Posts Tagged ‘hanover lawn care’

Milky Spore Lore & White Grubs in your lawn

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.

I do hope you have learned something new today or perhaps confirmed something you already believed in regarding grub control.  In any event, as fall fades into winter- be sure you are ready next spring because if you do have grubs- they will be waiting and you should have a game plan lined up this winter to address that very issue.  Thanks for visiting my humble blog!

Be sure to the visit this UNH video link  http://extension.unh.edu/agric/turf/media/lifecycl.htm

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Chinch bugs, when a brown lawn goes bad

Chinch bugs are under rated and a delightfully evil little lawn pest.  They love hot weather and can devastate a lawn if left unchecked in mere days to weeks.  Don’t think your are in the clear if you live out in the woods, these pests will find your lawn and eat it while you sleep.  They are small, they are shy and hide down in the thatch layer where you don’t see them.  Chinch bugs vary in color but the adults have an unmistakable white diamond on their backs.

These tiny little fellows have kids that range in color from orange, to gray, to black before reaching the slim classic adult with the diamond back.  They are about 1/8″ long and run fast when you uncover their hiding places.  A trained eye can easily spot them but unless you are down at ground level forget about it, these guys will party until your lawn is dead and gone.  The funny thing about chinch bugs is they get about two generations in NH and VT.  Left to their own evil plans, chinch bugs populations will build over time- especially in dry weather.  Since the adults overwinter and hide for the following year- the population will continue to expand and move further into your lawn.  In other words, chinch bugs do not die over the winter, they hide and wait for warmer weather like many of us!

I recently visited a lawn which pictures I have enclosed in this post.  I have not seen this many chinch bugs since the late 90′s!  Oh my word, there were so many, they were climbing up the garage door and foundation.  Can you say science fiction?  Not in this case- this is real.  If you view these pictures- the lawn has a grey tint to it versus a brown or tan.  While most lawns will only suffer blotches or patches, a heavy infestation will cause extreme thinning and the unmistakable look of death- grey.  This lawn has suffered massive damage and most of the turf will not recover especially with heat and drought stress.  We treated the lawn to clean up these villans today mostly to save the front lawn and stop the population explosion underway.

If you have any doubt, have a professional check it out.  This homeowner went to a local garden center and a few other “experts” and no one could determine the identity of this bug.  This is why licensed, educated, field experienced veterans like myself are truly of value and set the bar of those in the industry by merit and deed.  Don’t let a brown lawn stay brown, make sure it is checked.

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Researching Lawn Care Companies in NH, Part 2

Published by JKeefe on March 28th, 2010 - in Lawn Care Companies, Misc.

In my first post, I covered some initial points to consider while researching lawn care companies. Ease of communication ranks high and provides vital comfort for ease of asking questions, changing your program, or if a problem/question arises. While anyone can call me directly on my cell phone or e-mail me directly 24/7, you will not find this in other companies. On the contrary, you will be forced to call an out of state call center out or a leave a message due to “standard business hours”. Being forced to wait for an answer or return call is tough if you have a serious disease or insect problem. Fortunately, the world of business is changing and those who do not provide the highest level of communication will be left to slowly whither on the vine.

I explored the need to do a little home work first, researching a few companies by asking for referrals, or checking out the existence of a website or blog. Determine the level of transparency such as a “face book” fan page and the ability to review current or future client comments online. Communication is very important and the more ways that exist- the easier you can communicate with your lawn care provider, the more enjoyable and comfortable the relationship will be- leading to a long lasting, satisfying experience.

So what is next? The program! Who made it? In most cases, the actual program will be a cookie cutter, generic printout faxed by a corporate center on the other side of the United States. That’s not all; this program will specify certain rates of fertilizer or other products over the course of the year be it here in New England or Colorado regardless of the regional weather conditions and more importantly the unique characteristics of your lawn and microclimate. Believe me, this does matter- this is big, real big. When the trucks roll and have a “batch” of pre-mixed chemicals, the rate of fertilizer is set and cannot be changed- period. So what? What if you just signed up for service and your lawn needs a higher rate than what is in the truck? What if your lawn is shaded and it does not need as much fertilizer? Too bad, when the spray truck pulls up to the curb- you get X, the mix of the day- preset and unchangeable! Perhaps you are beginning to see how this will not, cannot provide the kind of results like a custom program.

When I made my own program, I called it ETC (Essential Turf Care). I began by researching hundreds of products and picked out dozens of products to stock my kitchen from natural, organic, and traditional materials based on my 24yrs in the business. On the other hand, the large companies tell their branch offices what type of fertilizer goes down and at what rate from an out of state corporate office. Who would you prefer to place your trust in- the employee who is at your property or a glassy building in the Midwest? It gets worse. Many of the “technicians” who do the work often have less field experience than you do! That’s right, the big boys need so many employees, they must hire literally dozens upon dozens each year.  I know from first hand experience, I did the recruiting.  While these folks may have a fresh state license and the proper certification, being book smart and field trained are two entirely different worlds!  Chances are, you have a high probability of having your lawn treated by someone who has never treated lawns before- how does that make you feel?  Do you want the experienced veteran electrician or the green apprentice?  Think about this for a moment. What do you really think you are getting with that bargain basement price of X?  In many circumstances, you are better off trying it yourself and may well have more experience than any of the “technicians” who are spraying solutions on your property.  Most of the time, they did not even fill their own truck with mystery mix A or B- it is done for them.  Wow! How do you feel now?  Enlightened I hope! I speak from experience, this is the real deal.  This is high volume, one size fits all lawn care where the number of lawns treated in a day (production dollars) outweighs the results and substance.  Simply put, this type of lawn treatment  is old school and continues to decline for obvious reasons.

To summarize, if you want a generic, non-specific, unchangeable, one size fits all lawn program sprayed onto your property, call 1-800 I am a lemming! Break the trend this spring, you can get so much more in terms of results and experience, not to mention caring for the environment and still have a healthy lawn! Every service you buy, you are making a choice and supporting either your local economy- or a glassy corporate building in the Midwest. What will it be? Are you willing to at least explore a different option?

If this information does not move you, wait for part 3!

Don't be a lawn care lemming! Make a change

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