Mow A Better Lawn, The Easy Way

I was schooled, as many of you were, about mowing lawns, that each time you mow the lawn the next time you rotate 90 degrees. If you are extra anal you go for the 45 degree rotation. I was never that anal so I just cut on the 90 and things went well. The people that “schooled me” said that it would make groves in my yard where I ran the mover. And, I believed it. Until I moved into my new house, and I followed suit and started my 90 degree rotation. Well we live on a slope becase of 1. the view and 2. the water drainage problem we had in out previous home (that is another story.)

I mowed the lawn three times. Twice up and down and once side to side. It was
amazing how much easier going across the slope, than going up and down. I spent
the rest of the summer going across the slope. Along with the proper fertilization
and watering. I kept the blade on the mover sharp and What a Beautiful Lawn. The
kids had a ball barefoot and happy.

I am a proponent of push mowers. I think that they mow a better lawn and provide
and provide a chance to get the blood flowing in between exercise sessions.
Working behind a computer as much as I do, that is much needed. I also feel that
they give you more control of the mower than a riding mowers. Not to mention that
they are safer. It also really hacks me off to see some one terribly over weight
mowing a 1/4 acre lot with a riding mower. That is ridiculous! Anyway off my soap
box.

After I am done, if there is any “clumps” I take the leaf blower and disapate them
into the grass. I hate to say it but the more regularly that you mow the less clumps
you will have. Blah, Blah, Blah!

All and all a beautiful lawn is not that difficult. Just some ideas to help you save
some energy for other projects. Just thinking of you.

Just a few options.

Starting a Side Business to Supplement Your Income

There are many ways of earning extra money. In some cases, people lose their jobs and it becomes survival money. All of the ideas that follow offer potentially good opportunities to earn some extra cash. Many are perfect for young people just starting out or looking to do something during their summer vacations.

Volunteering
Work at a place that might have job opportunities for you e.g. a seniors center, hospital, golf course, etc. Meet a lot of people and network. They know people who know people and so on. The volunteering can also be personally enriching. Make suggestions for jobs you see need doing e.g. teaching the elderly how to use a computer.

Garage sales
Recycling and reusing are not dirty words! There is a ton of stuff out on garbage night that could be picked up that is still useful. If cleaned up or slightly repaired it is potentially worth lots of money e.g. picture frames, small furniture, sports equipment, cutlery and dinnerware, glass & pottery, jewelry, books, computer parts, etc. Once you get good at it and know prices, start going to garage sales and buy stuff that can be resold at a higher price at your own regular garage sales or at used goods shops.

Resell to Dealers
Flea market sellers, antique dealers, and consignment stores are only a few of the people who survive on the sale of used goods.

– TV’s that people throw out can be worth about $10-$20 each to repair people who are always on the lookout.
– bikes can be sold to bike repair people and/or used sports equipment dealers. The going rate is anywhere from $10 and up. If they can be fixed at home, they can sell privately. Older “antique” bikes are often highly desirable. Ads in the paper and Buy & Sell type magazines should clear them out quickly for you.
– dehumidifiers and humidifiers can be sold to businesses that repair and sell them. If somebody is handy, it is usually easy to repair many dehumidifiers as the only thing wrong with many of them is a seized motor. A little oil and a few spins and it often works again, no problem. In the summer they sell for about $50-$60 if in good working condition.

Think of all the university student rooms and apartments that need a humidifier in the winter.

Sports Equipment
There is a lot of money in sports equipment. Ice skates, roller blades, snowboards, skateboards, etc. Get familiar with what used goods stores want and buy up newer models at yard/garage sales, estate sales, church rummage sales, etc. Sell them to “Play It Again Sports” stores. It is possible to find them all year for about $2-$10 and you can get $15-$25 or more for them at the stores. It is very easy to build up credits and then buy your own new sports equipment at minimum cost. In many cases, it is also possible to get cash for the equipment. Make sure there are no breaks or missing parts. It has to be flawless for safety reasons.

Door-to-door Selling
Find a product that could easily be sold door to door e.g. economy size boxes of saran wrap, garbage bags, deodorizers, etc. Something small and useful that everybody uses all the time. A novelty toy sold to kids in tourist districts is good too. Be alert and cautious when doing this!

Used Paperbacks and Novels
Check with used book dealers first to see how much they pay for them – usually from 25 cents and up. Also find out which books they find most desirable. Go to garage sales and buy them for about 10-15 cents each or cheaper. Some dealers also sell old magazines. Again, first find out which ones are most desirable. Check out garage sales and especially rummage sales at churches or schools for books. Although small, profit can be at least 50% or better.

Yard Work
If you have fairly good tools, cut lawns, rake areas, etc. Gotta do a good job though!!

Useful Services
Look for needs in parking lots, parks, busy streets, in grocery stores, etc. Walking dogs, watering plants regularly in somebody’s yard, doing the edge trimming work around lawns ((I’m sure there are people who dislike that job as much as I do and would pay a kid to do it) One young girl was paid $15/hr to watch a company machine seal envelopes. They couldn’t afford to not have anybody there if it jammed.

Garage Door Art
Imagine all the plain, unattractive “canvasses” attached to almost every house just waiting to be covered. Offer to put on large house numbers, pleasant abstract patterns or landscapes. Match or extend the painting to a nearby garden or walkway. With a few cans of paint, brushes and imagination, you can be making $100 or more per garage door.

Porch Rail Painting
Ever notice all the rusty porch railings in your neighborhood? With minimum investment of a few basic colors of rust-proof paint, a wire brush, metal sandpaper and some good small hairy roller brushes, you could make a lot of money sprucing them up.

As you read through the article, there will be triggers for other ideas. if you can’t use them, pass them on to others.

12 Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Lawn Contractor

What makes your service different from your competitor?

This is an open-ended question that can be asked for a couple of reasons. First, does the contractor understand his own services. Second, if he’s been around for some time, he will also understand his competitor’s services. I like this question not just for the factual answer but also to see the spirit of how it is answered. The contractor should be able to point out the benefits of his own service instead of bad mouthing his competition.

Do you have customer references I can call?

Unless the contractor is new, they should have some readily available references that you can either call or drive by. It is not unusual for a contractor to be hesitant to give out phone numbers of his customers, to protect their privacy. However, they should be able to give you the street address of customers that you can simple drive by and see the quality of their lawn. Most contractors are going to send you to see their “best” lawns, so the question has value in the fact that they are willing to give you the information.

How many years have you been in business?

The answer to this question depends on your personal preference. You may want an established company. However, lawn work is often a young persons business, so hiring someone who is eager to get started and make a name for himself may not be bad.

Do you have insurance?

This is simple – do not hire someone unless they can show you a certificate of insurance.

Are all your employees licensed?

Each state has it’s own licensing requirements. All states require a license of someone who is hired to apply herbicides and pesticides to other person’s property. In general, the license is to be carried by the person. They should be able to show you an up to date license. Some states do not require a license if the products used are organic.

What products do you put on the lawn?

This is another open-ended question. The answer will let you know if the person understands his own products. There are always timing and weather issues for lawn care products. If the contractor is stumbling through the answer you should probably dig deeper: when do you apply pre-emergent; how often do you apply post-emergent weed control; do you use high nitrogen fertilizer; do you use a complete fertilizer (one that contains nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium) or an incomplete fertilizer; what effect do you products have on the root system and the soil properties, etc. You need to pin them down on this question. It’s your environment they are treating and you should know the warnings, value, and consequences of anything they use.

Are there any restrictions on using the lawn after an application?

You will need to know any restrictions on using the lawn following an application. Many applications require that you, your kids, your pets, etc. remain off the lawn for up to two days. If you have a sprinkler system, you may need to turn it off for a couple of days.

How often do you treat the lawn?

The general answer to this question is about every six weeks. What you want to discern is whether they come every six weeks because they have a tight schedule and that’s what works for them OR they vary the time increment to come at a time that is best for your lawn based on timing, rainfall, air temperature, etc.

Is your service guaranteed?

Contractors don’t like this question and with good reason. They are working at the mercy of Mother Nature and it’s hard to guarantee results when they cannot control the weather. What the contractor can guarantee is timely applications, timely control of most weeds, correction of the pH value of the soil, etc. If you chose to ask this question, you may want to let them off the hook by stating “under normal weather conditions”.

Do you verify your employees using background checks?

My comment to this question is it’s better to be overly cautious. The typical time for lawn applications is summer. This is a time when kids are home from school and you know kids are always curious when someone new comes to their home. This is also a time when you have windows open to let the fresh air in. You need to know who is on your property!

How much is your service – what does it include – what does it not include?

Obviously you need to know the cost of the service. You should also inquire about a prepayment discount. In the lawn industry there are a number of add-on services and you should understand what is included and what will be an extra charge. Some common add-on services/charges are: pH (lime/sulfur), grub control, call back charges, and seeding. You can pick and choose which of these services you want, but have the contractor substantiate the charges such as: what is the pH of the soil, have them show you the grubs, etc.

What improvement can I expect to see in 3 months, 6 months, 1 year?

Use this question so that there is a mutual understanding of expectations. Companies that use synthetic fertilizer and herbicides will have a much faster improvement over companies that use organic fertilizer and IPM procedures. Knowing what to expect will alleviate frustration on both sides.