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Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

What the Home Pros Know with Shaun Henry

I was fortunate to have had some great teachers on my way through Columbia Public Schools. It’s difficult for me to nail down my favorite, from Mrs. King, Mrs. Murray, Mrs. Watson, Mrs. Scanlon, and Mrs. Starbuck, all at New Haven Elementary, to Ms. Murphy (later Mrs. Barry), Ms. Avery, and Mrs. Rawson at Oakland to Coach Drennan, Mr. Bailey, Mrs. Vasquez-Abshier, and Mr. Burns all at Rock Bridge.

I have fond memories of each of them and feel like they made a significant, positive impact on my education and life in general. I was no teacher’s pet, but believe that I at least showed up on time — most days — with my schoolwork complete, paid attention, didn’t clown around too much, and showed my teachers the respect they were due. Or at least that’s the way I remember it.

After time at Mizzou and earning a Bachelor’s degree in Plant Science, I assumed I would know everything I needed to know about managing turf and trees, but I found out that wasn’t necessarily the case. I’ve confirmed what my teachers and professors said to be true plus learned new things as I began my career in the green industry.

I learn something new every day in this career. Here are some lessons learned that might help you as you think about your home:

Don’t let the weeds get out of control.
Regular maintenance is essential to keeping a nice lawn and good-looking landscape. If you allow weeds to get a foothold, it’s a lot more difficult to regain control. Proper mowing practices can also reduce the number of weeds and reduce stress on your turf.

Keep in mind that a healthy turf slows stormwater, and acts as a filter to remove contaminants, reducing leaching and soil erosion, all while protecting groundwater better than weeds do.

Mow often enough to adhere to the “1/3 rule.”
Remove no more than 1/3 of the leaf blade each time you mow. If your mower gets clogged, you’re not mowing often enough. The more you mow, the healthier it will grow. Keep those blades sharp, too!

Manage your soil.
I often remind customers to let the mower clippings fall to recycle the organic matter and nutrients back into the lawn. Soil testing can help reveal soilrelated issues needing to be addressed to improve the overall health of your lawn and landscape plants plus, reducing the amount and number of inputs needed to get desired results. Less fertilizer, less pesticides, and less water.

Clean up as needed.
There will still be times when you need to remove dead plant materials, seed the lawn to improve turf density, pull weeds out of your beds, fix your irrigation system if you have one, plant new shrubs or trees to rejuvenate your landscape, and of course, rake up those leaves in the fall.

Use the right tool for the job.
Not only will the proper tools make the work easier and safer, but they will also make it a lot more enjoyable. It’s okay to continue to add tools to your toolbox as you find those that make your life easier and improve the outcome of your work on the lawn.

Just like mower blades, it’s important to keep your hedge trimmer, pruning shear, and lopper blades sharp, too. Damage to stems and leaves of your landscape plants due to dull cutting edges can have adverse results.

Sometimes you just need to call a pro.
Know your own limitations and realize that if you’re spinning your wheels and not making any progress, calling a professional to help get the problem solved and the job done can be a great option. They can even help coach you to help you finish the job yourself if that is what you need. That’s why we say, “Shoulda called Atkins!” Don’t hesitate to ask us for help.

Thank you to all of the teachers for your time and dedication to our community and
children. And congratulations to my favorite person in the whole world, Dr. Tonya Henry, for her educational achievements. I couldn’t be prouder.

Shaun Henry

A Columbia native, Shaun Henry found a home at Atkins in 2000 when he started his career as a turf technician. Shaun holds a commercial applicator’s license through the Missouri Department of Agriculture and is a member of the National Association of Landscape Professionals, the Mid-America Green Industry Council, and the Missouri Green Industry Alliance. Shaun strongly believes in the importance of a great customer experience where the Atkins staff knows their clients and anticipates
their needs accordingly. Shaun is an MU alumnus and has a degree in plant science.

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