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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On cold winter nights, there is really nothing better than a warm, crackling fire with a glass of your favorite beverage and your family and friends gathered all around. Not much can ruin this idyllic vision of winter happiness, unless of course the firewood that you brought in had some unwanted visitors! Be aware that mice, rats, termites, beetles, ants, and spiders commonly find haven in and around firewood stacks. While it is pretty normal for pests to find their way onto items stored outside, what is not expected is bringing those critters into your living areas. Here are our top 5 suggestions on how to avoid firewood pests while still being able to enjoy your fireplace or wood burning stove this winter.
- Firewood Stacks – Keep firewood stacks away from your home. Ideally more than 20 feet is suggested as you won’t be inviting mice, rats, and other critters to nest near your house or invite pests to enter your dwelling. It is also suggested that stacks of wood be elevated off the ground to maintain airflow beneath the pile. This helps reduce moisture problems which attract insects.
- First-In First-Out Rule – Most homeowners know this rule when dealing with firewood stack outside the home but it is worth a quick reminder. Use the oldest wood first, restacking the pile periodically if it makes it easier to access the older logs. This will help to keep pests at a minimum as it will prevent infestations from building up.
- Inspect Before Bringing In – It may seem like a simple idea, but always tap the wood on the ground to shake out any pests that may have decided to make a home in or around the wood. Inspect the wood to make sure there are no pests still attached.
- Use Local Wood – Using wood from outside your local area means that you may be harboring non-native pests. If those pests are transferred to your property you may have a new worry next spring as they can “set up shop,” so to speak, in your yard.
- Never Stack Indoors – It may seem more convenient to stack your wood in the basement, garage, or on a porch for easy access during the winter – don’t do it! Insects can emerge to take up residence within your home’s structure. In addition, the firewood pile can also provide attractive places for rodents or other wildlife to nest.
Have questions about pests that found a way into your home via firewood? Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733.
Lawn equipment is notorious for taking a beating throughout the growing season. It gets caked with dirt, debris, grass, and all sorts of items around your property. Mowers, trimmers, and gardening tools should be carefully cleaned, maintained, and stored every winter so they are ready-to-go come the warm spring weather. Here are a few reminders of how to care for your lawn equipment this fall:
- Drain the oil and use up all the gas so that there is no chance of it getting frozen in the motor, tubes or valves.
- Remove the blade and schedule a sharpening so it will be sharp for the first mow next spring. Be sure to clean the undercarriage of any grass.
- Schedule any maintenance that needs to be done on the mower including changing spark plugs, draining fluids, and an overall check up.
- Store properly in an area where it will not be exposed to the winter elements.
- Clean and dry your trimmer.
- Consider having an end-of-season check up done so that it will be ready once you need it in a few months.
- Drain fluids if it is a gas trimmer and check connections if it is an electric trimmer.
- Store in a dry, safe area where the temperatures and precipitation will not harm the equipment.
- Wash and dry all gardening tools so that they are free of dirt, debris, and moisture. Even a little bit of moisture can start the rusting process.
- Store in a clean, dry place so that they avoid cold temps and winter precipitation.
Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care if you have questions about caring for your property at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733.
Well folks, it’s that time of year again, when we start thinking about putting our gardens to bed and giving the grass that one last mow of the season. It is a bit of a double edged sword, though, in that we can stop our weekend chores of mowing, trimming, and weeding, but it also means that the winter weather and precipitation will begin all-too-soon. This is usually the time when we often hear questions like, “Is there anything special we should do for the last mow?” or “How low should I cut?” Let’s take a look at special considerations for this last mow of the season.
- When? The last mow usually occurs when the temps have dropped below 50 degrees during the daylight hours. For inland New England, that could be late October, but for coastal areas that could be early- to mid-November. We suggest the final cut be done right before the estimated first frost or right after.
- Why One Last Cut? Giving one last cut of the grass right before winter helps keep it healthy throughout the colder months. Without a pre-winter cut, lawns can develop a moldy fungus due to excess moisture or leaves that have been allowed to collect. Hopefully you have also had an opportunity to fertilize one last time before the grass goes dormant because the roots will need one last shot of food and nutrients.
- What Height? The last mow of the season should be at an ideal height. If the grass is left tall during the winter, that extra top growth will bend under the weight of snow and rain, trapping cool moisture that quickly breeds winter fungal diseases. This will mean extra work to get your grass healthy in the spring and rid the lawn of pests and disease. The Rule of Thirds should help you. This rule advises not to cut more than a third of your grass off at any one time. If you have allowed it to grow out of control you may need to do several mowings to get it to a shorter length before the first frost hits.
- Any Special Tips? Make sure you have removed all leaves and debris as they will possibly kill the grass below and reveal brown or dead patches in the spring.
Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care if you have questions about the care of your lawn and the pests that may have taken root during this last growing season. Call Us: (603) 382-9644 | Toll Free: (800) 313-4733.