Monthly Archives: September 2015

Fall Lawn and Garden Checklist –

Fall is a time of cleaning up and getting our yards ready to survive the long, harsh winters.  Here is a quick list that will help you with your fall yard clean up . . .

 

  1. Clean up the garden – pull out any remnants and weed completely.  Remove debris.
  2. Clean up yard – This includes raking to rid the yard of thatch build up and leaves that have begun to fall.
  3. Continue mowing and watering the lawn.  Mow shorter the closer it gets to winter.
  4. Test the soil
  5. Aerate soil if needed
  6. Fertilize using a slow release fertilizer
  7. Compost decaying leaves
  8. Remove statuaries or other items from the garden for storage
  9. Clean out the storage shed
  10. Order wood for winter
  11. Remove yard items for storage such as patio furniture
  12. Sweep patio and garden area
  13. Close up the grill if you do not plan on using it during the winter
  14. Prune trees after they have gone dormant
  15. Plant fall bulbs
  16. Repairs and fencing that needs
  17. Trim bushes
  18. Mulch bushes that need water retention
  19. Wrap bushes and trees that need extra protection through the winter
  20. Wash garden tools and store appropriately

Weevils –

While the name may remind you of an old episode of the cartoon “Road Runner,” these beetles are a huge nuisance!  The weevil is a type of beetle from the Curculionoidea superfamily.  There are over 60,000 species are in several families including:  Maize Weevils, Rice Weevils, and Granary Weevils.  These are among the most destructive pests of grains, seeds, and grain products stored in elevators and bins. They probably are not native to North America, but entered in seeds carried by settlers through ports. These weevils are pests of grain throughout the world. (Penn State Agricultural Sciences)

Identification – Weevils occur in a wide range of colors and body shapes. Many are slender or oval-shaped insects. They are usually dark-colored—brownish to black with shiny hairs covering their backs.  Weevils possess conspicuous snouts. They are often lightbulb or pear-shaped.

The Problem – Weevils seem attracted to buildings and grains such as nuts, seeds, cereal, macaroni, pasta and grain products, such as pancake mix. They can chew through pantry containers and get into food items.  They seek shelter from unfavorable weather conditions, especially when it is hot and dry. These weevils enter buildings by crawling through cracks or openings around foundations, doors, and windows. For farmers grain buildings are especially vulnerable to infestation.

Control – Yet again, like many other pests, prevention is the key to stopping an infestation.  For people in the agricultural field storage of grains in bins at both farms should be carefully completed.  Clean out old grains and sanitize the area.  Grain that is to be stored for longer than six months may need a protective application of an approved insecticide.

For homeowners who are experiencing these structural pests, especially on windows, sills and walls, may need to take action.  As a first step removal via a vacuum cleaner or broom is called for.  Be sure to take the vacuum outside to empty it so the weevils don’t reinfest the home.The most important control method is to find the source of their attraction and remove it especially observing pantry and kitchen areas. Pro-Tech and our sister company Pest-End can help you manage and control your weevil problem.

Box Elder Issues

The fall is such a beautiful time, with lingering warm temperatures and typically pleasant weather.  Autumn, however is also a time when bugs begin to figure out where they are going to spend the winters – overwintering as it is called.  These pests many times are attracted to certain climates, plants and trees.  One such tree that attracts a well known bug is the Box Elder Tree.  The Boxelder, also known as ash-leaved maple is one of the most common and adaptable urban trees in North America.  While it may be particularly well adapted to many growing environments that are not always suitable for other trees, it does attract one bug- the box elder!  Let’s examine this bug and the problems it may cause for your yard.

Identification – Adult box elder bugs are about 1/2-inch long, black with orange or red markings, including three stripes on the prothorax. The box elder tend to gather in groups outside the home or near trees especially near the host tree in the sun.

The Problem – A pronounced behavior of these nuisance pests are the fact that they try to enter homes for the warmth provided during the winter months.  Unfortunately these large groups may be accidentally woken during their months of overwintering if the heat of the home confuses them into thinking it is spring!  While not considered agricultural problems, these pests do leave large amount of excreta where they travel.  And while they do not injure people or pets, they can be annoying and may spot and stain curtains, furnishings, and clothing with their excrement. To add insult to injury, when crushed, they give off an offensive odor.

Management – One of the best ways to deal with a box elder problem in your home is to exclude them from entering in the first place.  The methods for doing this vary according to the type of exterior you have on your home.  Homes with vinyl siding may have particular problems with openings that allow for box elder to enter.  For homes and structures that have brick, wood siding or stucco, sealing any cracks and crevices may be the best method.  Cover vents, chimney openings, and piping with screens.  Seal up openings in windows and doors using caulk or silicone.  Removing female box elder trees could be yet another solution.  Dealing with pesticides to kill any bugs that have gotten into your home should be done carefully and with the expertise of a professional company like our sister company Pest-End.  Contact Pro-Tech or Pest -End to find out the severity of your box elder problem and discuss possible solutions.

Fall Garden Care Tips

Last week we discussed some steps that you may want to take to care for your lawn in the fall.  This week we are addressing all those “green thumbs” out there who are sad to see the outdoor gardening season come to an end.  Just like with your lawn, the garden needs some special care in the fall to have it ready to roll in the spring when we are all dying to get back outside after a long New England winter.  Here are some of our Fall Garden Tips to help you care for your precious garden.

  • Perennials – Fall is a great time to divide and dig up your perennials that you would like to relocate.  If you have found that a location did not work this past season due to access to water or sunlight, this is a good time to carefully relocate to a better home in your yard.  (Fall blooming perennials should be divided in the spring.) Once the ground has frozen hard, cut perennials back to 3 inches and mulch them with a thick layer of leaves or straw.
  • Bulbs – Now is a great time to shop for your bulbs that you hope to bloom next spring.  Get ready before the first frost sets in.
  • Veggie or flower gardens – Many gardeners find that this is a good time for some light tilling of the soil to keep the weeds from taking over.  Others use mulch for cover or even a garden cover that can be purchased.  Put any garden matter that was leftover in your compost bin.  Remove all debris from the garden area including sticks, leaves and weeds.
  • Repair – Make any needed repairs to the garden fencing especially if you have a wildlife problem in your area.  Better to get it done now that have to face the problem next spring.
  • Bushes and Shrubs – Water the bushes and shrubs every fall to give a good drink to the roots.  If your bushes or shrubs need support due to heavy snow build a lean to or cover in burlap for insulation and to protect delicate branches.  Many gardeners use mulch to insulate the ground around the bushes and shrubs.

Fall Lawn Care Tips

Summer seems to be fading with the days getting shorter and the sun casting long shadows earlier and earlier every day.  Fall is on its way.  For most of us it signals an end to the gardening and lawn care that we dutifully completed every weekend.  Fall also signals a time of dormancy and sheltering to keep warm.  This is true for humans, wildlife and our lawn, of course!  There are some things that you should do this fall to prepare your lawn for the harsh and seemingly endless winter that lay ahead.  Here are some of our tips to keep your yard looking its best and prepare it for the next spring when we all come out of hibernation.

  • Clean up the yard – Every fall should be a time to rake out the thatch that has built up in the grass and pick up any debris that has accumulated over the summer.  Thatch and debris can block out the sun and cause the grass below it to die causing weeds to take its place.  Do a good job getting rid of dead grass and keeping piles of those colorful fall leaves off the lawn.
  • Inspect – Do a thorough inspection of the yard.  Take note of areas that were overused this past summer, areas of browning or thinning, areas that may have a moss or mold buildup and areas that need to be reseeded.  Make a plan as to how you are going to deal with each problem.  Contacting a professional like Pro-Tech may be a good idea to find the best solution to your lawn situation.
  • Aeration– Aerating the lawn refers to creating small holes in the lawn in order to allow oxygen, water and much needed nutrients to reach the roots.  Renting a handheld or larger aerator can be as easy as talking to your lawn care professional or by renting one at a home improvement store.
  • Fertilizing and Overseeding – From your inspection or the inspection done by your lawn care specialist, you may want to consider fall as a good time to overseed the areas that are browning or are thinning out.  If you only fertilize once a year, early fall may be a good time to consider doing it so the roots can store nutrients and energy that will get them through the winter.
  • Clean and organize the lawn tools – Since fall tends to be a cooler time, it might be a good time to clean and get your tools and equipment ready for storage over the winter.