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Closeup of the center and partial petals of a deep yellow sunflower.

Insider view on lawn care trends

The clock is ticking as companies prepare for the snow melt and the onset of the 2011 lawn care season.  In this blog post, I shall briefly cover compost tea, kelp, fertilizer pricing, Mycorrhizae, and other trends worth exploring.
As petroleum prices rise, so does the cost of manufacturing basic fertilizer components.  Lawn care companies can expect to pay more for their fertilizer products in 2011, thus increasing the need to execute an effective and efficient turf program.  There has been one price increase already with perhaps another expected midyear.  Those companies unable to make sound business practices may become a thing of the past.  Some price increases may inevitably be passed onto the customer as pressure builds to make a profit in a highly competitive industry.
The bell continues to toll for fundamental changes utilizing basic soil and environmental processes in the lawn care industry.  These options include inoculating seed with beneficial fungi called Mycorrhizae.  One inoculation allows this fungus to multiply and spread within a lawn area.  Long used in the tree industry, Mycorrhizae sets up a friendly relationship on the turf root system, breaking down surrounding nutrients and minerals.  The end result generally becomes a lessened demand on the quantity of fertilizer required due to this helpful relationship below ground.
There are still more options available beyond standard fertilizers such as compost tea and kelp; both which utilize actual plant material, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and much more to help improve soil structure and thereby create a healthier lawn.  Compost tea usually contains beneficial bacteria, sugars, and kelp; all which help grass become stronger while simultaneously improving the defensive mechanism to fight off insect and disease pressure.
Although there are lots of blends and types of compost tea, the general idea is to strengthen the lawn so it can withstand drought, insect, and disease pressure as it appears during the growing season.  Compost tea and kelp both help build the soil which is very often a large limiting factor in improving a lawn.  With many lawns containing high amounts of sand or minimal top soil, adding kelp and or compost tea becomes are very sound decision.  Both sea kelp and compost tea are not inexpensive, but they provide key materials not found in most fertilizers and improve soil infrastructure.  Compare the investment in compost tea, kelp, or Mycorrhizae versus renovating your lawn and you are looking at saving thousands of dollars at a minimum.  Any lawn treatment which can help reduce fertilizer demand and build the soil is certainly worth exploring and perhaps even using in 2011.