All posts by Mike Sperling

Avoid Lawn Damage Due to Road Chemicals

Winter is the season of snow, freezing rain, and slushy roads. In order to keep the public safe, de-icing materials are used on our highways and roadways. Many homeowners also use these chemicals on paths, steps, and driveways on their property. While they do make driving and walking safer, the chemicals in these de-icers can damage lawns and plantings as the ingredients seep into the ground. Read on to follow some simple steps to avoid lawn damage due to deicing and road chemicals.

  • Don’t pile up snow in the same locations. It is common for homeowners to have a routine of where snow is piled in their yard. Try to spread it around for each storm if at all possible to keep the same areas from getting a high concentration of snow and chemicals.
  • Create a barrier out of netting or plastic that can keep snow and ice melt from blowing or drifting on to your lawn.
  • Remove the snow as it falls so it does not have a chance to freeze. This way you will need less deicer.
  • Keep sewer drains open and free of snow so that the melting snow has somewhere to go rather than just in your lawn.
  • Use a salt alternative such as kitty litter or sand from your town’s DPW. Choose a deicing agent that is safe for landscapes. These products are healthier for the environment and allow for traction on icy areas.
  • Only use what you need. Many homeowners go with the idea that, “More is better.” This is not true when it comes to deicing materials. Only use enough to get the ice to melt, then remove excess through sweeping into a trash bin.
  • As the spring approaches and the sunny days get milder, try watering down the salt content with water. Make sure it is during a mild spell so the water does not refreeze.

 

Questions about your lawn and deicing chemicals? Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll-Free: (800) 313-4733, and visit our website.

 

Winter Wildlife

While we all hunker down for the winter, it can be fun to watch some of the wildlife as they, too, try to stay warm and make it through the storms and temperature changes. If you have wildlife that like to visit your yard, there are some actions that you may want to take to both enjoy watching the critters and keep your lawn and garden safe. Continue reading to find out more about winter wildlife and what they may mean for your yard.

Some common animals that may find your yard appealing during the winter months include deer, coyotes, birds, and animals who may have awoken prematurely from their slumber due to an increase in temperature. These could include skunks, raccoons, gophers, and moles.

As you watch from the window, you may consider helping these creatures by putting out food so they have some sustenance. However, one of the main warnings from the Mass Gov website about feeding these animals is that it does way more harm than good. Environmental and wildlife experts say, “While people have good intentions, supplemental feeding of wildlife typically does more harm than good.”

Here are a few of the reasons why this is not a good practice:

  • Feeding wildlife tends to congregate them in one area making the spread of disease more rampant and allows for predators to more easily find their prey.
  • Feeding wildlife can attract them to a certain yard or area where grass and plantings can be trampled and eaten as well.
  • Competition over food being put out can cause aggression between wildlife.
  • Wildlife may need to travel distances to get to your yard, wasting energy and potentially crossing roads that will put them in further danger.

If you find that you have any of these wildlife in your area, watch and enjoy but allow them to do their instinctual thing and survive the way they know how. If the wildlife is destroying your yard, you may want to install barriers to protect your bushes and plantings.

 

Lawn Care for All Seasons

We all know about mowing, raking, and feeding our lawns, especially in the spring and summer. But did you know that lawn care is a year-round activity? In order for your lawn and plantings to look healthy and strong, there are actions that homeowners should be taking during each season. Let’s take a closer look at how to care for your lawn throughout all four seasons.

Spring

This is the time of year to prep for the upcoming growing season. Before planting, be sure to check when the expected last freeze will be as you do not want to start too early and lose your plantings to one last cold night. During the weeks before you can begin mowing, you may want to do the following tasks:

  • Clean up the yard by raking out leftover leaves from the fall.
  • Sharpen mower blades.
  • Repair or tune up other yard equipment like trimmers and aerators.
  • This may be a good time to aerate your lawn and allow for the nutrients, water, and oxygen that the roots need to reach their target.
  • Fertilize in the early spring.
  • Dethatch any areas of the lawn that look thick with dead grass.
Summer

Now that the growing season is in full swing, you will want to maintain the yard with some common activities that may be needed weekly such as mowing, trimming back bushes and edging the perimeter of your lawn. Water regularly depending upon the needs of your grass and the climate in your region. In addition to these weekend activities we also suggest:

  • Summer fertilization if not done before this point.
  • Treatment for grubs and other pests who may be making their way into the lawn.
Fall

This is a season highlighted by continued mowing, trimming, edging, watering, and feeding the lawn. The largest activity is keeping the grass from being choked by the falling leaves. Keep the lawn clear so that the lawn can continue to absorb any fertilizer, water, and nutrients. The winter is when these ingredients will be needed to survive.

Winter

You may think your job is done during this season but there are a few things to complete before heading indoors.

  • Clean off the lawn. This includes patio furniture, swings, hammocks, garden gnomes, and other items that will kill the grass.
  • Keep the de-icing products off your lawn as much as possible throughout the winter.
  • Clean and store all equipment. This may include having lawn equipment tuned up or repaired.
  • Have irrigation systems professionally shut down and blown out.

Wondering if you are doing the right thing for your lawn? Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll-Free: (800) 313-4733, and visit our website.

 

Does the Cold Winter Kill Lawn Pests?

Gardeners, farmers, and lawn enthusiasts have long wondered just what happens to the pests that damage the lawn and plantings all growing season long. Do they just die or hide out until the weather improves? Let’s take a closer look at this question as we try to decipher the impact of the cold New England winters on lawn and garden pests.

Does the Cold Winter Kill Lawn Pests?

A quick Google search about the winter’s impact on pests shows that this is a common question that has stymied researchers for decades. In short, the answer is… it depends. The answer may change depending upon: the type of insect and the range of temperature.

According to the Mother Nature Network online, “Insects survive the winter as eggs, pupae, larvae or, in some cases, as adults in tiny micro-habits in leaf litter, the ground, bark on trees, or even in your house,” he explained. “When the temperature is at 40 degrees [Fahrenheit] or lower, they can’t move. At 45 degrees, they begin moving, but only slowly. If the temperature gets to 70 degrees in mid-March or early April, insects get a fast start and quickly produce multiple generations that can quickly soar to hundreds of thousands. If, however, cold temperatures extend into April or even May, insects will miss one or more of their population cycles.”

The Farmers’ Almanac states that “All insects have some ability to withstand cold weather. One of the most common strategies is to bury themselves underground, beneath leaf litter, or to burrow under tree bark for protection and hibernate for the season. These protective maneuvers work pretty well most winters, allowing insect populations to remain relatively stable.”

Recent warmer-than-normal winters have caused an explosion of some pests such as ticks and mosquitoes. When winter temperatures never reach a truly deep freeze, bugs make it through to spring unscathed and ready to multiply. If you have a specific pest that you are curious about, we have included two resources below that will help you determine how strongly the pests in your area will make a return once spring emerges.

Farmers’ Almanac – Do Winters Kill Insects?

Mother Nature Network – Does a cold winter decrease bugs?

 

Preplanning your Spring Plantings

Last week, we explored Indoor Gardening in our blog. This week, we are looking at how you can get a jump on your lawn and garden by preplanning where and what you will grow when the season changes. Not only can planning your landscaping, plantings, lawn, and garden be good to boost your spirits this winter, but studies have shown that a manicured lawn can increase the value of your home by 20%! Here are some strategies to start planning your spring plantings.

Having a lawn that all the neighbors envy is not an easy thing to create and it doesn’t just happen overnight. For many, it is a labor of love that lasts from the moment the season starts to the first snowflake in the fall. We suggest making a master list of things that you will want to do to nurture your lawn and garden during the growing season. What might that list look like? …

  1. Schedule lawn treatments that will examine what your grass and soil need to recover from the winter and thrive all season long. This should include a soil test, lawn treatments, and methods to get your plantings going.
  2. Schedule an irrigation system check. If you have a built-in sprinkler system you will want to have it examined for any problems that may have occurred over the winter such as damaged heads or a system that was not shut down properly.
  3. Decide on a landscape design that is sustainable and right for your yard. Talk to a lawn care professional about the needs of your lawn. Are there shady areas that need less water or areas that are prone to erosion due to a slope? Are there plantings that are better in the direct sun or a grass option that is right for your region? Winter is a great time to talk this through and do your research.
  4. Choose Plantings! Once you have a grasp of what it will take to get your yard ready to go in the spring, the fun can begin. Use a gardening app online to plan out exactly where you are going to put your plants. Many apps allow you to input when approximately they will bloom and what colors you can expect and when. Have fun with it!

Preplanning your spring garden and lawn should be fun and can help take the “blah” out of winter. If you have questions, call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll-Free: (800) 313-4733, and visit our website.

 

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.