Lawn scalpers and cowboys not welcome

22:20, Oct 28 2012
BLADE RUNNER: A good lawnmowing outfit hoses down all their tools and mower after each lawn, to prevent weed seeds from spreading. They should also understand that a good lawn is not scalped and will adjust the mowing height accordingly.

I often receive a call from someone complaining about lawn and gardening contractors.

The most common complaints come from older women telling me that before their husband died they had beautiful lawns, well manicured and cared for. After their husband died, they had to resort to having a mowing service to tend to the lawns.

More often than not the lawns would be scalped, then weeds never seen previously would start to appear.

After a little while the well-looked-after lawn would be a mess of weeds and bare patches - a horrible reminder of the loss of their husband every time they look out.

People that don't care what their lawns look like are ideal candidates for most lawn mowing outfits.

Mowing the lawn as low as possible (called scalping) not only weakens the grasses but it opens up the area for weeds to establish.


Weeds grow faster than grass so it does not take long before the lawn (should I say weed area) looks untidy and needs another mowing. Great if you have a lawn mowing business, you get to mow the same lawns frequently.

Not much good if you take pride in having a nice section.

In the case of the well-looked-after lawn becoming a mess after the mower man (or woman) starts, it is not only their desire to cut too low, they also bring weed seeds into the lawn from other lawns they mow.

If there is a really good lawn mowing outfit out there they would hose down all their tools and mower after each lawn. They would also understand that a good lawn is not scalped and would adjust the mowing height accordingly.

If you are thinking about hiring someone to mow your lawn because you can no longer do it then you will likely have your own lawn mower and you can make it a condition of the contractor to only use your mower and tools. That would stop one problem. Next would be instructions to mow at a correct height and supervise the work. You know when you need your lawn mowed so instead of the mower person coming when they want to, you arrange it by phoning them when you require their services.

If you are suppling the mower, petrol etc that should mean that you are only employing their labour to do the work. Student Job Search has a list of older students that work for $15.00 an hour! They are pleasant young adults struggling to get ahead in the world and, from the ones that my company has hired, never a problem.

Weeding by hand is not a job for the inexperienced person so don't get anyone to weed who does not know their weeds. You could lose your plants and have weeds left behind.

If you need trees pruned or removed, employ contractors that know their trees, not cowboys.

A good tree person can advise how a tree needs to be pruned without making a mess of it and will have the ability to mulch the trimmings into chips which you can use around your gardens or have taken away. You pay for expert service but you can pay a lot more for people that don't have the knowledge. Most cheap jobs end up costing a lot more than a professional job.

A professional has a reputation to maintain where a cowboy just moves on with your money.

Lastly, in regards to the spraying of herbicides; here we have a whole can of worms that can cause insufferable damage.

An email from a lady gardener was received this week about a woman gardening contractor in the Foxton area who has shown total disregard for other people's gardens when spraying herbicides.

The lady has lost plants and shrubs because of this contractor's activities in the section next door to her.

The damage is caused by not taking due care when applying herbicides and spraying in windy conditions. It is also wrong to spray herbicides in calm conditions as the minute spray particles rise on convention currents to drop somewhere later on.

The ideal spray conditions are a light breeze so that you can ensure the spray goes to the target plants.

Adjusting the nozzle so the spray has heavier droplets rather than a mist is also sensible.

A simple cover can be made out of an icecream container with a small hole drilled through the middle, large enough to take the end of the sprayer with the nozzle removed.

The nozzle is then screwed back on to the sprayer inside the icecream container. Now you can spray more accurately by placing the icecream container over the weeds you want to spray.

If someone has sprayed weed killer without care and killed plants on your property, tally up the damage and send an account to the person who sprayed and if a neighbour hired the person then a copy to them as well. (At least they will know that a person they have contracted to spray has caused losses and are very unlikely to employ the same person again.)

If no payment is met from your invoices and you repeat the same each month for three months, then you can place the debt in the hands of a bill collector agency or take them to the small claims court.

This must also apply to councils that either contract out or have their own workers doing damage to property. Herbicides such as Roundup can cause a lot of damage in the hands of incompetent people.

Problems? Phone me on 0800 466 464 or email

The Southland Times