A beautiful lawn needs more than mowing, but don't get mowed down by the wrong company

What does your grass need? Weed, feed and seed

Going green: Invest in your lawn - For homeowner Denise Wallace, the grass really was greener on the other side of the fence. With the family's busy schedule, yard work was one of the last things on the list - and it was starting to show. So she decided to call in a pro. "We had a lawn care company come out to spray our lawn and make it more green, get rid of some weeds and try to build up the grass more and make it just look better. We've been in our house for 5 years and wanted to really improve the lawn more."

Experts say neglecting your lawn is the best way to kill it. Unlike trees and shrubs, that have deep roots, your turf really isn't that tough. A little TLC in the form of fertilizer and weed killer can go a long way toward giving you that lush emerald-green lawn you desire.

But not all lawn care companies are created equal. "When hiring a lawn care company get at least three estimates," said Angie's List founder, Angie Hicks. "They should be estimates at your home where they evaluate your yard. You should get a written document of what is going to be done on each application. And be there for the first couple of applications so you can ask questions and learn how to best take care of your lawn."

A lawn care company is a long-term relationship, adds Hicks. "A beautiful lawn is not made overnight so you want to establish a relationship with a reputable company." Angie's List offers these tips for hiring a high-quality fertilization & treatment service:

  • On-site estimate: Don't hire a company that won't inspect your grass before starting work. The technician should provide an in-home estimate and measure the size of your lawn, understand your grass type and take note of existing damage.
  • Don't trust generic, guaranteed, quick cures: Each lawn is a unique, growing plant, and even lawns side-by-side in the same neighborhood may need different treatment. Recovery will depend on a number of factors.
  • Beware low price: Be wary of treatment companies with flashy ads that sound too good to be true. If the price is extremely low, expect an aggressive upsell.
  • Think it over: Avoid companies that encourage you to sign a service contract on the spot.
  • Read before you sign: Get a written contract, read and understand it before you agree to hire. It should include a refund policy and guarantee. Get a detailed invoice after each visit that details the scope of work.
  • Check out your lawn: Make a point to look at your lawn if you are not home during a treatment. Lawn care specialist say homeowners should see fertilizer granules in their yard for at least a few hours after the application in most cases. "You typically aren't home when the job is done," said Hicks. "So unfortunately we hear horror stories where the company didn't actually do what they said they were going to do or they actually damaged the lawn. You want to be sure you have a good company that knows what they are doing."

Angie's List asked highly rated lawn care companies about applying treatments to your lawn.

  • Organic and synthetic lawn fertilizers are a good tool for maintaining a healthy lawn: Fertilizer promotes a lush growth, strengthens roots and helps to prevent invasive weeds and pests.
  • There are many varieties of lawn fertilizer available: Most consist of three key nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The most popular types of lawn fertilizer are granule and liquid.
  • Avoid over-fertilizing: Spreading too much fertilizer can overwhelm your grass. Fertilizer adds nitrogen to your lawn, but if you add too much, it can actually dry it out and kill it. You'll be able to tell if you over-fertilized if you notice yellow or brown spots where the grass has died.
  • Don't overuse chemicals: Pesticides can be essential to preventing infestations and disease but should be used with great caution. Some pesticides are very harsh on a lawn and can cause as much new damage as it prevents in old damage. All pesticides should be checked for natural ingredients which should take preference over harsher chemical based pesticides.
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