Posted by & filed under Lawn Care.

It seems every year that more and more people are getting into the lawn care or lawn maintenance business. Figuring out whom to trust, and why, becomes harder with each new company that enters the marketplace.

It is a fear many of us will experience. You have just handed a check to someone you have briefly met in exchange for services at your home or business. Sure, their online reviews were great, but can you really trust that they will provide you with the pleasant experience or product they claim?

Thankfully, NALP, the National Association of Landscape Professionals has a new designation to help combat these fears when selecting a landscape, lawn care, irrigation or interior landscape professional; the Landscape Industry Accredited Company designation.

LawnAmerica is proud to be the only company in North Carolina and among the first seven professional companies in the United States to earn the Landscape Industry Accredited Company designation.

So what does that mean for YOU?

It means we are committed to the necessary training, education, safety, and ethics that are required to provide the highest level of care for your property. It means that we are committed to raising the standard of professionalism in the green industry.  It means you can trust that we will always do what is best for you, for your lawn, and for the environment.

Why should you check for the NALP company accreditation when looking for a professional lawn care service?

NALP accredited companies are:

  • Committed to Customer Service Excellence

While online reviews are a great place to start separating the great from the not so great companies, NALP took things a step further, completing an in-depth satisfaction survey and requesting details on how LawnAmerica cares for customers. For us, customer service is so important that we made it our mission statement; “to please our customers so much that they’ll tell others about us.” We know that to do this, we need to go above and beyond the ordinary to exceed expectations, and that simply satisfying customers through basic or minimal experiences has no place in our company. We are grateful to continuously receive compliments from customers on our lawn care service, but it’s the compliments we receive regarding the quality of our employees and their attention to detail, care for the customer, and willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty to exceed their expectations that we value the most.

Knowledgeable

To earn accreditation, professional lawn care companies must have at least 10% of their staff Landscape Industry Certified. Certification is administered and maintained by the University of Georgia and gives employees comprehensive knowledge on proper care of warm and cool season grasses.  Rigorous written and in-person tests are overseen by the National Association of Landscape Professionals to ensure certified techs are up to speed.

  • Safe

Safety is paramount to a successful lawn care company. Each accredited company must participate in a nationally recognized safety program. It demonstrates a commitment to the safety of our customers and employees on each job site.

  • Ethical & In Compliance

Prior to earning the NALP accreditation, companies must prove their ethical client relations and business practices. The National Association of Landscape Professionals verifies that we provide clear client communications and ethical operating procedures. They also verify we maintain proper insurance coverage, and warranty policies. This ensures that each Landscape Accredited Company complies with state, local, and federal statutes and licensing requirements, all providing you peace of mind and comfort.

Do you want to learn more about LawnAmerica’s core lawn care and enhancement services? Visit our website here or give us a call 704-931-4050 or 828-684-1300.

Posted by & filed under mosquitoes, pet care.

Mosquitoes.

The insect that everyone loves to hate, and the ultimate party crashers.

Every time we want to be outside enjoying our beautiful lawn, mosquitoes end up crashing the party, annoying and biting us and our loved ones.  It isn’t just us humans that they are after though; they will zero in on our pets too causing issues such as heartworms in our four-legged friends.

Heartworms, according to an article published by the FDA, are caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis.  These worms are carried by mosquitoes and under the right conditions can cause infections primarily in dogs, but also in cats and ferrets. Left undiagnosed or untreated, these parasitic worms will mature, reproduce and move into the heart and lungs of our pets causing sickness or even death.

Thankfully, there are multiple ways to help prevent the spread of heartworms to our furry friends.

  • Since mosquitoes are most active around dawn and dusk, limit outdoor exposure for both yourself and your pets during these times.
  • Use of preventative treatments for pets is recommended. Products like Heartgard or K9 Advantix help to repel mosquitoes as well as fleas and ticks.  Consult your local veterinarian for the best product for your pets.
  • Eliminate all standing water from your lawn. Replace the water in birdbaths frequently, and don’t forget to keep your gutters clean.
  • Use a professional service, like our BuzzOff! Mosquito Control Program, to help kill existing mosquito populations and interrupt the life cycle of the mosquito.

We all love our dogs, and I have been told there are apparently people who even like cats. Regardless of species, we want to make sure they are all well taken care of and live a long, healthy life.  Helping eliminate mosquitoes is just one way that we can ensure our pets are happy and healthy.

For more information and a few more tips check out this blog from the Pet Health Network.  You can also give us a call.  We are always happy to discuss dogs….I mean services.

Posted by & filed under rhododendrons.

Everyone has their favorite spring flowers.  For some, it is the daffodil that pops up signaling the start of spring.  For others, it is the tulip that is in the background of so many Easter photos, but for me, it has always been the azalea, with one exception. If I’m in the Smoky Mountains, then there’s nothing better than the rhododendron.  Technically, azaleas and rhododendrons are evergreen shrubs, but the burst of colorful blooms they provide every spring makes them a special sight to behold.  I especially love the older and more mature varieties that can be found in the wild.

I didn’t know until I began researching for this article that azaleas are classified as a rhododendron.  According to The American Rhododendron Society, “all azaleas are rhododendron, but not all rhododendron are azaleas.” Because of that, the care for both plants is the same.

  • Azaleas prefer a more acidic soil to perform well.

This can be accomplished by mixing in peat moss, pecan shells, or a combination of the two at the base of the plant.  Keeping the pH low will help prevent the leaves from turning yellow and the plant from looking sick.

  • Be sure to fertilize azaleas after the blooms fall off.

We recommend a balanced fertilizer like the 18-10-10 that we use in our Azalea Program.  In addition to the slow-release and organic fertilizers, we include granular sulfur in this enhancement service to help lower the pH which keeps the plant looking healthy. We also include a systemic insecticide to help with the control of aphids and lace bugs.

One common mistake to avoid is fertilizing azaleas too late in the season.  Fertilizer applications in the fall will actually push the blooms out too early, stealing the potential for the flowers to bloom the following spring.  You can confidently fertilize as soon as the blooms are spent, but we don’t recommend acting later than July 1st.

  • Pruning is also vitally important.             

Make sure you prune rhododendrons (and azaleas) as soon as the blooms are gone.  New buds for next spring start forming as early as July, so if you wait too late to give your azaleas a trim, you risk cutting off all of its potential blooms for next season.

Hand trimming generally provides better results and keeps azaleas looking more natural.  Some homeowners try to shape azaleas like boxwoods, but in doing so, inadvertently limit the number of blooms the plant can produce.  Azaleas and rhododendrons are naturally a little gangly in appearance, and hand-pruning individual branches helps to maintain that natural look.

Rhododendrons can be a little extra work, but when your property is the envy of the neighborhood next spring, you’ll be glad you invested into preparing them accordingly.

For more information on how to care for your azaleas, to inquire about our tree and shrub enhancement service, or to request help from the experts at LawnAmerica, give us a call at 704-931-4050 or 828-684-1300.

Posted by & filed under Park Ridge Health Foundation.

Park Ridge Health Foundation, Hendersonville, NC

At LawnAmerica, we have always made it a priority to give back to the members of our community. This giving philosophy has been interwoven into the very D.N.A. that makes up our company, and began when we first opened our doors 19 years ago. Therefore, we give back as much as we can towards causes that improve the lives of people in our communities. Our primary focus is to help children with special needs as well as support education for children of all backgrounds.

We are excited to shine a spotlight on the Park Ridge Health Foundation which raises funds for Park Ridge Health Hospital to meet the community’s medical needs by purchasing advanced technological equipment.

LawnAmerica’s very own Asheville Branch Manager, Rob Sneller, had the honor of co-chairing the Foundation’s 25th annual Gala on May 10th, 2018. Guests began the evening on the red carpet and enjoyed a star-studded, blockbuster night of 1940’s silver screen themed entertainment. The proceeds from the event will go towards providing telehealth equipment which will allow patients to share their blood pressure, heart rate and other vital signs to their doctors allowing for the management of chronic conditions and post-surgical procedures from the comfort of home.

Realizing that North Carolina has one of the highest infant mortality rates related to obstetric emergencies, and that moms are increasingly dying from those obstetrical emergencies, the Park Ridge Health Foundation knew they could help each of us in the community by raising funds for the hospital to purchase Noelle, a mommy manikin. She is an adult advanced birthing simulator with technology that simulates labor contractions, the heart rate of the fetus and creates focused training drills for high-acuity obstetrical emergencies. Noelle provides hospital staff with 30 different scenarios and drills allowing them to practice in real time. Training for specific situations is paramount to providing the highest care possible for the nursing and medical staff to stabilize expecting mothers.

Additionally, Park Ridge Health is hoping to bring along one of Noelle’s friends to help reduce the high North Carolina stroke rate which currently kills 12 people every day in our state. Did you know stroke is the leading cause of death and disability in North Carolina? We have one of the highest stroke rates, ranking 6th in the nation. More than one-third of stroke deaths occur in people under age 65, and kills more women than men.

Park Ridge Health has embarked on the journey to become a Stroke Center of Excellence. To achieve this certification, the emergency department must be an exceptional access point and the caregivers must be trained to give rapid and high-level care to patients presenting with stroke symptoms. This is where Sam, the medical manikin comes in. Sam is an adult resuscitation and emergency care simulator who provides vital Code Blue training scenarios which will enhance the care team’s ability to act quickly to provide enhanced care for stroke patients.

Having these life-saving training opportunities for the care teams of the Park Ridge Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit, and in The Baby Place at Park Ridge Health will make all the difference when it comes to these life or death situations.

While Rob was thrilled to serve as a co-chair for the Gala event again this year, it held extra special meaning for him this year. He has supported the Foundation for year, but it wasn’t until just recently that he experienced first hand how important it is to have these advanced technological supplies at the ready when your loved one is the patient in question.

Last year when, Rob helped with the event, he remembers making a donation towards funding the equipment selected for that year; special ultrasounds for patients with hard to find veins such as children or the elderly. Recently, Rob’s five year old daughter Paige was diagnosed with dehydration and needed IV fluids to be administered quickly. The medical staff were having a hard time finding a vein in her small hand, and it wasn’t until they mentioned using their new ultrasound machine that Rob realized he had unknowingly helped the hospital purchase the very machine his daughter needed in that moment.

We are honored to help families in need by donating to Park Ridge Health Foundation. Thank you to all of the staff, board members, volunteers, and donors of the Park Ridge Health Foundation. Our community is stronger because of you. We appreciate all that you do!

For more information about Park Ridge Health and Park Ridge Health Foundation, please contact them at (828) 681-2421.

Posted by & filed under Lawn Care, nutgrass.

This blog was originally posted a couple of years ago, but Brad Johnson did such a good job explaining everything, we decided to leave it alone and present it again.

The reason they call it Nutgrass is not because it drives homeowners and lawn care operators nuts trying to control it, but rather the little nutlets in the soil from which it germinates. Nutgrass is actually a sedge and not a true grass. The main,species we deal with in Charlotte and Asheville is Yellow Nutsedge. Purple Nutsedge and Green Kylinga are other species that we see in certain areas. Sedges love to grow in moist soil conditions, especially after times of rainy weather. Yellow Nutsedge has tall triangular stems, with narrow light green blades. After mowing, it is hard to notice. However it grows much quicker than existing turf, so a few days after mowing, it’s sticking up tall and scraggly looking. If left un-mowed for over a week, it can produce a spikelet seedhead, which is even more obnoxious looking! Each nutsedge plant produces hundreds of nutlets underground, which spread out along underground roots. This is one reason why it has exploded in populating many lawns in Carolina lawns and other areas. There are thousands of nutlets in a typical lawn just waiting to produce nutsedge plants. Once established in a lawn, it often forms larger areas of plants clumped together. Since it is a sedge, conventional pre-emergent herbicides do not stop it from germinating. It will come up starting in April, and continues to grow and take over lawns on into late summer.

At LawnAmerica, we have used a unique product named Echelon for the past few years for customers on our very best 6 and 7-Step Showcase Care Program for bermudagrass and zoysiagrass lawns. Echelon is a unique, and somewhat expensive product (as most new chemistries are), which is a combination of Barricade pre-emergent for crabgrass control and Dismiss Herbicide for nutgrass control. It’s the Dismiss that will not only control nutgrass that is up and growing, but will actually kill the nutlets in the ground also. Plus, Dismiss will control many summer broadleaf weeds, such as dandelion oxalis, spurge, and others. We have timed this special blanket treatment of Echelon to be applied from early May through late June, when Nutgrass is up and growing, along with other summer annual weeds. We also mix a small amount of our Soilbuilder Organic Soil Amendment into the mix, giving these lawns a slightly deeper green color response. After an Echelon treatment, these lawns are pretty clean and free of nutgrass and other weeds. Plus, the extra Barricade pre-emergent herbicide applied with this helps prolong your crabgrass control longer into the summer.  We also have seen that with this product being applied annually, there is a decrease in the number of nutlets in the soil, leading to less pressure from new Nutgrass germinating.

Echelon cannot be safely applied to fescue turf. So if Nutgrass does come up in Fescue, we apply Dismiss only to knock it back. If you have experienced a bad nutgrass problem, as many customers have, this new product really works well!  If you are not currently on our 6 or 7-Step Program,  you can still upgrade to this service level if you contact us now. We can apply Echelon to warm season turf up until late June and obtain good results.

Posted by & filed under bermudagrass, Lawn Care.

After spending almost 20 years in lawn care, you come to realize that there is rarely anything new under the sun.  While every season presents its own unique set of challenges, you can always count on weather to impact how quickly nature wakes up, lawns start to look good, and weeds begin to germinate. For a growing number of homeowners with bermudagrass lawns, you can unfortunately count on signs of Spring Dead Spot too.

We recognize the primary turfgrass in our Asheville and Charlotte markets is Fescue, which is not susceptible to Spring Dead Spot. We also realize that more and more homeowners, especially in newer neighborhoods, have bermudagrass lawns, so we want to make sure we are providing relevant information to help each of you to successfully care for the type of lawn you have.

Spring Dead Spot is a disease that primarily affects bermudagrass lawns, though not all bermudagrass lawns are impacted.  Spring Dead Spot, or SDS, is relatively easy to identify due to the mostly circular or arc-shaped patches of dead turf that become visible each spring as the healthy turf starts greening up. In some cases, it almost looks like crop circles.

The severity of the damage is dependent upon a variety of factors which include the type of bermudagrass , it’s cold-tolerance, the severity of winter, and application of late-season fertilizer. Colder temps and prolonged time periods below freezing are more commonly understood forms of damage, but late-season fertilizer applications can also be problematic because too much nitrogen, too late in the season, is shown to increase the severity of damage evident the following spring.

SDS can be challenging to prevent because fungi will begin attacking bermudagrass in the fall, long before the “crop circle” patches beginning showing up in the spring.  The lack of visual proof of turf damage in fall, can make it a bit of a challenge to convince homeowners to adjust their watering and fertilizing habits for the season, and even more difficult to visually prove the need for pre-emptive fungicide applications. However, multiple studies have shown that you’ll have the best overall lawn care results by alterning your cultural practices for each season.

This is precisely why we at LawnAmerica time our last fertilization application for the year to hit in August through early September.  Our goal is for warm season turf to go into dormancy a little bit lean to help prevent unnecessary damage.  We also offer a fungicide program specifically for SDS based on the recommendations of NCSU.  Using a product called Velista, we time two fungicide applications, spaced 30 days apart starting in mid- to late September.  The fungicide applications do not prevent all spots from showing the following spring, but from our experience, it does lessen the number of spots, and gives the damaged areas the ability to recover faster.  If you’d like more information or a price quote, please give us a call.

Unfortunately, Spring Dead Spot is not an easy fix.  Once turf is infected, it can take as many as 7-10 years to completely cycle out of the lawn.  With a combination of improved cultural practices and the addition of appropriately timed fungicide applications, you can, however, manage it and help your lawn perform better each year.

You can learn more about SDS and NC State for treatment and lawn recovery recommendations here.

Posted by & filed under arbor day, Tree Care.

The last Friday in April has come to be known as Arbor Day in America.  Originating in 1872 in Nebraska City, Nebraska, J. Sterling Morton helped pave the way for an estimated million trees to be planted that year.  By the 1920’s, most states recognized Arbor Day in some form or fashion and to this day the customary observance of the holiday is to plant a tree.

I have always been fascinated with trees.  Whether they are growing in natural forests, along mountain streams or purposely planted in lawns and landscapes, trees are majestic to behold.   Being under the canopy of trees has the ability to help bring life back into perspective when you feel overwhelmed.  Research has proven that a walk in the woods can lower blood pressure and heart rates.  Trees help with filtering the air of pollutants and help to prevent soil from eroding.  Trees also provide homes for birds, safety for animals, and a complete ecosystem for insects.

I thought I knew a lot about trees and their benefits until one of my friends shared a book with me last fall.  The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben.  It’s not often in our blogs that I recommend a book, but this book was truly fascinating.  Mr. Wohlleben pulled from his years of caring for forests in Germany to share his experiences along with research from leading experts to open our understanding of trees; how they live, how they communicate, and how they protect each other.  After reading the book, I came away with an even more profound respect for trees and the value they provide to our planet.  I highly recommend that you grab a copy here.

For other ways to celebrate Arbor Day, not only today but all year round, check out www.arborday.org.  There you will find resources to help identify trees, determine the best types of trees to plant in your area and best practices when planting trees to make sure they live a long and productive life.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second best time is now.” – old Chinese Proverb

Posted by & filed under tree saplings, weeds.

What’s the deal with all of the baby trees in my lawn?

They look like weeds to me!

Well, technically they are weeds, as a weed is merely a plant growing out of place.

Homeowners expect a lawn that is 100% grass, but mother nature is always working hard to help other plants survive as well.  Trees in the landscape will produce thousands of seeds every year.  Those seeds, with the help of wind, water, and animals will end up spread all over even home lawns.  Some of those seeds will germinate in the spring creating the tree saplings.

Spraying tree saplings is generally not necessary.  In most cases keeping the leaves mowed off early in the year is enough to deplete the energy reserves of the seed, and without leaves to photosynthesize the plant basically starves to death. All plants have growth points, known as meristematic regions. This is where the plant produces the cells to push growth upward. Grasses grow from their crown that is near the soil. This is the only reason they tolerate mowing in the first place. Broadleaf weeds, including trees, grow from the tips of their branches or stems. When these are cut off it causes the plants to struggle and use up quite a bit of energy. That is why they cannot tolerate mowing for very long. You are literally mowing off the part of the plant that has the largest amount of expanding cells and growth hormones.

Spraying can also be detrimental to mature trees if the sapling is a ‘sucker’ coming off of the roots of an established tree rather than from an individual seed.  These ‘suckers’ will absorb the chemical and it will be drawn up into a healthy tree, which no one wants.

While they can be unsightly and even somewhat frustrating to deal with each spring, tree saplings don’t put any pressure on the turf.  So with a few mowings and a little patience, they will fade out on their own.

If you are having issues with weeds other than saplings, be sure to give LawnAmerica a call.  Service calls are always complimentary for our full-program customers.

Posted by & filed under mowing.

Has spring finally arrived?

Based on the winter coat I needed to leave the house this morning, it sure doesn’t feel like it. However, now that we’ve made it through this morning’s cold front, the forecast shows we may finally be sliding into a more spring-like pattern.

We sure need it! This has been one of the longest winters I can remember from recent years.

It hasn’t been all bad through; cool-season grasses such as fescue lawns have been appreciating the weather. Now that we are starting to get some warmer temperatures, it is very likely that you are going to have to dust off that mower soon; that is if you haven’t already.

A few things to keep in mind, fescue grass doesn’t like to be cut very short. Ideally, the lowest you would mow this time of year would be around 2.5 inches, however, the general rule of thumb is, “the taller, the better,” as temperatures begin to climb. Make sure your mower blades get sharpened or replaced at least once a year. Dull blades tear the grass rather than providing a smooth cut which results in grass with dull, brown tips with a higher susceptibility to disease. If you have a lot of tree roots or regularly mow over twigs, you may have to sharpen blades even more frequently. If you are unsure of how to sharpen blades, you can have a mower shop take care of it for you for a very reasonable rate.

If this will be the first time you pull out the mower for the season, be sure to check the oil in your mower and replace it if necessary. It is also a good time to replace the spark plug, and clean out the air filter. Finally, any leftover fuel from last year needs to be drained and replaced with fresh gasoline.

Now that your mower is in good, working order, it is worth noting that warm-season turf such as bermudagrass or zoysiagrass need to be cut shorter than fescue to remove the top layer of dormant turf. Removing the dormant turf allows the soil to warm up faster which in turn helps the grass to green up quicker. Just remember that fescue does not need to be cut short, so if you have both types of turf, you will need to adjust your mowing height accordingly.

Posted by & filed under earthworms, natural fertilizer.

“Why do I have all the small clumps of ‘dirt’ all over my yard?” is just one of the many questions we get during the course of the week.

So we thought we would take few minutes and give you the ‘dirt’ on earthworms and their castings.

Worm castings are the remnants of the digested organic matter produced by earthworms. As they consume the material, they output castings in their path. When it rains they come to the surface, and these piles of castings can be clearly seen where the earthworms have exited the ground.

Although they may be unsightly for a time they are far more beneficial than just a pile of ‘dirt.’

These castings are some of the most nutrient and humus rich natural fertilizer known to man!

As an integral soil and plant amendment, these castings are like a one-a-day vitamin for the soil with all of the nutrients they pack. They also help the soil clump together for better water absorption as well as oxygen and nutrient exchange.

You can actually buy worm castings in bulk for a couple of dollars per pound but its best to do your research first.

Earthworms play a much more prominent part in the soil biology than most people care to know and these are just a few of the benefits. So next time you see the small piles after a rain, don’t be alarmed. It’s just the earth

worms saying hello and letting you know they are hard at work making your soil RICH.