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.

 

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.