Monthly Archives: November 2018

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.

 

Controlling Firewood Pests

Most of us consider sitting in front of a crackling fire as a cherished part of the winter months. However, even the joy of a warm, cozy fire can be ruined by uninvited pests!  Last week we discussed the potential pest situations when it comes to your fireplace. This week we want to take a closer look at the firewood that is piled in your yard. This area can be a serious pest hideout and haven. Here are a few suggestions to ensure that you are doing everything possible to control the pests that may be attracted to your firewood stack so they don’t find a way inside your home.

  • Location of Firewood Stack – Pest experts suggest keeping a firewood pile away from structures such as your home, garage, or shed. Keep wood away from buildings to stop pests from tunneling directly from the wood pile into the structure. We also suggest not putting your wood pile under trees that may harbor pests such as beetles that could easily find their way into your wood. Finally, keep wood off the ground to keep it from getting wet. Moisture encourages pests. Try putting the wood up on concrete blocks or pallets to allow for airflow below the stack.
  • Practice First in First Out – Use the oldest wood first, restacking the pile periodically. This will help to keep pests at a minimum as you are not allowing infestations to build up.
  • Check for Surface Pests – Before bringing any wood inside your home, check for any visible surface pests. Brush them off or bang them against the ground to shake them free. While you may not be able to see any pests that have burrowed inside the wood, at least take care of any that you can see.
  • Only take in the amount of wood you will need. Bringing heavy wood into a home is no fun chore, so some homeowners consider hauling in a large load once and using when needed. We suggest only bringing in what you will burn for the night to keep out any pests that could emerge with the heat of your home.
  • Use only local firewood. This will help avoid bringing non-native pests into our region.

 

Do you have questions about how to control the pests in and around your firewood stack? Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733, and visit our website.

Fireplaces and Pests

As winter draws near, most of us begin to take our entertaining indoors. Gone are the carefree summer nights of BBQs and fire pits. However, if you still long for the sight, smell, and comfort of a crackling fire, your living room fireplace will have to suffice during the winter season. There are some caveats when dealing with fireplaces, and the large potential for pests. Let’s look at some of the facets of winter homeowners should be aware of in regard to avoid pests in and around fireplaces.

If you think a fireplace is a comfy place to gather around, especially during the depths of winter, you are not wrong. But guess who else thinks so – wildlife and pests! Fireplaces and chimneys can harbor numerous pests, from wildlife that find refuge in the dark cavern, to pests who find a ride inside on firewood. Here are some suggestions of steps to avoid pests of all sizes and shapes around your fireplace.

  • Firewood – Check all firewood coming into your house. In other words, give it not only a visual inspection when you take it off the wood pile but also give it a few good bangs to be sure there is not an infestation of any variety of pest that you may be bringing inside. Check for scratches and gnaw marks that may be indicative of rodents living in your wood pile. Check that there are no active infestations. Use the wood in a timely manner. The longer it sits in your yard, the more likely pests have found a way to live and hide inside.
  • Check the Flue – Rodents, birds, squirrels, racoons, and other wildlife have been known to build nests inside chimneys that are accessible from the roof. Shut the flue when you are not using the fireplace to be sure these pests do not have access to the interior of your home. But be sure to open each time you use the fireplace.
  • Fireplaces should also have a cover or seal that can keep pests from getting inside your home. Many homeowners like the safety aspect of a fireplace screen to keep children and pets from getting too close to the flames. It can serve two purposes – to keep pests out and protect your family from the heat of the flames.

Fireplaces can be a haven for pests of many different varieties. If you find that you have pests living in your firewood stack, talk to the pest specialists at Pro-Tech. Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733, and visit our website.

 

Care for Bushes, Plants, and Trees this Winter

Winter is on its way, and boy can it pack a wallop when it arrives! The cold, wind, and precipitation can be pretty harsh not just on humans, but on the landscape as well. When preparing for the winter weather, it is important for homeowners to remember their bushes, plants, and trees. To care for these plantings, let’s look at the threats as well as solutions to protecting the landscaping in your yard this winter.

Winter’s Challenges

Sure, winters in New England are tough, but it is important to recognize the challenges your plantings face in order to protect them.

  • Salt Damage – Salt spray is a huge problem if your plants are near walkways, driveways, or close to the road.
  • Sun “Burning” – Dry winds and winter sun can dry out or “burn” conifer needles and broadleaf evergreen foliage, which continue to transpire (give off water vapor) during winter.
  • Animal Browsing – In this region, it is common for deer, rabbits and other animals to get desperate and gnaw at the plantings and bark that is still present during the heart of the winter.
  • Heavy Snow – When snow piles up during a storm, tender branches can break or become damaged due to the weight of the precipitation.

Winter Solutions

While each yard is unique, it may help to try some of these solutions. These help to protect your plants from the cold, wind, salt, heavy snow and, of course, the wildlife.

  • Avoid salt damage by shoveling or plowing away from the roots of plantings when possible. On dry days, sweep or remove salt build up so it does not have a chance to be absorbed into the ground. Use minimal salt around areas that have plantings. Lastly, read the packaging on deicers to be sure you are causing the least damage to organic matter while still allowing for safety on walkways.
  • Animals need to survive the winter as well, so we really can’t blame them for nibbling on trees and bushes occasionally. Covering the plantings that are most prone to animal browsing can help save them from the chewing and gnawing of wildlife. The coverings or wrappings can also act as an insulator.
  • Snow Damage – Some level of snow cover is good for plantings as it holds in moisture and heat. However, if you notice that the heavy snow is bending or damaging branches, then either remove the snow carefully or construct a small protective cover that allows the plant to be spared the brunt of the heavy snow.
  • Protect young trees from sun-scald with bark or tree wrapping that can be removed as the spring nears.

Do you have questions about protecting your trees, bushes, or plantings this winter? Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733, and visit our website.