The 411 on managed launch fertilizers

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To reduce the loss of nutrients to the environment and improve lawn health, many lawn maintainers (LCOs) are turning to more efficient products like controlled release fertilizers.

Reduce lawn stress

Controlled release fertilizers help improve lawn health and reduce nutrient loss. (Photo: yards done right)

Controlled-release fertilizers make feeding more even and also limit leaching in areas of heavy rain, says Jim Beveridge, owner of Yards done right in Westlake, Ohio. He tends to use them in times of higher temperatures.

“We want more gradual or slower feeding when the heat rises to avoid scorching or stressing the lawn,” says Beveridge. “We generally don’t use them on our first and last uses because of the cool spring and fall temperatures here – and the added cost.”

His company offers lawn fertilization, weed control, tree and shrub insect / disease control, tree and shrub fertilization, and organic topdressing. With annual sales of $ 275,000, its customers are approximately 95 percent household and 5 percent non-residential.

He says these fertilizers also offer greater flexibility in application windows, as well as the ability to compensate for periods of rain or prolonged drought.

“We can literally optimize our mix from day to day,” says Beveridge. “Controlled release fertilizers are also very beneficial to the environment as they are less leachate and volatile.”

Experts say it is best to distribute applications and monitor weather patterns in order to customize applications to avoid rainstorms.

“I know companies who have one or two applications of extended release nitrogen fertilizers annually. This works for some business models, but our model is to be on the property more often to deal with other issues that arise, ”says Beveridge. “That’s why it’s nice to have a number of different products in our toolbox. Obviously, if you need something to do a faster green-up, you wouldn’t go for a controlled-release product. “

Avoid waste

Controlled release products are beneficial at high temperatures as they prevent the lawn from burning out.  (Photo: Weed Man)

Controlled release products are beneficial at high temperatures as they prevent the lawn from burning out. (Photo: Weed Man)

Although controlled release fertilizers are more expensive than traditional fertilizers, operators should be wondering when – and not if – they should add controlled release fertilizers to their range, said Brad DeBels, vice president of operations at Weed man in Madison, Wis.

Weed Man Madison offers lawn maintenance, pest control, and mosquito control. 95 percent of its customers are residential and the company’s annual revenue is $ 200 million. Operators get more for their money because they don’t lose a product that’s wasted on leaching, says DeBels.

“The product only releases the right amount of fertilizer that the plant can absorb, so you don’t waste product or money,” he says.

Additional benefits

In addition to a healthier, more beautiful lawn, controlled release products can help owners tackle labor shortage issues by reducing the need to apply them as often. DeBels says his technicians will rarely be on site every week or two.

“The product can last anywhere from one to two months to three or four months. Some quick release items last a few weeks, ”he says. “We are about time management. The product is more expensive, but it feeds the lawn longer, and putting it down is no more time-consuming and labor-intensive than the quick release. “

DeBels says he checks the quality of the fertilizer – including the nitrogen content – before buying it to make sure it meets Weed Man’s standards and is suitable for his customers’ needs.

“We buy controlled release fertilizers because they’re better for the environment and the customer,” says DeBels. “This is one of our most important value creation opportunities. We let people know that we will do what is best for the environment and their wallets. “

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