Get the Jump on Spring Weeds

Right now, dormant weed seeds in your lawn are waiting to grow. Thanks to the ways weeds have evolved, they’ll germinate and start growing before your grass does. That’s why it’s important to consider an application of pre-emergent now. It’ll save you a lot of grief and a lot of mowing.

In Mississippi and Tennessee, Crabgrass is our number one summer weed, typically germinating in mid-March. Pre-emergent herbicides are designed to target seeds before the weed germinates. Also known as “crabgrass preventer,” pre-emergents don’t kill established plants, but they prevent new weeds from growing by establishing a barrier around the seeds. This protective barrier breaks down over time.

If you’re enrolled in our Lawn 360 program, you have nothing to worry about. Our technicians know the exact timing to apply our pre-emergent and set your yard up for weed-free success in the spring.

If you’re tackling this project yourself, there are a few things you should know.

  • Always read the label instructions before you apply your pre-emergent. Respect what you’re applying and wear proper clothing, abide by the package’s safety precautions, and so forth.
  • It’s about timing, not volume. Applying twice the prescribed dose of herbicide is not twice as good. It’s irresponsible. Remember, pre-emergent is preventative. It won’t kill weeds, it will simply keep new ones from growing. That’s not to say you can’t or shouldn’t apply pre-emergent later, it just means you’ll have more work to do to in eliminating established weeds.
  • Many popular lawn care products at home improvement stores advertise themselves as “weed and feed,” because they contain both fertilizer and weed killer. Don’t waste your money! Our warm-season grasses don’t need fertilizer this time of year.

Pre-emergents form the backbone of most weed control systems, but no system is perfect on its own. Our Lawn 360 program handles your pre-emergent applications, and our lawn care professionals will spot-treat weeds at no cost to you. What’s more, they’ll work with you to plan for the spring and achieve the deep green lawn of your dreams.

Reach out to us through our contact form to set up your free assessment today.

Keep Winter Rodents Out

As temperatures continue to drop, you’re more likely to hear the tell-tale scratching of an unwanted guest as mice, raccoons, squirrels, and other rodents search for warmth and food. 

A mouse can fit through openings as small as a dime—through the gaps around pipes, vents, cables, and more. Once they’re in, the infestation can become a messy one. It’s best to stop this problem before it happens.

Rodent-proofing your house isn’t difficult.

Manage your garbage.

Rodents have a great sense of smell. Make sure your garbage bins have lids to help contain the smell and, obviously, to make it harder for rodents to get into them. You should also move your garbage cans farther away from your house to make your house less attractive to them. 

Additionally, get rid of your garbage as often as possible. The longer it sits around, the stronger the smell becomes. Even if your bin isn’t full by trash day, take it to the street anyway. No food means no rodents. 

For bonus points, spray out the inside of your bins now and then to keep them relatively clean.

Keep a tidy yard. 

Rodents like tall grass and weeds because of the cover they provide. Eliminating these types of hiding spots will dissuade mice and rats from your yard. Same goes for piles of sticks, and other clutter—these, too, serve as hiding spots for rodents. 

If you have a pile of firewood, elevate your logs about a foot off the ground, and store the pile away from your house.

Trim back trees or shrubs that touch your home, so rodents can’t climb their way to entry points they wouldn’t normally be able to reach.

Inspect your exterior.

Take a look at the openings around pipes and utility wires at the points where they enter your home, and seal those gaps. You can do so using pipe sealant or caulk. If the opening is large, you might use an expandable polyurethane foam. All of these tools can be found at your local hardware store.

Make sure the weather strips along your doors and windows are in good repair. Replace strips that are cracked, chipped, or falling apart. Check your vent screens and replace screens that are torn. 

Your chimney is a prime entry point for varmints. Invest in a mesh chimney cap to prevent rodents from making a home in, well, your home by coming in through the chimney.

Organize your storage spaces.

Rodents are much less likely to stick around if they don’t have anywhere to hide. Organizing and de-cluttering your storage spaces will minimize these opportunities. Those thick, plastic, lidded storage bins are a great method to keep rodents from ruining your possessions while also tidying up the space.

For even more protection, elevate these bins about a foot off the floor, if possible. 

Be conscious of your food.

The holidays wouldn’t be as great without all of the eating—that’s true for rodents, too. Keep your cabinets and cooking areas clean. Store leftovers quickly after dinner and don’t let dirty dishes sit for very long.

Try storing the food in your pantry in sealable containers. The same goes for your pet’s food. 

As pests seek warmth during the winter, Lawn & Pest technicians are here to help fortify your defenses with programs like Pest 360. Contact us today for your free assessment, and let our professionals help you get a game plan together to ensure a pest-free holiday.

Don’t Freak Out Over Frost

Though it’s bound to get cold sooner or later, frost and freezing temperatures don’t affect the warm season grasses most common in our area.

Warm-season grasses include zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda, and centipede grasses. These breeds go dormant when temperatures start dipping below 60 degrees. Because they’re no longer trying to grow, they’re much less vulnerable to harsh weather.

“Psychedelic” grass is nothing to worry about.

As we experience the first few frosts of the year, your grass might take on a strange pattern. Sometimes, these patterns look like zebra stripes or leopard spots, and though it might look like something is going wrong, everything is fine.

While your grass is making the transition to dormancy, frost will affect different spots of your grass in different ways—Bermuda and zoysia grasses, especially. Some areas will go dormant faster, resulting in a pattern.

It’s perfectly natural and healthy.

Keep a tidy yard.

As we talked about in our October blog, make sure you mulch your leaves and rid your yard of debris. Your grass is working hard to make the most of the few nutrients it can obtain.

Grass covered by leaves or debris is essentially smothered and will be slow to green up in the spring.

Avoid compacting your soil.

Compacted soil puts a chokehold on your lawn’s root system, which makes it difficult to draw nutrients from the soil. High foot traffic, new sod, and standing water are just a few problems that can lead to compacted soil.

As the weather gets colder, your soil will naturally harden and become compacted. Now would be a great time to schedule an aeration treatment with one of our lawn care technicians, who can give you other pointers to get your yard through the winter.

Your grass will continue to hibernate until temperatures reach a consistent low in the 60’s.

At Lawn & Pest Solutions, we don’t think about your lawn one season at a time. Our certified lawn technicians want you to get the most out of your lawn. Our lawn care professionals work with you to create a plan that sets your grass up for a healthy winter and a more vibrant spring. Reach out to us through our contact page to set up your complimentary assessment.  

Stop Raking and Start Mulching

Fall is finally here, and soon we’ll be cussin’ all the leaves we have to rake up.

What if I told you that you could skip raking altogether?

It’s true. You can use your lawnmower to mulch your leaves instead. The smaller pieces break down faster, delivering a vital round of nutrients to your yard. When paired with a nitrogen lawn fertilizer, the results can be outstanding. 

Any mower can do it, and any type of leaves can be mulched. 

You’ll want to remove the grass catcher from your mower and set your mower height to about three inches. Mow the leaves several times, reducing them to dime-sized bits. Keep mowing until you can see about a half inch of grass through the layer of mulched leaves. The more grass you can see, the smaller the leaf bits will be and the quicker they will decompose.

Once your leaves are mulched, soil microbes will compost the remains and incorporate nutrients into your grass and soil—a natural fertilizer that enriches your soil, cuts down on weeds, and feeds your turf.

When you think about it, it’s kind of silly to work so hard raking and bagging leaves, then rush to the store to buy a bunch of mulch.

Timing and fertilizer deliver an extra boost.

It’s time to mulch when leaves cover more than a third of your lawn, or when leaves have completely covered your grass. If a cold snap drops a lot of leaves within a few days, you can hold off until there’s an even layer of leaves over your yard. 

Once you notice it’s time to mulch, don’t wait more than a few days to do so. Mulch before it rains so your leaves aren’t clumpy and tough.

After mulching, apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer to boost the appetites of your soil microbes, accelerating the decomposition of your leaves. 

A lot of folks worry that leaving leaves on their yards will smother their grass. That’s true, if you don’t mulch your leaves and let big piles of them completely block your grass from the sun. 

If you insist on the tidiness of a completely raked yard, you can put a bagger on your mower to collect your mulch and spread it over you garden or flower beds. 

No matter your goals, our certified lawn technicians want you to get the most out of your lawn. They’ll work with you to create a plan that sets your grass up for a healthy winter and a more vibrant spring. Reach out to us through our contact page to set up your complimentary assessment.  

Debunking Lawn Myths

You know, one of the things I’m most proud of about Lawn & Pest Solutions is the collaborative, educational factor our technicians bring to each customer. LPS professionals help you understand what’s going on with your lawn and what you can do between applications to help it thrive.

As such, we dispel a lot of misconceptions about lawn care. Some of them are laughable—like the myth that you can aerate your yard by wearing golf shoes when you mow. But others are easy mistakes to make without a deeper level of expertise.

Here’s a few myths we hear regularly.

1. My lawn needs watering every single day.

Nope! In fact, it’s better to water deeper and less often than to water shallow and more frequently. Allowing water to penetrate deep into the soil will encourage your grass to grow deeper roots. Not only do strong roots make your grass look and feel better, they make your lawn more durable in times of stress.

2. If I want a deeper green color to my grass, I need to apply more fertilizer.

Of course, fertilizer plays a big role in your lawn’s nutrition. Fertilizer gives your grass what it needs to grow stronger, for its roots to grow deeper.

While a properly fertilized lawn will produce a more vibrant color, the shade of green is determined more by how often you mow and your mowing height. The type of grass you have also plays a role. Zoysia, bermudagrass, and Fescue have a darker, richer green tint. St. Augustine grass, among others, has a brighter green hue.

3. If I don’t bag my clippings, my lawn will have a thatch problem.

Returning your clippings to your lawn provides an addittional 30% of the nitrogen your grass needs. Also, a healthy lawn needs a thatch layer-that’s where Mother Nature performs some of her magic. Some thatch is good!

Thatch can become a problem if you don’t mow your lawn often enough-see my next “myth.” Otherwise, keep sharp blades on your mower and mulch your clippings or use a side discharge mower.

4. If I mow shorter, I won’t have to mow as often.

This might be true at the barber shop, but it’s not so straightforward when it comes to your lawn. Sometimes over-cut grass grows back even faster.

More likely, mowing too short will give your grass too much exposure to sunlight, causing it to brown over. In the summer months, it’s better to err on the side of length than cutting too short.

The sweet spot for your grass length is between one and three inches, and when you mow, you shouldn’t take off more than a third of the blade. That’ll require a mowing every seven to 10 days.

5. It’s getting close to leaf-raking time.

Not so fast! Mow over your leaves instead and you’ll be providing some great organic matter for your soil. As long as you mow or mulch the leaves often and don’t let them build up, the leaves are beneficial. Those tiny bits of leaves will decompose over the winter, adding a nutrient rich material to your thatch layer.

Remember, your lawn is on your side. It wants to be green, durable, and good-looking. All you have to do is meet your grass halfway, making the right moves at the right time.

Our LPS technicians are here to help you get there. Reach out through our contact page to schedule your free assessment.

Drought-Proofing Your Lawn

A drought is more than just a week with no rain. It’s an extended period (a few weeks, at least) with little or no rain. When your grass turns brown, it’s essentially going into hibernation to save energy. You’ll notice this discoloration after a week or so with upper 90’s temperatures and no rain. 

Signs of heat stress

There are other signs of heat stress than brown grass.

Perhaps you’ve noticed footprints on your grass after you walk across your lawn. Footprints on a hydrated lawn should disappear after a few minutes, because hydration gives grass blades their elasticity. If your footprints are still visible after a few hours, your lawn needs water. 

Soil shrinks during a drought. Look along the edge of your yard, where it meets the driveway or sidewalk. If there’s an obvious gap in the soil at these edges, the soil is drying up, and your grass needs water. 

Of course, dry soil is hard soil. Take a screwdriver and push it about six inches into the ground. If it goes in easily, your lawn is hydrated. If it’s difficult or impossible, your lawn is too dry. 

Proper watering

Did you know that watering too often can result in shallow grass roots? It’s true. Non-irrigated lawns typically come through a drought in better shape than irrigated lawns.

Think about it. The roots of your grass only grow as deep as they need to in order to reach water. If the top layer of soil is always moist, the roots never need to penetrate deeper. When a drought hits, a shallow root system won’t be able to absorb as much water as it needs. 

It’s best to water deeply and infrequently (two or three times per week), so grass roots must grow deeper to find water. 

Tips for watering systems

If you use and irrigation system to water your lawn, investing in a rain sensor will save you water and money. Not to mention, you’ll benefit from a healthier lawn with fewer weeds. 

To put it simply, a rain sensor tells your irrigation system not to run when it’s raining. This prevents overwatering and removes the hassle of manually turning your system on and off according to the weather. 

A good irrigation schedule waters deeply, as mentioned above. Set the timer of your irrigation system to run two or three days a week, leaving at least a day in between. If it rains, your rain sensor will prevent the irrigation from running for a few days automatically. 

If you don’t have an irrigation system, sprinklers will work just fine. Your lawn needs about an inch of rainfall per week to thrive. That typically translates to about 20 to 30 minutes of sprinkler time three times per week. As with an irrigation system, you’ll want to leave at least a day between waterings. 

Don’t forget to move your sprinklers around to reach all areas of your yard, especially during a drought. The best time to water is between 5 and 9 a.m. Watering at night invites fungi and diseases to fester in your grass.

Prepare your yard for anything

Know your grass. During a drought, Bermuda grass will fare best, while Centipede and St. Augustine grasses will need more pampering. 

By caring for your yard through aeration, consistent weekly mowing, and timely fertilization, you can give your grass a fighting chance against drought. Our technicians will work with you to create a plan to keep your yard beautiful throughout the summer. Contact us today to schedule your complimentary assessment.

Waterlogged Lawns

It’s been an incredibly stormy few days here in North Mississippi, and you probably see a lot of standing water when you look out over your yard.

That’s no good.

What’s happening to my lawn?

The health of your grass depends on its root system. If you’re no stranger to our blog, you’ve noticed the emphasis we place on cultivating your lawn’s root system as a living, growing organism. Just like any other organism, that root system needs oxygen and nutrients to survive.

Waterlogged soil makes oxygen exchange more difficult—it’s not so different from a person being held under water.

Certain species of weeds thrive in water-saturated conditions. Heavy and frequent rain plays a big role in what types of weeds pop up and how fast they grow. Don’t be surprised if you see more weeds spring up over the next few weeks.

Wet, soft soil doesn’t anchor tree roots very well, and when heavy winds come into play, they could lead to disaster. Do you have an older tree in your yard, or a tree leaning over (or toward) your home? Now may be the time to contact a tree surgeon for advice.

Finally, it’s never a good idea to park your car on your grass, but doing so can be especially damaging after a heavy rain. Not only do your tires leave ruts, but they compact the soil, making it even more difficult for your grass to get the oxygen it desperately needs to thrive.

How do I keep my lawn from drowning?

The silver lining of so much rain is that standing water can highlight problem areas of your yard. It can help you prioritize what adjustments to make in order to achieve your best lawn.

Take a walk around your yard. Are your flower beds holding water? If so, you may lose some shrubs, or the ground may become so saturated that water could seep under your house, taxing its foundation.

Areas of your yard that hold water will become thinner and produce more weeds. You’ll need to consult a professional on how to fix this drainage issue. While LPS doesn’t offer drainage services, we’ll be happy to consult with you and help you find a reputable contractor.

Heavy rainfall might necessitate a round of aeration to break up compaction. The aeration process will help fight the damage from so much rain and compaction by allowing your grass to better access the oxygen it needs to grow. LPS can help with that. If you haven’t aerated your lawn in the last year or two, you should definitely consider lawn aeration this year. Reach out through our contact page to set up your free assessment.

Grass is a resilient plant. Your lawn wants to thrive and maintain the deep green look that’s so appealing and enjoyable. These tips will give your yard a leg up and help it bounce back quickly once the rains have passed.

Say ‘Goodbye’ to Houseflies

Houseflies can be the peskiest of all pests.

If you don’t squash the one buzzing elusively around your kitchen, you could be facing a few dozen in just a few days. The older generation kept flies away by dropping a penny in the bottom of a Ziploc bag full of water, then hanging the bag above the outside door. A more effective method is to dispose of your garbage and to recycle in a way that doesn’t attract pests in the first place.

Sugar is an insect magnet

Even the last half-sip left in the bottom of a soda can attract houseflies and other insects, like roaches, who lay eggs in that tiny bit of liquid. One female housefly can lay up to 150 eggs at a time. The warm weather speeds up the gestation period—eggs hatch faster, and larvae reach maturity sooner. If a fly has laid eggs, you’ll soon see dozens of tiny white larvae appear in your home.

When food and drink containers pile up in your trash and recycling, you’re inviting a problem.

Proper disposal techniques

  • Rinse before you toss — Giving soda cans and plastic food boxes a quick rinse before throwing them in the trash can or recycling bin greatly diminishes that sugary bug beacon.
  • Use quality trash bags — Thick trash bags tamp down on the trash odor that attracts houseflies and other pests. In addition, they’re less likely to tear and leak into your bin.
  • Clean your bins — Cleaning your trash can might sound ironic, but trash leakage can attract everything from yellow jackets to roaches. Give your bins a good power washing every so often. If you can, use trash cans and recycling bins that have a lid. This helps keep liquid out and helps contain trash odor.
  • Dispose regularly — If your trash cans and recycling bins are so full the lids won’t close, you have too much trash. Minimize the amount of garbage and the time it sits around.
  • Store bins away from entry points — 50 feet from doors and windows will probably do the trick. However, the farther you can store your trash from your house, the better.

Exclusion is better than removal

There are dozens of DIY methods you can try to get rid of houseflies—soda bottle and vinegar traps—and of course, there’s the classic fly paper trap. But these machinations tend to get a bit messy. As is usually the case with pests, it’s better and easier to avoid them in the first place. Our trained technicians can treat your home for existing infestations and work with you to keep pests out. During your assessment, they’ll help you identify entry points and other channels pests are using to invade your home.

To learn more about Pest 360 and other Lawn & Pest Solutions programs, check out our website.