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How to talk the talk (of PGRs) with your clients

November 3, 2021 -  By

For the past several years, Lawns of Dallas in Texas has focused on plant growth regulator (PGR) use as a way to save on labor, according to Giuseppe Baldi, irrigation and chemical manager for the company, which serves half residential and half commercial clients.

Some lawn care operators use PGRs to mow less, which, in turn, helps save on labor. (Photo: photovs/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Some lawn care operators use PGRs to mow less, which, in turn, helps save on labor. (Photo: photovs/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

When the company uses PGRs on turf, it can go about three weeks without having to mow; on groundcover and shrubs, the result is two to eight months of reduced growth and therefore, less pruning.

“That not only saves labor, but it also gives crews the ability to focus on some other tasks on the landscape like detail work,” Baldi says. “It also puts us in a position where we’re consuming less fuel and requiring less maintenance on our equipment because we’re using it less.”

When it comes to applying PGRs on turf, Baldi says they’re most beneficial if a company operates on a contract basis.

“A lot of companies will simply charge $40 or $50 each time they mow, so it’s not in their interest to use PGRs to reduce growth and to not mow. But, for a company like ours that does everything on a contract basis, it’s all-inclusive, and it makes a lot of sense for us to do it that way,” Baldi says.

Joel Butler, branch manager for the Dallas West branch of LandCare, also sees the labor-saving benefits behind PGRs.

“Labor is always a challenge in landscaping, so you’re always looking for a way to achieve the same result in a more predictable way,” Butler says. “Product is usually available, whereas labor can be something that’s harder to recruit and staff depending on the year. PGRs have come to be a win-win for us as far as what we want to achieve.”

LandCare started using PGR products about five years ago. The company mostly applies the products to the shrubs it maintains.

Butler cautions that the best way to achieve labor savings using PGRs on shrubs is to separate the mowing and pruning operations within a company versus employing full-service crews.

“If you have full-service crews, it’s going to be a little bit harder to achieve the labor savings, because it would be harder to see the pruning hours pulled out,” Butler says. By separating these tasks and using PGRs, LandCare has seen a 75 percent reduction in hours spent pruning.

The rundown

To get clients on board with PGR use, Baldi says Lawns of Dallas technicians discuss the pros of using them.

“With the clients, we talk about the benefits they’re going to get: a more consistent manicured look, healthier plants and less noise they’ll hear on the property,” Baldi says. “However, know that in some cases, people think they should get a discount if you’re not having to mow the lawn. They don’t understand that’s why we’re able to do a lot of the other things that sometimes get skipped.”

Touting the positive benefits has worked for LandCare as well, Butler says.

“Most of our clients are most interested in what the site looks like, and they don’t care how we achieve that result,” Butler says. “They see the year-round healthy look that you can achieve with PGRs, and that’s what they’re interested in.”

Sarah Webb

About the Author:

Sarah Webb is Landscape Management's former managing editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Prior to her role at LM, Sarah was an intern for Cleveland Magazine and a writing tutor.

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