Customer decides to fertilize lawn and it’s now growing out of control.

You’d think that once you initially visit a new customer’s property to calculate your lawn care estimate, the variables you take into consideration when creating the bid, wouldn’t change. However, as we will see in this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, such variables can change. What if your customer decides to start over fertilizing the property and the grass begins to grow twice as fast as it was before? What would you do then?

One lawn care business owner wrote “I have a customer I picked up last year, that is now causing my quite a problem. I mulched their lawn last year, edged, line trimmed, and blew out with no problems. This year the owner says he was unhappy with some of the fertilizing companies he used so he decided to do the fertilizing himself. OK. He had more mulch put in this year, so they told me they want me to bag the lawn so I don’t blow grass in the beds. He waters his lawn every day and must fertilize just about every month.

His lawn is growing way out of control, like I have never seen before. I cut lawns once a week and this lawn is taking me way too long to cut now. With every pass, I have to stop and bag the clippings. I tried to cut it at 4 1/4 inches then re-cut at 3-3/4 inches. Well now I am doing twice the work. I cannot tell them not to water and fertilize the lawn so much, but it’s becoming way too much work for me for the original price. For doing twice the work, I should charge twice the amount I charge now which is $35. Bagging is slowing me way down. I could even cut the lawn twice a week.

I use a 48inch ztr on the property. I have tried using mulching blades but I still blow grass into the beds. Maybe I could install an operator controlled discharge chute, but I am not sure if that would solve my problem.

I think if I cut the lawn twice a week I would only have to cut it once per visit. Each mow wouldn’t take me as long and I would potentially double my revenue. That way I don’t want to have to change my price in the middle of the season per cut and bagging wouldn’t be too bad. It would be and extra trip but it would almost be like picking up another customer. I know these people can afford it, when I started out it was a pretty easy lawn to do. Now its taking me way too. A box of bags costs me $5.50 which would only last a month. Next year, I am going to raise their price, but what do I do about it now?”

A second lawn care business owner said “first of all I would charge him at least 20% more for bagging. Ideally though, you should be charging twice as much if the job suddenly takes you twice as long. Too much water and nitrogen is no good for the lawn. Eventually over watering and over fertilization will catch up to him. This needs to be explained to the customer. They do need to scale it back.

With such a fast growing lawn, there is a tendency to want to cut the lawn shorter than normal but I’d avoid doing that. I wouldn’t scalp the lawn because that will damage the grass and make it look like crap. I would explain to the customer in a nice way about your dilemma for servicing his yard. Either he backs off on the water and fertilizer or you have to charge him for a double cut. Don’t wait until next year to have this discussion. If he balks at that then he is not a customer I would want. Remember your time is money!”

A third shared “not knowing the specific conditions or how close the beds are together etc, another option would be to slow the throttle down when you get to an area where it gets close to the mulch beds. I’ve got one property I mow that is about a 2 mower width between beds and I can slow the blades down pretty slow and it won’t throw the grass clippings as far. I can’t say that there’s not ‘any’ grass that hits the beds, but it certainly doesn’t paint the mulch green w/ clippings. What does land in the mulch bed I can come back with my blower at the idle speed and spread out the clippings pretty good. It may be worth experimenting with. Best of luck, hopefully it helps a little.”

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