Every year at this time of the season we’ll have some customers contact us about all of these weeds in their lawns in Carolina. So with service calls being free in-between regular treatments for full program customers, our Route Managers will go out to spot-treat only to discover they are not really weeds, but small tree saplings that have germinated in the lawn.
Well technically they are weeds, as a weed is simply a plant growing out of place. And homeowners expect a lawn that is 100% berumudagrass, zoysiagrass, or sometimes fescue. Trees in the landscape and in the area are trying to reproduce like any other living thing, so they’ll produce thousands upon thousands of little tree seeds every year, and emit them into the environment where the wind, water, animals, etc. will disperse them. And some of them end up germinating in your lawn and landscape.
It’s really not even practical to try to spray it, as once it’s mowed, the little sapling doesn’t have a chance to re-generate and grow. It’s not like a tree is going to grow in the middle of your lawn, unless you don’t mow it down and you want it there. Pre-emergent herbicides do not stop tree saplings from germinating in your lawn, so they will always pop up during this time of the season in late spring. These saplings don’t put any pressure on the turf, and will die out naturally after a few weeks. So if you have certain trees that are heavy seed producers in your neighborhood, expect an annual invasion of these little plants every spring.
We’ve enjoyed some much-needed spring rains in April and now into May, which is nice for the lawns and landscapes in Charlotte and Asheville. But weeds are flowers also, which is the way they naturally reproduce and do this by going to flower first. The best defense against weeds is always a thick, healthy, growing lawn, which makes it more difficult for weed seeds to get to the soil and helps choke out existing weeds. And even with a nice turf, and with spring pre-emergent herbicides applied, one will still have a few weeds pop up, especially in mid to late spring.
This is where post-emergent herbicides come into play, which are mixed with water and sprayed on existing weeds to take them out. Weeds are generally classified into two main groups…..broadleaf and grassy weeds, or dicots and monocots for those who paid attention in science class. Different types of herbicides are applied according to the main types of weeds they are. So other than a product such as Round-up or Glyphosate, the common chemical name, which kills anything that is green, good or bad, it pays to have a professional such as LawnAmerica make those decisions as to what to use and how to use it.
Spot-treatment for weeds present, and they usually are, is a part of our regular lawn care service programs. We practice something called Integrated Pest Management, or IPM at LawnAmerica. This basically means we treat only for weeds if there is a weed on a spot-treatment basis for most of our applications. We do this mainly with a backpack sprayer with specific products intended to control certain weeds. So during the main part of the growing season, after applying a granular fertilizer or a liquid organic-based soil amendment to a lawn, we’ll go over it and spot-treat any existing weeds present.
Service calls are also free for full program customers, as long as it’s been less than 30 days from one of these regular lawn treatments. So we encourage our customers to contact us if weeds are persisting, as they sometimes can during rainy spells in May or June.
It’s early May in North Carolina and we’ve had some good rains to perk up our fescue and other grasses. So lawns should be mowed consistently now. It always amazes me that we have some customers who put off that first spring mowing for as long as they can, letting the turf get really tall before whacking it down. Lawns not only will look nicer if they are mowed, it will also help stimulate new and denser turf growth sooner, which helps to choke out any weeds present. And weeds that have been sprayed need to be mowed down in order to complete their kill and to remove the dying vegetation. Weeds don’t just disappear after they are sprayed. It does take time, and the dying plant material needs to be removed in order to look nice.
Three keys to proper mowing now that we are into the mowing season are:
- Mow with a sharp blade
- Mow at proper heights
- Never take off more than 1/3rd of the leaf blade
For more information on proper mowing, visit our website Here
As with any service business such as LawnAmerica, we could not serve our Carolina customers and our employees could not do their jobs without the great work of folks behind the scenes at the office. Today we want to express a special Thank You to our office staff and administrative professionals for the great job that you do.
We’ll receive thousands of phone calls or e-mails during 2016 in our main office. Our office staff is the first person to address the needs of our customers, and serve as a liaison between them and our field staff. When things go wrong, as they sometimes will in the field, it’s our office staff taking the brunt of the call. When a homeowner calls for an estimate or a customer has a question, they take the calls. They make the deposits, pay the bills, and handle the vast amounts of paperwork and records needed in a business like LawnAmerica. They serve both our customers, and our team members, which can be somewhat challenging at times.
So we want to say a big Thank You to our administrative professionals, as we think they’re the best! From Sharon Cowles with over 11 years of experience, to our “newbie” Terri Dershem as a receptionist, when you call LawnAmerica, you get a real person answering the phone, not a machine full of options to choose from. Our Office Mananger, Jeremy Borrer oversees it all, with 10 years of experience in the field, with sales, and in the office. In addition to answering phones, Brian Haden is a spreadsheet genius, Mike Bennett does the inventory, and Tami Jacobs pays the bills.
So take some time to show your appreciation today to the people who selflessly serve both employees and customers not only here at LawnAmerica, but in all businesses.
Happy Earth Day, a celebration of this earth we live on. It’s an amazing place, this planet, created by God for us to live on and enjoy. Too bad we humans seem to mess it up at times.
For most homeowners in the Carolinas, our part of the earth we’re most responsible for is our home lawn and landscape. A well-cared for lawn not only looks good, it also adds value to our homes and provides real environmental benefits to urban cities such as the Charlotte and Asheville areas. A healthy green lawn and landscaping will cool our cities, lessening the heat trapping effect of concrete. The air temperature over grass can be up to 30 degrees cooler than the air over a blacktop driveway or parking lot. Lawns and landscapes help buffer sound pollution, trap dirt, and prevent soil erosion, all of which help make our cities more livable. A small 50×50 foot lawn area will supply enough oxygen generation for a family of four, while absorbing harmful carbon dioxide and other gasses. Lawns in our county can store up to 37 billion tons of carbon, lessening the impact of global warming on the atmosphere.
According to a recent Harris Poll, most homeowners love their lawns, with over 88% of Americans saying that having a nice lawn and landscape is important. A well cared for lawn and landscape has solid economic value, adding up to 15% to the value of a home most experts agree. Add the aesthetic and psychological benefits of enjoying a nice-looking lawn, and it just makes sense to do what we can to appreciate and care for our lawns and landscapes.
The products and the processes that professionals such as LawnAmerica use to provide the results of a healthy green lawn are safe and pose very little risk to people, pets, and the environment. It’s important to follow label instructions, and practice Integrated Pest Management, which basically means treating for weeds and pests only if there is a problem that justifies that treatment. Using organic-based and slow-release fertilizers at the proper times and using correct rates is important. And cultural practices such as proper mowing and irrigation also go a long way towards growing a healthy lawn in conjunction with environmentally responsible application of fertilizers and weed-control products.
For more information on the benefits and care of lawns, visit www.loveyourlandscape.org or www.thelawninstitute.org.
Mosquitoes can be a nasty pest in home landscapes in North Carolina. In addition to carrying diseases such as West Nile Virus and Dengue, a big concern now is with the new Zika Virus outbreak. Officials from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently stated that the Zika virus is “scarier” than first thought, and that mosquitoes that carry the virus could travel to more states in the US than previously thought.
There are over 140 different species of mosquitoes in the US, but less than 10 are actually considered as a health hazard. The Zika virus is carried and transmitted by only one, the Aedes species. This species of mosquito prefers to fly and rest in landscape areas below 10′ from the ground, feeding mainly on mammals, of which we are one! Another “bad boy” species, the Culex, prefers to fly and rest above 10′ up in the air, feeding on birds. The Culex species is the main carrier of West Nile Virus.
With our new Buzz Off Mosquito Control by LawnAmerica, we’re providing some peace of mind for homeowners concerned about mosquitoes, by treating the landscape and areas around the home with two proven insect control products, Demand and Archer. Demand is so safe that it can actually be used indoors also, and is much more effective and long-lasting compared to other products that are used. We apply these insect-control products with a special backpack mist blower into the landscape foliage, around the home, and along the perimeter of the backyard especially.
Other mosquito control tips, such as keeping gutters clean and cleaning up areas where standing water accumulates, can be found by clicking here. And if you want to combat mosquitoes, along with helping with other insect pests around the home such as ants, spiders, fleas, and ticks, contact the professionals at LawnAmerica now for more information on Buzz Off.
Aphids are very small soft bodied insects found on many trees and shrubs in the Carolina landscape, which can sometimes cause damage to plants. These insects can be varied: they can be black, brown, red or green; some have wings and others do not. Damage to plants is caused by their piercing-sucking mouthparts that pierce the leaves of plants to suck the sap out of them, causing curling, dis-coloration, and even death. The aphids produce a sticky substance called honeydew, with then coats leaves and stems. This in turn serves as a food source for ants, and can cause black sooty mold to form on leaves and stems. So plants can basically become a sticky, moldy mess from aphid infestations, which may not kill them, but does stunt or dis-color them, causing them to look bad. There are several generations of aphids per season, so make sure that you check every few weeks for high populations. They tend to from dense clumps on susceptible shrubs, such as crape myrtle, rose, fruit trees, hackberry, conifers, and others.
Natural predators such as ladybugs do help keep aphids in check. Just washing plants with a high pressure stream of water can help somewhat. Application of horticulture oils help smother the eggs during winter, and some can be applied during the season to smother the small adults. Systemic insecticides such as imidacloprid do a great job of preventing aphids from feeding during the season. Our T1 Early Spring Tree Shrub Dormant oil treatment in fact is a combination of both dormant oil and a systemic insecticide. And for existing populations, many common insecticides are labelled for control. Make sure to spray so that insecticides are reaching the underneath sides of leaves, since that is where aphids tend to be. Always read the label and follow directions when applying insecticides for control.
Poa annua, or Annual Bluegrass, is a common winter annual grassy weed found in Carolina lawns at this time of year. It mainly germinates in the fall with the first cool rains, and stays fairly small until the following spring. It’s a lighter green color, shallow-rooted compared to the existing turf, and is a prolific seeder. The hundreds of tiny seeds can really stand out and look bad in a nice fescue turf.
The best way to control Poa annua is with the application of a pre-emergent herbicide in the fall, before weed seeds germinate. At LawnAmerica, we use a great new product named Specticle in bermudagrass and zoysiagrass, which does an excellent job of prevention. Later in the fall, we add an additional product names Simazine or Atrazine, which will also control any newly emerged weed plants. In fescue turf however, they are not even labelled for use in fescue turf. So we cannot apply these fall pre-emergent products, since they would inhibit fescue from germinating in the fall. There is one product named Prograss that can be applied in late fall and winter to a fescue lawn and control Poa annua. It’s an expensive treatment, and usually not recommended. We feel that in a thick, healthy fescue turf, the Annual Bluegrass is not that evident in the turf, and does not justify treatments in most cases.
If Poa annua is present now during April and May, it can be spot treated with various post-emergent products such as Monument, Revolver, and Certainty, but only in warm-season turf. These will take out the bluegrass without harming the desirable turf. However, as the bermudagrass greens up and the weather turns hotter, any Poa annua present tends to die out naturally. In wet, shady areas of the lawn, Annual Bluegrass can remain all year as a perennial weed in some areas.
If you have warm-season turf such as bermudagrass or zoysiagrass, scalping is a process which many homeowners and mowing companies do during spring. Scalping turf basically is mowing down the grass really short, removing much of the brown, dormant leaves and stems, and removing those by bagging the clippings. It helps even out the turf, looks nice after doing so, and may may help with lessening thatch accumulation, but not by much. It also helps with removing any dying winter weeds present. One other benefit of scalping is that it allows the soil to warm up faster and helps green up your lawn more quickly.
However, it is very important not scalp too soon in early spring, as it increases the chance of cold damage and winterkill on bermudagrass in mid-spring. We like to keep the root system and crown of the plants insulated with that dormant turf until the chance of a late spring freeze is past. The good news is that the 10-day forecast calls for nothing close to freezing temperatures throughout Carolina, so I think it’s OK to break out your mower for the first time.
If you have a cool-season grass such as fescue, you’ve probably mowed a few times already, as it’s been green and growing for a few weeks now. Make sure that you NEVER scalp a fescue turf, as it does not tolerate shorter mowing heights as bermudagrass does. Ideally, fescue should be no shorter than 2.5″ in spring, and higher as we get into the summer and fall.
And before firing up your mower for the first time, if not done last fall, sharpen the blade, clean out the gas line, change the oil, and generally get it tuned-up for proper mowing this spring.
Well, that’s better than having ants in your pants! This time of the season, ants do seem to be more prolific in Carolina home lawns. Little mounds of dirt piled up by the working ants can be seen along edges or in the turf. And with dormant bermudagrass, the ant mounds are more visible since the grass is not full and growing such as with a fescue lawn. Ants really don’t harm the turf at all, and in fact, are natures best little aerators. They are more of a nuisance than anything else. With the exception of fire ants, which can be bad news, we don’t recommend treating the lawn for ants.
If the ants are entering your home, then consider doing a perimeter treatment with insecticide, which controls the ants around the home and prevents them from entering. Our Perimeter Pest Control Program does a good job of helping to control ants, spiders, centipedes, and other pests from entering your home. This consists of four treatments of both granular and liquid insecticides around the outside perimeter of your home, applying around openings such as windows, doors, vents, and other areas where bugs can enter the home. It’s not perfect, but does do a good job of preventing most insect issues inside the home, with actually applying products inside.