Category Archives: Lawn Care

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?

 

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!

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.

 

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.

Fall Lawn Care Mistakes

The leaves have begun to fall, the days have become shorter, and the weather markedly cooler. This can mean only one thing for your yard and property; it’s time to start cleaning and prepping for the notoriously harsh New England winter! While fall is a great time for picking out your pumpkin and going for a hayride, it is also a time to get ready for the weather that winter brings to our region. When prepping your yard, be sure not to make these common Autumn lawn care mistakes.

  • Rotting Leaves – Many homeowners rake up and/or mow leaves that have fallen over the last few weeks. Be sure to get all the leaves, even in the corners of the yard, under decks, and around gardens. Leaves that are forgotten or missed because of their difficult location can begin to rot and kill the grass underneath. Forgetting to clean up the leaves from all areas of your yard is one of the major mistakes homeowners make.
  • Ignoring Pests – As we enter the later fall months, it may be easy to ignore the pests that seem to have taken up residence in your yard: from bees, to wildlife, and even rodents. Don’t make the mistake of putting off treating for pests even though we are late in the season.
  • Improper Fertilizing – Winterizing your lawn so that it is protected through the cold weather is a good idea. A winterizer high in nitrogen will help your lawn over-winter and green up sooner in the spring. Talk to your lawn care specialists to make sure you are using the right winterizer that has an appropriate composition of phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen.
  • Forgetting to Mulch – Mulch doesn’t just provide aesthetically pleasing ground cover, it holds in moisture and heat that many plantings need through the winter. Don’t think it is too late to mulch just because the calendar reads October.
  • Improper Watering – Over-watering can be just as big a problem as underwatering. Fall is a time to check if you have been giving your grass and plantings the right amount of water that will hold them till spring.

Do you need helping figuring out the right steps to prep your yard and garden for the long winter that lays ahead? Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733, and visit our website.