Category Archives: Lawn and Tree Pests

Preventing Salt Damage to Lawns

Wow! What a winter it has been so far with record breaking low temperatures, ice and, of course, the memorable Blizzard of 2018. The plows and road crews have done a great job of making roads not just passable but safe as well. Homeowners have gotten in the spirit too with shoveling driveways, walkways, digging out hydrants, and salting potentially slippery high foot traffic areas. While this is admirable, especially given the severity of the winter thus far, this salting and the use of chemical deicers could harm your lawn and plantings. Let’s take a closer look at salt damage and what you can do to prevent it on your property.

 

While sprinkling salt products along your hardscape areas such as your driveway and walkway may seem like the right solution for the weather that Mother Nature throws at us, it may be doing some serious harm to the grass and plantings along the way. When the snow and ice melt periodically over the course of the winter, the rock salt mixture washes into the soil and can quickly build up to a toxic level. The melted mixture leaves plants with ample moisture in the ground, unfortunately the plants are unable to absorb any of this because of all the salt. This causes wilting and drought-like damage, including the appearance of scorched leaf edges, yellow or brown needles on evergreens, stunted growth, and twig dieback. Salt buildup in the soil also has a negative effect on the soil structure because it causes compaction.

 

To prevent salt damage to your organic areas, try the following tricks to keep salt from damaging your lawn and garden.

 

  • Choose the least corrosive deicers you can find. Talk to your lawn care professional about what might be right for your lawn since all salts are not created equal.
  • Consider using kitty litter or sawdust in areas where deicing is not needed but you are still looking for a little traction.
  • As soon as there is a milder day (not any time soon) try washing down areas that you can access to limit the salt collection.
  • If the snow clears enough sweep up extra or residual salt and place in the garbage instead of letting it sink into your lawn.
  • Avoid piling snow around plantings and along the edges of the driveway. Spread it out as much as is feasible given the weight and type of each storm.

 

Have questions about the type and amount of salt you are using this winter? Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733, or visit our website.

 

Where Do the Bugs and Pests Go During the Winter?

Have you ever wondered where all the bugs and pests go during the winter months? The answer really depends upon the pest that you are thinking about; some overwinter in the bark of trees, others seek shelter in places like your garage, basement, or attic, and still others migrate for the long, cold winter months. Here is a quick run down of where these pests have disappeared to during the harsh New England winters.

 

  • Flying Insects – Insects that rely on crops and flowering plantings for basic survival must figure out a way to get through the winter. These insects, such as beetles, moths, and dragonflies, migrate as the need arises, similar to the way that birds migrate south for the winter. For some insects, the timing means that the adults that migrate south are not the ones that return in the spring but rather the offspring who emerged during the reproductive season down south fly back to your area.
  • Mosquitoes – Bug hibernation is called diapause and this is what many pests, like the mosquito, do to survive the winter months. During diapause a mosquito’s metabolic rate drops to one-tenth of its usual activity, allowing the bug to enter a state of inactivity. Prior to this, insects like mosquitoes seek out shelter where they can remain in this inactive state all winter such as: under your house shingles, inside your chimney, in storm drains, and in naturally occurring places like tree stumps.
  • Ticks – Ticks also slow down and end up in a state of inactivity, and they do something special that several types of pests do during winter – they produce glycerol to stop their bodies from freezing. The glycerol serves as a form of antifreeze!
  • Ants – Depending upon the type of ants in your area, and the freeze and thaw dates, ants tend to seek out areas such as the behind the bark of trees to get through the winter. Areas such as this absorb the sunlight and allow just enough heat to help ants survive the winters.
  • Mice, Rats, and other Wildlife – Here comes the bad news. Some pests find a really great winter hideout – your home. These rodents and other wildlife seek out shelter in your attics, garages, basements, and crawl spaces.

 

If you have found that there are pests spending the winter in your home call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733 to “protect” your gardens.

 

Seasonal Lawn Care Cheat Sheet

Caring for your lawn to keep it lush, beautiful, and free of pests is pretty much a year-round endeavor. Knowing what to do to maintain your grass, plantings, and garden is only half the battle, and knowing when to do them is the other half. So, to help you get started right this spring and stay on track for summer and fall, here is a quick cheat sheet to let you know what actions you should take and when in order to maintain a healthy lawn all year long. 

 

Spring – Time to get the tools and mower ready!

  • Remove any debris such as twigs, branches, or left over leaves from last fall and winter.
  • Aerate if your grass looks compacted or if high traffic areas are getting bare of grass. Look for puddles during spring rains that tell you where the lawn is compacted.
  • Choose a long-term fertilizer that can nourish your grass and get it growing.
  • Begin seeding the parts of your lawn that didn’t fare so well during the winter months or the parts that died last fall.
  • Mow the lawn regularly, but not more than ⅓ of the height at any one time.
  • Have a “Start up” completed on your irrigation system.

 

Summer – Things are warming up and beginning to really grow!

  • Continue mowing the grass but avoid mowing too short as it may burn in the sun.
  • Water during the early morning hours or after dusk so that you don’t lose all the moisture through evaporation. Water deep enough and check regularly by sticking a screwdriver into the lawn and seeing how far down it can go. If it is hard as a rock, water more; if it is too wet cut back on your mowing.
  • Depending upon the type of fertilizer you used in the spring you may want a summer fertilizer and pest control treatment. Ask your lawn care provider what is best for your lawn.
  • Summer is a great time to plant your favorite annuals or start a perennial garden.

 

Autumn – The leaves are falling and the temps are slowly dropping.

  • If you have not already aerated this year, now is the time to loosen up the grass and allow the water, nutrients, and oxygen to get to the roots before a long, dormant winter.
  • Rake the leaves and be sure to get all the debris off the lawn.
  • Continue mowing the lawn while it is still growing.
  • Prepare for the first frost by wrapping bushes and shrubs.
  • Evaluate all tools and equipment that may need repairs.
  • Arrange a blow out of the irrigation system.

 

Winter – Old man winter is settling in!

  • Avoid walking on the lawn as the grass crowns are brittle and fragile.
  • Do not park cars on the lawn.
  • Be careful where you shovel piles of snow onto the lawn, especially if there is rock salt mixed in.

 

Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733, or visit our website.

 

Mosquito-borne Diseases – A Year in Review

Now that mosquito season is over and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has collected the data, it is time for a review of 2017 and the latest on diseases spread via mosquitoes. According to the World Health Organization, “Of all disease-transmitting insects, the mosquito is the greatest menace, spreading malaria, dengue and yellow fevers, which together are responsible for several million deaths and hundreds of millions of cases every year.” Different regions are impacted by different mosquito-borne diseases depending on climate, the types of mosquitoes common in the region, and access to preventative measures and medicine. In our region of the United States there are specific mosquito-borne diseases to be concerned with including West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

 

West Nile Virus – The CDC reports that the most common way the West Nile virus is transmitted is by mosquito bite. Most people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms. About 1-in-5 people who are infected will develop a fever and other symptoms. Fewer than 1% of those infected develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness. To see an interactive map of the areas most hit by West Nile click here. The CDC has compiled data for the past several decades to compare the spread and statistical data associated with the disease.

 

Eastern Equine Encephalitis – is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) is a rare illness in humans, and only a few cases are reported in the United States each year. Most cases occur in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states (see map).

 

Check back with our blog in the spring as we will continue to cover outbreaks and locations. Our blog will also have the latest on treatment and prevention techniques. As always, if you have any questions call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733, or visit our website.

Is Snow Bad for Your Lawn?

New Englanders are accustomed to snow, ice, and wind, from November through till almost April. We have learned to adapt to the treacherous driving conditions, the freezing temperatures, and precipitation that can change from rain, to sleet, to snow in the matter of a few minutes. While we humans may be able to handle the ups and downs of winter snows, what about our lawns? Do snow, wind, and temperatures damage our lawns? Here is what the experts say.

 

  • Snow is an insulating blanket for our lawns. Snow cover of four inches or more during harsh freezes acts as an insulator and  protects plants and roots from the air and drying freeze conditions.
  • Snow protects your lawn from transpiration. Transpiration is a form of evaporation from plants such as blades of grass or young plants.
  • As the snow melts in the spring it is great for the groundwater supply. That water is absorbed into the roots and the soil to help during the long, hot, dry summer months.
  • An absence of snow during the winter months when the temperatures are extremely low and the air terribly dry can be harsh on your lawn. Without an insulating blanket of snow, the frost line can penetrate deep into the soil. This could damage tender plantings.
  • Walking on the snow on your lawn can cause damage to the crowns of your grass. As young children make snowmen or sled on your lawn the brittle crowns can be broken or crushed. They may not be able to recover in the spring. Just be careful where and how often you walk on your lawn while there is a snow cover.

 

For more information on protecting your lawn and garden during the winter months, call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733, or visit our website.

Lawn Care Resolutions for the New Year

With the New Year rapidly approaching, it is time to think about making resolutions. Many people choose to resolve to eat better or exercise more, but here at Pro-Tech Lawn Care we suggest making some lawn care resolutions that will make your lawn look amazing all growing season. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

 

  • Soil Testing – Good lawns and gardens start with good soil. It is a smart idea to have your soil tested to see what nutrients are missing.
  • Aerate – Starting in the spring, consider aerating the lawn to allow compact soil to be loosened as well as allow nutrients, oxygen, and water to get down to the roots.
  • Weed – Take a few minutes each weekend to weed gardens and the edges of your lawn. Weeds can be invasive and can take away from the aesthetic of your lawn. Just a few minutes a weekend can make a huge difference.
  • Fertilize – Be sure to kick off your lawn care routine with a springtime fertilizer treatment that will help your lawn recover from the long winter. Talk to a lawn care professional about which type and amount of fertilizer is right for your region and grass type.
  • Water Regularly – Resolve to water your lawn correctly. Too much watering can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, too little and the lawn can dry up and brown. Monitor the amount your lawn is getting and adjust your sprinkler accordingly.
  • Pest Inspection – Consider hiring a lawn pest management company to inspect your lawn for pests that can damage your lawn, garden, and plantings. Pro-Tech Lawn Care can inspect for species that can ruin your lawn, trees, bushes, and/or gardens.

 

Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care with any questions at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733, or visit our website for more information.

Detection and Damage of the Asian Longhorned Beetle

While most of us are thinking about putting our gardens, lawns, and outdoor entertaining areas “to bed” for the winter, it is an important time to inspect your property for any pest damage. One such pest that has the capability of damaging trees is the Asian Longhorned Beetle. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) joins us in reminding homeowners to check the trees on their property. This is the best time to spot the round, drill-like holes made by the Asian longhorned beetle, a highly destructive, invasive pest that destroys trees. The Asian Longhorned Beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis, or ALB) is a threat to America’s hardwood trees.

The Damage Potential

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “The Asian longhorned beetle has the potential to destroy millions of acres of America’s treasured hardwoods, including maple, birch, elm, willow, ash, and poplar trees. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure to save infested trees. They will need to be removed to keep the beetle from spreading to nearby trees, as well as to protect homes and other personal property since infested trees will die and can drop branches. The beetle is slow to spread on its own during the early stages of an infestation, so early detection and reporting is critical to containing it.“

Host Trees

These invasive beetles find maples, horse chestnut, elm, willow, birch, and sycamore trees are the most common and favored hosts. Other, less popular hosts include: silk trees, ash, poplar, and mountain-ash. If you have any of these species on your property check them regularly for signs of the infestation.

Signs and Symptoms – With no current cure, early identification and eradication are both critical to its control. It currently infests areas in Massachusetts, New York and Ohio. Look for these symptoms and contact Pro-Tech Lawn Care for treatment and eradication.

 

  • Visible Asian longhorned beetles. Adult beetles have bullet-shaped bodies from 3/4 inch to 1-1/2 inches long, shiny black with white spots, and long, striped antennae, 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 times the size of its body.
  • A series of chewed, round depressions in the bark of a tree
  • Pencil-sized, perfectly round, tree exit holes
  • Excessive sawdust buildup near tree bases
  • Unseasonable, yellowed, or drooping leaves

 

Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care with an questions at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733, or visit our website for more information.

Protect Trees, Bushes, and Shrubs from Winter Damage

Winter in New England often causes my skin to become dry and cracked and makes me cold to the bone for months on end. By adding a blanket to my bed at night and moisturizer during the day, I make it through to the spring none the worse for wear. But what happens to our bushes, trees, and shrubs as they try to manage through the dry air, cold temperatures, and howling wind in winter? Don’t they need protection too? Let’s take a closer look at how to protect trees, bushes, and shrubs from the damage of our New England winters.

 

  • Wind Protection  – Drying winter winds are especially damaging to evergreens and small shrubs. In exposed, windy areas, erecting a windbreak helps prevent damage, as can wrapping shrubs with burlap or easy-to-use shrub wraps.
  • Insulation – Once the ground is frozen, apply a 3″ to 4″ layer of insulating mulch, such as bark mulch or pine straw, around the base of shrubs and bushes, and deciduous trees. This helps insulate the soil so it stays frozen and helps prevent heaving. Keep the mulch several inches away from the trunk in order to prevent rot.
  • Feed – Water plants thoroughly throughout the fall until the ground freezes; make sure the water penetrates 12″ to 18″ deep to reach the root zone.
  • Protect Branches – While some snow is great at insulating trees, shrubs, and bushes, too much weight can break tender branches. Be sure to clear off areas after a heavy snow or erect a teepee of sorts to keep the heaviest snow from damaging the plantings.

 

We all need to maintain moisture and warmth in the winter, whether we are humans, animals, or plantings. Take care of your trees, bushes, and shrubs. Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733 or visit our website for more information.

Fall Lawn Care Mistakes

There is a common misconception that once the last mow has been done that homeowners can close down the yard and settle in for a long winter before they have to worry about their yard again. It would be nice if we could all put any and all yard work out of our minds before the snow starts to fall, but there are a few lawn care mistakes that homeowners make that you will want to avoid in order to start your lawn off healthy next growing season.

 

  • One for the Road – While it may seem like the fall/winter precipitation may be enough for the trees, shrubs, and bushes to survive the winter months, you may want to give them all one last long drink of water so that they do not become dehydrated.

 

  • The Wrong Winterizer – Just as it is important for your plantings, trees, and shrubs to get one last drink, it is also important that they get one last dose of nutrients in the form of a winter fertilizer. Ask a professional which fertilizer is best for your grass type.

 

  • Avoid Leaving Items on the Lawn – Some items may seem like they belong as permanent fixtures around your property, like your bird bath, children’s soccer net, garden decorations, or holiday lights/decorations. Some homeowners even park cars on lawns in an attempt to avoid on-street parking. We suggest avoiding the mistake of leaving these items in one place for too long, especially for the several months of winter. Doing so will make the grass under it brown up and become a bare patch. Bare patches signal unhealthy grass, which in turn signals pests to take hold.  

 

  • Leaves on the Lawn – In addition to removing lawn decorations, we suggest avoiding the mistake of leaving leaves on the lawn – yes, even in those hard to reach corners. Leaves that have fallen and have been left on your lawn will smother the grass by preventing sunlight and air.

 

If you have questions about what you need to do to put your lawn to bed before winter call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733.

 

Deer Damage and Control

For many of us, spotting a white-tailed deer in our yard can take our breath away. They are gorgeous, majestic creatures which feed and raise families on the edges of woods and neighborhoods. While watching them can seem almost surreal, deer can also cause some serious damage to our plantings, trees, and bushes if they regularly visit the same yard and eventually raise their young in the area.

 

White-tailed deer have been growing in population for the past few decades and have reached well over 30 million according to the Department of Agriculture. That can spell disastrous consequences for farmers and homeowners who live in areas where the population explosion has pushed the deer even closer to gardens and agricultural lands. The population growth is caused in part due to the decline in predators such as grizzly bears, wolves, and cougars, as well as a decline in the hunting rates. The white-tailed deer is a species that flourishes in “edge” habitats so deforestation and building progress does not seem to impact the deer numbers.

 

Due to the location of “grinding” teeth within a deer’s mouth, these creatures twist and pull plants apart from ground level up several feet depending upon the size of the animal. When plantings are not available, these deer may strip the foliage off trees and even rip at the bark. Obviously this damage is compounded by the sheer number of deer that need to feed, especially in the northeast region of the United States.

 

Homeowners may need to take some steps to stop the damage or face losing even the strongest of plants and bushes in their yards.

  • Exclusion – Use exclusion techniques such as fences to stop the damage. Homeowners may need to consult with professionals about the type and height of fencing that is needed depending upon your property and the types of plantings.
  • Scare Techniques – Some homeowners have taken to the traditional scarecrow scare technique while others have tried the more technologically advanced technique of sensors that blast a loud noise or flashing light if a deer trips the sensor.
  • Repellents – Some homeowners try repellents that cause deer to avoid the area for feeding. However, be certain this is something you want to try if you have small children, pets, or just want to avoid chemicals of any sort.
  • Call the Professionals – Call lawn care experts who can examine you deer issue and find a solution for your unique property. Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733.