Monthly Archives: July 2015

The Benefits of Overseeding

You water the lawn regularly, fertilize at the right times each year and mow the lawn with the ? rule in mind. (Never taking off more than ? of the growth with each mowing.) Then why does your lawn still look tired and thin in spots?  The answer may be overseeding your lawn. What is overseeding and how can this lawn maintenance technique be beneficial  to the overall look and health of your lawn.

What is Overseeding?

Overseeding Is the planting of grass seed directly into existing turf, without tearing up the turf, or the soil. Overseeding is the single most important thing you can do to revive an aging lawn or to keep a top-notch lawn green and healthy. Older grasses are not as vibrant or green as young grasses.  They are also more vulnerable to drought, heat death, pest infestation or winter injury. Overseeding can solve these problems.

What are the Benefits of Overseeding?

  1. Overseeding fills in bare spots and introduces new grass seed to thicken existing grasses. Over time factors such as disease and pests can thin out the grass and cause the grass to lose its vibrant color.  If done regularly, overseeding creates the cumulative effect of a lawn that acts young and looks great as well as filling in bare spots.
  2. Overseeding helps a lawn fight insects and disease.  Newer grasses are naturally more resistant to pests, weeds and disease.
  3. Overseeding saves money on water and pest control. The investment in overseeding pays off by reducing the amount of fertilizer, water and pesticides required.
  4. Aesthetically overseeing can help the overall look of your lawn by making it denser and greener in areas where you overseeded.

Weed Control

For many “green thumbs,” nurturing a garden and lawn can be a labor of love that provides hours of joy as they see all their hard work pay off with thick lush grass or a beautifully blooming garden.  Unfortunately, for those that love puttering in the yard there is an enemy that could ruin the results of all that hard work.That enemy is known as “a plant out of place” or otherwise known as the dreaded weed. Weeds are the gardener’s enemy because they compete with desirable plants for light, nutrients, water, and space. Weeds can also harbor insect and disease pests that can spread to desirable plants and may pose a health hazard to humans

What steps can you take to combat this invasive enemy? There are three main steps to weed management: prevention, cultural control and chemical control.

  • Prevention – Planning for a healthy lawn is a critical prevention method.  Fertilize around plants rather than the entire garden area to keep weed growth down.  Plant your crops or flowers closer together; their height and shadows will reduce sunlight for weed seed germination. In addition, be sure to water, mow, and check the soil PH regularly.  A well cared for lawn and garden will keep grass strong and able to resist weeds.
  • Cultural Control – The best strategies for controlling weeds in the home garden and landscape include cultural controls such as: mulching, hand-pulling, mowing and using tools such as the hoe and rototiller. Mulching suppresses annual weeds by limiting light that weeds need to become established. Mowing also can limit seed production. While it may be time consuming pulling weeds you may find that they will not reestablish if you manage to get the entire root.
  • Chemical Control – Herbicide application can provide the most effective and time-efficient method of managing weeds. Pro-Tech Lawn Care can help you identify the type of weed problem you are having whether it is annual or perennial (or a mix thereof) and how to effectively treat your lawn and garden for the appropriate weed.

Lawn Care During a Drought

Drought, a period of unusually dry weather in a region, can be catastrophic to farmers and even the typical homeowner. Droughts can occur in virtually all climates. According to the National Climatic Data Center, droughts come in second only to hurricanes in terms of economic impact  Currently, the National Centers for Environmental Information report that the northeast region is in a moderate drought as of April 2015. For the average homeowner it can mean the death of a lawn and garden if appropriate drought protection steps are not taken.

While droughts can impact any area and can come without forewarning like a hurricane, it is important to take certain steps to avert the disaster that can occur due to a lack of water. Let’s examine the steps you can take when your city or town is experiencing a drought.

  • Watering – If your city or town has not yet put restrictions on outdoor watering, be sure to water with the following suggestions in mind.  Water in the morning when evaporation is less likely and the heat of the day has not peaked.   Water deeply to encourage root growth.  Also water slowly to avoid run off. If your area is restricting outdoor water use to hand held hose watering, then be sure to be vigilant with the condition of your grass and garden.
  • Mowing – Lawn care during a drought should be modified to take into account the slower growth cycle. Only mow if the lawn needs to be cut. Never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade at a time. Mow with a sharp blade and be sure to only mow after dusk – mowing during the hottest part of the day can turn the lawn brown instantly.(Source: Times Union Online)
  • Aerate – The more compact the soil, the more evaporation can occur from your lawn.  Aerating your lawn can reduce evaporation and transpiration of plants.
  • Mulch – One of the best things you ca do to protect your plants is to apply mulch around flower beds. Un-mulched soil loses twice as much water as mulched soil, so three to four inches of good organic mulch like shredded bark, rotted sawdust, or compost will lock in moisture, prevent soil compaction, reduce the soil’s temperature, and stifle water-stealing weeds.
  • Continue Fertilizing – Many homeowners mistakenly believe that fertilizing will burn the lawn in a drought.  The key is to fertilize using a slow release fertilizer.  The roots will hold on to the nutrients until they need to use them.

Just because a drought has descended on your region doesn’t mean that you should give up on your lawn and garden.  In fact, this is a time to take precaution to maintain your precious yard.  For more advice on drought protection read more.

Are you a Mosquito Magnet?

Every time you are at a BBQ or pool party, you find that the mosquitoes migrate right to you.  They attack your ankles, neck and any exposed skin they can find.  Do you ever wonder why they are drawn directly to you while bypassing other people standing nearby?  You might be a mosquito magnet!  While you will want to protect yourself regardless of how much these insects annoy you,  you may be interested in what makes you so attractive to these nuisance insects.

  • Carbon Dioxide – CO2 is released every time you breathe out.  This chemical helps mosquitoes lock on to where you are.  Mosquitoes can hone in on a specific victim depending upon the amount of CO2 output.  That means that if you are out of breath due to lawn mowing, exercising or just gardening, the mosquitoes may seek you out.  Mosquitoes are also attracted to other chemicals expelled through the breath like estrogen.  This may explain why women are more likely to get bitten than men.
  • Heat – While the output of CO2 helps a mosquito track you, the heat output of exposed skin helps a mosquito find a good spot to bite you.  The warmest parts of your skin are places where the blood flows closests to the surface.   This includes wrists, neck, elbows and forehead.  This, unfortunately, means that people who have recently exercised or been out in the sun have a higher body temperature thus are more attractive to these skeeters.  The combination of high heat and CO2 makes a person doubly inviting to a mosquito.  Shower and cool down after activity to lower your breath rate and body heat.
  • Clothing Choices – Mosquitoes are visual hunters who notice movement and are more prone to seek dark colors.  Dark shirts and pants, therefore draw in more mosquitoes than lighter colored clothing.
  • Size – The larger and taller a person is the more heat and CO2 they expel.  Therefore, the bigger you are the more likely you are to get bitten.
  • Blood Type – A recent study in Japan has shown that mosquitoes like Type O Blood twice as much as they like Type A blood.

What Animal is Wreaking Havoc in my Yard?

Have you noticed that something is getting into your trash barrel night after night?  Is some creature having a party in your veggie garden or making a mess of your lawn? Do you find holes in your lawn or droppings that aren’t coming from your pet? Chances are you have an unwanted animal that has taken up residence in your yard.  The first step in eliminating a pesky critter is to identify the specific animal.  Let’s look at some of the clues that will help you pinpoint the culprit.

  • Raccoon – Nighttime damage to garbage cans, potted plants or piles of dark feces around hidden areas of your yard could indicate a raccoon has been around.
  • Moles – Multiple tunnels near the surface of the lawn that raise the sod or soil may indicate a mole. Tunnel entrances are usually not visible but you may come across them when gardening or mowing.
  • Woodchucks – These critters like to dig deep burrows with excavated soil spread around the entrance. Locations for entrances may be under decks or building where they can be safe from predators.
  • Skunk – These pests obviously leave not only holes but a specific odor that usually allows for easy identification.  Skunks will dig specific and individual holes in their quest for grubs and lawn insects. They will be systematic, moving from section to section each night. Skunks often hide under sheds, porches and other covered and dark crawl spaces.
  • Chipmunks – These cute little critters dig holes that tend to be cleanly dug and silver dollar sized.

If the holes or type of damage in your yard don’t help you identify the critter wreaking havoc in your yard then paw prints may be another method to help you determine what it is.  The Farmer’s Almanac has a listing of prints that may help you out.