Monthly Archives: February 2015

The White Tailed Deer Problem in New England

Watching deer graze in your yard might seem breathtaking and reminiscent of the innocence of a  Disney movie where the deer and birds frolic in the woods at daybreak and dusk.  This idyllic vision of Bambi may be short lived once you realize the damage these creatures can do to the bushes, trees and plantings in your yard no matter what the season.

New  England has a robust and healthy deer herd statewide as most of the state offers adequate deer habitat year-round. White-tailed deer are well-adapted to surviving the cold New England winters and thus the population has massively increased. For example, Massachusetts alone has a general population of over 85,000 deer that are growing and reproducing rapidly- up to 15% each year.  Combine this population growth with the appetite of White Tail Deer and New England is looking at an ecological problem.

 

The Problem:

Deer require large amounts of food during the late spring, summer, fall and even early winter. Normal adult deer will eat anywhere between 6 and 10 pounds of food per day during the growing season. This means for farmers (and homeowners that grow vegetables) that most planted crops are at risk to damage from deer. Some of the crops most susceptible to damage are pumpkins, squash, beans, peas, lettuce, strawberries, and most other fruits and the plants that bear them, including grapevines. They also consume buds, plantings, bushes and a variety of suburban landscaped greenery.  This puts your yard at risk since deer enjoy feeding on the edges of populated areas.  This gives them a great selection of plants to feed from while still staying near the protection of woodland areas.

Currently there is no widespread health issue associated with white tailed deer but they do have “passengers” that can cause a problem.  Along with destroying the plantings and crops in your yard, deer can bring another hazard to your family – deer ticks. Deer are important in transporting ticks and maintaining tick populations. Lyme disease, often associated with white-tailed deer, is a bacterial disease transmitted by the bite of infected ticks.

 

What can you do about this problem?

Pro-Tech lawn care can help you deal with your deer problem and save your lawn for you and your family to enjoy. We can help with you with fencing, repellents and other preventative measures to stop Bambi and her friends from encroaching on your beautiful yard.

Diseased Trees – Flat Headed Borers

As a Lawn Care Company that enjoys working closely with our customers, it is our aim to continually educate about the potential damage that tree pests can have on your landscaping.  This month we continue our discussion about diseased trees with information about Flat Head Borers.

Flat headed borers have more than 150 species and varieties, all of which are very destructive to a wide and diverse set of tree species, both softwoods and hardwoods. The most common of these pests is the apple tree borer.  If you find that the trees in your yard or neighborhood have discolored or wilting foliage and may also have damaged bark then you may want to call Pro-Tech Lawn Care to evaluate the trees on your property to analyze the type of pests and the extent of damage there may be.

What are Flat Headed Borers?

Flat headed borers are beetle larvae that tunnel just under the bark of tree trunks, branches and roots.  They excavate shallow, winding tunnels through the tree phloem and outer sapwood. Adult beetles emerge year-round from infested trees or material, mate, and the females lay eggs in protected sites; in bark crevices, under bark flaps, or in wounds. Larvae first feed on tree’s inner bark, then bore into the sapwood and heartwood.

What tree types are affected?

A wide variety of softwood and hardwood trees are susceptible to flathead borer including, but not limited to: pine trees, sycamore, soft maple, boxelder, walnut, white and black oaks, yellow poplar, elm, beech, chestnut, hickory, hackberry, mountain-ash, serviceberry, hawthorn, redbud, basswood, buckeye, persimmon, apple, pear, peach, cherry, and willow.

What type of damage can they cause?

Most Borers tend to infest dead, dying, or high stressed or weakened trees.  Although some Borers do attack healthy trees. The damage that they inflict include: discolored foliage, wilting foliage, or bark that is easy to pull off.

Control or Management

Once borers have infested a tree they are difficult to control. Therefore, the best management for flatheaded borers is prevention.  Avoid borers by maintaining trees and keeping them healthy and thriving. Eliminate sources of beetles by pruning and removing dead and dying limbs and trees. There are insecticides that can be properly applied by professional lawn care companies such as Pro-Tech.  External sprays are only effective if applied to the tree when the adult beetles are active and laying eggs.  Because emergence and egg laying can occur over a long period of time, monthly or more frequent insecticide applications may be needed over the course of a summer.

Can Landscaping Build Equity in Your Home?

Contemplating ways to build equity in your home?  Thinking that a bathroom or kitchen remodel might be too overwhelming physically and/or financially? You may want to consider stepping outside your home for a great area to get a fantastic Return on your Investment. (ROI) While some remodelling projects add more value and allow for a better recoup of cost than others, recent studies show that landscaping of your home is one of the top places to Build Equity in 2015.

 

What does the research show ?

  • According to REALTORS, landscaping and exterior improvements will prove to be one of the most valuable improvement projects this year.  As reported in the 2015 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, Realtors reveal that exterior improvements are able to show off the attractiveness of the house (curb appeal) as well as add value to the overall appraisal of the home.
  • Money Magazine did an extensive investigation into the value that landscaping adds to a property and determined that well done landscaping enhances sales appeal, increasing the actual speed of the sale.They found that landscaping can bring a recovery value of 100 to 200 per cent at selling time. In addition this study has shown that poor landscape design can decrease property values by up to 10 per cent. What better reason to invest in your property now and enjoy the benefits of an enhanced outdoor lifestyle?
  • The University of Florida Study on landscape design adds that there are additional non-monetary gains a quality landscape investment provide. Some of those benefits include: lowering noise levels with bushes and plantings, blocks unpleasant views, lowers heating and cooling costs by providing shade and plating coverage, improves home appearance and optimizes the use of land and outdoor space.

 

Consult Pro-Tech to discuss what improvements you can make to build equity in your home.

Tree Pests – the Winter Moth

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Agricultural Division and the Ecological Landscaping Alliance have just released the latest information about the invasive species known as the Winter Moth.  As of November 2014, the two groups report that the Winter Moth has decimated shrubs and trees all along the shoreline of New England.  Since its introduction in the 1990’s, the destruction has been moving steadily west and north.

 

A Little Background       

The Winter moth is an insect pest that was introduced to North America from Europe. Many different deciduous plants are susceptible to this pest. These include: oaks, maples, basswood, white elm, crabapples, apple, blueberry, and certain spruces. The Winter Moth causes injury to trees when larvae (caterpillars) tunnel into buds to feed.

 

The Life Cycle

Unfortunately, given the life cycle of this pest, there’s nothing that can be done in the fall to control it. Adults emerge in the late fall, usually from around Thanksgiving through mid-December. They mate and the females lay eggs which overwinter, mostly on twigs and branches of trees and shrubs. The eggs hatch in the spring, around the time many trees are beginning to leaf out. Delayed bud opening due to cool weather conditions can lead to bud death as the caterpillars have longer time to feed. Older larvae feed in the expanding leaf clusters and are capable of creating defoliation in high populations. Research in Canada has shown that four consecutive years of partial defoliation of deciduous hosts can lead to branch mortality while complete defoliation in each of those years leads to tree mortality.

 

Control Methods – There are several levels of control that professionals are attempting to use to stop the spread and the continued destruction due to this pest.

  • Natural Controls such as introducing parasites such as flies and wasps may act as natural predators of this pest.  Varying amounts of success has been reported on this control method.
  • Dormant Oil Spray – Spraying trunks and branches of trees may be helpful to kill the overwintering eggs before they hatch.  While this has been fairly successful some eggs may been in other locations such as under the bark or may “balloon” on to the trees after the treatment has been applied.
  • Tree Banding – This method acts as a barrier to climbing caterpillars.  Research has not found this to be a very effective method thus far.
  • Insecticides – Insecticides based on pyrethrins, spinosyns, or Bt are relatively low-risk and effective for control of winter-moth larvae. Spinosyns and pyrethrins, though, are broad-spectrum insecticides, and need to be used with some care, especially if there are any pollinator-attracting, blooming plants in the areas to be sprayed.

This type of tree pest will continue to be a problem in New England for some time to come.  For properly timed and applied insecticides consult Pro-Tech to help you not only identify this pest but come up with a plan to solve your yard’s Winter Moth problem.

To read further about this pest:

UMass Extension School – The Winter Moth

Year Round Lawn Care Calendar

Caring for your lawn can be a year round labor of love.  Knowing not just how to care for your yard but the proper timing for each step of lawn care is a critical part of the process. For your convenience here is a calendar-at-a-glance to help you nurture your beautiful lawn and garden.

Spring –

  • Prepare your mower – Get blades sharpened, change out spark plugs, change the oil, and get a new  tank of gas.
  • Clean up the debris – Winter can mean debris such as twigs and leaves can get clumped in corners of the yard.  A thick layer of wet leaves can smother a lawn if not immediately removed in early spring. Cleaning up old debris will make way for applying fertilizer and herbicides.
  • Aerate the soil – Soil that has compacted over the winter needs to be loosened up to allow grass roots to reach deeper and the soil to absorb moisture better.
  • Mowing – Start mowing once your grass has begun to grow and reaches at least three inches.
  • Fertilizing – A light fertilizing in early spring can help get your grass off to a healthy start.

Summer –

  • Control grubs and weeds – Treat the lawn with a chemical pesticide for grubs and other pests and herbicides to control the growth of weeds.
  • Watering – Water the lawn at regular intervals but don’t overwater. Contact Pro-Tech for help deciding how much your lawn needs water according to level of sunshine vs shade, the type of grass planted and the current weather conditions.

Fall –

  • Fertilizing – If you only fertilize your lawn once a year, fall is the time to do it.
  • Yard Clean Up – Now is the time before the winter sets in to clean up fallen leaves. Use the mulch option on your mower to chop up leaves and allow them to become a natural decomposer.
  • Overseeding – Cool temps are a great time to get new grass established before the first frost sets in.