Category Archives: Lawn and Tree Pests

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.

 

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?

 

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!

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.

 

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.

 

Plantings in the Fall?

Hot apple cider, pumpkins, and crisp leaves crunching underfoot – all these things remind us of fall. But what about planting? Not usually something you think about when it comes to this time of year, right? Planting in the fall; is it even feasible? Planting isn’t just a spring and summer activity. Believe it or not, there are some species that do very well when planted in the fall. Let’s take a closer look at some plants that could actually benefit from planting this fall.

According to Better Homes and Gardens, “Fall has distinct planting benefits. Autumn’s cooler air temperatures are easier on both plants and gardeners. The soil is still warm, allowing roots to grow until the ground freezes. On the flip side, in spring, plants don’t grow until the soil warms up. Fall has more good days for planting than spring does, when rain and other unpredictable weather can make working the soil impossible. And there’s a lot more free time for gardening in autumn than in always-frantic spring. Plus, the late season is usually bargain time at garden centers that are trying to sell the last of their inventory before winter.”

So what could you consider planting this fall?

  • Spring Bulbs such as: Daffodil, Tulips, Grape hyacinth, Siberian squill, Allium, Fritillaria, Dog’s-tooth violet, Glory-of-the-snow, Winter aconite and Snowdrop.
  • Pansies are good to plant in the fall because the ground is still fairly warm and will allow the roots to get established.
  • Turfgrass is a good bet for fall planting as well. Cool-season grasses such as bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass should be fertilized in early September and again in late October or early November to give a boost for earlier spring green-up.
  • Bushes and Shrubs find fall to be an ideal time for taking root and getting established. Be sure to fertilize and water before they become dormant so they will start strong in the spring.

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

Lawn and Tree Disease Series – Fairy Rings

As we conclude this month’s discussion of lawn and tree diseases, we want to remind homeowners that they will be the first to notice a problem or symptom in their yard. Look for changes in the coloring and health of your turfgrass each time you mow or trim your lawn. You will spot the changes first. The earlier treatment begins, the sooner your lawn will be restored to its healthy, lush thickness and coloring. This week we are taking a closer at the not-so-magical fungal disease called Fairy Ring. While this disease is steeped in myth and folklore, including the idea that the rings bring luck or fortune, lawn care experts will tell you that this disease is not one to be ignored.

Fairy Rings

Fairy Rings are a type of fungal disease that look innocently like a ring of mushrooms. In fact, instead of a fanciful fairytale ring built by fairies, these arcs or circles of mushrooms are a sign that there is something wrong under foot. Fairy rings are caused by a diverse family of soil-inhabiting fungi called basidiomycetes. They typically appear as dark green circles in the lawn ranging in size from a few inches to 200 feet or more in diameter. A circle of mushrooms develops around the infected area – thus named the fairy ring! These “rings” can become unsightly and damage the grass roots below the surface. The fungus then depletes the soil of the needed nutrients to grow, and kills the turf.

Treatment

Controlling this fungal disease can prove to be fairly difficult. Depending upon the size and severity of the rings, lawn specialists can determine if dethatching, aeration, chemical control, or reseeding is necessary. A well-cared-for lawn is the best prevention for this disease. This includes regular watering, dethatching, fertilizing, and soil testing.

Do you have Fairy Rings in your yard or another type of fungal disease? Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733, and visit our website to request more information or an evaluation of the disease that may be impacting your lawn.