Rake the leaves or leave the leaves?

If you are home for the holidays, you may be asking your self “should I rake the leaves or should I leave the leaves?”  If you are planning to couch surf this holiday, you may want to close your ears. Jack Nicholson may have said it best in “A Few Good Men” when he said “you can’t handle the truth!” 

If you have been doing things properly, you have already mulched your leaves and allowed them to become a great source of nutrients for your lawn. If you have been doing this all fall, your lawn will thank you properly this spring. A mulching mower chops up leaves and allows maximum contact  of the leaf parts and pieces. These bit give your lawn air, water and nutrients over the winter and spring months. But, you didn’t do that, did you? 

It’s okay.

Your holiday couch surfing just got replaced with some great exercise. This isn’t going to be easy, but you need to rake the leaves. If you don’t rake up those wet leaves now, they will smother the grass blades underneath. Wet leaves keep the soil under your grass from warming up in the spring. If the soil doesn’t warm up enough, the grass will take longer to exit dormancy. 

Dormancy, what’s that?

Dormancy just means your lawn has gone to sleep. It does this in the cold winter months. You can tell a lawn is dormant when it turns brown, that because it is conserving water and nutrients. Sometimes your lawn does this in the summer when it gets too stressed from intense heat or drought. It isn’t dead, it’s dormant.

Let’s remember for next year…

Ideally, you should mulch your leaves regularly in the fall. Don’t wait until they are piled up thick and wet. Just run your mulching mower over the leaves every few days and think of it as giving your lawn a vitamin. If you don’t have a mulching mower, rake them up and compost them. You can add the decomposed leaves to your flower beds or garden later.

It doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore.

You will achieve pure joy just by watching this one minute video of a dog jumping in leaf piles. Make leaf raking a family activity, get exercise and possibly become YouTube stars all at once! Drag out the rake, gather the big trash bags and convince your family “this will be fun.” And hey, maybe asking for a mulching mower for Christmas isn’t the worst idea ever…When you are still searching for answers about lawn care and services, know that we at Lawn and Pest Solutions are always there for you. We service the Memphis, TN and North Mississippi areas with lawn treatment and pest services for lawns, homes and businesses. Our licensed technicians are available to consult with you about how we can best serve you. 

Why bother with fall plant care?

What’s the use? Why bother with fall plant care? Boat owners don’t leave their precious investments floating in cold waters all winter. We protect our new cars in garages. We make sure the roof isn’t leaking before the rain comes. Just like boats, cars and homes, our landscapes are an investment.

Oh, I never thought of it that way.

When we walk around our property this coming spring, we can have a healthy and well protected lawn to boast about. Or…we can look back with regret that we didn’t protect our investment over the fall and winter seasons. All of the time and money spent on planting, nurturing, watering and fertilizing shouldn’t be wasted.

A beautiful lawn is a year round job

At Lawn and Pest Solutions, we offer a plant health care program that focuses on keeping your landscape and shrubs insect and disease free. Our licensed technicians will visit you four times a year with either a very broad service, or one that is tailored to the specific needs of your lawn.

Pests, irrigation and fertilization

If you have invested a great amount of money in a landscape, you want to protect everything there from pests like crape myrtle bark scale, lace bugs on azalea, scale on hollies, camellias and euonymus. In addition to pest control in your lawn, our techs can give you feedback on irrigation as well as fertilization (another service we offer). 

We can make your life easier.

We can spend a lot of time and money guessing what is wrong with our landscape and even trying to fix it ourselves. Many times, you can spend less money and very little time by leaving it up to a professional. Contact our office today to protect your investment. Don’t let those long, hot days of mowing, watering, fertilizing, pruning and planting go to waste over the cold months. Let the professionals at Lawn and Pest Solutions in North Mississippi help you. This spring you will be glad you did.

What are occasional invaders?

The term “occasional invaders” sounds somewhere between a piece of fancy furniture and an early 80’s video game. You might not think of pests in your home when you hear that phrase. What is the definition of “occasional” anyway?

oc·ca·sion·al

/əˈkāZHənl/

Learn to pronounce

adjective

adjective: occasional

  1. occurring, appearing, or done infrequently and irregularly. “the occasional car went by but no taxis”

Why do some of the occasional invaders have to be so cute?

In the South, many of us think of Herbie the Lovebug when we hear “doodlebug”, and even play games when we see Volkswagen “beetles” on the road. But…

According to the Illinois Department of Health occasional invaders are pests that aren’t really that bothersome until they infest your home. One or two occasional invaders like a doodlebug or a ladybug don’t send us up on the sofa with a rolled up newspaper. The same may not be said for a spider, and a single cricket has been known to cause a sleepless night for many. However, as with many of the pests and issues that involve home pest control, it’s all about the numbers. You know it, that dreaded word, “infestation”.

Here is a list of reasons to avoid an infestation of occasional invaders

Some secrete foul odors (that’s enough for me right there)

Some cause damage and/or staining to your fabrics inside

They can damage your indoor plants

They may bite or pinch you or your pets

When they die, their bodies can attract other pests

Sometimes their dead bodies and skins that have been shed (plus their droppings and such) can cause some people to have allergic and/or asthma issues

Who are these occasional invaders?

  • Centipedes (usually found in shower drains)
  • Earwigs (usually found in moist areas)
  • Pill Bugs (aka Roly Polies or Doodle Bugs)
  • Crickets
  • Beetles (check out our previous blog on beetles)
  • Silverfish (attracted to paper like wallpaper, books and envelopes)
  • Ladybugs (check out our previous blog on ladybugs) 
  • Spiders (check out our previous blog on spiders)
  • Cluster flies
  • Stink bugs

Occasional invaders aren’t mysterious pests that suddenly appear in the winter, they are active year round. Most of the time they are outdoors and we don’t notice them until they start getting inside our homes for the winter. As with almost every pest we battle, keeping them OUT of your home is most of the war. Paying attention to cracks around windows and doors, tears in screens, piles of leaves or branches around the home helps. Repair any possible entryway for pests so they can’t get in your home. Remove piles of leaves and sticks and overgrown vegetation. Eliminate areas where water can collect. Check under your sinks for leaking pipes and repair. 

If all else fails, know that you can count on Lawn and Pest Solutions to help you wage war against the “occasional invaders” . We are also here to protect your home from termites, roaches, ants and more. Our licensed pest technicians will thoroughly spray inside and outside of your home on a regular schedule to ensure this problem is taken care of now and later. Contact us here to learn more about our #pest360 program. 

What are the benefits of spraying my lawn in the fall?

Spraying your lawn in the fall more than likely means applying a pre-emergent treatment. What is a pre-emergent you ask? Pre-emergent doesn’t kill weed seeds. Instead, it stops the growth process of weed seeds. I imagine it to be a sort of thin barrier between your soil and the weed seeds below. There is one key “ingredient” in treating your lawn in the fall. Timing is everything. For pre-emergent treatment to work, it needs to be in your soil at not only the right time, but when the temperature is right. 

Timing is Everything.

When you think about timing, lawn care may not be the first topic to pop in your brain. As a fan of stand up comedians, I have great respect for timing in comedy. But timing in lawn care doesn’t boil down to one great pause or a punch line. Lawn care is about year round timing and care. You can’t wait until “the spring” to get your lawn looking good. It is a commitment that involves planning and attention to detail.

Timing your pre-emergent treatment means applying it at just the time when weeds begin to sprout. We want the weeds to hit the barrier created by the treatment. Even with the most thorough treatment, there are always some weeds that won’t be harmed by the treatment. This is why a year round plan is the only plan that really works. 

Let us do the timing for you.

Lawn 360 is Lawn & Pest Solutions’ premium, year-round, scheduled lawn service with treatments tested and proven to give you a healthy, green lawn. In between scheduled treatments, technicians provide month-to-month strategies, as needed, to keep your lawn at its thickest and greenest year round. 

Our Lawn 360 plan includes 7 treatment stages that include pre-emergent  AND post-emergent treatments. In addition to those visits, we fertilize your lawn multiple times a year. This may make you think of the late Billy Mays and his “but wait, that’s not all” sales pitches! But really, that isn’t all. When you sign up for our Lawn 360 plan, know that every time we visit your lawn, our licensed technicians will spot spray for weeds. The benefits of spraying your lawn in the fall will pay off when you are eating your lawn year round.

Of Mice and Rodents

“Of Mice and Men” didn’t come to mind immediately upon reading the subject for this blog, it was when I said “Mice and Rodents” out loud that my brain was triggered.  Were you made to read “Of Mice and Men” when you were in junior high like me? If you don’t remember the book, here’s a clip from the 1992 movie. But don’t worry, this blog shouldn’t make you cry. 

Of Mice and Men was written by John Steinbeck, but the title was taken from a line in the poem “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns. The simplest interpretation of that line is, 

“The best laid schemes of mice and men / Often go awry.”

Supposedly the poet wrote it immediately after plowing over a mouse nest in the field. That’s a pretty tender hearted reference, especially when blogging for a pest control company! Homeowners today are not interested in composing poems about the mice and rodents in their homes, they just want to get rid of them!

Did you know rodents are the largest group of mammals in the world? In Mississippi, we have 22 kinds of rodents including mice, rats, voles, and squirrels. While rodents have a bad reputation, they do have a few positive attributes. When they dig and burrow under your lawn they are helping to aerate the soil. Aerating the soil helps the lawn grow and absorb water. Rodents are also a food source to other animals. Not surprisingly, the negatives outweigh the positives when it comes to rodents.

The first of the bad news…

Rodents gnaw on electrical wires inside and outside of your home. They also like to chew on the wood and insulation in your walls and attics. Rats and mice can carry diseases and parasites that are harmful to humans and pets.

The worst of the bad news…

Mice and rodents like to reproduce, and they are really good at it. They have several litters a year! Mice are especially “active” and can start having babies at just a few months old. Even though they typically only live 8 months to a year long, one female can have 8 litters of babies. One mouse can have 50-60 babies in less than one year. You must be wondering by now how to keep mice and rodents out of your home.

This would be easier if you never let them in.

Mice and rodents need food and a nice house, just like in the Robert Burns poem. If someone mows down their mouse house in the field, they will be looking to move in with you. If you have gaps around your windows, doors, siding or brick, caulk those gaps. If you have plants or trees leaning on or against your home, trim those away or remove them. Branches, limbs and vines give mice and rodents an easy path to your home. 

We say this almost every week…

Keep pet food in air tight containers and don’t leave pet food sitting out at night. (This is a huge draw for roaches, too!) If you are providing access to the inside of your home AND leaving food out for pests, how can you blame them for moving in with you?

Don’t let your “best laid schemes go awry”

If the poem, book or even movie softened you to mice and rodents, this is worth repeating. One mouse can have 50-60 babies in less than one year.  Our licensed pest technicians know exactly what to do when dealing with mice and rodents. Contact us here and we will be in touch with you ASAP. We service the Memphis and North Mississippi areas with trained and trustworthy employees. 

Perhaps we can try to be nicer to humans and still keep the mice and rodents out of our homes. Maybe this will balance out the world as we know it.

“Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love……Try to understand each other.”

— John Steinbeck in his 1938 journal entry

Will frost damage my lawn?

When we Southerners hear that the first frost is upon us, we wonder “will frost damage my lawn”? Well,  it may look damaged, and you CAN damage frosted lawns but the frost won’t really damage your lawn. It is just about the time for our first frost to be upon us. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, October 19 is around the time of our first frost in this area. You can check your area here. These probable frost dates are calculated from climate normals from 1981-2010, so take that date with a grain of salt. 

What is frost?

Frost on your lawn happens when the temperatures dip below 32 degrees and the water in the blades of your lawn freeze. Here are some things to remember about frost and what it does to your lawn and plants:

  • 29° to 32°F—tender plants are killed.
  • 25° to 28°F—widely destructive to most vegetation.
  • 24°F and colder—heavy damage to most plants.

If you are really into watching the weather and learning about frost, this Memphis area weather man does a great job of explaining it with a more scientific twist.

Luckily for us, we don’t experience the severe freezes very often. For those of us with just a few potted plants sitting around outside, it’s not that hard to move them inside or even cover them. 

What about my lawn?

You might think that frost has damaged your lawn when you see that the lush green has turned brown. A brown lawn isn’t dead. It’s dormant. We like to think of dormant grass as hibernating grass. Just be patient, it will come back to life this spring. However, there is one thing to remember about a lawn that has been covered in frost…

Don’t walk on it!

No one takes their lawn or turf more seriously than golfers, right? This very cool video demonstrates the damage walking on frosted grass does to a golf course and why they have “frost delays”. Depending on where you live and what goes on around your lawn, it might be hard to keep people off the lawn. In that case, here are some things you can do to prevent damage to a frost covered lawn.

  • Believe it or not, watering your grass the night before an expected frost will help keep your lawn warm and prevent damaging frost.
  • Allow your grass to grow longer/taller than normal. 
  • If frost is expected, don’t mow. Freshly cut grass is more susceptible to frost damage.

Living in the deep South makes us forget that we will eventually get that first frost. It is so hot and warm most of the year, it may slip up on us that a frost is coming. We also get so comfortable with our warm fall season that we may forget about taking care of our lawn year round. But don’t let all of the work you did this spring and summer get trampled on, protect your investment. Protect your lawn. If you need help creating your best lawn and keeping it healthy and as beautiful as it can be year round, contact us here. Lawn and Pest Solutions has experience and success in maintaining your best lawn, turf, field or course. 

Good bugs and Bad bugs

It’s hard to use the phrase “good bugs and bad bugs” without it sounding like you are saying “good cop bad cop”. The phrase “good bug bad bug” doesn’t have the same meaning, but it does have the same flow. And what’s a blog about good bugs bad bugs without a slight detour into the number four “good cop bad cop” movie which is Beverly Hills Cop? Other than the allure of Eddie Murphy, I am not much of a cop movie person, so honestly, I had to look up the definition of good cop/bad cop. If you have read any of my blogs about bugs and lawns, you know I would try anything to parlay this into a conversation about pop culture. It just didn’t work this time.

But what about his laugh?

Sorry, guys. I had to do it. 

Back to good bugs and bad bugs. In Mississippi, people are always saying that every bug has a purpose, that every bug does something good. But there’s always that one exception. The mosquito. The jury must still be out on what good a mosquito does, but there are good bugs. Good bugs are protecting our gardens and crops and lawns.

Some of the best “good bugs” in our area include:

  • Lady Bugs or Lady Beetles, they eat aphids and rescue our beloved Crape Myrtle trees from bark scale when they can.
  • Green Lacewing, their larvae eat aphids and other insects that destroy our lawns.
  • The Brachonid Wasp lays eggs on the very destructive Tomato Horn Worm. When the eggs hatch, they eat the horn worm. If a horror movie writer hasn’t used that visual yet, they are missing out.

When you are looking over your lawn and garden, be aware that not all bugs are bad. Don’t go stomping and spraying everything that crawls and flies. Do a little research before you kill the one thing that may be saving your tomatoes! This quote from https://www.gardentech.com/blog/pest-id-and-prevention/identifying-good-and-bad-bugs-in-your-garden-infographic says it all, “Some insects are destructive and should be controlled, but of the more than 1.5 million known insect species in the world, more than 97 percent are beneficial to gardens, or simply benign. “

Now, for the bad bugs. How do you tell if they are bad?

While it is easy to just call the experts like Lawn and Pest Solutions, you could do a few quick things.

  • Is the bug eating your plants, grass, garden? Does the eating appear to be doing damage to the plant? Probably “bad bugs”.
  • Is there one bug or is there an infestation ? Probably “bad bugs”.

Who are the “bad bugs”?

For our area, the bugs that are considered to be “bad bugs” include chinch bugs and white grubs . These insects attack our lawns and cause damage there. Insects that we are probably more familiar with are those that attack US like fire ants, wasps and ticks. How is it that no one mentions mosquitoes in these lists of bad bugs? If bad bugs have made their way into your lawn, we are just a click away. Good bugs are abundant, bad bugs get all of the attention. Let us help you get rid of the bad bugs and we will leave the good ones alone. Our licensed professionals know good bugs versus bad bugs and are glad to come evaluate your situation. You can spot our trucks all over North Mississippi and in the Memphis area. See for yourself, the “Lawn and Pest Solutions Difference”.

Spray foam insulation and termites

So what’s the big deal?

Spray foam insulation and termites, there are two sides to every story and this is no exception. Like most subjects, you can pick a side and defend it to better your cause. In this case, we really aren’t on the side of termites OR spray foam insulation. Hang in there with me on this.

Spray foam insulation is a cost effective and highly effective way to insulate your home. The foam is sprayed on as a liquid and it hardens to fill in the spaces between the wood framing of your home. Your walls and ceilings have a hard, waterproof barrier that effectively keeps heat and cold in or out. Many builders prefer spray foam insulation for all of these reasons. But, (you had to know that was coming)…there are disadvantages to spray foam insulation. 

The good part of spray foam insulation are also some of the worst parts when it comes to termite control. The hardened foam can trap moisture between the wood in your walls and frames. Moist wood is the preferred meal of all termites. That’s just the first problem. The second is, the foam between your framing is very easy for termites to travel through. Some sources even call spray foam insulation a “super highway”. Now before anyone misinterprets that… this audio link can answer more questions for you,

Termites are not drawn to, nor do they eat spray foam insulation. 

The fact above is the defense for many lawsuits that have been filed against builders who use spray foam insulation. And it is true. Termites like to eat wood. Termites are drawn to moist wood. Termites are not attracted to spray foam and they don’t like to eat it. They DO use the foam as a way to move faster than ever between the wood framing of a home. It DOES make them much harder to detect.

Even the most trained and experienced technicians have a very hard time finding termites in a home insulated with spray foam. Sometimes by the time that termites are discovered, it is too late. This homeowner lost his entire newly built home to termites because by the time he saw evidence, they had infested his entire home and compromised the structural integrity of his home. For those in the business of building homes, Mississippi State University has put together this information.

It’s official.

The state of Georgia has released an official statement warning about the dangers and repercussions of spray foam insulation. It’s not just Georgia, termites are a fact of life for us in the South. If termites haven’t gotten into your house, it’s not because they aren’t trying. We know they are out there and we can fight them.

Termites are a fact of life for us, but they can be prevented. We have said it before and will say it again, homeowners insurance does not cover termite damage because it is considered to be preventable. Read that again. If you aren’t protecting your home or business from termites, they are eventually going to get you. Yes, even you with the metal buildings. We all have cabinets, sheetrock, flooring, papers, trim…wood to protect.

Termites are tiny little pests that eat just a little bit of wood at a time, but they never stop eating. Termites can destroy your home or business if left untreated. Termite damage is not covered by homeowners insurance. Termites can be stopped. If you are building a new home, there is a pre-treatment available through Lawn and Pest Solutions.

If you have a home that is not insulated with spray foam, Lawn and Pest Solutions can help you to stop current termite troubles, or to prevent inevitable termite troubles. We are located in New Albany, MS and cover a large area from Memphis over the entire North Mississippi area. Our licensed technicians can come and inspect your home for termites and advise you on a plan of treatment. Contact us here to get a very fast and efficient response to your needs.