Add a Fertilization Program to Your Landscaping Business

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The benefits of adding a fertilization program to your landscaping business are obvious from the client side. Greener grass, healthier plants that grow faster and an overall more luscious yard are highly valuable customer satisfaction benefits. Integrating a fertilization program into your landscaping business also has the added benefit of increasing your area of expertise and allowing you to be a one-stop solution for your clients.

Adopting a fertilization program for your business can mean increased recurring revenues and higher gross margins than landscaping alone can provide. You can generally expect about a 40 to 60 percent gross margin by integrating commercial fertilizer into your business. That’s a gross margin that can be reinvested continuously into your company.

While lawn care may seem like a small ticket item next to design and build, you can expect about five years of recurring business from your fertilizer customers, bringing you little checks that build up quickly!

Commercial Fertilizer Products that Make It Easier

Exmark has several products that make applying commercial fertilizer a breeze. The Stand-On Spreader-Sprayer has revolutionized fertilizer application with a number of industry-leading innovations:

  • It was esigned with no belts and a durable hydrostatic drive system to increase up-time and make routine maintenance easier
  • It includes an agitation system in the 20-gallon tank to keep materials in suspension and provide a consistent, smooth stream of fertilizer
  • It features a simple, powerful “Lean to Steer” control system to make operation more efficient

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If you’re going to invest in a fertilization program, be sure that you’re investing in the best possible equipment to keep your long-term cost efficiency high. Making application faster and easier means you’ll spend less time working and reap the benefits of a perfectly fertilized landscape, i.e. customers thrilled with their lush, green lawns and ready to renew contracts for the coming year.

When to Apply Fertilizer

Fertilizer application must be performed in a timely fashion, or the results simply won’t be what your client is looking for. Generally speaking, you can break the fertilizer schedule into six cycles:

Round One: February to March

Use a 19-0-6 fertilizer with .25 percent barricade and 25 percent sulfur-coated urea (SCU) or a 19-0-6 with .125 percent dimension and 25 percent SCU. You could also use a 0-0-7 fertilizer with .426 percent barricade along with a 16-0-8 one with Escalade W&F.

Round Two: Mid-April 

Use a 13-0-5 fertilizer with .25 percent barricade and 25 percent SCU or a 13-0-5 with .125 percent dimension and 25 percent SCU.

Round Three: Late May into June

Use a 5-10-31 fertilizer with 10 percent iron or a 14-0-7 with 50 percent organic fertilize

Round Four: July to August 

Use a 14-0-7 with 50 percent organic fertilizer.

Round Five: September to October

Use an 18-20-3 starter fertilizer with 25 percent xcu.

Round Six: November to December

Use a 32-0-8 fertilizer with 30 percent xcu and 3 percent iron, as well as a 32-0-6 with 30 percent mesa.

Commercial Fertilizer in Tennessee

Be aware that the Tennessee Department of Agriculture regulates commercial fertilizers. The TDA reviews and approves product labels and obtains samples from the field to ensure that label guarantees are met and customer expectations are achieved.

If your fertilizer is found to be deficient — as in it does not meet the guarantees made, etc. — you may face penalties, including, fines, revocation of registration, seizure, condemnation and sale.

Landscaping businesses must apply for registration of commercial fertilizer with the TDA. Each brand and grade of fertilizer that you register must be accompanied by an “8.5 x 11” photocopy of your product labeling. All guarantees and label claims must be clearly visible. For “Ag Use” of commercial fertilizers, you must pay an annual registration fee of $25 per brand and grade.

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Safety Tips to Help Prevent Operator Error on a Landscaping Job

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No landscaping company can keep up with customer demand without heavy duty commercial equipment like zero-turn mowers and power trimmers, but these tools can also cause injuries and property damage. Make sure your entire team knows how to stay safe while maintaining lawns and landscapes by training them on these five tips.

Use the Safety Features

The roll cages, debris shields and automatic shutoff controls can only protect your employees and any bystanders if they’re used properly. For example, failing to fix a broken debris chute cover could result in a homeowner or customer losing a car window to a flying rock. Set a schedule for testing all the safety features on the mowers, hedge cutters and other tools to make sure they’re still protecting your employees.

Choose Different Equipment

Each landscaping challenge is best tackled with a specific tool. Taking the time to switch from a zero-turn mower to a push mower or handheld grass trimmer can prevent both property damage and injuries. Don’t take a mower closer than two mower widths to a hazardous area like the edge of a pool or a steep slope, even if the model has a zero-degree turn radius.

Watch Your Slopes and Speed

Even the slightest slope can sap the traction out of a large piece of riding equipment like a tractor or mower. Train the equipment operators to always slow down and take their time when going up, down or across a sloped area. It’s best to avoid slopes altogether if the grass is wet or there’s concern over soft ground potentially sliding down a hillside. Even when using equipment on level, dry ground, operators need to control their speed when using a zero-turn radius mower because quick turns can cause a rollover in any condition.

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Practice the Controls

Everyone expected to use a piece of equipment needs to train with it in a quiet and safe environment before going out on the job site. This is especially true for mowers and cutting equipment with sensitive controls. Train your team on a flat and open section of ground so they can get a feel for turning and disengaging attachments before they accidentally tear up a newly planted flower bed at a client’s home.

Use the Fuel Shutoff Valve

Finally, make sure everyone is aware of useful features like fuel shutoff valves on gas powered equipment. These small valves allow the team to cut off the flow of fuel, and no equipment should be loaded without the shutoff valve switched on. Cutting off the fuel supply makes transporting and storing landscaping equipment much safer by reducing fumes and spills. Fewer gas spills translates into a greatly reduced risk of explosion or fire.

In the end, training everyone to follow the best safety procedures will pay off. Accidents cut into the bottom line, whether you’re paying for employee injuries, homeowner property damage or equipment replacement. Take care of everything you buy from Commercial Lawn Equipment to enjoy years of reliable use.

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Should I Bag or Mulch My Grass Clippings?

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To bag or not to bag has been the question ever since lawns first became popular. Whatever your team has done in the past, you still have a chance to choose a different path for your landscaping services in the future. Find out why mulching your grass clippings is a better option in most cases and when bagging is essential.

Limiting Waste

Mulching grass clippings is definitely better for the environment. Every time you gather those clippings into a trash bag that you then toss in the garbage, you’re putting natural waste into the landfill that could easily break down somewhere else. If you can’t mulch for a legitimate reason, it’s still better to send the grass waste to a compost pile or a plant material recycling group rather than taking up more space in the country’s already overloaded landfills.

Feeding the Grass

The mulching side of the debate wins another point when you consider that grass clippings create a free and easy-to-use form of weak fertilizer. Leaving every layer of cut grass on the surface takes care of about 25 percent of the lawn’s total fertilizer needs for the year. Depending on what you usually fertilize your customers’ lawns with, that could translate into serious savings over a few years.

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Avoiding Thatch

Most lawn lovers who consistently bag their clippings claim that allowing the waste to settle on the lawn will lead to increased thatching. However, thatching is actually formed by the grass stems and roots, not the blades. The green part of grass quickly decomposes as long as it’s evenly spread across the surface of the lawn, leaving nothing behind to create a layer of thatch. Unless you’re cutting up stems and roots and potentially killing the grass every time you cut, you and your customers have nothing to fear from a little mulching.

Clumping Issues

While mulching is great for most lawns, you still need to watch out for clumps. Many lawn mowers spit out chunks of grass instead of spraying a fine and even layer across the surface of the growing plants. Clumps stay wet and decompose slowly. They can shade out the grass below them and leave dead spots in the lawn. If you can’t manage to get an even layer of clippings with your equipment, bag the clippings instead until you can afford an equipment upgrade.

Skipping the Mulch

Aside from clumps, you should skip the mulching step in favor of bagging if:

  • The lawn has an active disease
  • The lawn is full of weeds that are developing and dispersing seeds during mowing
  • The lawn is newly established or has freshly sprouted patches
  • You’re cutting more than half an inch of grass at a time because the customer fell behind on the trimming

Whether you need a mower that is better for mulching or a new bagging attachment, you can find it at Commercial Lawn Equipment. Exmark’s Mirco-Mulch system is a great option for landscapers who want to use their grass clippings as mulch. The attachment is designed to fit most of Exmark’s side-discharge mowers.

The Micro-Mulch system features 18,500 fpm blade-tip speed, and uses uniquely angled blades to turn grass clippings into a fine mulch. Its aerodynamic design creates airflow patterns that evenly disperse the grass clippings across your lawn. We are an exclusive dealer for Exmark products, so you won’t find this piece of equipment anywhere else. Stop by Commercial Lawn today to learn more.

4 Benefits of Adding an Irrigation System to Your Home

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As the season transitions from spring to summer, do you desire to have a fuller, healthier looking lawn this year? Caring for a beautiful lawn is much easier with an irrigation system set in place.

Originally used to water large fields in agriculture, smaller irrigation systems are now available for homeowners to use for their lawns. If you’ve been thinking about taking good care of your lawn for your home, below are some benefits to consider with an established irrigation system.

Irrigation Takes the Guesswork Out of Watering Your Lawn

Lush and healthy turf requires at least 1 inch of water each week in climates with 70 percent or less humidity. How do you know when you’ve reached the required amount? A smart irrigation system will do the measuring for you. Whether you know a little about landscaping lawns or a lot, an irrigation system will help tremendously with your progress.

A Properly Established Irrigation System Saves Water

Because an established irrigation system measures the water that it uses, you can keep track how much is used in your landscaping and save water for the environment. Try watering in infrequent patterns on sections of the lawn from midnight to 7 a.m. The moisture won’t evaporate, and the infrequency mimics rainfall to encourage strong roots.

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Irrigation Systems Save Time for You to Do Other Things

If you want your home to have a beautiful lawn but you don’t have a lot of time to spare, managing an irrigation system is a smart move. Let it do the watering tasks for you so you can free up your time for other things, such as enjoying the fruits of your labor with your family in the backyard! Plus, an irrigation system takes care of your lawn while you’re away on trips for longer than a day.

Irrigation Systems Save Money on Your Landscaping

Establishing an irrigation system does take money to start up, but it is a quality investment that’s worth the effort to your landscaping goals. By doing so, you’ll save money on water in the long run and maintenance costs, too, if it’s well cared for. Of course, if you do find that you need parts or repairs for your irrigation system, you can reach out to your landscaping company.

If you’ve been thinking about getting started with an irrigation system, we recommend you have it installed now before the summer heat begins!

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At Commercial Lawn Equipment, we carry a large selection of commercial lawn equipment for commercial landscapers. Our courteous staff will work with you to help you build your landscaping business. We can recommend products and brands as well as answer any questions you may have. Contact us today for all your commercial lawn care needs.

These Tips Will Help You Get the Most Out of Mowing

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Whether you consider mowing your lawn a chore or find lawn care activities to bring a zen-like state of calm into your day, you’d likely want to get the job done as efficiently as possible. Here are several tips that will help you maximize your time outside and take proper care of your precious lawn maintenance equipment.

Lawn Mower Cut Height

Every type of grass has a recommended mowing height. You can look up your particular type of grass and adjust your lawn mower to that particular cut height. However, if you’re unsure what kind of grass you have or if you have a mixture of several different varieties, it’s ok to use the “1/3 rule.” This guideline states that you should never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade when mowing. If you remove more, you are risking damage to your grass and yard.

Alter Your Mowing Pattern

Grass will develop a grain based on the mowing pattern and direction that you mow your yard. It’s a good idea to alter you mowing pattern every now and then so that your grass blades will have more upright growth. This can also help prevent potentially compacted soil.

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Consider Your Lawn Mower Options

There are many options in lawn mowers today that make the lawn care process more efficient and more enjoyable. If you are limited in space at home, there are now lawn mowers that fold up for storage. For those who are looking for efficiency and technology boosts to the process, consider a professional-grade lawn mower and even a mower that is Bluetooth-equipped.

Yard Maintenance Safety

Unfortunately, ignoring safety when engaging in lawn care activities can result in unfortunate accidents and injuries. Learn how to operate your lawn mower and wear proper clothing and footwear while mowing the yard. Consider wearing both eye and ear protection and clear away debris from areas that you’ll be mowing. Finally, keep children and pets away from the yard while you are mowing and never refuel a hot engine.

Be Mindful of Water and Weather Conditions

As you get ready to mow your yard, you’ll want to take a look at both the current and historic weather conditions. When in a drought situation, mow less frequently so that the grass can conserve water.  Avoid mowing wet grass, however, as it will be more likely to clump when it is damp. Also, consider the time of day that you are mowing, as the heat of the day may be convenient but not the most comfortable considering the need to cover up for safety.

Proper maintenance of your lawn will extend the life of your grass. Likewise, taking care of your lawn mower and other equipment will give you better performance for many years to come. Contact us to learn more about our professional-grade lawn products and lawn maintenance equipment for your home or business.

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Keep an Eye Out for These Destructive Lawn Pests

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Nothing is quite as beautiful as a well cared for lawn. You’ve been working hard, mowing and watering with great care to grow healthy grass in your yard. But something still isn’t right because you’re seeing brown patches or other signs of damage. Your yard might have a pest problem that needs to be addressed right away.

Yard pests can undo weeks worth of lawn care as they munch away on your grass. Take a look at this list of pests that can harm your lawn and the steps you can take to get rid of them.

Chinch Bugs

Chinch bugs are tiny pests that can cause large brown patches in your grass because they feed on the juice inside blades of grass. Chinch bugs travel and reproduce in waves, wreaking havoc on lawns very quickly. They can be difficult to spot because they are so small, and you may not even notice that you have them until they have caused costly damage to your lawn. The best way to keep chinch bugs away from your lawn is to manage thatch by mowing regularly and to keep the grass well watered.

Mole Crickets

Mole crickets are large, odd-looking and reddish brown in color. They can bite and can do a lot of damage to turf. These pests like to burrow through the soil, creating pencil sized holes as they go. The best way to prevent mole crickets from making a mess of your lawn is to have a professional treat the lawn before they have a chance to lay their eggs in the spring.

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Webworms

Webworms are actually moth larvae that are typically tan or green in color. They hatch several times throughout the warm months and can do serious damage to lawns, particularly lawns with short grass. The best way to keep webworms away is to have a professional treat the lawn before the warm season begins.

Slugs and Snails

Slugs and snails are just nasty, and they are known to tear up your yard or garden. Physically removing them from the yard and tossing them into the compost pile can be an effective way to get rid of them, but you can also attract their natural predators like birds and ground beetles to help.

It’s important to keep in mind that some bugs are very good for maintaining a healthy lawn. Ladybugs, hover flies, assassin bugs and ground beetles all help by eating lawn pests. Bees are very important for pollination, and earthworms help keep the soil healthy. So when you wage war against these lawn-ruining pests, make sure you’re not also scaring away the good guys.

For more lawn care tips, read more of our blog, and visit our website to learn more about our lawn equipment, seed, and fertilizer services.

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How to Stripe Your Lawn for a Big League Look

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Creating stripes or other patterns in your lawn is a relatively simple way to improve the look of your home without investing in specialized tools or spending a lot of time. Want to give it a try? Follow these tips!

Get the Look

Lawns look striped when the grass is bent or angled to show a dark or light side. By bending large areas or grass in one direction, it’s possible to create alternating sections of light and dark grass. For most types of grass, blades will look darker if they are bent towards you and lighter if they bend away from you. Note that this means that a lawn will look different as you walk around the perimeter.

In order to bend the grass without breaking it, the easiest method is to use a weighted roller attachment on your lawn mower. While it may also be possible to get a lawn mower without this attachment to bend the grass, using a roller will ensure that the effect remains in place longer. Fortunately, Exmark has an extensive line of mowers with these attachments. As you mow, the roller will bend the grass near the roots. This will enhance the color contrast between the striped areas more than simply using a tamp or hand roller to bend the tips of the grass.

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Consider Cut and Type

It’s also important to note that the cut of the grass will also affect the intensity of the color variation. Longer grass will help enhance the difference seen between the colors. For example, grass that is shorter than 2 inches will have virtually no difference in color, while there will be a very distinct difference in grass that is longer than 3.5 inches. Generally speaking, grasses that grow in warmer climates are harder to stripe than those that grow in colder ones.

Plan Your Mowing Directions

In order to get a striped look, start by mowing the perimeter around the area to be mowed. This will give you an area to turn the mower back and forth as you work without interrupting your pattern. Then, mow in opposite directions through the enclosed area. To finish the look, go over the perimeter one last time. In order to reduce your time, you may want to consider a zero turn Exmark mower. This will eliminate the need to mow the perimeter first.

Start by mastering the technique to make simple vertical or diagonal stripes in your lawn, then move on to more complicated patterns such as plaid or simple shapes. Your lawn will soon be the envy of all the neighbors.

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Looking for top-notch equipment to master your lawn game? Come to Commercial Lawn Equipment. We are an exclusive carrier for Exmark products and stock only the best lawn mowers and equipment. Whether you run a landscaping business or are just a lawn enthusiast, we have something for you.

You’ll Love Working with these Exmark Walk-Behind Lawn Mowers

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Keeping your client’s lawns beautifully groomed and healthy, whether they’re large residential lots or commercial landscaping, has never been easier. With these Exmark fixed or floating-deck walk-behind mowers, you can have the right tool for every application. Slopes, narrow runs and large expanses alike are no match for you when you mow with any of these top-quality machines built, as always, with the operator’s comfort in mind.

Commercial 30

The Exmark Commercial 30 handles like it’s small but cuts wide for less work. As the big brother to the Commercial 21, it treads inclines like a mountain goat and squeezes between those trees, gates and fence lines like a cat. With two blades and a 30-inch cutting deck, you make fewer passes and move on to your next yard quicker. Bag or mulch as you please and enjoy the simple design that makes maintenance a snap. The single-speed transmission takes the work off your back for a less strenuous day.

Turf Tracer Walk-Behind Mowers

For your big clients with acres of turf, you need to step up to the Turf Tracer Walk-Behind mowers. Professional grade in every way, you have a baker’s dozen from which to choose in either the S-Series or X-Series. Pick your pleasure: propane or gas, floating or fixed, three-deck or four.

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Turf Tracer S-Series

With four powerful engine options, including one with electronic fuel injection or one with the propane Kohler® PCV680 engine, your productivity will leap as your costs decline. These economically-effective mowers have cutting decks ranging from 36 to 52 inches that make short work of large areas. You’ll spend less time servicing the S-Series with the new electric clutch. The side chute lets you bag or mulch. All models come standard with an hour counter and the patented Enhanced Control System designed for ergonomic hand controlling. Your operators will thank you.

Turf-Tracer X-Series

The Turf-Tracer X-Series is the granddaddy of the Exmark Walk-Behind mowers. For longer life, better efficiency and simple maintenance, the X-Series come standard with a superior canister air filtration system and a large capacity electromagnetic PTO clutch. With the Ultra Cut Series 4 deck, you get the best cut ever. Raze huge swaths of turf with cutting decks up to five full feet wide. No job is too tough with the splined spindle blade drivers. Achieve ground speeds of up to 6.75 mph forward and 2.25 in reverse with the X-Series engines: Kohler® EFI, Kawasaki® or Kohler EFI Propane.

Never lose a contract again by not having customer-required, eco-friendly propane mowers. The S and X-Series mowers with the stand-on, mulch blades, operator-controlled discharge and turf striper accessories launch your landscaping business out of the bush league and into the big time. Watch your productivity and profits grow like your fertilized turf in the summer

Commercial Lawn Equipment is your preferred dealer of the Exmark S-Series and X-Series Walk-Behind mowers serving the Nashville metro area. Come into any of our five locations or contact us for an exclusive demonstration from our mobile showroom at your preferred location today.

Try the New Branded Seed from Commercial Lawn Equipment

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As fall arrives, it’s time to start booking your overseeding appointments with commercial and residential clients so their lawns stay as lush and thick as possible. Before you put in an order with the same old seed mix that you’ve been using, consider switching to the new custom blend we offer here at Commercial Lawn Equipment. This triple blend composed of three types of tall fescue is specially formulated to address the challenges of the Nashville area and give you happy customers.

What Seeds are In The Tri-Blend?

Our custom mixture is made of Venture, Blade Runner 2, and Shortstop 3 tall fescue varieties. All three types of turf grass were developed to address specific challenges common to the Southeast, like fungal threats that thrive in humid weather. The blend contains equal portions of all three types to create a thriving green lawn with an even and lush appearance.

What are the Benefits of These Particular Fescue Types?

Venture is the toughest variety in the mix. It provides resistance to brown patch, pythium, and red thread. It’s particularly useful in this blend because it’s rated as Excellent for heat tolerance by the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program as well. The shade tolerance allows you to enjoy a dark green and comfortable lawn without having to cut down your favorite mature oaks, poplars, and similar trees.

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Blade Runner II adds an Excellent rating from the NTEP for summer turf density, which ensures the lawn remains just as thick at the peak of summer as in the spring and fall. Coupled with that great density is a very good tolerance to heat stress and excellent tolerance to both shade and salty irrigation water. There’s no need to worry about shade deficiencies in your customers’ lawns when you’re using this blend.

Finally, Shortstop III rounds out the mixture with excellent resistance to diseases and good wear resistance once fully established. While this part of the blend isn’t as well-known for its shade tolerance, it is lower growing and fast to tiller. This means it will fill out gaps left by the other two varieties and show less of a reaction to mowing.

By balancing these three strong varieties together, the resulting blend is spectacular at handling disease, heat stress, and shady conditions. The high wear tolerance of both Venture and Blade Runner II ensures that this turf can handle heavy foot traffic on a sports field, golf course, or college commons. Of course, it works equally well for home lawns, so there’s no need to stock two different seed blends either.

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Visit our location to learn more about this exclusive and innovative grass seed blend. You can purchase Premium Tall Fescue in convenient 50-pound bags found only at Commercial Lawn Equipment. We are confident that you won’t find an option more effective for the area.

How to Market Fall Overseeding and Aeration to Your Customers

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Fall is prime time for lawn care. You can make a turf area look its best for the next few years with a little TLC in autumn, but many homeowners are still unaware of the benefits of seasonal maintenance chores, like overseeding and aeration. Explaining the benefits of choosing to aerate and seed your lawn in the fall can help you get new customers and increase services quality for existing clients. Use these tips to highlight the importance of these lawn maintenance tasks and then consider upgrading them to our Nashville tailored seed blend.

Why Is Aeration Important?

With this treatment, your team goes over a client’s lawn with a rolling aerator that pokes thousands of tiny holes into the surface of the soil. Grass makes a dense root mat as it grows that can interfere with water absorption and future fertilizing efforts. Aerating creates openings to let moisture and fertilizer down the soil where the roots need it most. Aeration is not a substitute for dethatching, but almost every lawn can benefit from a quick treatment every few years or so. Ask your customers to try pushing a screwdriver or pencil into the soil of their lawn. If it’s difficult to get it past the crust, it’s definitely time for aeration to revitalize the lawn.

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How Does Overseeding Work?

Once you’ve created those tiny holes, you might at well toss on some fresh grass seed. Overseeding is the best way to keep a lawn dense and lush as it ages. Turf grass naturally gets thin and patchy after a few years of establishment, so routine fall overseeding ensures there’s always a fresh batch of brand new shoots to fill in any gaps. Inform your clients that it’s the only way to keep the lawn consistently lush throughout the lifecycle of the grass and they’ll soon sign up for an annual overseeding.

Of course, you can offer your clients the best possible seeding results by upgrading to a higher quality seed mix. We blend a unique turf grass combination with three different grass varieties to create a lawn that stays green throughout the most challenging parts of the summer. The three-way mixture of Shortstop, Venture, and Blade Runner II fescues is specifically tailored to the Nashville area. The seed mixes seamlessly with any fescue or similar turf grass, and it’s easy to use for establishing a brand new lawn as well.

Fall is quickly approaching, so now is the perfect time for contacting your existing customers and asking if they’re interested in overseeding and aeration. Lining up your schedule now allows you to estimate how much seed to order from us here at Commercial Lawn Equipment. We’re also ready to help if you need aeration or seeding equipment.