Spray Your Own Yard

There are a few oddities in life I don’t think I’ll ever figure out like; Just how do you get freezer burn? why isn’t there a channel #1 on your TV? and why are the chances greater that you’ll die on your way to pick up your lottery winnings than actually winning? I may never know these answers but that’s Ok, I won’t lose too much sleep pondering such insignificant things. There is one oddity however that has plagued me for over 25 years and no matter how much I’ve tried to embrace it, it gets under my skin like a rash and when ever I have to confront it, I just want to scream!

Why Do Pest Professionals Treat Lawns?

Now I can appreciate the value of firing up a rig, hauling out 250 feet of hose and attacking a nasty flea infestation in a back yard but that’s not the type of ‘treatment I’m speaking of. You see, it seems that the pest control industry has somewhere along the way decided that along with killing roaches, treating termites and taking on the occasional bee’s nest it would be a perfect fit to weed and feed lawns and even treat shrubs? As if I don’t have enough to learn and know already now I’m suppose to be able to identify weeds, lawn diseases and know what plants like shade or sun. Hello? Is this odd to anyone else or is it just me? How do you crack and crevice a lawn and how did we go from a duster in a kitchen to a shower head applying some fungicide on residential turf? Who was the original person who spoke up in a meeting one day and said- ” termite sales are down-we outa be fertilizing lawns?” Just how was that connection made?

It’s A Maddening Service

Let me tell you, I deal with mostly retired folk who don’t want to see a single bug in, on or even near their home. Some even call expecting service when they find a bug on their driveway- dead! but that pales in comparison to the calls I get because years ago I went along like a sheep to the slaughter and passed my lawn test and began spraying yards. People could have the most beautiful emerald green lawn and if one weed pops in, it’s as if all hell broke loose. One gal won “Lawn Of The Month” in her community and she showed me the newsletter, award sign in the lawn and then took me out back and scolded me for a patch of clover that popped up from under the shed. I could list story after story of how people mow to low, water too much or too little, let dogs piddle and kill the grass and still my spray should be the ultimate elixir and their grass should be the greenest on the block. It is the one category of my business where I’ve all but given up on trying to educate or even save unhappy clients. With chemical costs at about 20% for lawns I just don’t know why I continue but tomorrow the phone will ring– “30,000 square foot St.Augustine lawn- how much?” and I’ll mutter a quote and much to my dismay get the job.

The Grass Is Not Always Greener

It is an interesting phenomenon and an oddity I could have listed at the start of my little rant. So many of my lawn customers compare their yard with one across the street or just next door and become dissatisfied. Indeed from their vantage point the neighbors grass seems more lush and not a weed to be seen. But I’ve actually taken many a client for a walk across those yards they admired from afar to show them they have problems too. Bald spots you couldn’t see, weeds tucked in around the sprinklers and any number of defects. Still, the lure of the plushest, greenest lawn on the block causes them burn you out with call backs and eventually to look to other companies thinking they’ll finally get their ‘dream lawn.’ In so many cases however I’m just one guy in a long line of fired vendors because no one can live up to this homeowners demands. A lot of these folks go full circle and call us back a year or two later- some of their lawns look alright while most look like war zones. This is because they either did things themselves in between the regular service of the companies they hired or went full time on their own. Either way it happens I always pause a bit and think back to the days when they demanded re-sprays, more fertilizer, or the times I was on the phone till 10 pm talking about the life span of a chinch bug to an angry uncooperative customer. Although I never have and most likely never will- just once, I’d like to say. Spray Your Own Damn Yard.Well, maybe not.

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. Pestcemetery.com was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.
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  • Stuto1

    I’ve thought about weed control for awhile now. Here in Vegas the County sprays the rocks on the side of the beltway for weeds. Big job! I think I saw TrueGreen doing it once.

  • Temper, temper get it out of your system. I think it’s because we are a service company and really who does service better than us. But I will tell you I think it is tougher than bugs. Here is AZ anything out of place is considered a pest.

  • I feel better now

  • Great gig to get— Rocks– and no worries about fertilizer!

    I’d love something like that- There was a company in Wyoming I think that had a weed control route on the electrical towers that went across the wide open land– Guy did it on horseback and it paid real well…. Now I’m starting to feel better about having my lawn license…. Thanks 😉

  • Mel

    Other than the 20% chem cost I see no difference between pleasing a new customer in pest control and what you described in lawn. I have pest control customers who I do not think will ever get it and to my suprise they eventually understand that I can not stop every insect in the world from entering their domain.  Not being able to live up to someones expectations happens. Could it be by next year your lawn call backs are lower, the the year after that as you or your lawn guys master that aspect of the business like you have with pests?

  • Stuto1

    I have this on-going day dream where I take one of my customers little ankle bitter dogs that will not stop barking at me and punting that thing for distance.

  • Not really Mel– This goes on with almost everyone I know who does pest & lawn services (some say ‘not-they never have problems but I call BS on that one) & while yes– some pest customers are how you describe– lawn clients by in large are ‘extra’ picky’ ‘more’ fickle and ‘less’ patient almost to a one…

    We have meetings about ‘setting’ expectations- & one tech has years of specifically lawn work and we do everything we can to minimize problems but it just seems to be the nature of lawns…. Another problem which is much more pronounced in lawns is IPM– Customers are given many instructions on how to maintain their turf in regards to mowing, watering etc. but we find that while intentions can be good– advice is not so often taken.  It’s too tempting to just throw out a bag of weed and feed in between or cut the grass shorter to save work and then the lawn suffers and since they are paying me–it is my company that takes the brunt and blame for the demise of the grass. 

    Having said that I DO agree lawns is not something I’ve “strived to master” like pest control so I’m not sure where that throws my comments but the truth is the truth.

  • Mel

    You mean your service does not include mowing and watering the lawn?(joke) Now I have a better understanding. It sounds like some want a golf course putting green without the expense or effort required to achieve that look.