Lawn Serv wants your dirt: This startup is overhauling lawn care with tech

by Cailin Crowe
March 25, 2019
Lawn Serv garden
photo via shutterstock

Spring has sprung. For Bostonians with lawns, that means it’s time to break out the geraniums, haul oversized bags of mulch and recalibrate finicky sprinkler systems.
Americans spend about $29 billion on lawn care each year. Local startup Lawn Serv is breaking into the billion-dollar industry with a scientific, tech-driven approach.

The company uses soil samples to deliver custom lawn care packages (think 23andMe, but for dirt).

First, they suggest grabbing a spoon. Members are required to scoop about five soil samples from different parts of their yard. The dirt is placed in a polylined paper bag and sent to the lab for analysis. Within about five to 10 days, Lawn Serv will email the test results.

Users receive monthly boxes with personalized products based on those results. The packages include specific amounts of professional-grade fertilizer and nutrients, weed control, bug control and pH balancing products. The products account for each lawn’s unique traits, including weather, rain accumulation and grass type (that would be ryegrass and fine fescue for Boston residents).  

The founders, Troy Scarbrough and Nick Morwood, developed the idea for Lawn Serv while commiserating about their own landscaping woes over cheeseburgers. They soon decided to combine their e-commerce and scientific backgrounds to deliver a more precise approach to growing the perfect lawn.

“I was frustrated with the amount of guessing involved in taking care of my lawn,” said Scarbrough. “I wasn’t sure what I should be using and how much I needed. I felt I needed the expertise of a lawn care service but I wasn’t prepared for the high price point.”

Another bonus of the Lawn Serv package, which starts at $29 a month, is the DIY element. Individuals can apply the fertilizer themselves while soaking in some vitamin D. And for the folks intimidated by a DIY-approach, the package includes easy-to-follow, detailed instructions.

“Soil testing and professional expertise is necessary for good results, but I didn’t need to pay someone else to spread the fertilizer or lime,” Morwood said. “I get a lot of satisfaction out of doing that myself.”

Before Lawn Serv, Scarbrough described his own lawn as healthy, but “spotty.” He struggled to get rid of weeds using natural products. With two young kids who frequently ate green beans and sugar snap peas straight off the vine from the family’s vegetable garden, all-natural products were a must, he said.

Scarbrough started using Lawn Serv’s mostly natural products on his own lawn. The weeds went away. The kids were safe to keep snacking. And a new problem grew in its place: his neighbor’s lawn envy.

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