Category Archives: Gardening

Putting the Garden to Bed

This time of year can be very bittersweet for all the “green thumbs” out there. It is a wonderful time of year due to the plentiful harvest and blooms that are the result of hard work and nurturing all season long. But there is also a bit of melancholy in that it is time to put the garden to bed for the winter and begin to close up shop until next spring. Here are a few steps that you should take to get your garden ready for the winter months.

 

  • Final Inspection – Inspect your garden area, whether it is a perennial garden or veggie garden, and check for pest problems, whether you had any during the growing season or not. If you find any evidence of a pest problem contact a lawn company such as Pro-Tech Lawn Care that can evaluate which pests may have been damaging your plantings and how to resolve the problem now or in the spring.

 

  • Clean Up – Pull all dead annuals that have had last blooms fade. Harvest all the above ground veggies and fruits. Leaving any out over the late fall and winter is an invitation to wildlife to seek out your property. Rake out overgrown areas so that pests and rodents do not have an area to nest. Disinfect and clean all gardening tools at this time instead of putting that off until spring. Rust and decay can happen over the winter if they are not cared for properly each fall. This is also a great time to get tools sharpened and repaired so they will be ready to roll once the warm weather of spring arrives.

 

  • Cut Back – Depending on the type of perennials and garden you have, now may be the time to cut back and neaten up your growing area.

 

  • Prep and Planting – Don’t forget about those bulbs and plantings that should be placed before the first frost. Prepare your planting beds now with compost and manure for planting in early spring.

 

  • Protect – Now is the time to protect tender plantings and bulbs by shielding them from the cold through either mulch covering or wrapping in burlap or plant protection products.

 

Believe it or not, spring will come faster than you think! Contact Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 if you have issues putting your garden to bed this fall.

What is Eating My Garden?

There is nothing more aggravating after months of nurturing and cultivating your garden than having animals and pests nibble away at the fruits of your labor. Many of these critters that find your garden so appealing are clever and find new and inventive ways to access your garden area. You may be wondering who the culprit or culprits are that are eating your garden. Here is the lineup of potential offenders:

 

  • Leaf Eaters – There are a number of leaf eaters that could be damaging the greenery of your plantings and gardens. From beetles to caterpillars to scale insects, leaf eaters tend to be pests that chew holes in the leaves and greenery of your plantings. Depending upon the type of damage, professional lawn care experts, like our team at Pro-Tech Lawn Care, can examine the evidence and decide on a course of treatment.

 

  • Wildlife – Rabbits, deer, and other wildlife love to nibble on the vegetables in your garden. If you notice digging, teeth marks on veggies, or holes in your fencing, you may have an animal wreaking havoc on your garden. Repair the fencing to protect the garden area and attempt to figure out what type of animal is getting at your veggies. If you need help, it may be best to call in the experts.

 

  • Root Feeders – Dead roots, holes in the ground, and dead plantings could be the sign of root feeders like grubs, moles, groundhogs, and other ground dwelling insects.

 

Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 to examine your landscaping and care for your lawn and gardens.

Is Your Backyard Ready?

Finally the warm weather is here and we can all enjoy the backyard, patio, lawn or garden. Are you backyard ready? Preparing your property including the lawn, hedges, trees, and garden takes lots of work and time. Growing lush, thick, pest-free grass is not an easy thing to do. Keeping ticks and mosquitoes at bay is also a struggle from the spring all the way through the first frost of fall.  Here are a few tips to make sure you are ready for backyard season.

 

  • Clean it Up – Remove any debris that has accumulated. Raking up areas that have been matted down by snow can help bring the grass back to life.
  • Seeding and Hydroseeding – Consider employing professionals to seed your yard, especially if you have large bare patches. Pro-Tech Lawn Care can help you fill in brown spots and get your lawn back!
  • Aeration – This allows water, air and nutrients to reach the root zone faster. This can result in new growth and increased root development.
  • Repair – Salt and snow can really damage a yard, so do the needed repair work to make the entire yard look like new again.
  • Pests – Don’t forget that while all flowers and trees are waking up again this spring, so are pests! Grass, plantings and tree pests can damage, if not destroy, the lawn. Have a thorough inspection done by our expert technicians to ensure that your lawn and garden is protected this season.
  • Mulch and Prune – As you inspect your yard take note of areas that need pruning and re-mulching. Keep branches away from your home as they become a “bridge” for pests to enter the structure.
  • Soil Check – When was the last time you has a soil analysis? Ask our team to test your soil so you know how and when to fertilize, feed and water your lawn.
  • Protect Against Mosquitoes and Ticks – Do you tend to find ticks on your skin or clothes or get eaten alive by mosquitoes when you step outside? Talk to our professionals about treatment options for your property.

 

Starting a Healthy Garden

It’s just about that time that New Englanders begin to go a little stir crazy and get “cabin fever.”  Many of us combat this by planning for the spring. One of the best ways to enjoy the warmer months is by planning now for that healthy garden you always wanted – now. In fact, you may even be able to start growing some of your favorites indoors before the soil is ready for transference.  Let’s get planning!

Planning

Starting a garden from scratch or improving an existing one can seem a bit intimidating. Start by planning, planning and planning some more. A universal principal for a garden to look its best is to make sure that you provide the plants with the conditions where they have the best chance to grow. Plot out your yard and mark where the best drainage is as well as where the sun is out the longest. The more you know about how much sun and water your specific plants need the more successful it will be. 

Once you have all your notes you can start researching the type of veggies you want to grow. Decide on the veggies based upon your personal tastes and the ability of them to grow in your yard. You may also want to consider starting them indoors as we get closer to the spring. From there you will want to begin purchasing the supplies you will need including seeds, pots, sticks, watering cans, fertilizer, labels, and nutrients. If you need even more inspiration read Eating Well article about Starting your Healthy Garden. 

Plan Now to Prevent Spring Garden Pests

Did you have a successful garden last year? Were your squash huge and your tomatoes juicy? Or were you plagued by pests throughout the growing season? If garden pests stopped you from reaping a bountiful harvest this year, don’t wait to relive the nightmare again. Plan ahead now so that your pests will have seen their last growing season. As they say in the sports world, the best defense is a good offense, and that means starting in fall and winter to plan against your garden pests.

 

  • Before the first snow make sure you get rid of all the weeds. That may mean getting rid of some of your soil as well. So plan ahead on the amount of new planting soil you will need for the spring. You may want to start an indoor garden in your kitchen or room where you get the most sunlight. Starting early can mean the plantings are strong and mature once they go into the ground and that means they are better able to fight against pests.
  • Get soil test done over the winter to find out the health of your soil. The test can tell you your pH level as well as diseases that may be hiding in your soil. If you haven’t done one in a while, take a soil sample and have it tested at your local extension service.
  • Contact a pest control company like Pro-Tech Lawn Care who can help you plan in advance for your garden and lawn.
  • Design and start putting together a garden fence or surround so that wild animals such as deer, groundhogs, skunks and other creatures can not use your garden as a one-stop-food-store.
  • Take inventory of what seeds you will need and plan a calendar of when you will begin planting and harvesting your crop. Sometimes just thinking about your spring crop can fight away those winter blues.

Spring Patio Prep

It’s what you have been waiting for!  The spring and summer grilling season is almost upon us.  Warm evenings spent out by the fire pit with friends and family is something you have probably been looking forward to since the first snowfall last December. Here at Pro-Tech Lawn Care, we know that getting ready for the spring season isn’t all about prepping your lawn and garden, it is also about getting your deck and patio ready for entertaining. Here are a few suggestions to make this job easier and your patio looking its best.

  • Clean – One of the first steps to being “patio-ready” is the not so enjoyable cleaning of the deck, patio and furniture.  Hopefully you did a thorough job of clearing away the leaves and debris in the fall, otherwise you may have a mold or mildew issue if leaves have been sitting around wet and cold all winter. A power washer may be helpful to wash away the dirt and grime of winter on all surfaces.  If you have discoloration on stonework, a treatment of muriatic acid or warm water and soap may help. Before you start cleaning pick a sunny day so there will be plenty of time for everything to dry in the sun.
  • Inspect – During the cleaning process, you may have found parts of your patio that may need repair, or that have evidence of pest infestation. This is a good time to make necessary repairs and contact a lawn care company like Pro-Tech to examine your pest problem.
  • Lawn Ornaments – Hopefully, all lawn ornaments and other movable items were put away during the winter.  Give these a good cleaning before replacing them on the lawn.  Try to be aware of where you put these items so that they don’t fade in direct sun or attract wildlife. Remember, grass will die if blocked from the light and water.
  • Lawn Furniture – Depending upon the type of lawn furniture you have, taking care of these items may include: painting faded areas, oiling hinges, tightening screws, washing cushions, sponging down frames, and washing off the umbrella.

It may take a weekend to get everything ready for your first party or BBQ, but it will be worth it in the end when your friends and family help you celebrate the start of the outdoor season.

Dreaming of Spring? Make your Garden Plan now.

It may be hard to imagine the warm breezes of spring or the tender new plantings that will eventually sprout while the temperatures are below freezing and we have tundra like conditions outside. However, this is the time to get planning for your spring lawn and garden.  What can you do now to prepare for what is, in reality, just several weeks away?

  • Take Stock – Many homeowners and gardeners enjoy a fresh start each spring whether it is in the building of a prosperous garden or in starting your lawn toward the manicured perfection you so love.  However, don’t forget to take stock of things that went wrong last year.  Did you have an animal or pest problem in your landscaping or garden that you are just wishing away?  Take the time to discuss with your landscaping professionals about problems that you encountered last year.  They may have suggestions of how to prevent or treatments that can stop the problem this year.
  • Create a Plan– Sure you might be shivering in front of fire right now, but this is really the time to make your lists and plot out on a calendar when you will do what in your yard.  Order seeds, plot out where the garden fence with go to keep pests away, diagram the area that you want to cultivate this year.
  • Take to the Internet – Read articles that will help you understand your landscaping, from what may grow best in your yard, to what type of sunlight and nutrients the lawn may need to where you can get help if you have lawn pests. Especially research the trees and bushes in your yard for the types of pests may be attracted to your area.
  • Decide on a Timeline – Some varieties of plants need a longer growing season.  Check the Farmer’s Almanac for a last frost date (usually) for your region.  Write down the seed starting dates on a calendar and plan accordingly.

Spring may feel like a million miles away but it is just around the corner.  Will you be prepared?

 

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.

Armyworm

The fall armyworm is considered a pest east of the Rocky Mountains in North America and can wreck havoc with crops if left to multiple.  The origin of its name comes from its feeding habits. The armyworm will eat everything in an area, and once the food supply is exhausted, the entire “army” will move to the next available food source. Though they feed primarily on grasses such as oats, wheat, fall rye, corn, barley, and forage grasses, they also can be a pest of some vegetables including: bean, cabbage, carrot, onion, pea, pepper, radish and sweet potato. These pests that usually appear in large groupings can be a huge problem for gardeners, farmers and agricultural areas.  Let’s learn more about these pests including: how to identify them, what their life cycle is, and how to manage an infestation.

Identification:

The armyworm has a life cycle ranging from 30 days during the warmer months to 60 days during the cooler autumn months.  The pupa is reddish brown, about 13 mm long and eventually turns black.  The larva stage is yellowish green and has a hairless body marked by longitudinal stripes along each side of the body.  The egg is whitish green and globular.  The adult moth has grayish-brown forewings, each with a white spot near the center, and grayish-white hind wings.

Damage: “Overall estimates of the armyworm’s damage haven’t yet been done. But reports of infestations have been listed from Massachusetts to New Hampshire to Maine to New Brunswick, Canada. And the insects are known to consume up to 10 acres of crops in 24 hours.” says Steven Herbert, an agronomist at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. These pests arrive in New England when weather systems such as Tropical Storm Allison and other storms blow caterpillars and moths from the midwest into our area.

Management:  Keeping an armyworm population under control can be done in several manners.  The armyworm has several natural occurring predators such as parasitic wasps and ground beetles.  There are also several fungi that can attack and infect the armyworm.  In addition to these cultural controls, they are also susceptible to several insecticides and are easily controlled chemically when buildup occurs. Contact Pro-Tech if you suspect an armyworm invasion.

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