I visited many lawns this past week infested with grubs, chinch bugs, and even ticks. The picture below illustrates classic chinch bug damage with active chinch bugs feeding as adults. The picture to the right is that of an adult chinch bug. The lawn was thatchy and not a current client but certainly needs some help from my program. Left untreated, these adults will have lots of kids and spread to other areas, causing further damage this spring. Recommended treatment for chinch bug is a surface insect control, either organic or traditional in nature to stop the feeding. Aeration and seeding may also be warranted to help restore the turf area for a more pleasant view versus brown thatch. If you suspect insect damage, be sure to contact a local professional for a lawn inspection, not an over the phone lawn quote from a satellite.
Archive for April, 2012
Despite the early spring and absence of snow, current weather in April is so dry lawns are under drought stress just as they attempt to put up new leaves. I have been on countless lawns and have discovered conditions more typical of late June or early July than mid April. While the warmer temperatures have induced some greening of grass, those lawn areas susceptible to drought stress are staying brown and are unable to capture enough moisture to push out new blades. I am seeing areas of lush green grass in typically moist or shaded areas while grass in the open sun with sand below is all but stalling, remaining brown.
The result of a dry, cool spring is crystal clear; lawns simply are not greening up as fast as they could or normally would with a massive lack of natural rainfall. A spring drought will not help any lawn or ornamental landscape plant since the winter was mild and dry. Turf grass exposed to drying winds and no rain means slow to minimal recovery from a snowless winter. The real proof of this phenomenon will show as winter kill during the upcoming weeks. As a result, lawns will have a hard time pulling out of winter stress or at least may not recover as quickly or completely. For those fortunate enough to have an irrigation system, fire those babies up and get that carpet of brown green! Our weather is more akin to those living in the dry Midwest like Arizona than NH or VT. With some rain in sight, perhaps this dry trend will end and the hum of weekend lawn mowers will appear as quickly as the migration of robins returning from Florida.
There is no denying it, spring is upon us and soon your spring cleaning will end up outdoors with the yard. Yes, the lawn will beckon for your attention and no matter how long you put off the inevitable, your shrubs and grass will demand attention. Are you one of the many who do not relish the task of raking, mowing, and trying to maintain your own landscape? If so, you are not alone and should not be ashamed to admit this dark secret. In fact, many folks feel compelled to fertilizer their own lawn simply because everyone else is doing it. In our business, we call this “keeping up with the Jones’”, a classic syndrome seen across NH and VT. The pressure builds with each passing weekend to visit a local hardware store and buy flowers, gloves, shovels, rakes, fertilizer, and lime. As each Saturday expires, you see time going through the hour glass; time you simply do not have.
Why would you continue to suffer when the cost of hiring a professional lawn care company can actually yield better results, save you countless hours, and even represent an economic savings in your bank account? Quality is not cheap, but it may very well be less expensive than toiling for hours upon hours only to obtain the same results, be them poor to acceptable. There is an appropriate saying, “doing the same thing over and over will not result in a different outcome”. Sometimes a change is refreshing and the right thing to do, or at least worth considering that there are alternatives to maintaining a healthy lawn and landscape.
In the big world of lawn care, there are daunting choices to be made, promises and coupons are given without hesitation. No wonder you are confused and skeptical about our profession and what it really costs! No doubt your skepticism could be born from a bad past experience, perhaps with a large national chain or a “gentleman” in a pick-up truck with little or no experience? Like revisiting a restaurant after having a bad meal, you simply cannot even consider the option of professional turf care. Who can blame you? I cannot. But what I can say is there are lots of folks with lots of real experience in this business in NH and VT. Professionals in every sense of the word that have the education and real field experience necessary to diagnose, prescribe, and care your lawn.
If the coupon or direct mail piece sounds too good to be true, it most likely is! You are looking to save time, money, and receive the results most would expect from a professional lawn care company. If the trucks look the same, they have similar marketing strategies and programs. I hate to spoil your dinner, but there are no supersonic, ultra coated, magnetic, super powered fertilizers in existence. There is a basic science of soil life and how it supports plant growth. Yes, fertilizers have a roll, but are not the end-all to a healthy lawn. I don’t care how many times or what you coat the fertilizer pellet with, the applicator’s skill level, treatment consistency, and amount of fertilizer applied are the key to quality results – period. This fact applies to compost tea, lime, aeration, sea kelp, and yes- even fertilizer!
If the coupon does not fit, and if the gimmick seems slick and full of ideal promises, you might want a second opinion from a professional in the business, someone like me or a locally owned business in your own home town. A great lawn can be yours without sacrificing your valuable weekends or draining your bank account. You get what you pay for in the end so let it be effective and worth your hard-earned income. Have a great spring!
According to a 2008 University of New Hampshire publication on Milky Spore disease, there are more reasons NOT to use this product than to use it in your home lawn. Milky spore has been around for decades and was the first biological control means for Japanese beetle grubs. Milky Spore comes in a powder and consists of a bacteria. The first reason not to use milky spore was the design, it was manufactured to control ONLY Japanese beetle grubs- unfortunately there are many more! Other turf damaging grubs in NH & VT include Asiatic beetles, European and masked chafers, June and May beetles and armyworms. So now you understand that even if milky spore could work, you would be controlling one grub out of many, not good odds.
The second major issue not to use milky spore is you must have Japanese beetles in your lawn in sufficient numbers to promote the bacterial population enough to expand and spread out in the soil. Therefore, if you do not have a large japanese beetle population, one where you would likely see damage- why bother? The third reason not to use milky spore in NH and VT is the fact that soil temperature must be between 60 and 70 degrees for 3 months. The high soil temperature necessary does not occur in our region and the bacteria can take over 4 to 5 years to build up, under ideal conditions, with a high population of Japanese beetles! Wow! You might want to go buy that lottery ticket today versus buying milky spore.
The Fourth reason not to use milky spore relates to how Japanese beetle grubs must ingest or eat the milky spore in the soil, not come into contact with, but eat it. To summarize, even under ideal conditions, purchasing and using milky spore disease is a serious waste of money and time especially since there are more effective organic/biological methods like Nematodes.
Nematodes are microscopic worms that are applied to the soil in a water spray. The nematodes then swim and attack the grubs while swimming in water between the soil particles. Nematodes will attack and destroy all of the grubs found in NH and VT listed above. They will also attack sod webworms! Since there is no “golden bullet”, Nematodes must be watered into the lawn or they will perish so that usually means applying them in the rain. The soil must have sufficient moisture content and you must target the grubs at the right life cycle stage. Having a professional apply Nematodes is the only true logistical option at this time, and our company does provide this service in our market area.
There are also a large range of new products on the market, some that do not even require a signal word because they are so applicator and environmentally friendly. In some states like Vermont- you must have a pesticide license even if you are applying organic products since it is considered a pesticide even if it is organic. Please keep in mind some organic products are just as dangerous or more so than some newer manufactured products. There are several key points to remember before using any “pesticide”, the first being is a treatment required and why? Secondly, what are the best material(s) to use for the job with the least impact to the environment and applicator. Do we need to treat the entire lawn or just a portion of it? Can we live with a small amount of damage and renovate later, only treating that one area or should we treat a larger area with a different product at a different time? These are all questions best left to the professional because without knowing insect or disease life cycles, product components, mode of action, and application method- things can go wrong real quick. This does not take into account the potential waste of material and use of a pesticide that should not have been used, regardless of composition. Doing the right thing, at the right time is harder to do than you may think.