Did Frost Really Cause That?
We experienced our first significant frost overnight last night. Frost forms when the temperature of the grass surface cools to a temperature that is below freezing, and is colder than the dewpoint of the air. Water vapor in the air provides the moisture needed for the frost to form. The thickest coating of frost typically occurs when temperatures are closer to 32 degrees, because colder air cannot hold as much moisture.
Tender plants need to be protected from the frost, particularly any of your summer blooming plants that you may be attempting to keep through the winter. What about your lawn? Is there a danger to our warm season grasses such as bermuda, zoysia, centipede and St. Augustine? Our impending frost is not a danger to your grass, but it will leave a lasting effect.
Depending on the severity of the frost, you will notice either a leopard print coloration, or most of your turf will be brown following the frost. This is normal for our warm season grasses. During colder weather, our lawns go dormant which we notice as a brown color. When the first frost is light, you sometimes see a leopard print across your turf, which may make you think some strange disease has attacked your lawn. Do not be alarmed as the pattern is normal.
As an extra precaution, it is good to stay off your lawn until the frost dissipates. Following a heavy frost, the grass blades can become frozen and brittle. Walking across the lawn or driving any sort of equipment across it can break off the leaf blades. That is extra stress that your turf does not need. Hopefully, you have allowed your grass to grow a little bit taller as the temperatures have dropped. The extra leaf blades can have an insulating effect for your grass and its root system.
Grubs and Armadillos Can Be a Destructive Combination
Have you encountered an area in your lawn like the one pictured below and wondered what is going on? The presence of grubs in the top layer of your soil can provide a buffet for armadillos.
What caused this?
Armadillos did the damage to the lawn pictured above, but they were hunting a food source. One of their most likely food sources is white grubs, the immature stage of different types of beetles. In North Mississippi, we often see billbugs and their larvae attacking lawns in late summer. Billbugs, their larvae and other grubs can extensively damage you lawn if left alone to feed. In this lawn, armadillos realized they could feed on the grubs and they then caused secondary damage.
How can this be remedied?
Rely on a professional to help you assess the damage to your lawn. Our technicians are trained to spot grub activity and offer treatment if it is warranted. The presence of one or two grubs in your lawn is not enough to require treatment, but when grubs are found in high enough numbers, we recommend treatment. For billbugs and their larvae specifically, applying the correct product at the correct rate makes all the difference.
Armadillos as stated above feed on some type of insect in your lawn. Their activity can cause extensive damage to your grass. If you notice armadillo activity in your lawn, you need to do two things: (1) have a professional assess your lawn for insect activity-contact us; (2) be sure the armadillo is not attempting to make himself at home on your property. When armadillos find a good food source, they often make an attempt to stay around. If you’ve ever seen an armadillo burrow, it is unmistakable. Look along the foundation of your home-they like to dig burrows against and sometimes underneath home foundations. Another popular location is under air conditioner units. The concrete pad on which these sit offers protection for the armadillo.
Lawn & Pest Solutions’ trained technicians have the knowledge and experience to help manage lawns and their pests in North Mississippi. Whether you are in Tupelo, New Albany, Oxford, Hernando, Olive Branch, or points in between, we will be glad to help you.
Mowing Your Lawn — Mulch or Bag the Clippings?
As the weather warms, your attention is probably turning towards mowing your lawn. Depending on the type lawn mower you own, you have different options for disposing of the clippings. For those that are serious about their lawn and its health, it usually comes down to mulching the clippings or bagging them. Mowing height is another important consideration. Check our earlier blog post for advice on proper spring mowing height.
The most popular way of dealing with grass clippings is probably mulching, but you need the proper equipment on your mower to be successful. To properly mulch your grass clippings, you need a lawn mower that is designed with this in mind, and many models come equipped for the job. These mowers include a plate to block of the side discharge port, and often have baffles installed on the underside of the deck along with specially designed mulching blades. The benefit of mulching is the grass clippings are returned to the lawn which helps retain moisture and nutrients. As long as you mow your lawn on a regular basis (once a week May-August), the clippings will benefit your lawn and will not cause a thatch issue. If you do not like to mow your lawn on a regular basis, mulching is not for you.
Bagging your lawn clippings is another option to consider. If you do not mow regularly, bagging the clippings will help eliminate thatch build up. It is also hard to beat the look of a freshly mown lawn when the clippings have been collected. Grass clippings can be a great addition to a compost pile as well. Remember the more often you sharpen your mower blades, the better your lawn will look and mowing will be easier. If you choose to bag the clippings, utilize a compost pile instead of sending the clippings to the landfill. A downside to bagging is you are removing a great source of nutrients for your lawn.
Keeping a lawn weed free and dark green is a partnership-fertilizer and weed control play a part in this—the other part is how and when you mow your lawn. Proper mowing can make all the difference in the look of your lawn and set it apart from the rest. We would love to help you with your lawn! Call us at 662-534-4535 or visit lawnandpest.net/estimate.
Mow Your Way to a Beautiful Lawn
Proper mowing makes an impact on the appearance of your lawn-more of an impact than you might think. Follow these guidelines and your lawn will be a cut above the rest.
- Sharpen your mower blades 3-4 times per year. A dull blade leaves a less attractive ragged edge that can also leave your grass susceptible to insect & disease problems.
- Mow you lawn often enough that you only remove 1/3 of the leaf surface at each mowing. This will eliminate the discoloration you see after mowing.
- Mulch your grass clippings, as long as you follow the 1/3 rule.
- Change the direction of your cut every mowing.
- You may have an area of your lawn that suffered damage and is thin. Remember the more often you cut, the thicker your grass will be. If you leave your lawn uncut, it will grow up but will not spread as much.
- Start at a low cutting height in the spring to encourage thicker turf. As the season progresses, you can gradually raise your cutting height.
Early spring is a great time to mow your lawn lower to remove the dormant, brown grass blades, particularly if you have bermuda grass or zoysia grass. Some people will perform this lower cut, sometimes referred to as scalping, as early as January. If you have not mowed your lawn at a lower height alreday, now is the time to do that.
When you are ready to scalp your lawn, these are the guidelines you should follow:
- Sharpen your mower blades first. You want a clean, even cut.
- Cut the lawn slightly lower than the last cut you made in the fall.
- If you have bermuda grass, you can be radical with your scalping cut. If you have zoysia grass, be more conservative with how low you cut.
- Be sure to bag the clippings so you don’t have all of that thatch piled on your lawn.
If we can help you with your lawn, please contact us! [cta_button link=”http://lawnandpest.net/contact/” color=”cyan|red|blue|grey”]Contact us[/cta_button]
Lawn & Pest Solutions provides pest control, weed control and fertilization services to customers in New Albany, Oxford, Tupelo, Amory, Hernando, Olive Branch, Fulton, Houston, Mooreville, Pontotoc, Southaven, Saltillo and beyond. Lawn & Pest technicians can be seen all over northeast Mississippi in their clean, white trucks. If you have not already spotted us in Desoto County, be on the lookout! We would love to meet you.
Why is my grass yellow?
If your lawn had started greening up prior to our freezing temperatures last week, odds are your lawn is now yellow. In some cases, lawns have returned to their tan, dormant color. Mother Nature just did a course correction for us. With the warm days we have experienced earlier in March, plants, trees and grasses had sprung to life a slight bit ahead of schedule. The good news for the majority of lawns is there is no long term concern about the yellowing. The discoloration is an indication of the freezing temperatures and frost. The picture below is the turf in front of our office. It was nice and green a couple of weeks ago.
The frost and freezing temperatures caused it to go back into dormancy. Notice the tips of the grass blades are a tan color. Keep in mind that you can help your grass recover from this discoloration more quickly if you will mow your lawn to get rid of the discolored leaf blades. Also, any new growth that springs forth will be green which will improve the appearance of your lawn.
It appears that most of our landscape plants escaped any serious setbacks from the frost. Pear, cherry and redbud trees are all in bloom right now and they all seemed to have held their blooms despite the cold.
If you are concerned about any areas of your lawn right now, give us a call. We would be glad to come by and check on it for you. [cta_button link=”http://lawnandpest.net/contact/” color=”cyan|red|blue|grey”]Contact us[/cta_button]
For the greenest lawn in the neighborhood, consider our Lawn 360 program.
6 Pests That Will Suck the Life Out of Your Lawn
Last month, we talked about how cold weather leaves your lawn looking brown and drab. This discoloration looks like a problem, but brown grass during the winter is a normal part of the life cycle of warm season grasses. During the growing season, discolored grass can appear to be caused by dryness or a botched herbicide application, but remember that bugs and insects cause this kind of damage, too.
Some of these pests are easy to spot, but others are quite small. While your lawn will sometimes recover with water and simple turf maintenance, some require a more technical approach. That’s where we can help. At Lawn and Pest Solutions, we sometimes have preventative insecticides to take care of issues before they ever become a problem. Other insects cannot be prevented, but we do have applications available to stop the damage and allow your lawn to recover.
Let’s take a look at some common lawn pests that may be wreaking havoc on your grass as we speak.
Grubs are simply beetle larvae, and they feed voraciously during this phase of a beetle’s life cycle. Adult beetles love healthy lawns because a healthy thatch layer is perfect for holding their eggs. Once hatched, grubs burrow into the soil and feed on the roots of your grass. Without healthy roots, your grass can’t take in water and nutrients, so the grass browns.
Armadillos and moles feed on grubs, so if you’re seeing mole or armadillo activity in your yard, you might have a high grub population, too.
These small, lightly colored caterpillars are moth larvae and can be identified by the upside-down-V shape on their heads. Though fall armyworms rarely kill lawns, they can do extensive damage when they emerge in the late summer and early fall, because they damage your grass as it’s getting ready for its winter dormancy. Fall armyworms are particularly prevalent in Bermuda grass.
Billbugs are small weevils that are partial to Zoysia and Bermuda grasses. Larvae bore into grass stems and feed on roots, while adults chew the stems, rhizomes, and stolons. Signs of billbug infestation pop up late in the growing season, when the weather is hot and dry. Don’t mistake billbug damage for simple drought. If the insects go untreated, the full scope of damage won’t be revealed until spring. By then, it will be too late.
BERMUDA GRASS MITES
Each of these tiny mites checks in at just 1/125 of an inch long, and the problems they cause are often mistaken for damage done by other pests. Bermuda grass mites deposit their eggs under the leaf sheath, causing your grass to take on a strange “witches broom” appearance is it grows. As it’s difficult to control Bermuda grass mites, you’ll need to begin treatment as soon as you see signs of infestation.
Spittlebugs are a little bigger—about half an inch—and are easily identified by dark red eyes and two orange lines across their wings. Spittlebugs use their straw-like mouths to suck juices from your grass, causing infected grass to wilt and develop purple streaks. Then, your grass will yellow before finally turning brown.
Spittlebugs leave a mass of spittle under the grass blades, near the soil surface or in the thatch, and are relatively easy to spot—adult spittlebugs fly up as a mower or fertilizer spreader passes through the grass. Bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass, centipede grass, and Zoysia grass are particularly at risk for spittlebug infestation.
Chinch bug damage shows up during particularly hot, dry summers—where your lawn is water-stressed, in full sun, or both. Adult chinch bugs are tiny with black and white wings.
Chinch bugs are partial to St. Augustine grass, and infestations start showing in July. It’s crucial to treat them at the first sign of damage. Chinch bugs can remain active in winter, so when spring rolls around, they can pick up where they left off the previous season.
When it comes to insect infestations, the priority is quick diagnosis. This can make all of the difference in the recovery of your lawn. If you notice a part of your yard that looks damaged, or even just odd, have a Lawn & Pest Solutions professionals assess the state of your lawn to determine what type of treatment would best solve your problem.
Lawn care is a partnership. In addition to treating your yard for weeds, pests and diseases, we will educate you on what to look for and how to spot problems before they become overwhelming issues. Together, we’ll make your lawn the best it can be.
Concerns for Pets When Treating Your Lawn or Home
Treating your lawn for weeds, or treating your home for pests can leave you with questions if you have pets. We are pet owners, too, so we understand your concerns. For many, pets are not only a companion, but a member of the family that is deeply loved. It makes sense to be concerned and ask questions if you plan to apply pesticides in or near areas that your pets frequent. Pesticides and fertilizers can be safely applied to lawns if you have a pet. The same is true for general pest treatments inside the home. Keep in mind some of the following:
- Any products our technicians apply have met the stringent safety standards set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency. The products we use are labeled for use inside residences or on home lawns. We take this very seriously.
- Granular fertilizers are generally safe for application around pets. Lawn fertilizers contain natural elements such as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. These fertilizers are basically a salt that break down in the soil as your lawn is watered or receives rainfall.
- Fertilizer granules are very small and fall into the thatch layer of the turf. Our technicians take the extra step of blowing any granules off hard surfaces back into the turf.
- When pesticides are applied to your lawn, you should take precautions. We encourage our customers to let us call them in advance of a treatment if they have outside pets. After a pesticide application, it is recommended to stay off the lawn for two hours. This allows the application time to dry.
- Pest treatments inside the home have evolved over the years. Common practice decades ago was to apply pesticides(sometimes with an awful odor) in every room of your home. Today, we apply pesticides inside the home only in areas where needed, and often these pesticides are not in the form that most would think. Insect baits in the form of a gel are often used inside buildings in concealed areas to control common pests such as ants and roaches. Sprays are applied only as needed inside a home.
- Professionals are trained to look for ways to be sure that pests are excluded from homes so that less pesticides are needed over time.
- Our technicians move pet toys, bedding and food bowls out of the treatment area prior to performing a spray application to minimize the chance of accidental exposure.
If You Decide to Treat Yourself*
- If you choose to apply pesticides yourself, be sure to follow the label. For professionals, the label is the law. That means the suggested rate of pesticide to mix on the label is what you mix. If a pesticide label calls for 1 ounce per gallon of water, that is what you apply. Mixing the same product at 2 ounces per gallon of water will not provide twice the results, and it is also very irresponsible and potentially dangerous to apply over the labeled rate.
- Some fertilizers sold at home improvements stores and garden centers contain herbicides or insecticides that may not be necessary for your lawn. Be sure you read the label and know what you are applying. For example, a weed and feed fertilizer usually requires watering prior to your pets entering your lawn again.
- Ironically, some of the organic fertilizers such as blood meal and bone meal can be toxic to animals. Some of these products are applied to gardens and flowering plants by homeowners because they are natural and do work well. Blood meal and bone meal in particular have a strong odor that is attractive to dogs. Be sure to keep any bags of these products out of reach from your pets.
- If you apply a liquid fertilizer to your lawn, follow the same precautions as applying pesticides. Stay off the lawn for two hours to allow the application time to dry.
- Never apply an insecticide for lawn or garden use inside your home. Only use insecticides labeled and intended for use inside your home.
Pesticides and fertilizers can be safely applied to lawns if you have pets, provided that you follow some simple precautions. The importance of safety is paramount to a professional applicator. Be sure that you hire licensed, trained professionals to treat your home or lawn. Should you ever have a concern about a treatment made to your lawn, always consult with the applicator.
*The recommendations for DIY treatments are not inclusive of all possible precautions. Always read and follow all label directions for pesticides and fertilizers.
Note: The above recommendations are made as a general rule for a wide range of our services. Always consult with your technician if you have a question or concern about a specific application.
It’s Less Expensive to Hire a Professional to Treat Your Lawn
Seeing the transition of your lawn from a weedy or muddy mess to a beautiful carpet of plush, green grass is a rewarding experience. Some choose to tackle this transformation on their own, while others go the route of hiring a professional. Is it worth hiring a professional when you calculate the costs? Can you treat your lawn on your own for less? Considering all of the inputs, it is less less expensive to hire a professional to treat your lawn.
Many people fail to consider what they get when they hire a competent professional to treat their lawn. The materials needed to prevent weeds, eradicate weeds, and keep a lawn fertilized all go into the costs obviously, but you get more than just materials when you hire a professional. You also get the expertise of a professional. This expertise will save you money in the long run. Misapplication of the correct herbicide, or the application of the wrong herbicide can be costly. You either do not get the results you want, or in the worst cases your lawn is permanently damaged. Do you know which herbicide best controls the weeds you are dealing with? Lawn & Pest Solutions technicians are trained in the techniques to responsibly apply the correct herbicides and fertilizers, resulting in a beautiful lawn in a quicker period of time.
Another consideration for treating your lawn yourself is your time. Everyone is pulled in different directions with commitments to family, work, church and hobbies. Consider if you have the time to spare, AND the ability to treat your lawn at the correct time. The timing of applications often makes all of the difference in the results you see with your lawn. Lawn & Pest Solutions technicians take the worry out of how and when to treat your lawn. Our technicians are trained in the different weeds seen in lawns in North Mississippi, and which control methods work best for each weed.
The final consideration is the equipment needed to properly treat your lawn. Inexpensive fertilizer spreaders and pump sprayers are readily available at home improvement stores. Ask yourself if you can depend on these to last through a growing season, or to work properly over time. Safe, accurate application of herbicides is very important, and something that we take seriously. Maintaining and storing your equipment in the offseason is another consideration and just one more task for you to worry with. Investment in equipment alone can sometimes equal the cost of paying a professional to take care of the work for you. When you hire Lawn & Pest Solutions, you have the peace of mind that your lawn will be cared for properly.
For the thickest, healthiest lawn we recommend our Lawn 360 program. Contact us if we can help you.
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