5 Tips for Choosing a Fertilizer

Posted by Mary Martinez on Jun 30, 2017 8:38:59 AM

Does the brand of fertilizer you use really matter? Short answer is yes, it does. There is a lot more than just N-P-K that makes up a bag of fertilizer. There are a few important things you should look for when selecting a brand of fertilizer.

EEF (Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizer)

The Association of American Plant Food Control Officials (AAPFCO) defines EEFs as products with characteristics that allow increased plant uptake and therefore reduce potential nutrient losses to the environment (e.g., gaseous losses, leaching, or runoff) when compared to an appropriate reference fertilizer that does not contain additives. Controlled or slow-release fertilizer provide solutions that contribute to environmental responsibility:

  • Reducing N volatilization and slowing the conversion to nitrate means more N remains available to plants
  • With gradual metering of N, uptake by the plant is optimized; less is underutilized, reducing potential loss to the environment
  • The result is more efficient nutrient use, meaning your customers can apply less N, which not only benefits the environment; it helps to preserve this vital resource as well

TurfGro fertilizers have several slow release fertilizer options that include technology such as Duration and XCU.


Micronutrients are essential for soil health and plant growth. Soil analysis shows micronutrient deficiency is common in soil and can be a contributing factor to pest problems and slow germination. If a fertilizer contains one of the common micronutrients (boron, copper, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, calcium & sulfur) they will be listed on the label after NPK.    

What makes TurfGro fertilizer different from other brands is that it is manufactured and blended locally in market. This allows us to design the formulation to meet the soil needs of that market, adding micronutrients commonly missing.

What’s in the Bag?

Typical fertilizer is made up of four components: urea, nitrogen, potash and filler. The first three components provide nutrients to the turf, while “filler” normally doesn’t offer any value. The amount and content of that filler can influence the quality of that turf.

Amount – the more urea, nitrogen and potash in the blend, they less need for filler. So when you select a fertilizer with a higher NPK, you will have less filler in the bag. In addition to NPK, micronutrients like calcium and magnesium reduce the amount of filler blended in the fertilizer.

Content – most higher end fertilizer will use biosolids or other organic-based product as filler. Most less expensive products use limestone, which provides zero nutrition to the soil. It’s less expensive, but you are still paying for product that can’t be used by the turf.

When needed, Horizon’s TurfGro fertilizer commonly use biosolids as the basis for filler, ensuring a higher value product for you.


Pellet Size

In blended fertilizers, the individual particles remain separate in the mixture, and there is a potential for segregation of the nutrients. This problem can be reduced by using materials that are the same size. Properly made blends are generally equal in effectiveness to other compound fertilizers.


You can always find a cheaper bag of fertilizer. But when you look overall cost of the application you will find that a cheaper bag will normally cost you more in the long run. Following a program and using a premium fertilizer like TurfGro will help you deliver healthy, green turf to your client season after season.

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Topics: Maintenance, Fertilizer

How to Find a Water Leak with the Help of the Water Meter

Posted by Bob Franchetto on May 18, 2017 8:53:09 AM

When was the last time you checked your customer’s water meter? If it’s within the last 30 days, that’s great. But if you’re not in the habit of regularly checking your water meters, there’s a good chance you’re missing a leak.

The water meter is an overlooked tool that helps you quickly detect if there’s a water leak somewhere in your customer's irrigation system. Horizon’s Bob Franchetto has put together a few tips and a video to show you how to find and correct leaks with the water meter.


Is There a Leak?

When you’re using the water meter to check for leaks, we’re not concerned about the large dial. When the large dial is moving, we’ve got a big leak. What you want to find is the low flow indicator. Sometimes it’s blue, sometimes it’s a little red triangle.

If the low flow indicator is moving when the irrigation system is shut off, there’s a leak somewhere in the system.


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Finding the Leak

Step 1: Check if water is leaking.

Where the water is leaking is important. If the water is leaking on the city side, your customer won’t be billed for that water, but it still needs to get fixed. Leaks on the city side are the city’s responsibility and the city should be contacted to arrange service.

When the water is leaking on your customer’s side of the property, your customer is paying for it and it’s your responsibility to fix.

Step 2: Check the system from the meter to the valves.

If the water meter is running with the irrigation system turned off, then there is a leak between the meter and the valves. If the meter is running with the backflow turned off, you have just bypassed the valve and isolated the problem to the main. Your leak is between the meter and the backflow.

Step 3: Check if water is leaking out of the sprinkler heads.

When you have water leaking out of the sprinkler heads on a flat surface, you have a weaping valve. The valve is leaking. Let’s get it fixed or replaced.

And if the sprinkler heads are leaking on a sloped surface, you may need to install check valves. Without check valves, each time the system shuts off, every bit of water from the valve to the head is going to leak out. It’s a classic example of low head drainage.

The problem further multiplies when you cycle and soak the slope. If you don't have a check valve in the head when you cycle and soak, every cycle will produce additional low head drainage.

As purveyors of water, it’s our job to help our customers better manage their water usage. In many cases, we can dramatically improve an irrigation system’s efficiency with a few simple tweaks. It's the stuff we walk by every single day and don't pay attention to, but it’s easily fixed and it can save a significant amount of water.



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Topics: Maintenance, Water Conservation, Construction, Drought Solutions

Which Roundup is Right for Me?

Posted by Mary Martinez on May 9, 2017 2:00:00 PM

The Right Choice!

With rains subsiding and weeds flourishing it's prime Roundup season.  But how do you know which formulation is right for you?  Don't let price be your only criteria! 

While they are all glyphosate products, each Roundup has particular features that makes it better for different situations.  This chart breaks it down and helps you decide if you need QuikPro, ProMax or Custom. 

The Right Tool for the Job:

Which Roundup is the right solution for you?

 Roundup-which one should I use_Page_1.jpg

Bottom Line:

And of course every purchase of a Monsanto Roundup Product is backed by True Blue Advantage, with 24-hour support whatever your need. 

Horizon has a complete selection of all Roundup products!  Drop by your local store today. 


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Topics: Maintenance

LED LAMPS – You get what you pay for!

Posted by Mary Martinez on Apr 21, 2017 8:00:00 AM

Yep. There are a lot of LED lamps available online today. And while those lamps are often available at a significant discount, there can be a substantial difference in quality. Horizon only sells products from quality lighting manufacturer partners (Vista, Unique, FX, Kichler & Brilliance) that make professional-grade, reliable products. There is a difference! See for yourself…


  1. Distributor Support – no matter where you buy, product quality and warranty issues can arise. When there is an issue with products bought online, there is often only an email address provided for you to use when seeking support. Great. But wouldn’t you prefer a living, breathing human being that is available to assist with everything, from troubleshooting to returns?
  2. Warranty & Longevity – Quality lighting manufacturers stand behind their warranty. So, the expectations behind a 5 year warranty and 35,000 hour life are real and supported. Cheap LED’s will commonly state they last for 20 years, but on the back of the box it will say “when run 3 hours a day”. Some even say not to run more than 5 hours at a time or they’ll burn out prematurely.  
  3. LED Binning – LED’s are grown more than created. As a result, their color temperatures (2700 Kelvin, 3000 Kelvin, etc.) are all over the board, so they must be sorted. This process is called binning, and it’s expensive. Quality manufacturers bin their LED’s, and as a result give consistent color temperatures. So 2700K is 2700K. Cheap online LED’s save money by skipping the binning process, and the result is an unprofessional, inconsistent color temperature, where 2700K can be +/- 500K. 
  4. Inconsistent Light Output (Lumens) – Quality manufacturers utilize photo-spectrometers to measure the output of their lamps. This is another quality control step that cheap LED manufacturers skip, which leads to inconsistent output across the lighting system, causing Mrs. Smith to ask why one light hits the top of her trees and the other doesn’t.
  5. Thermal Management (Heat Sink) – In order to generate a lot of light at a very low power consumption rate, LED’s “burn” very hot. This generated heat has to be managed, or dissipated, properly. Horizon’s professional quality LED lamps have this heat sink built in. Most cheap LED manufacturers provide sub-standard heat sinks, which can lead to premature failure and even fire.  
  6. Indoor/Outdoor/Enclosed Fixture Rated – The LED lamps sold at Horizon are designed and manufactured to be used outdoors in an enclosed fixture. Most of the lamps available online come in packaging that clearly states they are not intended to be used outdoors, or in an enclosed fixture. Using these lamps can lead to premature failure, and other issues.
  7. UL, CUL or ETL Listing – all of the LED’s lamps that Horizon sells are rated by one of these entities, which all uphold the same level of standards. Many online LED lamps are not rated/listed, and therefore are manufactured without having to adhere to any standards. This really should speak for itself; the standards are there for a reason.
  8. FCC Listing – All Horizon-sold LED lamps are FCC listed. Most online LED lamps don’t carry FCC clearance. Electronic products that aren’t FCC compliant can cause many kinds of issues, from opening a neighbor’s garage door or messing with Aunt Harriet’s pacemaker.
  9. Rated 8-15 or 8-25 volts – Horizon’s LED lamps are rated to operate consistently across a wide voltage range and maintain a constant light output across the range. Most cheap LED’s are not manufactured to meet these ranges, resulting in small voltage spikes that can cause early lamp failure and varying light output.


In our business relationships are important. You can rely on your relationship with Horizon to support you and your business every step of the way. Why risk your relationship with your client by installing inferior products to save a few bucks? Want to know more? Stop by your local Horizon store today.

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Topics: Lighting, Construction, Outdoor Living

Backpack Sprayers - internal piston or diaphragm pump?

Posted by Mary Martinez on Jan 30, 2017 4:54:12 PM

If you are reading this blog, you've probably always used a diagraphm pump backpack sprayer and are ready to disagree with everything in this article.  We get it!   You've grown to like the blue stains on the back of your shirt. 

But if you are interested in breaking some myths about backpack sprayers, then read on.  And while diaphragm units are a great option, we've got some compelling reasons to consider an internal piston pump unit instead.


Five Arguments for the Internal Piston Pump

1. Leaks

Well this one is pretty straight forward - the pump is INSIDE the tank and won't leak on your backside.  Diaphragm pumps are prone to leakage and lead to "blue butt".

2.  Agitator

Internal piston pumps have an agitator below the piston chamber so powdered chemicals like Roundup QuikPro are constantly mixed.  Most diaphragm pumps don't have an agitator so chemicals can settle out.

3.  Clogs

This is probably the biggest myth about internal piston pumps - they clog when using powdered chemicals.  The truth is piston pumps can clog if the unit has NO agitator, or if agitator is located ABOVE the piston chamber. A piston unit with an agitator BELOW the chamber will NOT clog when using Roundup QuikPro. 

4. Pressure

Internal piston pumps have more power, so they can spray at higher pressure and reach further distances. 

5.  Costs

At Horizon our internal piston pumps are offered at a lower cost than the diaphrgam pump so you can get a better unit at a better value. 

Bottom Line:

If you’re ready to ditch the blue butt and give the Internal Piston Pump a try, drop by your local Horizon store and check out our complete selection of Jacto & Field King professional backpack sprayers.

Want to learn more?  Click here http://bit.ly/2jo6hIl



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Topics: Maintenance

Tricks and Tips to Applying Post-Emergent Herbicides

Posted by Mary Martinez on Sep 22, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Applying post-emergent herbicides in the fall is an important step in controlling difficult perennial weeds that would otherwise reemerge in the spring. While using a pre-emergent herbicide is very effective in preventing new annual weeds, which is also an important weed control measure for those weeds which reproduce mainly by seed, it will not take care of those weeds with spreading roots. In other words, effective weed control is a two-pronged approach, and there are some reasons to focus on post-emergent applications in the fall.

Timing is Everything

In order to effectively control perennial weeds, it is important to understand their life cycle. While spring applications of post-emergent herbicides have the advantage of taking out weeds before they have a chance to build up a thick, waxy surface that is difficult to penetrate, the down side is that the herbicide is not always carried down to the roots, so the weeds can regrow. In the fall on the other hand, the weeds are carrying their own sugars down to their roots for winter storage, so a post-emergent herbicide application will be carried right down to the root with the sugars – killing the weed for good.

Let it Rest

Avoid mowing the turf for two to three days before and after applying a post-emergent herbicide.  Because the herbicide is absorbed through the blades of the weed, having longer, bigger leaves (more surface area) is essential to success.  If you mow too quickly after application, you risk removing the herbicide before it can reach the roots.  Turn irrigation off, and do your best to minimize disturbances to the turf so that the product can be absorbed in a consistent manner.

Not too Hot, Not too Cold

The ideal temperature for applying post-emergent herbicides is between 60 and 85 degrees - when most weeds are actively growing.  Too cold and the plant goes dormant and cannot move the chemical to its roots.  Too hot and you risk volatization of the herbicide in high heat.

Liquid or Granular?

In general, liquid products tend to be more effective than granular.  The liquid formulation absorbs into the leaf tissue and moves through the plant more quickly than granular.  Plus they are normally rain-fast in 3-6 hours.  But a “weed and feed” granular product is convenient and efficient, eliminating the need for a second application and reducing labor costs.  If you choose a granular product, apply in the morning when turf is damp so the product will stick, and avoid irrigation and disturbances for at least 24 hours after application. 

Remember, post-emergent herbicides can cause considerable damage to the desirable turf and plants on the property, so be sure to read the label before applying. Also, take every precaution to minimize drift or runoff. 

Your local Horizon store has an extensive selection of herbicides in a variety of sizes including pints, quarts, gallons and 2.5 gallons.  To learn more, contact your local Horizon store. 
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Topics: Maintenance

How to Select the Right Lawn Spreader

Posted by Mary Martinez on Sep 19, 2016 11:11:21 AM

Selecting the right spreader for a fertilizer or seed application isn’t that complicated.  But avoiding some common misperceptions can help ensure you get the right machine for the job. 


How big of a hopper do you need?  This is one of the most common misunderstandings when buying a lawn spreader.  50-pound hopper for a 50-pound bag of fertilizer, right?  Wrong!  50-pound spreaders have a high risk of spill since a full bag of product goes right to the top.  They are light-duty units definitely not fit for the landscaper who uses them on a regular basis. 100-pound spreaders on the other hand, are difficult to push when full at a consistent pace necessary to achieve uniform results. A 70-pound spreader is the ideal size when using 50-pound bags.  Not only do you avoid spillage, but you can refill product before it gets all the way to the bottom.


Most commercial lawn spreaders come in either stainless steel or epoxy powder coated plastic.  The biggest concern for landscape professionals regarding spreaders is rust on the frame, caused by failures to wash off abrasive materials and store inside away from the elements.  And while more expensive, the stainless steel spreader will withstand rust better than other material, which means it will last longer and give you a better return on investment.  Durable pneumatic tires are also important; lower quality tires can create a choppy ride and ultimately an uneven application.

Product Waste

Having a quality spreader with multiple attachments will can help you better manage how much product goes out on each application, lowering your cost of goods and improving profitability.  Side-deflectors deliver a targeted, accurate spread and prevent material from landing on sidewalks, driveways and streets.  This eliminates product waste and ultimately saves you money. Another helpful attachment is a hopper cover, which protects material from rain or snow during application and reduces the risk of a spill.

Don’t Forget to Calibrate!

Calibrating your spreader for every application is the only way to ensure you are applying fertilizer and pesticides at the correct rate, also reducing your overall cost of goods.  If you do not calibrate you risk applying too much or too little product, risking serious injury to your turf or disappointing results.  Calibrating your spreader is easy to do and normally takes about 5 minutes.  To learn more on calibrating your fertilizer, watch our “how to” video here. http://blog.horizononline.com/blog/how-to-calibrate-a-fertilizer-spreader 

Want to learn more about the spreaders available at your local Horizon?  Call your local Horizon store, or click for an overview on the new Prizelawn Spreader selection. http://connect.horizononline.com/prizelawn-spreaders

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Topics: Maintenance, Fertilizer

Have You Saved Any Water During Smart Irrigation Month?

Posted by Ryan Moore on Jul 28, 2016 2:06:06 PM

If you’re a green industry veteran, you’re probably familiar with smart irrigation practices and know that July is Smart Irrigation Month. Now in its 12th year, Smart Irrigation Month is an Irrigation Association initiative that exists to increase the awareness of the value of water and grow demand for water-saving products, practices, and services.

Did you remember to talk to your customers about water-saving smart irrigation practices this month? If not, it’s never too late.

As an EPA WaterSense Distribution partner, Horizon recognizes that water is a scarce resource and we have developed a catalog of resources to help you educate your organization and your customers about smart water practices. In this article, we’ll look at 5 tips to get you started.


Tip #1 – Use this Method to Quickly Check for Leaks

Checking every system component for leaks can be time-consuming. A quick way to see if there is a leak somewhere in your customer’s system is by checking your customer’s water meter.

The method is simple and takes less than a minute. When the irrigation system is shut off, go to the water meter and check the low flow indicator. If that flow indicator is moving, you have a leak somewhere in the system and you’ll need to do some additional troubleshooting to find the leak.


Tip #2 – Got Mulch?

Mulch can be a godsend to trees, bushes, flower, and shrubs. It stabilizes soil temperature, prevents weeds, adds nutrients to the soil, and conserves water. Richard Restuccia of Jain USA recommends using 2 to 4 inches of mulch around plants, bushes, and trees.


Tip #3 – Utilize Smart Watering Practices

When it comes to watering, less is more. The biggest problem with traditional irrigation systems and watering practices is that while they are largely effective at delivering water to lawns and landscapes, they are not designed to conserve water. Best practices for watering dictate that a system should be set up to:

  1. Water in the early to mid-morning. Watering in the middle of the day is less efficient because of evaporation. Watering in the evenings can lead to turf and plant disease because the water doesn't have time to dry and ends up sitting on the plants all night.
  2. Water in short cycles. Some plants and lawns need time for the water to soak in. Instead of watering for one long continuous session, split the watering time into shorter periods and allow a 15-30 minute break in between. You'll end up watering less, but the plant will receive more.
  3. Water in zones. Different types of plants require different amounts of water. Newer trees and shrubs require more water less frequently than grasses and shallow-rooted plants and may not require any water at all once established.

Dealing with a system that wasn’t hydrozoned correctly during installation? Check out this video.


Tip #4 – Upgrade to the Right Smart Water Controller for the Property

A smart water controller is the backbone of any smart irrigation system, but choosing the right one can be challenging. To identify the right controller for your business and your customer’s property, start with these questions:

  1. What parameters does the controller take into account? There’s a ton of data that can go into a controller and the right controller will take the needs of the property and the region into account. Does the controller allow you to input sun exposure, slope, soil type, plant material etc.?
  2. How often does the controller adjust? Hourly, daily, monthly?
  3. Where does the controller get its data? A sensor on-premises? Satellite communication?
  4. Are there recurring charges for the data?
  5. Does the controller have access to historical data? Especially important when the controller loses communication with the satellite.
  6. Will the manufacturer support you? When something goes wrong and you need help troubleshooting, does the manufacturer have a local representative that is willing to come to the job site and help you?


Tip #5 - Know When to Switch to Drip Irrigation

Smart water sprays are a great way to irrigate large open areas, but there are situations where drip irrigation is a better solution.

Drip irrigation is ideal in zones where plants, shrubs, and trees are spaced far away from one another. As plants grow, the plant itself can get in the way of the spray head, deflecting water onto buildings, driveways, and sidewalks. This not only wastes water, it also causes damage to the hardscapes and presents a liability risk to you as the homeowner.

Drip irrigation is also a great solution when watering small or oddly shaped areas where it can be a challenge to properly adjust the spray pattern to the dimensions of the zone. Dealing with a small zone that needs to be converted to drip? Check out this video.



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Topics: Water Conservation

Horizon Announces the Winner of the Makita 100-Year Anniversary Edition ATV

Posted by Ryan Moore on Jul 22, 2016 4:47:15 PM


Earlier today, Dave Richmond, Zone Manager for Horizon, announced the winner of the Makita 100-Year Anniversary Edition Can-Am Outlander L 450 ATV. Congratulations to Wayne Conrad of Landscapes USA!

Thank you to Al Rodriguez, Director of Sales - Outdoor Power Equipment, and Louie Montes, Sales Representative - Outdoor Power Equipment, from Makita for stopping by for the announcement. And thank you to Makita for including Horizon in your 100-Year Anniversary Celebration!

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Topics: Horizon Events

What Types of Customers are You Fishing For? (Automatic Fish - Part 3)

Posted by Ryan Moore on Jun 30, 2016 4:24:51 PM


When it comes to building your business with leads that come from the internet, it's either feast or famine.

I've heard horror stories from landscaping companies who have spent thousands of dollars on a website and 3rd party marketing services, but when everything was up and running, the phone never rang.

I've also talked to contractors who built an effective online presence, but were overrun with calls and wasted hours every day dealing with tire kickers.

Businesses that take the time and effort necessary to build a presence on platforms like Google, Bing, Yelp, and Angie's List often have all the business they can handle and no longer have to pay for any advertising, but it can come at a cost. So if you want to effectively fish the digital waters and grow your bottom line with business that comes from the internet, it's important to know what you're fishing for.

What are You Fishing For?

In part 1 of this series, we looked at a simple way to identify the products and services customers regularly search for online. Part 2 introduced 6 psychological principles that can help your business become the automatic choice within your marketplace.

In future installments, we'll look at how to construct a net that consistently brings in the catch. But before you blindly go and throw your net in the water, let's take a step back and figure out exactly what you're trying to catch.

It's helpful to think of your website as an automated conversation. It's no secret that the internet has changed the way consumers look for products and services. Instead of having to call to learn about the services local companies provide, customers can get tons of background information from online sources before they ever pick up the phone.

Sites that convert well speak directly to the needs and desires of their target audience. You may not think it's a good idea to construct your site in a such a way that alienates entire audiences, but when you try to market to everyone, you end up marketing to no one. So if want to get calls from people you actually want to talk to, your content needs to focus on how you can make their life better.

Who are your Ideal Customers?
- What products and services do they purchase?
- What cities are their properties in?
- What type of property do they have? Is it a golf course, HOA, business complex, a single family home?
- What do they value most?
- What frustrations do they have?
- What are their most common objections?
- How can you make their life easier?

It may seem a little strange to spend time answering these types of questions, but the better you can describe your ideal customer and how you can help them, the easier it will be to attract them. The next installment in the Automatic Fish series will focus on creating web content around the answers to these questions.


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Topics: Business