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March 22, 2017 -  By

Dow AgroSciences

Landscape bed weed control services can be an easy upsell for lawn care operators.

Pierre Bridger

Pierre Bridger

On the topic of landscape bed maintenance programs, Pierre Bridger doesn’t mince words.

“I’ve been doing this for 30-plus years and very few guys I know on the residential side will do much with bed maintenance progams,” said Bridger, director of operations for Vibrant Outdoors in Whitestown, Ind. “This is a prime opportunity for LCOs because no homeowner likes weeds, and most are willing to pay to control them. You’d have to be a fool not to offer this service.”

Vibrant Outdoors, a $2.6-million firm, provides 80 percent maintenance, 10 percent lawn care and 10 percent design/build services to a primarily commercial clientele. Bridger says all of their commercial clients’ landscape beds are treated with Dimension 2EW and Gallery SC, which are effective both on turf and in mulch beds. He stresses that most LCOs are using products, equipment and labor that are interchangeable on turf and in beds, and offering a landscape bed maintenance program would be an easy upsell for most clients.

Vibrant-Outdoors-350x263

Vibrant Outdoors LCO treats a bed.

“Landscape bed weed control dovetails nicely with lawn care because you use the same personnel and, in part, the same products,” said Bridger. “If you’re trying to upsell a client, it only makes sense to upsell them with people you have and products you’re using.”

Anita Alexander, field scientist for Dow AgroSciences Turf & Ornamental, says herbicides that are safe on ornamentals and effective on weeds at the same use rate, are labeled for both warm- and cool-season turfgrasses, and can be used on a broad spectrum of ornamentals provide LCOs the most flexibility. When applied together, she says Gallery SC and Dimension 2EW specialty herbicides offer both grassy and broadleaf weed control and, at the same rate and spray volume, can be used on warm- and cool-season turfgrasses. They also have the most extensive list of labeled ornamentals in the industry.

Anita Alexander

Anita Alexander

“If you look for herbicides that are labeled for both turfgrass and landscape use, these products are low-hanging fruit for cross-selling opportunities between turf and landscape bed weed control,” Alexander said. “LCOs can make one trip, keep fewer products on board and utilize the same spray technology and equipment even in areas like the transition zone where warm- and cool-season turfgrasses are found along with a broad spectrum of ornamentals.”

Bridger agrees that using flexible products that are effective in both beds and turf makes it even easier for LCOs to offer bed maintenance programs in addition to lawn care services.

“There are different ways to go about it because of the flexibility of the materials and because they are so forgiving from a time constraint perspective,” he said. “Right now I could make an application to the turf and then go get a backpack with Dimension and Gallery and spray the beds. Now I have two billable services, and I’ve made one trip. I’ve eliminated the stop or labor charge to go to the site twice.”

Joe Neal

Joe Neal

Joe Neal, professor of weed science and department extension leader for the Department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, stresses that in order to select the most appropriate herbicide, turfgrass managers need to know the landscape plants found on each site. While many preemergent herbicides used for crabgrass control in turfgrass are also labeled for use in and around landscape plantings, he says very few postemergent herbicides are safe on both turfgrass and landscape plants. Neal says that herbaceous ornamental plants can be especially sensitive to herbicides, and ornamental grasses can also be injured by the products. He suggests LCOs review the safety of herbicides on ornamental plants using professional reference guides, such as the 2017 Southeastern U.S. Pest Control Guide for Nursery Crops and Landscape Plantings, which summarizes herbicide registrations for woody and herbaceous ornamentals.

“Many of the preemergence herbicides used for crabgrass control in turfgrass are also labeled for use in and around landscape plantings, and lawns and landscape beds also share many of the most common weed species, like crabgrass, spurge, bittercress, annual bluegrass and chickweed. Furthermore, the timing of preemergence herbicide applications can be the same,” Neal said. “But very few postemergence herbicides are safe on both turfgrass and landscape plants. So, be particularly cautious with postemergent herbicide uses.”

DowAgrosciences bedBridger says offering landscape bed weed control services is a good way for LCOs to continue to bring in extra revenue during hot, dry summer months when lawn care applications become less frequent, adding that it also helps get control of winter annual weeds that seed in late summer and early fall.

“Implementing a mulch bed preemergent program can fill a lull in the late summer period using similar materials,” Bridger said. “It’s one of the ways LCOs can offset downtime, especially if you have a dry summer.

“Bed maintenance is not just an afterthought,” he adds. “Some guys think it’s a pain to offer, but it’s a money maker, as well as a service to client. It’s a line item we do very well on.”

Images: Dow AgroSciences Turf & Ornamental

Emily Schappacher

About the Author:

Emily Schappacher is a freelance writer based in Cleveland.

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