Brothers Jordan and Aaron Netzel love a well-manicured lawn.
The two brothers, who live in Siloam Springs, love it so much that their enjoyment of keeping short, neatly-trimmed, healthy grass has turned into a hobby over the last five years and has resulted in the creation of their own YouTube page, a social media presence in the lawn-care community and more than 115 videos of their work to watch.
"I've always been into golf," said Aaron Netzel, 33, who's a cabinet salesman for Mid-America Cabinets in Gentry. "(Jordan's) somewhat of a golfer. I guess we've always been kind of in love with that look and short grass. We always would be chipping in the yard at our parents' house. I made a little chipping green once upon a time. I had a 90-yard chipping green I practiced on. I always wanted something in the yard, so that's what started it -- cutting it so short we could play golf in our own yard."
You might know Jordan Netzel, 31, by his day job -- an optometrist at Roberts-Philpott Eye Associates in Siloam Springs. But on YouTube, he is known as the "Right Tool" and Aaron Netzel is the "Left Tool." And since the fall of 2018, they've become known together in the online lawn-care community as "The Lawn Tools."
The Right Tool and Left Tool designation comes from their official logo, which is on every platform The Lawn Tools post on.
Their projects can be found on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. The Lawn Tools also have their own YouTube channel, where in less than two years they've posted more than 115 videos and have accumulated a following of more than 8,200 subscribers. Since posting their first video in November of 2018, their combined views have topped more than 1.6 million according to counter on The Lawn Tools' YouTube page.
A 'reel' beginning
It all began in the summer of 2016 with the brothers living in a pair of neighboring duplexes and trying to figure out the best way to care for the lawns, including a shared area of grass between the two buildings.
"They didn't put a fence down the middle of our two duplexes and we shared a yard," Jordan Netzel said. "I guess I suggested getting a mower. We'll get one mower and share it."
Aaron Netzel liked that idea but with a twist. He wanted to get a manual reel mower.
"One of those old-school mowers with no motors," Aaron Netzel said. "I just wanted to cut it shorter."
The brothers enjoyed the cut of the manual reel mower more so than that of a rotary mower, but they quickly learned that the manual reels had their own problems.
"As the grass started growing like crazy, if you get behind at all with the manual reel mower, it got really tough," Jordan Netzel said. "You would have to stay on top of it. So if you got behind at all, go on vacation, come back, you would have to mow it three to four times to get it cut back down."
Jordan Netzel quickly got tired of the extra work that the manual reel was causing, so he decided to upgrade.
He went on to Craig's List and found a homeowner's Tru-Cut H-20
"That made it a lot easier than cutting it (with a manual reel)," Jordan Netzel said. "It's not as stressful for the grass and you can actually cut it a lot shorter than if you're pulling it and tearing it with a rotary mower."
Late in the winter of 2019, Jordan Netzel upgraded to a Toro GreensMaster 1000 mower that he uses today, but he admits the days of the manual reel and the results it gave on his lawn convinced him this was the way he wanted to go.
"The first manual reel mower starts a slippery slope, because once you get one of those, I feel like you can't go back," Jordan Netzel said. "It just doesn't cut the same when you go to a rotary. You get hooked on the way it cuts."
'The Lawn Tools'
Somewhere along the way, the Netzel brothers decided it might be fun to play with their yard -- and film it.
"It was the fall of 2018," Jordan Netzel said, "and I wasn't mowing anything."
That summer, he had just moved into his newly built house, which included a freshly sodded yard.
"I think I thought my lawn was nicer than it was at the time," he said.
Jordan Netzel thought it would be neat to start a YouTube channel of the care of his lawn.
"There are a lot of other people doing it on YouTube," he said. "It feels more like social media than a TV show. It used to be only a handful of people had YouTube channels. Now its almost like, just because of the number of people that are doing it, there's a smaller barrier to entry. You can film it on your phone and everybody had a good quality camera on their phone. ... There were a handful of other people doing it, and I just thought, 'Well, I can do that.' So I just started thinking about it more and decided to post."
The first video by The Lawn Tools -- "Planting Bulbs/Work in the fall - Enjoy in the spring" was posted to YouTube on Nov. 4, 2018, and was more than 9 minutes long.
"That's a terrible time to start a YouTube channel," Jordan Netzel said with a laugh.
The first video received around 500 views, but the second, "JackHammer - Rock in my yard," which was released on Nov. 16, 2018, had more than 7,600 views.
"There's a pretty good community -- a lawn care community on YouTube," Jordan Netzel said. "That's where you start. Somehow you post a couple of videos and a handful of people find you and YouTube starts suggesting you to people who are really into lawn care. There's a few hundred people that are really into it and watch all of the channels and all the videos and really like having conversations back and forth. ... There are a handful of people who are just really way too into grass, they'll watch anything (related to) grass. That's how you get started."
Since the first post, The Lawn Tools have posted about all kinds of projects, with some of the most popular being on the topic of sand leveling the yard. Two posts in the fall of 2019 received more than 14,000 views apiece, and another, "Leveling Yard BEFORE Sod" posted this past April had more than 20,000 views.
But the most watched video -- and it's not even close -- has been "Top Dressing and Leveling with Sand for Flat Lawn," which went completely viral with more than 1.1 million views.
The Lawn Tools' videos range in topics on just about anything including planting flowers, killing weeds, reviews of lawnmowers, fertilizer, leveling, Christmas lights, winter projects and so much more.
They've also gotten sponsors from a fertilizer company called Lawnstar, who have provided free liquid fertilizer and liquid iron, which provide content for videos. They've also received three lawnmowers to review and make videos with.
'LT Turf' series
In May of 2019, Jordan Netzel got a call from Connor Ward, another lawn enthusiast on YouTube who has more than 63,400 subscribers. Ward asked him when The Lawn Tools were going to travel out to Utah and make a video on his lawn.
"We thought that was pretty huge that this bigger YouTuber wanted us to come out," Jordan Netzel said.
While they were in Utah, lawn lovers, Jeremy Of the Greener Lawn and Brett Goodyear of Brett's Grasscapades, who both live in the Salt Lake City area, also wanted The Lawn Tools to come do a video on their yard. Goodyear also started a YouTube channel around the same time.
"It's kind of a thing in the lawn care community," Aaron Netzel said. "You go to somebody's house and you mow their lawn for them, and then you just kind of do videos together. It's fun."
And so began what turned into The Lawn Tools' series called "LT Turf," where instead of filming at their own houses, they go to other people's houses and make videos of their lawns and mowers.
Posting videos with other lawn care enthusiasts on YouTube has helped expand the reach of The Lawn Tools. Their videos may be seen by someone visiting an established YouTuber's page, and then they subsequently start following The Lawn Tools.
That's when The Lawn Tools have seen their biggest jump in subscribers.
The Lawn Tools' travels have taken them to Fort Smith, where they met John Ware of LawnForum.com
"That's where I learned everything when I first started," said Jordan Netzel, regarding the website. "It's a forum of people who know way more about grass than you could ever imagine and give advice and tips."
Jordan Netzel's in-laws live in the Tampa, Fla., area and there's another lawn enthusiast in the area -- Allyn Hane, aka The Lawn Care Nut -- and Netzel filmed an LT Turf with Hane episode there. Hane has almost 350,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel.
"That was big," Jordan Netzel said. "We go down there and make a video, and all his followers see it and you get a big bump (in subscribers) there."
Jordan Netzel said the biggest jump in subscribers came last July because of a sand leveling video -- "Top Dressing and Leveling with Sand for Flat Lawn" -- that just "took off." As of this writing, the video has had more than 1.1 million views.
"I had 20 tons of sand all over my yard to level it," he said. "That video just took off for whatever reason. I put it up Friday noon. I woke up the next day to see on my analytics that it had 1,000 views per hour. I was getting notifications like crazy. ... It had 100,000 views after a week. ... That video is still doing really well."
The Lawn Tools had planned to film season two of the LT Turf series this year, including a trip to Arvest Ballpark, home of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals baseball team, but have been delayed by the covid-19 pandemic.
"I had talked to their greenskeeper," Jordan Netzel said. "Whenever things open back up we'll go out there and do one. They'll show us how they care for it."
Jordan Netzel also has talked to the tennis courts managers at the University of Arkansas. He would like to do the same one day at any of the UA sports facilities, including Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium or Baum-Walker Stadium.
Making the videos
Making the videos that are posted on YouTube require a lot of work in a lot of different areas.
There's obviously filming that takes place on each project, but there's also editing, which can take up tons of time, the Netzel brothers agree.
Aaron Netzel points to his brother as the one who does the lion's share of the work.
"So up to this point, he's done maybe 98 percent of everything, and that's maybe accurate," Aaron Netzel said. "I will say this. When we started, I was in a 'not do anything' phase in my life and he was like, 'Aaron loves YouTube' and 'Get Aaron off his butt.' That played a part of it."
Aaron Netzel credited his brother for being the one who is active in chat rooms and forums and making calls to other lawn enthusiasts.
"I was always called the elusive left tool," Aaron Netzel said. "People never saw me. I never commented on the forums. I'm like, 'I don't know how computers work. I never talked to anybody.' I really think that played a part of it."
On the projects themselves, it's mainly getting a camera and a tripod, turning the camera on and doing the work.
"A lot of it, say more than half, has been just put the camera on the tripod and move it around a lot," Aaron Netzel said. "A lot of stuff I'll man the camera and try and get some cool shots."
Said Jordan Netzel: "A lot of these YouTubers, they're the only person doing it as far as I know. We're the only lawn care YouTube channel of two people. Everybody else just puts the camera on a tripod and moves it around a lot and just mows strips then moves it around and change up videos."
The brothers also deploy a drone with a camera to get overhead shots.
"I think he had the drone before he ever started the channel," Aaron Netzel said.
Another rule is everything gets filmed. Even when a newspaper photographer is up on a ladder taking feature photos for this story, it's filmed.
"I just remember, especially in the early days, someone would put down the camera and the other person would do something stupid and be like, 'Did you get that?'" Aaron Netzel said. "'No I didn't get that, I thought we were done filming.'"
Jordan Netzel said when he went down to Florida to visit Hane, he was given a good piece of advice on leaving the camera rolling.
"When I would turn off the camera, something would happen, and (Hane) would say, 'You've got to keep that thing on man. You never know what you're going to miss,'" Jordan Netzel said. "His advice was film everything. You can edit out what you don't want. But you can't edit something you didn't film."
Said Aaron Netzel, "Then the more you film, the more editing there is."
"It's a double-edged sword," Jordan Netzel replied "It takes longer for editing for sure."
"The editing sucks," Aaron Netzel said. "It's so much fun (filming) the videos, but then you put it on the computer and you're like 'Aw crap I got to actually make the video now.'"
Jordan Netzel wakes up around 3:45 a.m. every morning to make time for editing.
"Everybody else is still asleep," he said. "I learned early on that if I wanted to do this, it couldn't interfere with family time. I had to do it at a time when everybody else was asleep."
Aaron Netzel, on the other hand, does a lot of his editing at night.
The Lawn Tools each have their personal favorites in videos they released.
For Jordan Netzel, it was the video of his son's third birthday party where he turned his backyard into a miniature golf course.
"To me it was really personal that I made this miniature golf course for my son's third birthday," Jordan Netzel said. "All his friends came over and all family were here playing miniature golf and it was a great day. I remember the feeling of the day and I associate (that) with the video."
Another great family video happened recently when The Lawn Tools built a baseball mound at Aaron Netzel's house and invited over all the kids.
"I love watching that video because it's all our whole family just out there playing baseball and it's a fun day and it's a good memory for us," Jordan Netzel said. "It's nostalgic and it's my family and I love it. But that's not one of those videos that's going to go viral or anything. Some weird topics tend to get more views for lawncare."
Aaron Netzel said at the time of this interview that his favorite video may be coming up soon in the next few weeks, so stay tuned.
"We've got a couple of good ones coming up really soon," Aaron Netzel said. "We've got a couple of other friends who really love making videos. Others are good at making animation. They're able to do some really cool stuff we would never be able to figure out to do.
Said Jordan Netzel: "We'll fine tune the LT Turf series over time and make it better and better and make it feel more cinematic as we fine-tune our editing skills and videography and everything. That's going to be really cool."
Adam Sandler's yard
Is there an end goal in sight for The Lawn Tools? Maybe, if you ask Aaron Netzel.
"We're not stopping until we mow Adam Sandler's yard," Aaron Netzel said. "That's been our goal from day one."
Aaron Netzel is a huge fan of actor Adam Sander's movies, according to Jordan Netzel.
"He has seen every movie in chronological order, I don't know how many times," Jordan Netzel said of his brother.
"I don't know if (Sandler) likes his yard mowed," Aaron Netzel replied, "but I would like it."
Jordan Netzel said his brother's wife once asked them both, what is the end goal of the Lawn Tools? When will you think you've made it?
"I didn't have an answer for that," Jordan Netzel said. "I don't know. We're just doing this for fun. We'll see what happens.
"(Aaron) pretty quick comes up with, 'When we do an LT Turf episode on Adam Sandler's yard, that's when we'll know we've made it.' So I didn't have a goal, but now my goal is to get him on Adam Sandler's yard and do an LT Turf episode."