About Me

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I am a state certified certified applicator and have worked on over 1,000 lawns in the Saint Louis Area. I enjoy fixing lawns and keeping them in shape. My company the Turf Trainer LLC. offers customized lawn health packages to customers in Saint Louis and Saint Charles Counties.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Turf Trainer St. Charles, St. Louis Lawn Tips: Hybrid Fertilizer Programs Organic and Synthetic Blend Works Best

The Turf Trainer St. Charles, St. Louis Lawn Tips: Hybrid Fertilizer Programs Organic and Synthetic Blend Works Best

Hybrid Fertilizer Programs Organic and Synthetic Blend Works Best

A lot of companies use all synthetic fertilizers. Many lawn care companies including all the major companies use all synthetic "man made" fertilizers all year long. They even fertilize with this through the summer months. Many times this is to the detriment of the lawn. Here in the Saint Louis metro area we experience periods of extreme heat and drought which puts many lawns under severe stress and drys them up. Man Made or synthetic fertilizers contain high amounts of mineral salts which when used on a lawn under stress can actually make it much worse. If a lawn is teetering on the brink of death in many parts of the lawn and you add synthetic fertilizers this can actually cause the grass more stress and harm and kill parts of the lawn. If you have an irrigation system and water like crazy during these periods this may not be a concern. However, in our area we also tend to have fungus problems. I see brown patch in the Saint Louis Metro area all the time. This can occur on lawns that are well irrigated as well as lawns that are not. When you add high nitrogen synthetic fertilizers to a lawn that has some brown patch it can make it rapidly spread and get much worse in a short amount of time. Guess what if you have a lawn fertilizing service specifically the larger ones they are going to fertilize your lawn in the summer months with synthetic fertilizers whether your lawn is stressed from drought and heat, or whether it has brown patch. Their main concern is billing you whether or not it hurts your lawn. Further more many of the technicians caring for your lawn don't even have the appropriate knowledge to know they are doing the wrong thing.

My company uses a blend of organic and synthetic. Earlier in the year when the weather is cooler and wetter and lawns are not under stress I use synthetic fertilizers with higher nitrogen. These fertilizers are also coated with pre emergents to help prevent crabgrass and grub control to help stop your lawn from being eaten by grubs later in the year. As the year goes on and we come into more stressful weather for the lawns I switch to organic fertilizers. These fertilizers have a very, very low mineral salt content much lower than synthetic and will not burn your lawn up. They also do not contain such high nitrogen numbers as to make brown patch go crazy and spread. These organic fertilizers also contain minerals which help give the grass a darker green color while not making the grass try to grow faster due to high nitrogen like a synthetic would in the summer. During the summer you should not try and make the grass grow very fast this is also hard on the plant as it should naturally be slowing down to protect itself. Another benefit to organic fertilizers is that they ad important minerals and organic compounds and bacteria to your soil. In my opinion this is a great idea especially in areas that have mainly clay with no topsoil. I think it really helps build up what is missing in the soil. Later in the year as cooler whether approaches I switch back to synthetic fertilizers. This balanced approach really works best. The right fertilizers at the right time. Organic fertilizers are not as effective in the spring and fall, but have many advantages over synthetic during the summer.

If you have any questions, or are interested in seeing the results through the year of a balanced organic synthetic hybrid program and want something different than what all the larger companies offer you can contact me. My web address is www.theturfttrainer.com or you can call me at (636) 439-0808. I offer free estimates and quotes and remember The Turf Trainer "We keep your lawn in shape!"

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Did your lawn care service actually make your lawn worse!

You would think that when you hire a lawn care service to fertilize and spray your weeds that you are hiring an expert and that they will only do what will improve your grass and not make it worse, especially when you hire a company with a well known name and fancy trucks and marketing materials. The salesmen tells you how they care for every lawn and spoon feed them ambrosia from the gods. They promise to turn your lawn neon green and eradicate all problems. For those of you who have experience in hiring a lawn service you may unfortunately be able to relate to this all to well. There are several interesting pieces of information that I would like to share with the consumer that I know from being on the inside. While many larger companies have great marketing, good salesmen and fancy trucks covered in graphics making them look like they can do the job, all to often they cannot deliver. I will list several problems that cause their service to be less then adequate in a  "tell all".

Many major companies are only about profit margin. There is nothing wrong with profit, after all that's why were all in business. However when it starts to bring down service and affect customer satisfaction your going to far. In the field the majority of the technicians that I speak with working for major companies have one year or less of experience. The training they receive is just enough to allow them to spread fertilizer and spray weeds. However, they do not understand the finer points of lawn care, the little tricks, tips and plant cycles that allow you to better control weeds and create a much healthier lawn. It is important for your technician to understand different soil types and conditions, life cycles of plants and insects, insect and plant identification, disease and disease identification, different grasses and what conditions they grow best under, proper horticultural practices, fertilizers, chemicals, when it is best to apply them and why. Now I bet you would agree that if your paying forty dollars a month for someone to come to your lawn and apply chemicals you expect to have an expert on your lawn looking out for potential problems and communicating with you about them and being able to use their knowledge to make recommendations. And I also bet  you would wonder why these large companies don't have employees that have this knowledge or why they don't train them to. The answer is simple they see momentary profit. The quicker you can't send someone out there to spread fertilizer and spray weeds by themselves, the quicker they are hanging bills on doors. It is more costly to train employees really, really well. The other reason is within these companies there are a shortage of knowledgeable individuals. They may have one or two within an office that are knowledgeable. The problem is they are not the ones on your lawn. They are managers with a fleet of trucks out treating lawns. They have several thousand residential lawns they care for and do not have the time to be out monitoring your lawn. Unfortunately by the time they come out and look your lawn usually already has major problems and they are just playing clean up. Another problem is that even if the technician was fairly knowledgeable they end up not even having time to see or diagnose a problem until it is a big problem. Why would this be? It's because the major companies admit it or not pay the employees for speed not quality. They are generally expected to hang a bill on thirty doors per day and if they do not are forced to work on the weekend. Now you can imagine if you are rushing around driving house to house and you need to complete thirty lawns per day you don't really have more than five minutes to spend at each average size residential lawn. How much attention to detail and customer communication can you really take the time to do. Employees do not want to work Saturday after working all week in the heat so they do what it takes to hurry up and finish any way they can. The technicians are also paid more for doing more lawns per day. This encourages cutting corners, while there is no incentive for low customer turnover or other measures of quality. The employees are so busy rushing around from day one that they never have time to be taught the appropriate knowledge.

You may ask why does it really matter if the guy throwing fertilizer and spraying my weeds is really that knowledgeable. Well it is important that they number one have the knowledge and number two really care and take pride in their work. An example would be brown patch, which is a lawn disease caused by fungi spores in your soil when they become active. The ability to identify this is important because it affects they way you should treat a lawn. If someone does not recognize it and goes ahead as normal and puts high nitrogen fertilizer on the lawn, the brown patch can go crazy accelerate and either kill a large portion of your lawn or make it look dead. You should also avoid excess herbicide application under this circumstance. I cannot tell you how many technicians and companies either do not know how to identify it, or do not care and are more interested in hanging a bill on the door than taking a risk of not being able to bill you and suggesting another course of action.

Two technicians could be given access to the same chemicals at the same mix rates and be given two identical lawns and the one taken care of by the more knowledgeable individual will almost undoubtedly look better over time.

It is important when deciding which company to use to pick the brain of the salesmen who is selling you the service or the technician caring for your lawn. See how coherent their answers are and whether or not they seem confident in there information and can give you more complete answers. You may even want to double check them, just to make sure that you are getting what you are paying for, which is to have a professional on your lawn.

If you live in Saint Louis or Saint Charles Counties and want to find out what it's like to have one knowledgeable professional care for your lawn from start to finish you can call me at (636) 439-0808, or visit my website at www.theturftrainer.com and I will be happy to answer your questions and provide you with a free estimate and lawn analysis.  Thank you and good luck with your lawn.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Brown Patch, Spurge, Nutsedge Saint Louis Weather is improving for lawns!

Nut Sedge

 Saint louis weather seems to be improving. This week we will stay in the eightees. Summer pests such as nut sedge (water grass, nut grass) and spurge should slow down and will soon stop germinating. Brown patch does not seem to be active at this point. While I am thankful for this break in the weather and I am hopeful that we will not have any more prolonged streaks of 100 plus heat indexes, I am also sure that their are many area lawns that sustained major damage and will not fully bounce back with the improving weather. I see many lawns when I am out working that are in bad need of a good aeration and over seeding and some extra cultivation and repair. You should look for a company to do the work that will give your lawn the attention it needs. There are many companies out there that offer aeration for $40 dollars. You can't even rent an aerator for that price. I have been around and seen the results of these cheap jobs and they are far from being up to par. The end result is you finding out you should have had a quality job done and by the time you realize it you are past the prime time to fix the lawn. With aeration the saying is " the more holes you poke the better." A quality job includes the lawn being aerated at least twice as much as a el cheapo job, better equipment being used to pull deeper plugs. Any bare or thin areas being run over many times to loosen and cultivate the area to make a good seed bed, Straw may be used in some areas to prevent the seed from washing off in the rain and most yards take at least fifty pounds of high quality turf seed (depending upon measurment and how thick the grass is). I also like to throw in free starter fertilizer for my customers. This gives the lawn a nice color but also aids in the rapid development of the new grass and contains essential nutrients for it to vigorously grow a hearty root system. If there is one thing you need done right to have a great lawn, this is it! Aeration and seeding is the most important step in maintaining a great looking thick lawn. If you live in Saint Louis or Saint Charles county you can contact me at (636) 439-0808 or visit my website http://www.theturftrainer.com/ and I will provide you with a free qoute and lawn analysis. Don't forget September through October is the best time to have this done. Don't wait until it's to late!

Brown Patch (disease)


Friday, August 5, 2011

Should I hire a big or a small company to fertilize and care for my lawn.

I have asked consumers in the past which they thought would provide better service, or a better value, a large lawn service company ( fertilizer, weed control, aeration, seeding) or a smaller company. Some times there are some interesting ideas that I hear about this and I would like to take an opportunity to clear this up. Large lawn companies may have slick marketing and tons of money to spend on it and professional sales men, who may not have more than just surface knowledge about turf management and plant health, but know how to sell. But on the other hand in my experience talking to their employees in the field many of them are new and less experienced and have just enough knowledge to put the chemicals down and lack the skills to diagnose and treat out of the ordinary problems when they arise. They may also not have expert knowledge and tips to offer. Where this becomes dangerous is when they pretend to be experts and improperly treat lawn problems or do not see them and do things to aggravate them and make them worse. Again they may know just enough to be dangerous and make enough sense to pull the wool over until you see the results of what has happened. The other problem is that they have extremely high quotas on a daily and weekly basis, to the point that they treat lawns and hang the bill sometimes in no more than five minutes altogether. The problem with this is that they cannot monitor and diagnose problems on the lawn before they become big, or communicate with you and offer personalized service while working at this pace. I would be willing to bet that the larger companies turn over up to thirty five percent of their customers every year and have the money and resources to throw out the money net and get more. Some people are under the impression that the chemicals that larger companies use are better, this is also a misconception. For example my company uses fertilizers and chemicals from the same major manufacturers as the larger companies. But, larger companies pre order very large quantities of fertilizer in advance and many times have a set program they use nationwide. Even though soil conditions and weather is different throughout different regions. My program is customized to fit specific areas within the Saint Louis metropolitan area. Not only that but from year to year depending upon current weather conditions I make decisions about what levels of nutrients will be most beneficial. Because I do not by large quantities in advance I have the ability to change with the weather. I can also buy specific product for a customers lawn that may have unique needs. That gets hard to do if your sitting on a warehouse of chemicals that you have to use. To take this one step further some large companies will order multiple truck loads of the same type of fertilizer to get a lower price and tell customers that they use special fertilizers that are different throughout the year based on seasonal needs, when they actually use the same thing all year long. They know they could be using better, but the higher profit margin trumps the health of your lawn. Many times the employees forget that their employer is the customer who's lawn they are caring for. And when losing high percentages of customers each year is the norm it's acceptable to make mistakes and not do everything they can for each customer. Losing customers is standard for them. As a small company I know that I can not afford to lose any customers and each time I am on my customers lawn I do every extra thing I can to try and make sure that there is more value in my service. If you are in the Saint Charles or Saint Louis area and are ready to see what it is like to have one knowledgeable professional on your lawn I would be happy to give you a free lawn analysis and estimate. You can visit my website at www.theturftrainer.com , or call me at (636) 439-0808. I treat every lawn as if it were my own and value your business.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Nut Sedge, Water Grass, Crabgrass and spurge

Right now Saint Louis and Saint Charles area lawns have several predominant weeds. These weeds would always be a problem this time of year because they are hot weather or summer annual weeds. Crab grass has broken through on many lawns and taken care of week areas in the lawn. I recommend having this looked at by a professional to decide whether or not it makes sense to go ahead and spray it with a selective herbicide. The best defense against crab grass is a thick stand of turf grass. I highly recommend having your lawn reseeded, repaired and aerated and have a pre emergent chemical applied professionally next spring to prevent it from germinating.

Nut sedge is the proper name and is a sedge plant although it looks some what like a grass. Many people also refer to it as water grass. It commonly grows in wet marshy areas and along streams and ponds. It is tall and a lighter green color than your grass and grows faster than your turf grass. Many times it is much taller only several days after mowing. Nut sedge loves hot weather and water. Whenever it is extremely hot and you have heavy rain or water heavily you may notice shortly after that more of it has come up on your lawn. It is a menace, unsightly and will spread year to year like wildfire and develop into big unsightly patches if it isn't managed properly. There are selective herbicides that will help in the battle against "water grass". However, in my experience when home owners attempt to use these chemicals themselves they end up killing the areas they sprayed on their lawn. It takes the experience of a professional and a few tricks to use the chemicals more effectively without causing costly damage. 

Spurge is a hard to kill hot weather weed. Many times you will see it growing over the curb or near concrete. Although it also commonly infests whole lawns. It usually creeps along the ground and grows out instead of up. The leaves are small oval shaped leaves along a stem. They are very dark green and many times the stems have a reddish tint to them. Again whenever it rains hard and it is very hot out you may have an outbreak of this menacing unsightly weed shortly after. It is a tough weed to control. However, I myself use professional chemicals that have no problem ridding lawns of spurge. There are also some other tricks I have up my sleeve that help me utterly destroy it. 

If you have a lawn infested with weeds in the summertime in Saint Louis, Saint Charles and surrounding areas call me for a free lawn analysis and quote. I would be more than happy to help get your lawn in shape. My direct line is (636) 439-0808 and my web address is www.theturftrainer.com

Saint Louis, Saint Charles area lawns brown and full of weeds.

I have been out looking at lawns on a daily basis. Since I earn my living keeping lawns healthy and looking great I pay attention to turf problems every where I go all the time. Lawns in the Saint Louis Metro area including Saint Charles county are looking very rough. It is an exception when I see a lawn that looks pretty good. We have had extreme weather conditions for awhile and they have took their toll on area lawns. We also had a hot streak with high night time temperatures and humidity levels very early this year. When we hit that period disease really became active. There was a little break in weather and then we went back into similar and more extreme weather. My concern this year was that there were multiple periods in which disease was active. Sometimes if areas on your lawn are hit by disease once it will be mostly cosmetic damage and the lawn will bounce back. However, in a year like this year when it becomes active on the lawn multiple times it will kill areas (possibly large areas) of your lawn and it will not bounce back.  Disease problems combined with extremely high temperatures and drought has made many lawns look terrible. They will definitely need attention starting this September in the form of lawn repair. I recommend having your whole lawn aerated heavily and over seeded professionally. To take this one step further you should hire someone who will cultivate and bare or trouble areas extra to make a nice bed for seed. If there are areas where water may cause seed to run off they should be covered by a thin layer of straw to hold the seed in place. If you need further advice, or are interested in having your lawn fixed this fall you can call me at
(636) 439-0808 , or visit my website www.theturftrainer.com and contact me for a free lawn analysis and quote. I am currently offering free starter fertilizer when you sign up for aeration and seeding. I also offer full lawn health packages to keep your lawn in shape. Please link to this blog as I will be blogging on other turf problems as they arise and am always happy to offer a professionals advice.

Are you currently satisfied with your lawn service?