Monday, December 27, 2010

Custom Programs

Over the holiday season at various functions, stores and the grocery store, I was asked several times about the custom programs for lawns and beds that The Super Garden Hero and I always talk about on the radio (1250 WTMA) during “The Garden Clinic” from noon to one on Saturday. The questions about custom programs did run second to the questions about moles. Moles still rule!

Custom programs are a subject that I am very passionate about. Some people have guesstimated that I have written more custom programs for lawns than anyone in the world! I feel this is the most environmentally way to care for your lawn because you are insuring that you are putting on your lawn exactly what your specific lawn needs. The program prevents over-application of the wrong products that are not needed for your yard. Having a custom program also prevents the impulse buys at the store or garden centers. Centipede does not require a bunch of nitrogen; however, centipede often benefits from more potassium. A soil test can provide that kind of information.

Charleston is the hardest place (that I am aware of) in the world to grow grass. Many people have moved here from the North where they are used to liming their yard yearly. In Charleston, some yards need lime to raise the pH, and others need sulfur to lower the pH. There is no way to tell what you need by simply looking at the yard. A soil test is required. Although I am a graduate of Clemson University in Ornamental Horticulture, I prefer to use a private lab for my soil tests. The doctor that runs this lab is a world-wide authority and is often quoted regarding soil testing in professional trade magazines. The information from this lab is more detailed and provides accurate information to base your recommendations.

I started writing programs in the late 1980’s to figure out how I was going to spend my budget money in a plantation that I managed on Hilton Head Island (Long Cove Club). With a yearly budget, I had to map out month by month what I was going to put on the grounds. Some of these areas were road sides; others were highly maintained club house and entryways. I had to figure out how much I was going to spend on the turf, beds, shrubs and trees. To do this I needed to know just how much I needed to put out of fertilizers, fungicides and insecticides and when. This systematic approach made the job much more manageable and saved money, and produced better results. While developing the program, I had to take into account the life cycles of insects, periods of known disease pressure, and timing of preemergent herbicides and other products. By treating at the right times, you can use less products and get better results.

I have been writing custom programs for golf courses, private and public schools and plantations, city and county parks, and town, college and professional athletic fields (Possum’s is the Official Supplier to the Charleston Battery!) for many years. I have had many of my clients for over 18 years. These programs begin with a soil test. The soil test is the only way you can effectively determine what is needed to amend the soil. An accurate soil test is the starting point of any good management program. Most of these facilities have tight budgets that we need to keep the programs cost within.

I decided to offer the same type of service to homeowners. Here is what just a few have said:

“Helped rid my lawn of fungus and chinch bug damage. Deep green healthy, lush look and texture, a lawn program is far better than random purchases at a discount store. Worth the price.” Eugene Babich.

“Possum’s soil test and monthly programs have turned a weak sickly lawn into a lush green lawn-winning a Letter of Award from Park West for Landscape Appearance.” Pat Piglia.

“With fertilizer, pest and disease control program, everything worked great and we won Yard of the Month in Dunes West.” Merrill Craven.

“Through Possum’s soil analysis program our yard has improved immensely. We were one of three “Yard of the Quarter” winners in Dunes West. David and Deborah Oyster

They then furnish a printout that offers a monthly schedule of specific amendments to make the soil improve it’s condition.—Best garden money ever spent!” Cynthia Webb

“I had pretty much killed most of my grass by trying to use chemicals and fertilizers that I wasn’t familiar with. Out of desperation, I took a soil sample into Possum’s and got on the monthly program. Now, just 6 months later, my yard looks amazing and has almost completely filled in the spots that I had killed.”

“Mole patrol has worked particularly well for me. Also, the Hydra Hume. But the best thing in particular is the monthly program that takes all the stupid out of lawn care.” Trey Strock

My lawn was 2 year old construction when I moved in. It was in horrible shape. I took a soil sample to Bill, got a program – the difference is unbelievable!”

Eddy Swinson

“Counsel and advice. Your Possum’s personnel have helped me keep my lawn and shrubs in top condition. They know grass, weeds and shrubs.” “Cotton Burr – for weak area in sod. Unbelievable results!” “ Messenger – for lots of growth. Wife likes it”. “Weed Free Zone – spot kill weeds. Best I’ve ever used”. “Sedge Hammer – Nut Sedge. Expensive, but does the job”. Ted French

“Provided month by month application of fertilizer and weed control to give a good looking green lawn by mid-summer”. Tom Geraghty

“Great, explaining what to do in my yard at the proper time of year”. Bess Knight

“My lawn looks better than ever. Best lawn on the block. It’s real thick and lush green”. “Cotton Burr is the best thing since sliced bread. Turned my lawn around. I follow the Possum’s Program as Bill has shown me to do”. Gerald Williams

“The Best! Cookbook program very user friendly—plus the support!!”

Bernard Arnold, O.D.

Another advantage to the custom program is that you can figure out how much product you need. If you want to store the product at your house, when you need to apply something, you just go with it. You can save the time it takes to get to the store and purchase the product. Depending on your storage, you can buy for a few months or for the whole year at once. Having the product on site saves a lot of time.

The costs for an environmentally friendly lush, dark green lawn, with a “Yard of the Month” sign in front-Priceless!