Posted by & filed under fire ant.

Now is a great time to control the red imported fire ant according to NC State University.

The red imported fire ant is native to southern Brazil, but as their name suggests they were accidentally imported to the United States around the year 1930.  Since then, they have moved from Mobile, AL to eleven different states, primarily in the Southeast.

These ants are known for their multiple stings, and while not fatal for most people, the stings are painful.  If you have had the misfortune of being stung, you know all too well the need to keep them out of your lawn.

Most information available suggests that it is impossible to eradicate these insects, but control is possible.  The primary techniques are to treat the mounds, place baits, or a combination of the two methods.  If you are going to place baits, it is best not to treat the mounds until a few days later.

In general, baits tend to be more effective, but can also take a little longer to be fully effective on the colony.  In cases where quick control is necessary, a drench of the mound will give the quickest knockdown, but even then it is recommended to put out baits to help deal with any ants that escaped the mounds.

The internet is filled with “home remedies” designed to control fire ants. Below are a few of the more popular solutions which are completely ineffective when combating these pests and should not be utilized. They include:

  • Liquid soap – which supposedly removes the protective wax layer of the ant. However, that’s simply not true.
  • Grits – while some assume if ants ingest the tiny grains they will expand and explode. But fire ants only ingest liquids, not solid foods.
  • Club soda – many believe this will suffocate the colony. And while a few ants may be killed, the liquid quickly disappears into the soil rendering it ineffective.

This publication from NC State lists various chemicals and tips that homeowners can use if you prefer the do it yourself method.

If, however, you would prefer to let a professional deal with these pests, we would be happy to help!

For more information from NC State on red imported fire ants check out the following links:

Managing Fire Ants In Your Yard: https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/O&T/lawn/note145/note145.html

Red Imported Fire Ant in North Carolina: https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Urban/ifa.htm

Posted by & filed under bulbs.

Late September through October is an excellent time to plant spring-flowering bulbs such as crocus, tulips, and daffodils into your landscape beds for a colorful pop next spring. These plants need to develop roots in the fall and must meet a chilling requirement over the winter to bloom in the spring.

It is important to choose a planting site that has full sun to partial shade. Ideally, bulbs would be planted in a sandy loam soil, but even sandy or clay type soils can be used if organic materials such as peat moss, compost, or aged bark are mixed in.

There are several things you can do that will help improve your success rate with bulbs blooming next spring.

  • Plant bulbs two to three times deeper than the height of the bulb. For example, if the bulb is 3 inches tall you will have a hole that is 6 to 9 inches deep so that there is sufficient soil to cover the bulb.
  • Plant bulbs with the “pointy” side facing up.
  • Make sure your soil is in an area with good drainage as bulbs will rot in wet soil.
  • Once the bulbs are in the ground, fertilize with a 5-10-5 granular fertilizer to help the bulbs grow.

A few other things to keep in mind as well.

  • If we experience a dry winter, supplemental watering will be necessary. Even though there are no leaves above the ground surface, the bulb is active producing roots.
  • Be sure to protect the bulbs from pests as well. Squirrels, rabbits, and voles will tend to damage or dig them up if they are planted too close to the surface.
  • Keep bulbs inside flower beds. Planting bulbs in the middle of the lawn will cause problems when trying to apply spring pre-emergent applications, potentially damaging the flowers or leaving spots of the lawn vulnerable to weeds.

With a little planning and extra effort this fall, you will be well on your way to being the envy of your neighborhood next spring. Contact LawnAmerica today for more information.

Posted by & filed under Fescue.

It’s been pretty dry in Carolina for the past six weeks, making watering your lawn much more important. And if we’ve seeded fescue grass, proper watering is even more important.

We’ve prepared the soil with good aeration. We’ve applied a good starter fertilizer and an organic soil amendment. All you have to do is wait for the seed to come up and your lawn will look perfect, right?

WRONG! Without proper watering on a consistent basis, seed will not germinate properly and the new seedlings will not grow. Water is the key, for without it plants will die.

After seeding is complete, refer to the detailed watering instructions we left at your property, which explains how to properly water a newly seeded lawn. Keep the seedbed moist for at least 10 days – watering several times daily if possible.

After the seed germinates, you can cut back on the watering frequency, but the soil must not be allowed to dry out. The seedlings are very fragile, with a weak root system, so it will take months for that to effectively develop. Gradually, you can increase the duration of watering, while cutting back on the frequency.

Another key factor is using the best fescue seed possible. If you are doing your own seeding, don’t use what’s available from the big box stores. CLICK HERE for more information on that. At LawnAmerica, we use a blend of three top quality fescue varieties, plus a small amount of perennial ryegrass, with zero weed seed and almost zero crop seed.

So please help us out and do your part in watering your lawn and seeded fescue. And remember, it will take several months before seeded fescue will mature and thicken up to be a dense grass, so be patient. By next spring, your fescue turf should be looking great.

Posted by & filed under azaleas.

Written by Evie Baltzer, LawnAmerica Horticulturist

Are your Azaleas bright green or yellow in color?

If so, you may have pH problems with the soil around your plants.

You can determine if it’s a pH problem by inspecting the leaves a little more closely. If portions, or in severe cases, all of the leaves on the plant are a bright green to yellowish color, but still have clearly visible green veins, then you have a pH problem.

Left untreated, it will eventually kill the plant. Thankfully, there is an easy remedy.

Azaleas require acidic soil within the pH range of 4.5-6.0. If the soil around the Azalea becomes more alkaline and goes above 6.0, which often happens in our area, then the plant and its subsequent blooms will suffer.

There are several things a homeowner can do to help remedy this problem. Applying Sphagnum Peat, Aluminum Sulfate or Ferrous Sulfate are among the easiest solutions.

Sphagnum Peat and Aluminum Sulfate can usually be found at your local nursery/garden center or at most big box home improvement stores. Two inches of Sphagnum Peat can be added around the root ball of the plant and then tilled into the top eight inches of soil.

Follow directions on the package for Aluminum Sulfate to ensure proper amounts are added. You can also add a thin layer of Sphagnum Peat to Azaleas every year to try to preserve optimum pH levels.

At LawnAmerica, we use Ferrous Sulfate, which is a powdered form of Sulfur. It’s easy to apply, works well, but unfortunately is harder for a homeowner to come by.

In most cases, once you’ve amended the soil with any of these products, you’ll see the leaves start to change back from bright yellowish to its regular green color in about two months or less.

And as always, if you have any questions regarding your property, contact LawnAmerica today.

Posted by & filed under Lawn Care.

I set out to write an inspiring blog today about the origins of Labor Day.  After researching the start of Labor Day, I learned it was not all that inspiring.  It is a holiday born out of strikes, clashes and even deaths in the late 1800’s.  Many of the traditions associated with Labor Day came to be out of finally recognizing the efforts of the working man, who at that time earned low wages and averaged as many as seven 12-hour workdays each week while working in less than ideal conditions.

In many ways, the conversations that took place back then are the same conversations that take place now.  We still have national discussions on work hours, pay, and overall working conditions.  Regardless of your point of view though, I think we can all agree that without hardworking Americans, our country would not be the great place it is today.

Here at LawnAmerica, we strive to provide the highest pay possible for our staff, which averages anywhere from 20-40% higher than other lawn care companies.  We also strive to provide a great place to come to work, great benefits, the best equipment, and opportunities to grow.

However, this post is not about LawnAmerica the business – it’s about the 68 people that make up LawnAmerica.

Our Route Managers and Technicians spend the year walking 10 miles or more each day while pulling a hose or pushing a spreader.  Sometimes those miles are covered during 100 degree days while others are in the cold of winter.  There are cloudy days and windy days and days where the storms sneak up on you.  There are 50 pound bags of fertilizer to carry around.  There are sore muscles and the ever persistent pollen allergies.  There are hundreds of phone calls to make each year in addition to knowing about weeds, insects, and fertilizers.

Our office staff may not be subject to the same temperature extremes, but their jobs are equally as challenging.  First of all, they have the task of keeping 50 Route Managers and Technicians (who are in their 20’s and 30’s) in line, which can be a full-time job of its own.  But in addition to that, they talk to thousands of customers each year – helping to measure properties, set up services, take payments, and solve problems.  They manage countless reports helping us not miss services and to make sure that we stay on time.  Without them, we would never get anything done!

Our people have always been what makes LawnAmerica great.

To the men and women that make up LawnAmerica; we love and appreciate you!

Happy Labor Day

 

P.S. – We will be closed Monday, September 4th in observation of the Labor Day holiday.

Posted by & filed under aphids, crape myrtles.

Written by Evie Baltzer, LawnAmerica Horticulturist

Aphids are a big problem for Crape Myrtles every year and this year is no different. If you have a Crape Myrtle with wet, sticky leaves and tiny white to greenish yellow bugs all over the underside, then you probably have aphids. In this region, aphids primarily affect Crape Myrtles, but have been known to affect Rose of Sharon as well as Roses from time to time.

Aphids are tiny insects that feed on the sap of a plant, and if severely infested, can make it decline in health and keep it from blooming. More severe infestations will actually damage the plant enough that it will not be able to survive a harsh winter. Therefore, it’s important to take care of your aphid problems before they become substantial. The easiest solution is to prevent them.

Preventing aphids is fairly easy. At LawnAmerica, we prevent aphids by performing two applications: one in the spring and one in the summer – using a systemic insecticide that provides excellent results. However, if you missed the first preventative application, we can still treat aphid problems with the same insecticide.

If you prefer a do it yourself approach, Merit Insecticide (active ingredient: Imidacloprid) is readily available at most big-box stores and garden centers. Just remember to read the directions for treating aphids specifically.

Lady bugs are also a common predator of aphids. So if you’re interested in going the more natural route, lady bugs should be in your arsenal – as well as insecticidal soap.

If you are unsure whether or not you have aphids, or for any other landscape related issues that may need attention, give us a call. We’re always happy to help.

Posted by & filed under overseed.

The drive into the office took a bit longer this morning.  School buses took their rightful place in the morning traffic, picking kids up and dropping them off for the start of another school year.  This familiar sight is just another reminder that summer is winding down and fall is right around the corner.

With the impending change in seasons on the horizon, it is time to start planning to overseed your Fescue lawn.  Unlike warm season grasses such as Bermudagrass or Zoysiagrass, which spread on their own, Fescue requires overseeding to maintain thickness and density.

Fescue is a cool-season, clump type turfgrass, which performs best in cooler climates. But it can be used in the transition zone for shaded areas, where warm season grasses do not perform well.  Being a clump type turfgrass means that it does not develop its density from underground rhizomes or stolons on the surface.  Instead, it has to be seeded every year to help repair any damage from drought, disease, insects or heavy traffic.  Re-seeding, or overseeding, introduces new plants into the grass, which as they grow and mature, will develop into a thick, healthy lawn.

Fall is the ideal time for Fescue seeding.  Seeds planted in September and October have time to sprout and develop a strong root system before winter sets in, which is critical to a healthy plant.

Over the coming weeks, your Route Manager will be leaving behind information for Fescue seeding. Our seeding operation consists of using a top-quality blend of Fescue seed, with zero weed seed.  We aerate the soil, rake the bare areas, apply a starter fertilizer, and leave behind detailed watering instructions.  We also return in about three weeks after the overseeding to check for any thin areas and apply extra seed if necessary.

Call LawnAmerica today to make sure you reserve your spot on our schedule.  It does fill up quickly.

Also, look out for those school buses and school zones!

Posted by & filed under fertilizer, herbicide.

Recently, my wife and I spent a good portion of the summer in the beautiful mountains of Crested Butte, Colorado. I couldn’t help but notice how green and lush the bluegrass was while enjoying one of the outdoor concerts in the area. Kids were happily playing in the grass, others laying on it, and I even caught a glimpse of a woman running her hands over the soft blades of grass as though she were petting a dog.

I wondered if the experience would have been as pleasant if the park was not allowed to use fertilizers and herbicides to achieve such a thick, inviting lawn.

The word “herbicides” can have a negative connotation in some parts of the country. The perception is that herbicides are harmful, or really not needed to get a beautiful lawn. In fact, some municipalities have passed ordinances prohibiting the use of pesticides on lawns and in landscapes.

But when it comes to grass, people want it green and weed free and that can only happen with the use of herbicides.

Some might object, going along with the opinion or belief of the day. But if you do the research, while there are some risks to using herbicides, they’re minimal if used properly. The benefits include a beautiful, thick lawn everyone enjoys when they’re running barefoot on it. When push comes to shove, most customers tell us to use whatever is necessary to make the lawn look great – trusting us to do the right thing.

So, whether it’s a park, sports venue, golf course or backyard, fertilizers and herbicides are necessary tools to help produce the healthy, green, beautiful lawn Americans love. Professionals, such as LawnAmerica, know how to use these tools properly, doing what we do with pride.

As for the city that banned pesticides? Recently, an upper court judge ruled that the local ban was not valid, since there are already state and federal rules in place to properly regulate the use of herbicides and pesticides.

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

We’ve seen a huge influx of Crape Myrtle Bark Scale this year and it’s becoming a big problem and you may want to know what it is and how it can be treated.

Crape Myrtle Bark Scale is a fairly new insect problem in our area that’s just developed specifically on Crape Myrtles in the past few years after coming up from Texas. This particular type of scale looks like a small white waxy lump and will always be located somewhere on the branch of the Crape Myrtle. Scale is an insect that feeds on the plant, and over time can kill it.

There are things that can be done to treat and prevent Crape Myrtle Bark Scale. At LawnAmerica, we use a very effective product. It’s a systemic insecticide that is absorbed through the leaves, stems and roots. The best time to treat for scale is in February/ March when scale is just coming out of dormancy and is most susceptible to insecticides. However, LawnAmerica can treat for scale at anytime of the year and it will produce fairly good results. Prevention of Crape Myrtle Bark Scale can, in most cases, be achieved by spraying them in February with Safari systemic insecticide and Dormant Oil, and then following  up with a second spray in April/Early May.

If you are trying to treat scale yourself, aim for treating in February with a mix of Imidacloprid systemic insecticide and Dormant Oil.  You will want to treat again in April. If the Crape Myrtles aren’t too tall, you can remove a good bit of scale by using a brush and a light soapy water solution.  Keep in mind the treatments you can buy in stores is not as effective as professional treatments in scale treatment, but will definitely keep the scale at a manageable level and should keep your Crape Myrtles healthy.

If your Crape Myrtles aren’t looking their best, the professionals at LawnAmerica can help. Give us a call for more information or to schedule treatment.

Summer Lawn Tips

Posted by & filed under summer lawn care tips.

The sun is intense this time of year. We find ourselves slathering on sunscreen and grabbing extra water, but what about your lawn? With the scorching temperatures we’ve been seeing, your lawn may need some extra care. The experts at LawnAmerica want to help ensure that your lawn looks its best during these hot summer days with these hot summer lawn care tips.

Tip #1: Ensure you are watering enough

It’s recommended that you water your lawn with one and a half inches of water per week. Longer watering, spaced a few days apart is also recommended compared to shorter more frequent cycles.

Short watering causes the roots to stay in the upper few inches of soil. These upper inches tend to be the first areas to dry out and cause the plant to show signs of stress.  Less frequent, longer water cycles tend to encourage root growth to go deeper into the soil where moisture is more readily available.

You can measure the amount of water your lawn is getting by placing empty tuna cans around your yard. Most tuna cans are roughly a half inch in height, so if you fill up the cans three times per week, your lawn should be getting sufficient water.

Tip #2: Water your lawn at the correct time

The best time to water is in the morning between 4 AM – 7 AM. At that time, it’s cooler and there is less wind, allowing the moisture to be absorbed before evaporating. It also allows the lawn time to dry as the morning progresses.

Lawns that are watered at night will stay damp and are more susceptible to fungal diseases. While afternoon watering increases the amount of moisture lost due to evaporation and rather than “cooling” the turf, it amplifies the heat and humidity.

Tip #3: Adjust your mower height  

Cool season turf, such as Fescue, needs to be mowed at the tallest possible setting. Warm season turf like Bermuda grass can generally handle being mowed at a lower level compared to Fescue.

No more than 1/3 of the grass blade should be removed at one time. For example, if your grass is 3 inches tall, cut no more than 1 inch off each time. Doing so will remove a lot of the dark green color, but will also add unnecessary stress to the plant.

Ideally, mowing cycles would be based on the 1/3 rule, not the “I cut my grass every Saturday” rule.

Tip #4: Don’t panic if your lawn turns brown

If you can’t water and your lawn starts to turn brown, don’t be overly concerned. Heat stressed Bermuda grass will go dormant and turn brown, much like it does in the winter. It isn’t dead, but it is conserving energy. Once the stress of the heat is gone, or moisture improves, color returns and recovers nicely.

Fescue on the other hand, won’t go dormant but will stop growing and tend to turn brown. Depending on the length of the heat and lack of moisture, it may recover, but most likely will require supplemental seeding in the fall to help re-establish anything that doesn’t recover.

Summer lawn care is essential in these hot temperatures. Contact LawnAmerica to help keep your lawn looking its best this summer!