Last weekend I got up early to work on my lawn. The spring came during a heavy travel schedule. Other than booting up the sprinkling system and mowing, it was not treated yet. I had two goals. Kill the weeds, fertilize the Kentucky Blue. My lawn had become infested with puncture vine and Bermuda grass. It was a pale green color. I set off to find both the chemicals and equipment needed to get the job done.

Since it was convenient, I first visited the “Big Box” store down the street. The herbicides were limited and all in diluted form. They all claimed miraculous results. The fertilizer was non-existent. They must have run out. I could not find the sprayers or spreaders. Help was nowhere to be found. I gave up.

On my way to my truck I thought of the farm store I worked in 20 years ago. They had all the items I needed in a friendly environment. It was a few miles away. When I got out of my vehicle I was immediately greeted by the proprietor. After 20 years he looked much like his father that started the business. He talked with me as I was a long-lost friend. We caught up for a few minutes.

Suddenly, I was overtaken by the smell of Hickory and baked chicken. Corey, the proprietor, opened the lid of the brand new Traeger smoker. 3 Chicken thighs lay sizzling on the grill. I just about busted out my wallet and bought it right there. Way to show a product! We then went into the store and I told him what I needed. Green grass free from Bermuda grass and puncture vine. He talked to me about the advances in herbicides and of a new one that controls Bermuda. It does not kill it but it chokes it down to a dull roar. I opted for both recommended chemicals. He then explained his blend of fertilizer and how it works well with the local soil. Now, I needed a way to spread the fertilizer and spray. He first showed me the cheapest solutions. He explained that they would get me by but not for everyone. At this point in my life, I want solutions that are comfortable and that work. I opted for the more expensive versions of the spreader and sprayer.

The sprayer was a newer design. It was like having a backpack full of poison with a lever. I paid the bill and took the items home. First, I put the chemicals in and mixed them with water. I walked around spraying with my new backpack. I have to say compared to the old “stop and pump” method, I was in heaven! I was able to treat my yard quickly and easily. Then came the fertilizer. The upgraded spreader worked nicely. At first I had the setting to high and blew through the hopper of fertilizer in no time. After adjusting it was more even. Again, I was in heaven. This thing put the weight on my shoulder not all in my hands. I was not encumbered by the wheeled version. I was able to walk freely across my lawn spreading sunshine!

So, what is my point? First of all, there is a place for “Big Box” stores. I use them. In this case, the farm store did a better job of providing me solutions. They explained new advances and guided me to the right products. I was able to have a friendly exchange and felt great about the experience. The “Big Box store relied on the displays and packaging to make the sale. In this case it was a FAIL. Secondly, don’t underestimate your customer. I did not want cheap. I wanted quality and comfort. With a little effort on my part, I was able to get it. A few probing questions would have gotten the salesman right to what I needed.

– Michael Christopherson