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How plant growth regulators can cut down on labor

March 30, 2022 -  By
Lawn growth regulators reduce the frequency  of mowing and create  a healthier plant. (Photo: Henfaes/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Lawn growth regulators reduce the frequency
of mowing and create
a healthier plant. (Photo: Henfaes/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Plant growth regulators (PGRs) have been a game-changer for The Greenery according to Miles Graves, regional manager. The Greenery, headquartered in Hilton Head Island, S.C., uses PGRs on turf and shrubs as part of its turf and ornamental services. The Greenery also provides mowing and landscape maintenance, design/build and landscape installation for its 90 percent commercial, 10 percent residential clientele.

Graves, along with Nate Moses, president and CEO of Precision Landscape Management in Greenville, S.C., share how lawn care operators (LCOs) can capitalize on the benefits of PGRs.

PGRs vs. pruning

Miles Graves

Miles Graves

Graves says The Greenery team uses PGRs for its commercial maintenance contracts. Instead of bidding a maintenance contract with pruning five times in the growing season, he bids his contract with one technician applying three sprays of PGRs instead of pruning.

Graves says his clients appreciate the consistency PGR applications provide, noting his clients get a better product. The Greenery also communicates the benefits of PGR applications to its clients, Graves says.

“It’s similar to the section of your contract that tells you how frequently you prune,” he says. “Now, it just tells them this is how frequently we spray your shrubs with the PGRs. It also goes into detail about the benefits to plant health, why it’s environmentally conscience and even how it reduces noise pollution.”

More than just shrubs

Nate Moses

Nate Moses

Precision Landscape Management uses PGRs for turf, trees and shrubs for its business, which is comprised of 20 percent lawn and shrub care services, 50 percent installation services and 30 percent maintenance services for residential clientele.

Precision Landscape Management refers to each PGR with an abbreviation: tree growth regulators as TGRs, shrub growth regulators as SGRs and lawn growth regulators as LGRs.

Precision Landscape Management uses a paclobutrazol tree growth regulator to help established trees recover from stress, insect damage or to manage growth. The result is a more resilient tree, Moses says. He notes it’s important to read the label for tree growth regulators to understand the risk of plant injury with some species and how to properly time applications.

However, he says TGRs are an effective tool. He points to a situation where TGRs helped with a client whose trees were planted three years apart in a new development.

“The trees that were installed three years before were larger and more mature, but they were planted in a line and they were intended to all look uniform,” he says.

Less mowing, healthier turf

Moses said implementing lawn growth regulators took a little trial and error to learn how each turfgrass responded to the applications. Precision Lawn Care primarily uses trinexapac-ethyl. He says in Precision Landscape Management trials, crews noticed Bermudagrass could tolerate a higher application rate than other turfgrasses.

“We were able to go three weeks in between mowing without damaging the turf,” he says.

Graves says LGRs reduce the frequency of mowing crews and the frequency of cleanup and detailing. He says while the cost for PGRs is high, he looks at the investment as reducing staffing needs, not predominantly cost savings.

Start slowly

Moses says any LCO considering adding plant growth regulators to a spray program should start small.

“I’m thankful that we started with a control group where there was some tolerance for mistakes,” he says.

Christina Herrick

About the Author:

Christina Herrick is the editor of Landscape Management magazine. Known for her immersive approach to travel from coast to coast in her previous stint as senior editor of American Fruit Grower Magazine, she uses social media (Twitter/Instagram @EditorHerrick) to share her experiences on the road with her audience. Herrick has a degree in journalism from Ohio Northern University. She can be reached at

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