Hiring lawn service

I am a real novice at taking care of lawns and gardens. My yard has a huge "lawn" that is in very bad shape. It has weeds, moss, crabgrass, bald spots, etc.. Other than regular mowing and occasional weeding, I don't know what else to do. A friend suggested hiring a lawn service business for a year or two to get the "lawn" back into decent shape. Has anyone tried this before? What exactly would they do? How much should I expect to pay? I live in Western Washington. Thanks for any advice.
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On Wed, 08 Mar 2006 10:11:54 -0800, tenplay wrote:

The real question to ask yourself is do you want to do it yourself or pay for it. The average rates for western Washington is going to be about 65 dollars an acre for a complete mowing. The "average" size lawns around here are going to cost 25 to 30 dollars per mowing. Many companies will insist on a seasonal contract, so there will be 4 mows per month need it or not. So your total cost will be $900.00 or more per year. This cost is _just_ the mowing. Fertilization and weed control will be charged separately. These prices can range quite abit.
What I would do to your property to get it back. Liquid broadleaf spot spraying. I don't weed and feed any longer. It's more of a waste than it's worth. A fertilization for the spring to start the lawn off. After the broadleaf weeds are dead, over seed the lawn areas with a good grass seed (from your local farm supply). Mow the lawn areas at 2.5 to 3 inches for the rest of the season. In the fall I would fertilize again, may aereate the lawn if the soil is compacted and spot spray the broadleaf weeds again.
Your lawn should look a 100% better by winter and will look just fine the next season. Keep the mowing hight at 2.5 to 3 inches and fertilize twice a year. Feel free to contact me if you have more questions. If your in the Whatcom or Skagit are, look at my site to get a hold of me. I can stop by and help you out.
http://www.ywgc.com
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Timothy wrote:

Thanks for your helpful response. Unfortunately I am down in Tumwater, WA. Actually what I am thinking of is having the lawn service fertilize and control the weeds as needed, and do the weekly mowing myself. Having them come in 3-4 times to do the stuff I don't know how to do should run about $300-400, shouldn't it?
If I decide to try it myself, are you saying that I should fertilize first, then spray liquid broadleaf, overseed the lawn, and mow the lawn at 2.5-3 inches, and then, in the fall, fertilize, aerate the lawn and spot spray the broadleaf weeds again? Did I get the order right? Thanks. Mike
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In a previous message, I gave you a web site for Maryland's cooperative extension. Ooops. Here's Washington's: http://ext.wsu.edu/locations /
Call them for advice.
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On Thu, 09 Mar 2006 01:35:19 -0800, tenplay wrote:

Yes, in so many words, that is the correct method for chemical control. I posted under the assumption that your IPM threshold was met and you have chosen the chemical path.
Just for balance, you can also attack the problem with out chemicals and de-thatch your lawn area and over-seed/ split seed or hydro-seed. You can remove quite a bit of weeds this way and slightly aerate the soil. You will have to select a seed that will sprout in a short time to beat the weed return.
The blow by blow for chemical treatment.
Purchase a 1 gallon tank sprayer. 25.00 Purchase a small bottle of broadleaf weed killer for lawns. 10.00 Purchase a bag of fertilizer. 21-3-7 cenex farmers supply 15.00 Purchase a fertilizer spreader. 40.00 Purchase quality grass seed. cenex farmers supply 2.50 a pound.
Feritlize the lawn correctly. Look at my page on this subject: http://resources.ywgc.com/info/ferthazard.shtml http://resources.ywgc.com/info/lawnfert.shtml
Spot spray the lawn weeds. This can be done the same day as the fertilization. You will need one whole day for dry time and stay off the lawn for this period.
Wait two to three weeks for the weeds to die. Mow the lawn at 2 inches at this point. Over seed when your done. Wait 2 to 4 weeks for the seed to sprout. When the seeds have grown to 2 inches, mow regulary at 2.5 to 3 inches for the rest of the season.
In the fall, spot spray again (if needed!!), fertilize and over seed. Next years' lawn will need a fertilization in the spring and most likely wont need chemical treatment. The taller height will help keep the weed seed from sprouting and help retain the moisture during our summer drought.
Good luck.
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Any chance children will be playing on your lawn at any time in the next two years?
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Doug Kanter wrote:

Probably not. Why do you ask?
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Because you wont know what they are putting on your lawn for 2 years, unless you are standing there when they are applying it. But you dont know what to do anyway, so they can pretty much do what they want. Get with U of W or your Co-op extension agent and get an inkling on what to do. You could even go to Scotts.com and get the monthly reminder thing of what to do in your zip code to your lawn. Mother Earth News if you are an organic-ite. Just stay away from the "Lawn jockeys".

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How about pets? Or you? Neighbors' kids occasionally?
As Garden Viking mentioned, there are problems with the entire concept of using lawn chemicals. To elaborate:
1) If you could ask the manufacturer of the chemicals about safety, they'd say "Safe when used as directed". False. It's next to impossible to test these things in a scientifically correct way, to know if they're safe for humans to breathe, ingest or come into contact with. And, you WILL come into contact with them, even if it's months later when the stuff has filtered into the local water table and back into your drinking water.
2) The lawn service companies use lots of seasonal help, none of whom have any knowledge about the chemicals they're applying. Once, on a day with 40 mph winds, my wife happened to be home when a Chem Lawn moron was about to hose down my neighbor's lawn. Due to the wind direction, the spray would've instantly blown onto our vegetable garden, our fish pond, and our son's swings. She mentioned strangling to the 911 operator, so the cops arrived very quickly. The Chem Lawn moron told her and the cops that the stuff was proven safe for use on edible crops. Of course, he was wrong. The cops sent him on his way. In any case, they'll tell you anything you want to hear.
When you think of pollution from agricultural chemicals, most people think of farmers as the primary source. Not any more. According to the EPA, homeowners are the second point source of this pollution. Golf courses are the first major source. In any case, you don't even want to be on the list of point sources. (A point source is a readily identifiable source of pollution. An example of a non-point source would be motor oil from leaking cars, which washes out of parking lots into the ground & water).
Even if you used chemicals to rid your yard of weeds (a silly goal), you'd still need to adopt ideal lawn care practices to keep it that way. You may as well learn those things first. The best source is your local cooperative extension, because it's staffed with people who understand YOUR climate. The timing of various lawn care chores is very important, so getting advice from someone in upstate New York, or Wisconsin, is not ideal. Find your local cooperative extension here: http://www.agnr.umd.edu/MCE/offices.cfm
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Most lawn service outfits are mow and go and don't really do anything else. What you need to do is look around for a gardening service or maybe a one man operation. That's how I ran my service for 15 years, I offered not only mowing and pickup, but also feeding and care of lawn and plants. My rates where a bit higher, but the people where happy to pay for the service and to see a good lawn and garden within months.
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look for lawn service that is eco-friendly.
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tenplay wrote:

Appreciate your different points of view. My backyard abuts a natural wetlands area with a lot of birds and other wildlife. So I should study the possible effects of any chemicals before using them. I will visit the local office of the Washington Cooperative Extension before I proceed with work on the lawn. Thanks.
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Good move. Remember, too, that the tradition of lawns is one imported from England 400 years ago. Many of the grasses we grow have no business being grown in certain parts of the country. But, you can buy them because it's possible, with enough water, chemicals and effort, to drag these plants kicking and screaming to a point where you're happy, and you think they're happy, too. Golf courses do this all the time, but you don't have to. But, ask anyone who's observed natural prairie grasses and they'll tell you that when the weather gets hot enough, the grasses turn brown and stay that way until autumn, when some of them green up again.
The point is that in additon to asking the cooperative extension people how to care for your lawn, you should be sure to ask which varieties are likely to need the least amount of support in your area. If you have difficult spots on the property, like deep shade under trees, consider things other than grass. Otherwise, there are weeds that'll be happy to live there and drive you crazy. Consider things like pachysandra and vinca.
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You might also want to check to see if you're even allowed to use certain chemicals if you are within a certain number of feet of a designated wetlands area. Improperly use the wrong stuff, and potentially you could be liable for some expensive recovery operations (and fines, too), and they may only need to prove you used the chemicals, and not that the chemicals actually affected anything.
My two cents: A "perfect" lawn is not realistically possible. And if you are successful in creating the mono-culture that is a perfect lawn, it won't last long at all. In other words, you might make it to perfection, but you won't be able to maintain it, and it'll crash hard and fast after reaching that point.
And what good is the "perfect" lawn, anyway?
One other option that I don't remember seeing is to get rid of the lawn, or significant portions of the lawn, and replace it with landscaping that is more interesting to look at than a simulated green carpet, is lower maintenance, and less expensive to maintain, too. "Yard" doesn't have to equal "lawn". And you might be surprised at how little regular maintenance the right landscaping actually needs.
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