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Contest searches for Ottawa's Worst Lawn

EMC Lifestyle - If your lawn is completely bare or you have weeds the height of a NBA basketball player, there is a contest in Ottawa that can change that.

Ottawa's Worst Lawn Competition, which was launched two weeks ago, is searching for a lawn that needs a serious makeover.

"No one wants to be 'that' neighbour," laughed Jana Mitchell, co-owner and vice president of sales for Instant Lawns.

Instant Lawns, which started up in March, specializes in lawn sodding and lawn installation. Co-owners Jana Mitchell and Adam Sarumi are both young professionals who have a passion for entrepreneurship.

"We met and came up with this business idea. Adam has the labor experience, being the previous co-owner of the Anything Guys, and I have the communications and public relations experience," said Ms. Mitchell, who holds a degree in communications and completed an internship at the United Nations headquarters in New York late last year. "There really is a market in grass and stones."

The idea for the contest came from Ms. Mitchell's desire to do something creative and fun that incorporated social media. While many landscaping companies use traditional methods of advertisement, Instant Lawns came up with the idea of the contest to get the word out about their new business and really show what they can do.

"We wanted to make use of social marketing and really engage people," she said. "People have seen the signs for the contest and are telling their friends about it."

Residents can enter themselves or nominate someone else, simply by taking a photo of their lawn and uploading it onto their website. People can judge who has the worst lawn and place their vote. The winner is determined by the most popular vote.

"It's anything from bug infestations, overtaking of weeds, no sod," said Ms. Mitchell. "Basically a lawn that you look at and ask yourself, 'Am I proud of this?'"

Ms. Mitchell explained that some people have bad lawns simply because they are not home often or people just don't make it a priority because it can become costly to re-do and maintain. However, there is a visual appeal to having a lawn kept up, both for the resident and the neighborhood. That is why they are encouraging nominations from both parties.

"It has gotten a couple hundred views a day," said Ms. Mitchell. "It's just really fun and interactive for people."

Through sponsorship and donations, the first place winner receives an entire front lawn re-sod from Manderley Turf, two garden bed installations, a front lawn in-ground sprinkler system from Expert Irrigation and a year-long lawn maintenance package completed by Green Unlimited, including fertilizer treatments, aeration, and grub treatment. Landscape Depot will take care of trees, shrubs and mulch.

"It's going to be a 1 day deal. You leave for work, you come home, and it will be done," said Ms. Mitchell.

The contest ends July 31. For more information, please visit