Monthly Archives: January 2015

Grubs, Grubs, Grubs

Ever notice unattractive brown spots on your grass even though you know you have watered and fertilized appropriately?  Peel back the top layer of grass like a carpet to see if there are white, soft-bodied, six-legged bugs, usually in the shape of a “c”, lurking under the surface of your lawn. If so, you may have a grub infestation.  What caused this, what does this mean for your lawn and how can you treat this lawn pest? Here are some answers to your questions about grubs and some resources that will help you better understand this lawn pest.

Signs of grub damage include:

  • wilting of grass in patches, eventually turning brown or dying
  • sod that pulls up easily, in one piece, with the white grubs then visible underneath, feeding on the roots
  • feeding activity and digging of of birds, raccoons, moles where they have tried getting to the little critters for a meal

What are these bugs and what hazard do they pose? In the Northeast, most grubs are Japanese beetles, although a few are masked chafers. Both beetles look similar and have a similar life cycle. These C–shaped creatures feast on the roots of your grass. A bad infestation can kill your lawn.Consult your lawn care team to see how many grubs per square foot are an acceptable limit in your area.  Pro-Tech can help you understand the life cycle and when it is necessary to treat for grubs and the larvae.  Thankfully there are treatments that can help keep these grubs under control.

Control and Treatment – Professionals can help you spot and treat for grubs quickly so that your beautiful lawn will not fade away.  They can help you check the root zone for small grubs. Insecticides such as chlorantraniliprole trichlorfon can be applied when grubs are first noticed to prevent large-scale damage. Other insecticides such as imidacloprid can be applied prior to noting damage. With all insecticides, read and follow label directions.

Resources: Garden Know How

University Illinois Lawn Care FAQS


Tree Diseases – Dutch Elm Disease

Trees can be such a magnificent addition to parks, neighborhoods and yards.  They provide needed  shade in the warm months, capture the breezes all year long and can look lovely adorned with the first fallen snow in the winter.  But when struck with disease such as  Dutch Elm disease, these towering giants need human intervention to stop the spread and eradicate the disease altogether.  Even though it is winter and the trees are barren now, it is only a matter of weeks before we will start seeing buds and will need to be educated and alert for diseases that may harm our leafy friends.  Let’s look at Dutch Elm disease, its causes, symptoms and treatments.


What is Dutch Elm Disease? Dutch elm disease (DED) is one of the most destructive shade tree diseases in North America. The disease affects American elms (and other elm species), killing individual branches and eventually the entire tree within one to several years. Since its introduction to America in 1928, the disease has swept through urban areas, causing tremendous losses of high value American elm street trees. DED is caused by a fungus that is spread through the elm bark beetle.


Symptoms: Identifying this disease includes looking for both foliage symptoms and vascular symptoms. Dutch elm disease results in a wilting and yellowing of the foliage. This is followed by leaf death, defoliation and death of the affected branches. Affected trees develop a brown discoloration in the water conducting vessels (xylem) of the wood. This may be seen as a ring of discoloration when a diseased branch is cut or as dark streaks when the bark is peeled back from infected branches. See examples of Dutch Elm disease at


Treatment: DED is managed by interrupting the disease cycle. Here are several methods successful in removing and stopping the spread of this disease.


  • Sanitation to reduce insect vectors. Many communities have been able to maintain a healthy population of mature elms through a vigilant program of identification and removal of diseased elms and systematic pruning of weakened, dying or dead branches.
  • Insecticides to kill insect vectors. In areas where the native elm bark beetle is the principal vector, sanitation may be augmented by applying a registered insecticide to the lower stem of healthy elms in late summer to early fall
  • Disruption of root grafts. Large trees within 25 to 50 feet of each other are likely to have root grafts. Breaking root grafts between infected trees and adjacent healthy trees is an important means to prevent movement of the fungus into the healthy trees.
  • Injecting elms with fungicide. Certain fungicides, when properly injected, are effective in protecting elm trees from infection via beetle transmission.
  • Eradicating Dutch elm disease from newly infected trees. If a new crown infection of DED is detected early enough, there is opportunity to save a tree through pruning, fungicide injection, or both.



United States Forestry Images

US Fed Forest Service

Expert Tips for Designing Your Garden

Have you ever gotten “garden envy” when you spot a neighbor’s beautifully manicured lawn, or their garden that explodes with depth and color?  Ever wonder how they do it?  Well here are some garden design tips from the professionals at the Royal Horticultural Society, Fine Gardening and Home and Garden.  Keep these ideas in mind when designing your spring garden so you won’t get “garden envy”.


  • Choose a Style – The Horticultural Society suggests choosing a style that is true to your taste and location.  For example, do you enjoy a more formal garden that has distinguished rows and symmetry or do you enjoy more of a  natural feel that highlights the features of the wildlife in your yard.  Follow this link yo their style page that discusses each type of garden design including: urban, wildlife, contemporary, formal, Mediterranean, and cottage gardens.  Once you have chosen a style you can start planning the details that you want to see come alive in your yard!


  • Plot it out!  – Home and Garden suggests that once you have done your research on the garden type and style that you want to start planning and plotting.  You may want to take measurements or plan out what you are looking for on paper or even on the free online designing tools.  Do you want a seating area, fire pit or garden path? This is a great idea especially if you are working with a professional lawn care company to help you make your dream become a reality.


  • Consider design elements. Fine Gardening advises that you make a list of design elements that you would like to use prior to hiring a professional team.  This way you have given your vision careful consideration.  Here are some design elements that you will want to consider: containers, benches, seating, pathways, walls, raised planters, hedges, water features, and of course flowers!


Resources: Horticultural Society  Fine Gardening  Home and Garden Free Garde Design Plans

The Asian Longhorn Beetle 101

Over the past few years we have heard quite a bit about the invasive species known as the Asian Longhorned Beetle.  These shiny black beetles made their presence known in the early 1990’s as immigrants from China, most likely as an accidental introduction through wood packing crates.  These wood boring creatures feast upon the wood and bark of many types of trees in all stages of their life cycle.  Once these pests bore into a tree and disrupt the pathway of water to the limbs of the tree, the tree will die.  The spread of these beetles threatens the forests and habitats of many other creatures now in various regions across North America.  Here are some basic facts about this species as the fight against them continues in the United States.


  • Description – This Asian Longhorned Beetle has a shiny black body with white spots on the back. It gets its name from its extremely long antennae, which are 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 times its body length and have black and white bands. The elongated feet are black with a bluish tinge. It also has a large mandible. In the larval stage, the beetles are white and worm-like.


  • Current Infestation areas– While the Asian Longhorned Beetle was first spotted in Brooklyn, New York in 1996, they have spread to neighboring areas such as Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois  and Ohio.  The United states Department of Agriculture reports that there are currently three states that are under mandatory quarantine including: Massachusetts, New York, and Ohio.  Dept of Agriculture link


  • What are the control methods used? The USDA reports that procedures for quarantine and elimination of these pests are in place. Specifically, when an Asian longhorned beetle infestation is found, a quarantine is put in place to limit the spread of the pest through human activities. Beetle discovery triggers quarantine procedures for host materials, including firewood, nursery stock, wood debris, branches, logs, stumps and lumber to contain the movement of the beetle. Next, in order to eliminate these beetles, removal and destruction infested trees is necessary.


  • Steps you can take to aid in the control of this invasive species – The USDA recommends buying all firewood locally and burning it locally in order to ensure the larvae of beetles does not spread to other areas.  They also suggest inspecting trees regularly for signs or symptoms of an Asian longhorned beetle infestation, such as dime-sized perfectly round exit holes or excessive sawdust buildup near tree bases.  If you question your finding, then report it immediately.


  • Resources:

The History and Banckground of Asian Longhorned Beetles – The


University of Vermont Research Center

Garden Planning for the Spring

The weather outside might be frightful and the calendar may read January but the best time to start thinking about planning your spring garden is now. The hectic holiday season is over and believe it or not the spring planting season is right around the corner.  Despite the frozen ground, here are some things that you can do during these long, dark winter months in order to have  a spectacular spring garden.

  • Review Last Year’s Garden Plan – How did your vegetables, annuals, perennials do in the location they were in last year? Did your plants thrive or were there problems with pests, insects, rabbits, or abnormal weather conditions? Did you start your seedlings early enough or do you need to start earlier next spring?
  • Send Away for Seed and Garden Catalogs – This is a great time to peruse pictures of successful gardens in your area and order seeds accordingly. This will serve not just to add to your education about plants and veggies but also boost your spirit through these dark days of winter.
  • Virtual Garden – Join gardening websites with blogs about gardening.  This will allow you to commune with fellow gardening enthusiasts.  It will also give you a chance to shop for seeds, bulbs and plants.
  • Visit Winter Flower Shows – Many major cities put on flower and garden shows in March to usher in the spring planting season.  Gather ideas and make connections with other growers who share your interests.  You may be amazed at the tips that others can pass along.
  • Make a Garden Plan – Many online sites have free garden design plans that you can download for free.  Plan to your hearts content.  Plan out what flowers grow well in the sunny, dry areas of your yard and which will thrive in the shady wetter areas.  Plan protections from small animals or watering plans.  Read more about garden design courtesy of Better Homes and Garden.