Indoor Gardening

Dreaming of green grass and warm temperatures already? Believe us, you are not alone in wishing spring would get here fast! If the winter seems to be dragging and the winter blues have set in, we suggest doing some indoor gardening that will not only lift your spirits but also get you ready to hit the ground running once spring has sprung!

Whether you are looking to grow food for your family or just add some life to your indoor space, an indoor garden can be just the solution you are seeking. Here are some things to consider when setting up your own garden this winter.

Space

The first thing to consider when setting up your garden is how much space you have available. Are you short on space? Can you only grow a few pots of herbs on your kitchen windowsill? Or perhaps you have a larger space where you can begin some of your plantings early? Plan out how you want to use the space.

Lighting

As we all know, plants need sunlight and water to complete photosynthesis. Make sure your garden has access to sunlight during the day. Depending upon the type of plantings, you will need to adjust when and how much sunlight.

Temperature and Humidity

When setting up your indoor garden, make sure the temperature is within 10 degrees on either side of 65-75°F. That is best for most plants. In addition, winter weather tends to be dry. Add some moisture to the air by misting the plants and leaving a bit of water in the area of the plants to allow for evaporation. If you can access a humidifier, even better!

Growing Medium

How are you growing these plants? Are you using planting soil or trying some form of hydroponics? Whatever your choice, be sure the soil is rich in nutrients and free of pests or pesticides.

What are you growing this winter? Let us know how your indoor gardens work out and what they look like come spring when you have the opportunity to transplant them to the outdoors. As always, call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll-Free: (800) 313-4733, and visit our website.

Deer Dilemmas

The biggest threat to your lawn and gardens sometimes are not the pests that can ravage the area but, rather, the wildlife that can habitually eat away at your beautiful lawn and plantings. One such animal that we hear about often is the deer population damaging the landscaping of homes in our region. Let’s take a closer look at this deer dilemma and what you can do to protect your yard.

According to agricultural research, there were an estimated 500,000 white-tailed deer in the United States at the turn of the century. The most recent estimate is that their population has grown to over 25 million. That is a huge increase! That means that you are not mistaken to believe that you are seeing more and more deer in your region. This population explosion means that homeowners need to get savvy about how to avoid deer damage to their property.

There are many actions you can take to make your yard less attractive to deer, but the first step you will want to take is to be certain that deer are the problem and not some other wildlife. Check for deer prints or deer droppings in your yard. You may even spot a deer munching on your plantings. If you are uncertain, contact an expert that can tell you exactly what kind of animal is harming your lawn and garden.

Take Action

Once you have identified that deer are, in fact, the problem you can take action.

  • Fencing – Deer can jump, so if you are fencing in an area where the deer tend to graze, be sure that the fence is high enough, at least 6-feet tall.
  • Choose Deer-Resistant Plantings – Foxgloves, carnations, poppies, and lavender are all examples of plants that deer will naturally avoid. Plant these around your yard as a natural deterrent.
  • Loud or Sudden Noises – Deer are easily startled by loud noises. Wind chimes, a dog’s bark, and even a bell can scare off the invaders. Some homeowners set up a noise alarm that can deter the deer from setting up camp in your yard.

Do you have a deer problem? Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll-Free: (800) 313-4733, and visit our website.

Prevent Lawn Damage this Winter

Now that winter is here in full force, most of us tend to forget about our lawns. After all, once it is under a layer of snow we tend to forget what we don’t see. The “Out of sight, out of mind” mentality is true even when it comes to lawn care. Unfortunately, there are threats to your lawn even during the dead of winter. Read on to find out how to prevent lawn damage this winter.

Salt Damage

Ice, snow, and frozen precipitation mean heavy use of deicing solutions this winter. While these products are great for making your driveway, stairs, and walkways safe for passage, they do tend to harm the grass that is beneath the snow. As piles of snow get shoveled or plowed on to the grassy surfaces, the salt begins to work its way down to the frozen lawn. You will want to be careful where you pile salt-laden snow or plant salt-tolerant grass options such as perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, red fescue, wheatgrass, alkali grass, and bermudagrass.

Snow Mold

Under the layer of snow, the fungus can attack your lawn this winter. As spring approaches and the snow dissipates, you may notice circular straw-colored patches. We suggest raking affected areas to promote drying and stop fungal growth and avoiding excessive application of nitrogen fertilizer in the fall.

Crown Hydration

During the late winter months, there tends to be frequent thawing and refreezing of the snow and landscape. This process of rapid freezing after a thaw causes ice to form inside the crowns of the grass. This will then cause either rupture of cell membranes or drawing of moisture out of the cells, killing the plant.

Human Mistakes

Some damage caused to lawns is not caused by Mother Nature but, rather, by the homeowners themselves who have left out items on the grass that will cause wilting or even death to that grassy area. For example, some homeowners park a car on their lawn during winter parking bans or pile the patio furniture in a location for safekeeping. The weight of the items will suffocate the grass beneath. This will cause the area to be bare in the spring. To avoid this, try to leave the grassy areas alone and uncovered during the winter.

Avoid these scenarios this winter and keep your lawn healthy to start the spring off on the right foot. As always, any questions, call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll-Free: (800) 313-4733 and visit our website.

 

Lawn Care Resolutions

2019 is right around the corner and that means it is resolution season again! Many of you may be thinking about resolving to eat better, exercise more, or spend less money. If you are a green thumb or just love having the greenest, thickest, plushest grass on the block, then we have another idea for you. What about doing something a little different this year and making Lawn Care Resolutions??? Here are some you may want to make for 2019.

Resolve to Test Your Soil

Not many homeowners know the right amount and type of nutrients that their soil needs because they have not tested their soil. If you don’t know the pH level, nitrogen analysis, or nutrient deficiencies of your soil, then you could be wasting your time and money buying and applying the wrong products. Let this be the year you find out what your lawn really needs with a simple and fast soil test.

Resolve to Treat for Pests

One of the biggest problems that causes turf death or deficiencies it the presence of pests. Resolve this year to have your lawn evaluated by a pest control company who can tell you what pests may be keeping your lawn from being beautiful and healthy.

Resolve to Know When to Feed, Weed and Water

Many homeowners don’t actually know when and how much to feed, weed, and water their lawns. Do a little research about the amount of nutrients and water your lawn needs. Also, look up the common types of weeds and how to rid your lawn of them so you don’t end up plucking out a flower instead of a weed. Don’t have the time? Call Pro-Tech to help you out.

Resolve to Try Something New

If your lawn is not looking its best, try something new be it: planting a new species of flowers, trying out a new grass seed, or dethatching areas that need it. Trying something new could be just what your lawn needs next year.

Happy New Year to all of our clients from the Pro-Tech team!

Mosquito-borne Illnesses: A Year in Review

Mosquito-borne illnesses are diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites transmitted by the bite of a mosquito. Every summer, we dedicate several of our blogs to Preventing Mosquito Bites and Mosquito-Proofing Your Yard but often after the outdoor entertaining season is over, many people put their worries about these nuisance pests behind them. Thankfully, two organizations, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) keep us informed about the number of cases these diseases cause each year and where the majority originate. Here is a quick review of their findings from the past year.

According to the World Health Organization, “Mosquitoes are one of the deadliest animals in the world. Their ability to carry and spread disease to humans causes millions of deaths every year. In 2015 malaria alone caused 438 000 deaths. The worldwide incidence of dengue has risen 30-fold in the past 30 years, and more countries are reporting their first outbreaks of the disease. Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever are all transmitted to humans by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. More than half of the world’s population live in areas where this mosquito species is present. Sustained mosquito control efforts are important to prevent outbreaks from these diseases. There are several different types of mosquitoes and some have the ability to carry many different diseases.”

Hitting closer to home than the Zika virus, dengue and yellow fever is the occurrence of West Nile in our region. According to the CDC, as of October 2, 2018, a total of 48 states and the District of Columbia have reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds, or mosquitoes in 2018. Overall, 1,611 cases of West Nile virus disease in people have been reported to CDC. Of these, 933 (58%) were classified as neuroinvasive disease (such as meningitis or encephalitis) and 678 (42%) were classified as non-neuroinvasive disease.

Be sure to stay in touch as we enter another season of biting insects in just a few short months. If you want more information about treatments to keep the mosquitoes away from your property next spring, contact Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll-Free: (800) 313-4733, and visit our website.

Snow and Your Lawn

The official 2018-2019 winter weather forecast from the Farmers Almanac has been published and you guessed it, New England is about to have yet another cold and snowy winter. For those of us who have to drive in the white stuff, or worse yet, shovel it, this is NOT good news. But what about your lawn? Could snow actually be good for your lawn? The answer is in fact, yes. Here’s why…

Snow Benefits

The vicinity around Boston, Massachusetts gets around 50 inches of snow each year. Some years we get far greater and other years far less. On average, however, we see our fair share of snowfall. The good news is that a light blanket of snow (around 4-5 inches) and the regular melting of this snow can actually be good for our lawns and plantings.

  • Snow is a fantastic insulator. When the temperatures in our area drop to below freezing, the layer of snow can be protective and insulate your turf from the harshest winds and sub-zero temps.
  • Snow protects your lawn from a what is known as “transpiration.” This evaporation process from the leaves and blades of grass can cause a drying of the organic matter in your lawn and garden. Usually, this happens when plantings are open to the dry wind and sun. A coating of snow stops this process.
  • Snow melt also helps the groundwater supply. When the temperature warms above freezing, the melting snow is absorbed into the water table beneath ground level and acts as a moisture reserve during the hot dry months of summer. Melting snow also has the nice effect of evenly pulling nutrients into the root zone.
Snow Warnings

Snow can be a positive factor when it comes to your lawn and garden. However, here are some warnings when it comes to snow.

  • Stay off snow-covered or frozen lawns to keep from harming the fragile crowns of the grass. This means that when you build a snowman or track through your lawn, you are potentially harming the grass beneath.
  • Avoid leaving large amounts of salt or deicers in the snow. Salt and chemical melts can burn and harm the grass beneath. Use minimal amounts and only where needed.
  • Be aware that excessive piles of snow along walkways and driveways can cause snow mold. Try to prevent large piles from accumulating in one area.

We can’t keep the snow from falling, but rest assured that it can be a benefit to your lawn and garden this winter. Stay warm and safe and, as always, if you have questions, call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll-Free: (800) 313-4733, and visit our website.

 

Firewood and Pests – A Quick Review

Do you have a wood burning stove or fireplace and are concerned about the pests in your firewood pile? Since we often field calls from our clients about problems with pests in firewood stacks and those that hitch a ride indoors during the winter season, we thought this would be a good time to remind all of our readers about the steps you can take to protect your home from firewood pests this year.

Common Pests

Your firewood stack is a perfect pest hotel. Inside the stack, smaller rodents and insects are safe from predators and the pile is usually warm and protective. Common pests that can find harborage in a firewood stack include:

  • Carpenter ants
  • Termites
  • Longhorned beetles
  • Wood-boring beetles
  • Bark beetles
  • Mice and Rats
Prevention Tips

While it would be impossible to prevent insects from hanging out in your woodpile, it is possible to stop them from using your wood as a way to enter the interior of your home. Here are some prevention tips to follow:

  • Keep your woodpile 10-20 feet away from your home to stop insects from infesting a stack placed right up next to your structure.
  • Leave the firewood outside until it is to be burned. Bring in only what you need for the day/night. Burn the wood immediately. The reason for this is that insects in firewood stored outdoors generally require several days to warm up in your home before they become active.
  • Bang or knock the wood before you bring the pieces inside. Many a mouse has been known to cling to wood while being carried inside!
  • Keep the wood off of the ground and stack it loosely to improve airflow and speed drying.
  • Use the rule of first in, first out when choosing wood to burn.
  • Buy local wood to keep from introducing non-native species.

Have a firewood pest problem? Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll-Free: (800) 313-4733, and visit our website.

 

Overwintering 101

Most homeowners mistakenly believe that pests simply go away, disappear, or die off during the winter months. While it is true that many insects seek shelter in buildings during the cooler months, often called overwintering, they are still around and can cause problems. Overwintering pests generally become a problem in the fall and again in the spring. Let’s take a closer look at what overwintering really means and the pests that tend to behave this way. We will also discuss some steps that you can take to prevent your home from becoming a target.

Overwintering

Conditions in New England can be difficult for survival for many species of wildlife and insects. The sub-zero temperatures, ice, snow, and limited access to food can make activity nearly impossible and survival is not a given. Many species then turn to hibernation or migration to “overwinter” in our region. The inside walls, attic, basement, or crawl spaces of your home may make for an ideal location to overwinter. Pests such as stink bugs, boxelder bugs, beetles, and even rodents spend the colder months overwintering until the climate improves. They can do this as adults or in other stages of the life cycle. In addition to your home, overwintering locations can include: inside sheds, under tree bark, or beneath fallen leaves or other plant matter on the ground, among other places. The ultimate goal is to find a location that is protective and allows for survival.

The Signs

Many homeowners do not even know that pests have been overwintering in their home until the warmer months when they start to reemerge from their winter hiding spot. Most overwintering insects go unnoticed, but there are signs that you may want to be aware of. In the late fall, be aware of beetles, ladybugs, or other insects clinging to the side of your home, especially where the direct sun hits your structure. Another sign is usually in the early spring when these insects begin to reemerge like the stink bugs. In those cases, the sign will be an actual insect or many insects in your home trying to make their way outside. They will head toward windows and light sources in your home as a way to find a way back outside.

Prevention

The best way to prevent insects from choosing your home is to eliminate access to the interior of your structure. This means doing a thorough examination of your property and sealing all openings, gaps, cracks, and utility openings. Seal doors, windows, piping, vents, chimney openings, and all the ways you can visually see that an insect could find a way into your home.

Need help with overwintering insects in your home? Call Pro-Tech at (603) 382-9644 or Toll-Free: (800) 313-4733, and visit our website.

 

Last Minute Lawn Care Before Winter

Are you a “last minute” person? Do you put things off? Well, you are not alone. Psychology Today reports that 20% of us identify as chronic procrastinators. The number goes even higher if we take into account people who procrastinate occasionally. Well, if you have procrastinated taking care of your lawn, then you will want to use our “Last Minute Lawn Care” checklist. Here are a few things that you should check on before winter sets in for our region.

  • Fall is an important time to test the soil, fertilize, and aerate. Depending upon how late you are with these tasks, some of them may need to wait until the spring to be completed. Fall fertilizing helps keep lawns vigorous and healthy when growing seasons are long and reduces the length of a dormant period during which the lawn is an unattractive brown.
  • Mow for the last few times. Use the Rule of Thirds, where you do not take off more than one third of the height of the grass at any one time
  • Dethatch the yard with vigorous raking. Thatch can build up and choke out the grass.
  • Rake the lawn to remove fallen leaves. I know it is a chore that no one loves, but leaving the leaves means that they get wet, moldy, and block the needed sunlight, nutrients, and water from getting to the grassroots.
  • Protect tender plantings and bushes. Many homeowners find that wrapping bushes and shrubs help protect them from the cold and heavy snow that can damage branches.
  • Mulching around bushes and trees can help hold in moisture that is needed and provide a layer of insulation. It will also help with weeds and pests in the spring.
  • Care for your lawn equipment. Once you have completed the last of your yard chores for the winter, be sure to clean off and store your lawn tools and mower/trimmer in a dry area. Many people find that this is a great time for repairs and sharpening blades.
  • Clean the gutters. Make sure to clear out the leaves, twigs, and debris that has gotten caught in your gutters. This is a prime spot for pests to flourish if allowed.
  • Pick up all lawn items like garden gnomes, planters, and patio furniture.

Are you ready for winter? Need help putting your lawn to bed? Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733, and visit our website.

 

Irrigation Shut Down and Winterization

With winter right around the corner, it is important to take care of all the outdoor aspects of your home, from putting the garden to bed, to wrapping bushes and shrubbery, to probably the most important task, winterizing and shutting down your irrigation system.

Many homeowners mistakenly believe that shutting off the water pressure and draining the water manually can do the trick. Unfortunately, unless all the water has been removed from your system there is a still a chance that there could be some remaining that could freeze, expand, and then damage the pipes. Costly repairs could be necessary if there are unseen breaks, leaks and pressure issues in the spring. Irrigation winterization should be done by someone who has experience shutting down your particular system or is a professional in this area. You really don’t want to find out next spring that some of your pipes are damaged because the shutdown was not performed correctly. That would be a costly mistake!

While there are a couple methods to closing down an irrigation system, there are common tasks that should be completed, whether you are choosing the manual method or the blow out method. These tasks include:

  • Shutting off water pressure
  • Draining the mainlines
  • Blowing out or draining the entire system
  • Winterizing the entire system, including the backflow
  • Shutting off and checking all valves
  • Inspecting all sprinkler heads for damage
  • Inspecting all aspects of the system and troubleshooting for issues

Do you need help with your irrigation system? Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733, and visit our website.