Worried about Weeds?

During the hot summer months many homeowners notice that their lawns thin out, become less vibrantly green, and, in some cases, start sprouting weeds. There are a number of different varieties of weeds that could take root, including: crabgrass, thistle, dandelions, ragweed and ground ivy. Even the most well-tended lawns can get them. So what can you do to cut down on the amount and types of weeds that find their way into your yard? Here are a few of our suggestions:

 

  • The best defense to warding off weeds is to keep your lawn healthy, well-nourished and watered.
  • Promote a healthy lawn by mowing regularly following the aforementioned Rule of Thirds. Healthy root growth increases resistance to pests and disease.
  • Feed your lawn with the right nutrients and fertilizer. Find out what your soil needs through a soil test.
  • Irrigate properly. Proper watering provides an average lawn with the equivalent of about one inch of rainfall each week.
  • Keep in mind that different weeds call for different types of controls, so be sure you have someone who understands and can identify the weeds do a proper inspection before beginning any treatment protocols.
  • Have a professional lawn care service like Pro-Tech Lawn Care evaluate the nutrient, soil, and water needs of your yard as well. At the same time, we can inspect for weeds and recommend a weed control treatment plan to keep any common weeds out of your beautiful landscaping from spring ‘til the fall.

What is Killing My Lawn?

Do you spend every weekend caring for your lawn only to have it brown over, grow mushrooms or be devastated by insects? Discovering what is doing the damage is the first step in eradicating the pests. While there are many pests that can be blamed for killing lawns there are some common pests that are worth mentioning. Let’s look at the symptoms that you may be noticing in your yard and the potential causes of them:

 

  • Lawn that Pulls Back – If your lawn peels up easily and is looking dead in areas, grubs may be the cause. Grubs are a common problem in mid to late summer, and most easily identified when your sod easily pulls back from the ground like a carpet.

 

  • Rings of Mushrooms or Overly Green Grass – Fairy Rings are common in our area and are caused by a fungus that infiltrates the area. Professional treatment can rid your lawn of the rings.

 

  • Brown Spots – There are many issues that can cause brown spots including: pet urine, irrigation issues, and lawn disease such as Brown Patch, Red Thread, or Rust. Thick areas of thatch could also be a culprit and should be raked and aerated. Chinch bugs can also cause damage that looks like drought. Pro-Tech Lawn Care can evaluate your lawn and determine the cause of the browning.

 

  • Burned Spots – Improper irrigation, over-fertilization, or disease could be causing burned areas of your lawn. Not fertilizing at the right times or in the right amounts can cause areas of your lawn to look scorched. Too little water can also create the same appearance.

 

Keep your lawn looking rich, thick and healthy by contacting Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 to prevent all of these conditions that threaten your landscaping.

What is Eating My Garden?

There is nothing more aggravating after months of nurturing and cultivating your garden than having animals and pests nibble away at the fruits of your labor. Many of these critters that find your garden so appealing are clever and find new and inventive ways to access your garden area. You may be wondering who the culprit or culprits are that are eating your garden. Here is the lineup of potential offenders:

 

  • Leaf Eaters – There are a number of leaf eaters that could be damaging the greenery of your plantings and gardens. From beetles to caterpillars to scale insects, leaf eaters tend to be pests that chew holes in the leaves and greenery of your plantings. Depending upon the type of damage, professional lawn care experts, like our team at Pro-Tech Lawn Care, can examine the evidence and decide on a course of treatment.

 

  • Wildlife – Rabbits, deer, and other wildlife love to nibble on the vegetables in your garden. If you notice digging, teeth marks on veggies, or holes in your fencing, you may have an animal wreaking havoc on your garden. Repair the fencing to protect the garden area and attempt to figure out what type of animal is getting at your veggies. If you need help, it may be best to call in the experts.

 

  • Root Feeders – Dead roots, holes in the ground, and dead plantings could be the sign of root feeders like grubs, moles, groundhogs, and other ground dwelling insects.

 

Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 to examine your landscaping and care for your lawn and gardens.

Mowing Mistakes

A healthy lawn is one that is properly watered, fertilized, aerated, and, of course, mowed regularly. By caring for landscaping throughout the spring, summer, and fall seasons, your lawn will be less susceptible to pests and diseases. Mowing appropriately is one of the steps to getting that healthy-looking lawn. Let’s look at some of the big mowing mistakes homeowners make that can jeopardize the aesthetics of your landscaping:

 

  • Buying the Wrong Mower – Choosing the right mower means taking into consideration the size, terrain, and the amount of trees and bushes in the way of mowing paths. Smaller lawns and those with many obstacles like trees, bushes and walkways should use a push mower. Those that are larger should use a ride-on mower to make the job go faster.
  • Not Sharpening the Blade – Dull blades can damage your grass and cause the mower to work inefficiently. Blades should be sharpened at the beginning of every season.
  • Mowing Wet Grass – Wet grass is not ideal for mowing. Wet blades are not only are slick and don’t cut well, but also can clog up the mower.
  • Not Cutting Enough – Sure we all let the grass go when we head off for vacation, but try not to let it become a habit. Grass that gets too long is difficult to cut and not healthy for your lawn. Use the Rule of Thirds. Cut one third of the height each time you cut.
  • Not Cleaning the Mower – After each mowing of your lawn, you should clean out the blade and undercarriage. It will have lots of grass clippings and possibly debris from the yard that should be cleaned.
  • Ignoring Maintenance – If your mower is smoking, having difficulty starting or sputtering, you should consider regular maintenance.

 

If you have questions about how to keep your lawn healthy, call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644.

Lawn Diseases – Rust

In continuation with our discussion this month of lawn diseases, today we are taking a closer look at Lawn Rust. Rust is a fungal disease that occurs on turf grasses when their growth is slowed. This usually happens in late summer or early fall, during periods of dry hot weather or when the grass is low on nitrogen. Lawn Rust can weaken the strength and heartiness of the grass and open it up to secondary diseases and lawn problems.

Rust appears as an orange or yellowish-orange powder (spores) on grass leaf blades. If you pick a blade of grass in an infected area you will notice the spores wipe right off in your hand. These spores can be tracked by your shoes, lawn mower or other means to other areas of the lawn and cause spread of the disease. Low nitrogen and low water availability slow down turf growth, allowing Rust to develop. Seasons with excess rain may have Rust outbreaks due to depletion of available nitrogen. Cool nights with heavy dew and light, frequent rainfall add to the ideal conditions for rust to develop.

Pro-Tech Lawn Care recommends good turf management for healthy grass as well as prevention of lawn diseases that tend to impact our region. We recommend our treatment programs as well as the following suggestions for care:

  • Choose quality grass seed blends.
  • Water early in the morning to allow for grass to dry.
  • Manage thatch in the lawn.
  • Check soil levels regularly.
  • Aerate annually to allow for good oxygen and nutrients to reach the grassroots.

Lawn Disease – Red Thread

Does your lawn not look as green and lush as you had hoped or have experienced in past growing seasons? Upon close inspection of your lawn, do you find small irregular patches of brown/yellowing grass? Possibly you see tiny red needles or pink fluffy mycelium. Are these small patches joining together to form large brown areas? You may have the lawn disease known as Red Thread.

Red Thread gets its name because from a distance the lawn casts a red or pinkish coloring. This disease is usually restricted to the leaves, leaf sheaths, and stems, but in severe cases may kill the entire plant. In the early stages of infection, symptoms appear as small blighted areas on leaves that enlarge rapidly to cover most of the leaf. Affected leaves dry out and fade to a bleached straw color. During moist weather, the leaves may become covered with the pink gelatinous growth of the causal fungi.

Conditions that favor Red Thread include:

  • Low levels of nitrogen
  • Temperatures between 68˚ and 75˚ (many notice this disease during May and June but it can be present throughout the entire growing season.
  • High humidity
  • Cool season grasses such as red fescue, ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, and bentgrass are most susceptible.

Treatment and control of this lawn disease includes: proper identification, cultural controls such as monitoring the adequate level of nitrogen in the lawn, and potentially chemical control with fungicide treatments. Pro-Tech Lawn Care can maintain your lawn and keep it healthy throughout the entire growing season no matter what lawn disease you are facing.

 

Fairy Rings

Folklore has it that if a ring of mushrooms or off colored grass, (a Fairy Ring), appears in your lawn that it is a sign of good fortune or that luck is in your favor. This piece of history was handed down through stories rich with fairies and leprechauns from Western Europe from centuries ago. While the stories of fairies dancing in circles and sitting on toadstool mushrooms may persist in our society today, the good feelings that come with discovering a Fairy Ring have faded. Most homeowners now recognize Fairy Rings for what they are – a lawn disease.

Fair Rings are indicative of a problem with a species of fungus that has developed under the grass, specifically in the soil. While many lawns have occasional mushrooms especially during a moist spell or especially humid time, mushrooms in a circle ranging from a few feet in diameter to more than 20 can be a sign that your lawn has a Fairy Ring. Fungus caused by decaying tree stumps or roots can be part of the cause for this particular lawn disease.

Homeowners usually first notice a circle of grass that is either browning or possibly darker green than the rest of the lawn. Mushrooms will also appear in a circle as a dead giveaway that a Fairy Ring is present. Once they have been identified, treatment is in order to stop the spread and bring the lawn back to a healthy state. Pro-Tech Lawn Care has a treatment program that may include fertilizing, core aeration, treatment or possibly removal of the turf if the fungus is difficult to treat. Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care today if you notice a Fairy Ring growing in your yard.

Gypsy Moths – Damage and Prevention

As we discussed in our last blog, Gypsy Moths are not only a nuisance but can be extremely damaging to foliage in our local and regional area. Thousands of acres of trees have been defoliated year-after-year causing permanent damage to them, in some cases killing off many. To add insult to injury, once Gypsy Moths have defoliated and weakened trees, secondary pests find it easier to invade thus compounding the problem.

Along with defoliating and damaging tree growth these caterpillars are a problem in a few other ways as well. For many in affected areas, the hairs on a Gypsy Moths body can cause an itchy rash, which is treatable with an over-the-counter anti-itch cream. Unfortunately, many people do not realize that this is what is giving them a rash. In addition, the dropping of these “constantly munching” insects can create not only a gross mess but also a slipping hazard around homes and businesses.

In order to prevent these insidious creatures from damaging the beautiful trees around properties, many homeowners are trying some fairly “do-it-yourself” techniques to prevent the outbreak. These include:

  • Keep trees and plantings healthy through regular maintenance, watering, pruning and mulching.
  • Contact a licensed arborists to spray chemicals on your trees and home to keep them at bay.
  • Use a power washer to clean off your siding and walkways of these pests.
  • Use burlap or other home techniques to keep the caterpillars from climbing up the trees.
  • Keep your yard as clean as possible. Remove discarded items, dead branches, stumps, etc., where the adult female moth is likely to lay egg masses. Destroy any egg masses that are found.
  • Consider Gypsy Moth traps.
  • Talk to the experts at Pro-Tech Lawn Care about what might be right for your home.

Gypsy Moths – Where Did they Come From?

It is hard to believe that an insect less than three inches in length can be so destructive but Gypsy Moths can defoliate entire neighborhoods of trees in weeks. In 2016 Massachusetts suffered more than 350,000 acres of defoliation from the dreaded Gypsy Moth caterpillars. This was the biggest outbreak since the early 1980s and has alarmed agriculturalists around the region. This year promises to be just as harmful an infestation according to the University of Massachusetts Agriculture Extension School.

The outbreak of these invasive, plant munching species is not new to the New England area. We have had numerous years where the defoliation was intense especially during the 80s and 90s. Gypsy Moths are not hard to spot as they are hairy caterpillars with blue and red spots varied on their bodies. They grow to be about three inches long and seem to be everywhere during an outbreak. You may notice them crawling on your car, trees, sidewalks and anywhere outside.

According to Boston.com these insects became a problem when they were introduced to Massachusetts in the late 1860s by E. Leopold Trouvelot, who brought them to Medford from France to study the caterpillars for silk production. Since then New England has experienced numerous outbreaks. Until 1989, New England would typically get a “population explosion” of gypsy moths, followed by a collapse. But at the end of the 1980s, a Japanese fungus introduced to North America in the early 1900s called entomophaga maimaiga started killing the caterpillars. Since then, the fungus has played a large role in keeping the gypsy moth population low, along with other diseases and natural predators.

Visit us again next week when we discuss the damage caused by these invasive pests and what you can do about them.

One of the Most Damaging Lawn Pests – Grubs

Does your grass turn brown in July or August? Or do you notice critters such as skunks, birds  and raccoons digging at your lawn at night? Or does your grass peel up easily when you tug on a corner? Yikes! Well all these signs point to one thing – grubs!

The Bad News – Grubs are among the most damaging of all lawn pests. Grubs are the larvae of a wide variety of scarab beetles, including Japanese beetles. They are plump, c-shaped, soft-bodied bugs that are feasting on the precious roots just below the soil surface. This constant feeding on the roots and other organic matter in the soil is what is causing your lawn to brown and eventually die. Unfortunately, unless homeowners do something to rid their lawn of these critters, the larvae will eventually turn into adult beetles and emerge from soil to mate and lay eggs, which hatch into more grubs. The cycle can go on and on.

Treatment – While a few grubs are deemed acceptable to most gardeners and lawn care experts, ten or more can begin to cause damage to your lawn. Therefore, treatment would then be advised. The younger the grub, the better the treatment will work so try to catch these pests early in the life cycle. For most species and locations,  July or August is the prime time to treat with an insecticide. While there are numerous grub control methods out there we at Pro-Tech Lawn Care suggest a professional treatment, especially if you have a serious grub problem, your neighbors do or you have a grub problem that is recurring. Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care to discuss our treatment for your grub problem.