Archive for April, 2011

Tick Suppression by your lawn care professional

NH Ticks

Creating a safe play area around your home against ticks is smart

While most people are generally aware that their lawn care company can address turf problems, many are not aware of tick suppression.  Tick suppression can be a valuable service, especially for homes surrounded by fields and woods.  Spring begins the tick season in NH and VT as the adults become active and seek a blood meal to reproduce.  Ticks seek wild animals, pets, or your family members as they move out of winter hibernation.  Unfortunately, most ticks are so small they are virtually impossible to see or avoid until you find them on your clothing.  Nothing is more unsettling then finding ticks on your pets or children.  Although the common dog tick does not transmit Lyme disease, the common Deer tick does carry this dangerous disease.

Most tick control products function well for 2-5 weeks ranging from organic to traditional materials.  In fact, many new products are used in pet supplies and products found at your local pet store.  The key to safety is using a responsible, experienced, and licensed lawn care company.  You must have a license in NH or VT to treat for ticks, even if you use an organic product!  Ticks are noxious pests and the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is certainly worth heeding to avoid the painful condition brought about by Lyme disease.

While you may see a typical dog tick, you are not likely to see a Deer tick, a primary vector of Lyme disease.  Therefore, treating your lawn around the house during the growing season is a sound decision.  A tick treatment can be liquid or granular and should be applied to the perimeter of fields, woods, and your lawn to reduce the existing tick population.  Reducing ticks in the spring is a sensible solution toward maintaining a safe outdoor living space.

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Lawn pests include grubs in NH & VT

The Japanese beetle will not only eat foliage, the grubs will eat your lawn!

There are about eight major types of grubs in NH and VT that cause turf damage, ranging from the classic Japanese beetle to a masked chafer.  Grubs will cause lawn damage plus the adults will devour ornamental shrubs and trees in your landscape.  The potential loss of your investment makes controlling the young and adult stage of these beetles a sensible decision.  Luckily, there are organic and new products available to help control these villains plus many others!

As always, the best defense is a good offense.  Healthy turf can withstand root pruning and even minor damage without a pesticide being applied – even an organic one.  Proper cultural practices, such as proper irrigation and a high 3” mowing height, also help keep your lawn cooler and less desirable to adult beetles.  Overseeding with resistant turf varieties makes the grass taste less desirable, not necessarily to grubs but to their buddies above ground like chinch bugs, sod webworm and such.

New and old research shows that compost tea actually helps grass develop its own immune response to reduce damage from both insect and disease activity. Although not an easy turf treatment, beneficial nematodes provide 100% organic control in the spring or fall.  Milky spore disease was developed a long time ago to control only Japanese beetle grubs, not the other seven.  Unfortunately, the spores take years to develop due to the cold New England winters.  As a result, Milky spore is not recommended by professionals as it simply does not work in NH or VT.

New organic pesticides that are ORMI certified contain capcaisin, the active ingredient in hot peppers. To obtain good results, and because the organic treatments are short-lived, multiple visits are required in the spring and fall to obtain predictable results.  Even organic pesticides require extensive licensing and certification in both NH and VT.  If you are considering “professional help,” be sure to ask for the company’s NHPC number in NH or license certification in VT before having any treatment done on your property- organic or otherwise!  The potential damage inflicted by an application remains substantial, even if the material used is 100% organic, with improper rates, training, and equipment.  In today’s economy, everyone with a pickup truck claims he is an organic landscaper but doesn’t have the credentials, insurance, or education to back up the temporary lettering.

For those ‘do-it-yourself’ folks, be careful what you purchase and use this spring.  For instance, “Grubex” is another name for Acelypryn, a great new product for controlling grubs and other harmful insects.  Unfortunately, if used at the wrong time, your application will not work due to the size and life stage of the pest you may desire to eliminate.  This factor underscores the importance of proper training and state certification where turf technicians must learn not only insect but local disease pests.

While the bag you buy at your hardware store may be well labeled for grubs, you may not be applying it at the right time or stage of the pest.  Said another way, just because the bag says it controls pests X, Y, and Z does not mean you are going to control them due to the time of year.  This type of activity would be the definition of a waste of money, time, and chemical.  Without the proper information on the life cycle of the pest you seek to destroy or reduce, applying home products is like shooting in the dark.

In summary, there are lots of ways to help your lawn look great, with the best and least environmental impact being the cultural and day to day upkeep of the turf.  Integrating resistant grasses during lawn overseeding/establishment and implementing organic or natural bacterial and friendly fungi are super tools with no harmful side effects.  In my opinion, pesticides should only be used as a last resort or when there may be a history of continual damage on a scale that would outweigh the omission of such products.  In other words, a $400 treatment outweighs a $5,000 renovation!

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NH lawn care companies can save your lawn

Published by JKeefe on April 9th, 2011 - in Lawn Care Companies

There are numerous lawn care companies in NH which have the experience, service, and program options to serve your lawn care needs.  In previous blog posts labeled “researching lawn care companies”, I explored some critical points separating a great lawn care company from a poor one.  Most people will seek out a professional lawn service because of a lack of time, having failed themselves, or because they are seeking an alternative to the large box stores which simply have a limited selection of bagged products.

Creating a healthy, beautiful, and safe lawn is much more than applying a bagged material a few times a year, mowing, and watering during drought.  If this was the case, most folks in NH would have a golf course lawn as portrayed on TV.  Unlike the commercials which portray a “do it yourself” lawn program as a care free weekend activity, obtaining that carpet of green is anything but simple.  Most home owners will agree, creating a healthy green space is time-consuming, expensive, and ultimately does require a degree of skill and knowledge.  Most homeowners will start out optimistic and give that canned lawn program a shot, but with minimal success and results- these folks seek out the professionals only after something bad has occured.  One wrong diagnosis or misapplied bag of step 2 can result in hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in renovations.  A damaged lawn is frustrating and unpleasant to view.

Don’t believe there are not options beyond what you see advertised as mainstream lawn care on TV costing millions of dollars.  You’re locally operated, professionally trained, licensed, and experienced turf care managers can recommend and have access to wonderful things.  What things?  The national chains have limited products and are told what they can and cannot use in their “one size fits all” program.  This philosophy stems from bulk buying power and simplistic treatments which places control and power at corporate headquarters out-of-state versus the office servicing your lawn.  Fortunately, most family owned or local turf care companies actually offer more services than the large national and franchised companies within NH.

Programs exist which address not only turf color but soil health, organic matter, friendly fungi, and other underlying situations that promote a safe and healthy lawn.  Before you decide to order that cheeseburger with a small fry, consider the alternatives like compost tea, sea kelp, grass seed coated with beneficial fungi, and natural fertilizer.  Help support your local economy, contact your local lawn care professional today and get a free estimate this spring!

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