Posted by & filed under Christmas Decor.

Well, it happened last night. I was driving home from eating out, and there it was. The first house brave enough to turn on their Christmas lights. And, a full week before Halloween no less!

At first, I thought, it is a little early even for me, and I love Christmas. However, the more I pondered on it, the more I think the homeowner was on to something. Why not go ahead and light up early?

Decorating our houses is much more than showing off for our neighbors. It is about the feelings that the lights and decorations provide. It is a reminder of family gatherings and being thankful for each other. It is a reprieve from the negativity of the news of the world. It is a chance to be a kid again and remember the simple pleasure of making others smile.

Our guys at LawnAmerica finished their Christmas Décor training yesterday and will be out, starting today, to install displays all over town. We do not usually turn them on this early, but if you are brave enough to spread a little Christmas cheer early, we would be happy to let them shine.

Christmas Décor by LawnAmerica is a full-service Christmas Light company. We design, supply, install and take down décor on your property and have been since 1997. For more information or to request a quote, go to our website or give us a call at 1-866-567-5296.

Posted by & filed under landscaping, mulch.

Fall is a great time to add mulch to shrub beds and around trees. Below we’ve included the benefits of using mulch in your yard.

Mulch provides several great benefits to the North Carolina landscape:

  1. Mulch helps preserve soil moisture around shrubs, flowers, and trees, lessening the irrigation requirements and leading to healthier plants.
  2. Mulch helps moderate soil temperatures, cooling in summer heat and warming in the winter cold.
  3. Mulch helps prevent many weeds from germinating and taking over shrub beds. It does not stop all, but it does decrease significantly.
  4. Mulched beds just look better, and adds color to the landscape.

A layer of 2-4” of mulch is best in shrub beds. Mulch comes in several types, with Cedar, Cyprus, and Pine being the most popular. Bags of mulch can be purchased at local nurseries or the big box stores, and is easy to haul and spread around.

With time, mulch will break down into the soil, which also helps build a more organic soil. So it should be added annually for best results, and fall is a great time to do that.

Posted by & filed under Tree Care.

If you’ve ever planted a new tree or if you have a younger tree that isn’t yet mature, there are things you can do to help it survive and thrive. Water, fertilizer and maintenance are the main issues to consider for young trees, and it’s fairly easy to help them grow into healthy mature trees that benefit you and your landscape.

Fertilizing young trees is required annually from the time they are transplanted until they become established or reach a desirable size. Fertilizer is best applied in early Winter and again between early spring and late July while the plants are actively growing. We offer two liquid deep root fertilizations for trees and shrubs, the first in March and the second in December, either of which will be beneficial for the plants in your landscape. If you would like care for it yourself you can apply a granular fertilizer around the roots inside the canopy of the tree. For shrubs, you can apply the fertilizer around the roots.

A grass-free circle three to four feet wide, with mulch, should be maintained around a young tree for at least three years. This will ensure that the tree roots are not required to compete with turf roots for moisture and nutrients. This also keep weed-eaters away from damaging the lower trunk at the base, which is a leading cause of tree death. Watering new or young trees is paramount. Make sure to supplement watering especially during the heat of the summer as the lawn sprinkler is not going to supply enough moisture to the roots of the tree, and in most cases is only enough for the turf’s roots. We recommend a soaker hose placed around the roots of the canopy of the tree and allow it to soak for several hours each time. The amount of water required will depend on the temperatures and rainfall amounts.

Fall is also a great time to plant new trees in your landscape. With planting now in fall, the root system will be able to become more established before the stress of our Carolina summer hits.

 

 

 

 

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!