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Greener Grass
By Tracy Dickinson
home :: home & garden :: home trends

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And better weed control. And more beautiful flowers. And greater expertise.

And better weed control. And more beautiful flowers. And greater expertise.

They say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Sure, it’s a cliché. But every neighborhood has one—the lawn that everyone envies. It’s perfectly manicured and trimmed with such precision you could golf on it. There’s not a weed in sight. The landscaping is immaculate. There’s even a tasteful water feature accenting the front entry.

You know the one. But wouldn’t you like to be the one?

The other side of the fence is as close as a good lawn care professional team.


Yes, you can hire the neighbor kid to mow your lawn. Maybe he’ll even trim around the edges and do a little weeding in the flowerbeds as well.

But a qualified professional does so much more than keep the dandelions from taking over. “We offer an array of services for complete care of your lawn and landscape: lawn treatments, grounds maintenance, irrigation service and installation, landscape design and installation,” says Ryan McCarthy of RJ Lawn and Landscape in Waukee. “We cater to the needs of the client by handling as much or as little of the care of their plants and lawn as they desire.”

Local firms such as RJ Lawn and Landscape, Ted Lare Design Build & Garden Center, and Iowa Outdoor Products are staffed by employees with degrees in horticulture or turf management, landscape architecture, or environmental engineering. So they’re more than just mowers.

Whether you’re looking for a makeover or a maintenance plan, Shane Miller of Iowa Outdoor says, “We recommend having our design team discuss a master plan for your entire property. Often our clients want to implement that over the course of several years, and our designers can help through that entire process.”

McCarthy adds, “If you design it right, the master plan can be incorporated over several years without feeling ‘unfinished’ at any point in time. A professional will have the forethought to phase the work in a manner that one phase does not impact or disrupt another phase and to keep each phase within the homeowner’s annual budget.”

Whether you just want to add some curb appeal, clean up an aging lawn, or undertake a multiphase landscaping project, starting with the right design can be the difference between success and ugly, messy, back-breaking failure. And calling in the professional to help with that design can save you time and money.


You might be able to find a good plan online, and you might be handy enough to do some of the digging and planting. Or you might have no interest at all in how it all comes together.

Either way, the objective is a lawn that adds value, beauty, and pleasure to your home. And if you prefer to relax rather than work in your yard, the highly qualified skills of a lawncare company are both invaluable and time-saving.

For example, Danie Watson of Ted Lare says, “We can help with everything from aeration and grub control to planting annuals and mulching your flower beds.”

Miller adds, “In addition to mowing and chemical applications (you can choose a three-, four-, or five-step program), we also offer edging along sidewalks and driveways, over-seeding, and fall leaf removal.”


As you have probably seen with that neighborhood lawn, the key to its beauty is maintenance. Even a standard lawn care service can achieve significant results in the appearance of your property.

“Most lawn care contracts include mowing, trimming, and the chemical treatment,” says Watson. “But we can provide seeding, if needed, and ongoing maintenance services such as watering your lawn, dead-heading the flowers, even treating your property with organic options if you prefer a non-chemical process.”

McCarthy explains, “We can take full charge of your entire landscape or assist with the items you don’t feel you have enough expertise or energy for—like when to trim certain plants, removing weeds from landscape beds, deadheading spent flowers, even cleaning the gutters and picking up the leaves.”

With the right professional, the other side of the fence could just be yours.

Water Features

Unless it’s a dripping faucet or leaky roof, the sound of trickling water adds a soothing ambiance to a design. Incorporating one can be as simple as a ceramic vessel or as elaborate as a waterfall.

Here are some ideas from the local pros:

  • Add a simple pop of color with a ceramic vessel and a self-contained water feature
  • Choose a natural-looking feature with stones of varying heights
  • Use native plantings
  • Incorporate a small waterfall or stream with a pond at the bottom
  • Create a “disappearing stream” that flows underground from one pond to another
  • Customize the flow of water to add a lot or a little sound
  • Opt for a fountain
  • Go with a pondless design to minimize maintenance and construction
  • Choose a self-contained feature with a basin and decorative rock
  • Design with your site in mind


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