Monthly Archives: November 2015

Do you Have a Deer Problem?

Deer are beautiful creatures to watch and enjoy.  They are quiet, gentle, and graceful in their movements.  They are almost mesmerizing to watch as they explore your backyard or nearby woods.  Unfortunately, while they are interesting to observe, they can also cause tremendous damage to your foliage, plants, and gardens.  If you delight in your garden and landscaping from spring to fall, you may need to take some steps to deer proof or at least discourage deer from ravaging your carefully planted fall bulbs, finishing off the last of your veggies or even seeing your plantings as a free buffet. Wildlife biologists estimate that full grown adults can eat 6-10 pounds of greenery a day.  That is a good chunk of your lawn and garden gone if you don’t get a handle on it.

 

Here are some top tips from professionals at Home and Garden and This Old House so Bambi won’t become a problem in your yard.

 

  • Keep Tastiest Plants Close to your House – Deer love to dine on anything that’s smooth, tender, and flavorful, including chrysanthemum, clematis, roses, azalea bushes, and various berries. Keep these items closest to your home so you can keep an eye on them.
  • Use Scent as a Barrier –  Deer rely heavily on their sense of smell for feeding, so adding patches of strongly scented herbs—from garlic and chives, to mint and lavender can mask the appealing aroma of nearby annuals.
  • Choose Deer Resistant Plants – If deer tend to be a problem regularly in your area you may want to consider carefully what you want to plant.  Here is a link to a list of deer resistant plants.
  • Block Entrance – There are several methods to block deer from entering the yard.  The most obvious is a fencing around the perimeter of your yard,  but if you want other possibilities try thick hedges, short needle spruces or netting around the veggie garden.  The more you can block the sight or smell of food the better.
  • Harvest at the right time – Pick fruit immediately when they are ripe.  Clean up any crops that may have fallen off the vine and are beginning to rot.  The smell may attract the deer.
  • Scare Tactics – Deer are a bit skittish when they encounter something new.  New lawn ornaments, wind chimes or anything that moves can be enough to scare off these creatures.  Allow your pet to wander the yard and spread his/her scent to deter the deer from entering the area. Set sprinklers to go off at random times right around dawn or dusk – the most common times to see deer. Automatic outdoor lights could also do the trick.
  • Deer Repellants – Talk to a professional about what pest control might work best for you since you do not want to harm the plants you are currently growing or endangers children or pets who play in the yard.

Hidden Risks of Common Trees

Your yard is your sanctuary after a long day of work.  Weekends with the family under a beautiful shading tree can be a relaxing oasis.   Those eye catching trees can add depth and interest to your landscaping all the while increasing your home’s value and resale value.  At the same time trees can pose some risks that may be hidden.   Some of your cherished trees might contain compounds that when ingested can harm your family or pets. Let’s take a look at the hidden risks of the trees that could be in your backyard.

 

  •  Research – Whether you are planting new trees or have moved into a home with mature trees, do some research to find out the name and type of tree you have on your property.  This could tell you any potential problems before people or pets are injured.
  • Apple and Crabapples – All types of apple trees, including crabapples, can be toxic to dogs, cats and other mammals. Tree stems, leaves and seeds contain a chemical that could cause a case of mild gastrointestinal irritation.
  • Black Walnuts – The danger of this common lace tree is in the mold that grows on decomposing nuts.  Dogs that eat these molds develop vomiting, diarrhea and possibly tremors and seizures.
  • Holly Bushes – If a pet eats this plant, it will likely develop a stomachache or diarrhea.The spiny leaves and bright-red berries contain toxins that can harm your pets. If a young child consumes one or two berries, they may develop a tummy ache. Eating more leads could lead to vomiting, diarrhea or even death.
  • Horse Chestnuts – The nuts from these trees could cause pets to become sick if they play with them or chew at them.  Children could experience similar problems if the chestnuts are put in the mouth.

What is Causing the Moss Growth in your Yard?

With thousands of species of moss around the world, it’s no wonder these simple plants can be found growing and multiplying all around us – even in/on your well-maintained lawn, garden, walkways and driveways.  Moss species are some of the hardiest living organisms on the planet and can reproduce quickly even in areas that may seem fairly inhospitable.  Moss forms a thick, green matt on the soil surface, however it is not the culprit for killing grass in those areas. Moss is merely filling in the area that was not a good location for growing grass.  Moss, therefore is not your problem, but rather an indicator that the area has less that ideal conditions for growing grass.  Let’s look at the causes of this nuisance plant thriving in your yard.

 

  • Shady Areas – Moss loves the shade.  Insufficient sunlight can make it hard for many types of grass to grow well thus creating an ideal condition for moss to not only grow but to thrive.  Shady areas also tend to stay moist longer since the sun’s power of evaporation can not occur.  If you prefer not to have moss growing in your light to heavy shaded areas then you will want to plant shrubs, bushes, cut back branches to let in the sunlight or mow at a higher level to allow the roots to go deep and take hold.
  • Poor Drainage – Areas of your yard may have puddling or attract more moisture than other areas.  If your soil under your lawn does not drain very well and retains excessive moisture, this condition, too could invite moss. Poor drainage could have many causes including clay content or compaction due to overuse.  Compact soil should be dealt with through a process of aeration that will allow the proper oxygen and nutrients to get to the roots.  Dethatching can also assist with drainage and compaction. This will make your grass stronger and less likely to be overrun by moss.
  • Soil Type – Moss thrives well in acidic soils.  If the soil pH is below the range recommended for grasses, this would encourage moss growth instead.  To determine what the soil pH is in an area, you can collect and submit a soil test sample. If the ground lacks the nutrients required for lawns to be healthy, you’ll potentially have to lime the area and then fertilize it on a regular basis.

 

After dethatching, having the soil tested and inspecting for drainage and sunlight problems, you may still have trouble finding out the cause of your moss issue.  Contact a professional lawn care company like Pro-Tech to find out what is causing your lawn problem and come up with a solution for your unique yard.

Common Fall Lawn Mistakes

New Englanders love Autumn.  We anticipate the spectacular show the leaves put on, the cooler temperatures, and of course the fact that the weekend chore of caring for the lawn is over, at least for a few months. Unfortunately, in our rush to enjoy carefree weekends, we may forget some critical steps in lawn care for the fall.  Here are some common fall lawn mistakes made by gardeners. Avoid these and you may have an easier time getting started during the next planting and growing season.

 

  • Raking – It happens every year.  You rake and rake only to have more leaves fall.  Waiting too long means that the first snow could fly before you get a chance to get those last leaves up. Decomposing leaves on walkways and brick patios can be a slipping and tripping danger throughout the winter and even into the spring.  Leaves left on the lawn can also encourage disease by preventing sunlight and air from reaching the grass. Use a rake or blower to collect the leaves and add them to a compost pile
  • Last Lawn Care – Don’t give up on your lawn too early.  Before the first frost mow lower during that last clean up and give one last watering.  You may also want to do one last long release fertilizing to give roots enough food to make it through the winter. Roots need to gather energy before going dormant for the winter.
  • Lawn Tools – After the last clean up be sure to clean tools and equipment completely.  Clean off dirt and grass clippings.  Inspect tools for disrepair or damage from a season of lawn care.  This is a good time to bring in equipment for a tune up.
  • Lawn Ornaments – Move all lawn ornaments and furniture to a sheltered area.  Lawn items can completely kill grass and can leave markings on walkways and patios.
  • Ground Coverings – Bushes and shrubs could also use some protection through the winter in the way of wrapping or adding ground covering to hold in moisture.  Mulch can help insulate and hold moisture in the soil.  Burlap or protective tents around the bushes can help branches from being damaged.
  • Inspect for Pests – Just because growing season is over doesn’t mean that pests are done.  Inspect thoroughly your lawn and garden to look for damage done by bugs and insects.  Contact a professional lawn care company, like Pro-Tech to inspect your lawn for pests.

Fall Lawn Pests?

Many homeowners look forward to putting down their rakes, hoes, and storing the lawnmower in the shed thinking that their work is done until the next spring.  Lawn and garden pests do tend to dwindle away with the onset of the freezing weather.  For the most part this is true but there are still some lawn and garden pests that thrive in cooler temperatures that could still pose a problem. The good news is that while these fall pests may stick around to delight in the shrubs, bushes, bulbs and remaining plant life they tend to do less damage than they would in the spring and summer.   Let’s look at three of the fall pests that could be an issue in your yard.

 

  • Fall Armyworms – These fall pests tend to  prey on fall foliage during the nighttime hours making it hard to detect until the mornings.  These pests are a large tan to dark brown colored worm with a large stripe either brown or red in color on each side. Armyworms tend to do the most damage in cornfields and surrounding areas.  Pest treatments should be completed by late summer and early fall to combat this pest.
  • Sod Webworms – Sod webworms or “lawn moths” commonly infest home lawns. Sod webworm larvae can cause major damage to residential turfgrass, especially during periods of drought. Penn State Agricultural Sciences describes the damage as “brown patches up to the size of a baseball in the lawn. In some instances, the brown patches are punctured with pencil-sized holes a result of birds searching for the webworm burrows.” While there are chemical and cultural controls for sod webworms it is best to confirm the identity of the pest through a professional pest control company.
  • Grub Worms – Grub worms, also called lawn grubs, are white worm-like pests that live in the soil. They are the larval form of the adult Japanese beetle, sometimes called the June beetle. Each larva is about ½ inch long with a small brown head. Grub worms will usually survive over the winter and turn into adult beetles, repeating the entire life cycle in the spring, and this is why grub worms can be such a problem for all seasons. Gardeners may notice patches of dead grass or grass that can be easily peeled up.  Grub worm control should be applied in mid to late summer to stop these pests from eating the roots and causing damage even into the fall.