Deciding which lawn care company to fertilize and control weeds in your yard can be easy when you follow a few simple steps.
- Know Your Needs
First ask yourself why you want a treatment service, so you can be clear on your expectations. Some common situations:
- Convenience: you’ve tried to do it yourself, but you just don’t have the time to get it right. You end up with dandelions, bare spots and overly lush areas. You’ll have much better results with a professional service.
- Just moved: you’ve recently moved into a new area and need a similar service to one you had before. Know what you liked about your previous service, and make sure to seek that in the new one.
- Switching: you’re dissatisfied with your current service and want to try a new one. Know what was missing from your previous service and ask for that specifically. Note, if this is the second time you’ve switched in less than five years, your expectations may be too high. Lawn treatments are just one part of an attractive lawn. Look at changing the other equally important variables of beautiful grass: watering, mowing height, foot traffic, shade & fall leaf removal.
2. Find Companies
Next find the names of a few services. A quick online search in your area may do the trick, or you may want recommendations from friends and neighbors. Or one of the large national or regional chains may be all you need.
3. Check Licensing
Before anything else, check their licensing. Indiana has strict environmental protection laws to ensure fertilizer and pesticides don’t enter our waterways or affect natural environments. Every company and each of their applicator employees must be licensed by the state through the OISC (Office of Indiana State Chemist), run by Purdue University. Any which are not licensed you should cross off your list. Easiest is to just email the names & local address of the companies you’re considering to Jill Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org. You could also call 765-494-1594 or search the OISC website at www.oisc.purdue.edu. The website however requires a very particular search to be done. For those of you who really want to go that route, see my instructions in the appendix.
Now check their reputation. Even if you received a referral, still check some of the plentiful online review sites. So long as a company has almost all good reviews on at least one of the sites, you should be in good shape. A lack of reviews on one site is probably not meaningful since most companies have only one or two such sites where they have most of their online interactions. The company’s own website should also tell you whether they are properly insured.
5. Match Your Needs
Finally, research or contact the service provider about the specific needs you identified in the first step. Some common ones are:
- What is their treatment program? Is it tailored to your area of Indiana? Lawn grasses are very different in southern Indiana versus central and northern Indiana. Will the program cover the basics: fertilizer, dandelions and crabgrass?
- Beyond the basics, are there the options available to address your specific issues? Additions like grub control for Japanese beetles and moles, aeration & overseeding for clay soils, specific disease treatments, and patch repair for bare spots.
- What types of products are used? Are you ok with basic products and mediocre results, or do you want premium products for better results? Do you want organic products only?
- If you’re concerned about the environment, check that the service will always blow excess granular product off of your driveway and sidewalk into the grass. Failure to do so causes the products to wash into storm sewers, and eventually into our waterways.
- How do they communicate & does that match what you want? Maybe you need advance notice so you can keep pets indoors and gates unlocked. Maybe you want direct contact with the local staff instead of a national call center.
While not comprehensive, using this as a general guide will usually result in a lawn treatment service to give you the lawn you want. iCare Lawn Care looks forward to being your choice as a local, high-quality lawn treatment provider.
Appendix: how to search for a company on the OISC website (as of January, 2020).
- Visit the OISC website at www.oisc.purdue.edu
- Click on “My Records” in the top navigation bar.
- Choose “Pesticide License Search” at the left, which takes you to the search page.
- In the “Business Name” field type a key word in the business name with an asterisk before and after. For example to search for iCare Lawn Care type *icare*
- In the “Program Type” field choose “Pesticide Business”
- Click Search.
- You should see the business listed at the bottom with “Program Type” showing “Pesticide Business (Active)”. You can click on the link to see details. In particular the company needs a Category 3B, Turf Pest Management license to treat lawns. It may take until March for the current year’s licensing information to be updated.
You may be wondering why companies are listed under “Pesticide” instead of fertilizer or some other category. It is because any undesirable condition in the lawn is considered a “pest” and the products to treat them are pesticides. Though most people think of pesticides as killing insects, technically a pesticide is also used to treat dandelions, crabgrass, fungus or other issues.