year, things went south. Too many dead areas. When they came to treat/fertilize, they took less and less time to do it (I work at home, so I know this for a fact). We could try another service, but I think we’re going to do it ourselves this year.

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    • Seems like they all do a great job at first, and then service declines. The tech who serviced my lawn for years did an awesome job, but he left the company. After that it seemed like we had a new tech every couple of months.

      Good luck with the DIY route. That’s what I’m doing now, too.

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  2. Just curious: What do you use for a pressure washer? I don’t need “industrial” quality but don’t want to buy garbage. Many of the “home” units have horrible ratings, so I am still shopping around.

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    • I bought mine in 2006, and it’s performed flawlessly since. The model I have isn’t being made any more (it’s 10 years old, after all), but the most important component is who makes the engine. My pressure washer has a Honda engine, and it runs like a sewing machine.

      The Simpson MSH3125-S MegaShot has a very similar (but newer) Honda engine. That engine is actually a little more powerful than the one in my machine (3100 PSI vs 2500 and 2.5 GPM vs 2.2 GPM).

      A must-have accessory is a good 15″ Surface Cleaner (that’s the one I use). This thing will cut your sidewalk cleaning time down to a quarter of the time when using the spray nozzles. It’s awesome.

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      • So you pressure wash your side walk and curb/gutter and that’s what keeps it looking white like that, the difference between yours and your neighbors? Sorry for the silly question, but I’ve actually never heard of such a thing. ¯\_(?)_/¯

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        • Here in the damp and humid months of Florida, algae and moss grow very quickly on sidewalks and other surfaces. Not only is the algae unsightly, it’s very slippery when wet.

          A good pressure washer does a fantastic job of removing the algae and moss buildup. I have to pressure wash my sidewalks and driveway every spring (as well as my backyard fence and the house itself). It’s a pain in a butt, especially because I have so much sidewalk to do (corner lot), but I would hate for a runner or some poor kid to slip and fall.

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