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 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.

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. 

Fire ants, the connections are endless.

Buckle up folks, this blog on fire ants goes all over the place. From fine art and movies to music and poetry. Who knew fire ants would be so heavily covered in pop culture? But first, just know this… according to the Wikipedia page on fire ants, “Due to its notoriety and importance, the ant has become one of the most studied insects on the planet, even rivaling the western honey bee“. Rivaling the honey bee??? Wow. Let’s dive in to this intriguing pest, the fire ant (also known as the Red Imported Fire Ant, aka RIFA). 

In addition to this very easy to read list of fire ant facts from Mississippi State University, these were among the top four most interesting and least scientific (entertaining):

  • Fire ants are among the worst invasive species IN THE WORLD.
  • Fire ants are native to Argentina.
  • Fire ants invaded the US via the seaport of Mobile, AL by cargo ship sometime between 1933 and 1945.
  • Fire ants are about half the size of a pencil eraser and are really reddish brown in color. 

Before we get to the bad news, let’s have a little fun with fire ants.

Let’s go shopping for fire ants!

It’s just so hard to talk facts and science and stuff when there is so much material out in the Google bubble. First, fire ants as art. We have already covered the art of aluminum casting of ant and fire ant hills. Did you know you could purchase those fire ant hills as beautiful sculptures? What a conversation that would be in your lovely foyer. For just $321.07 this sculpture could be yours. Perhaps an aluminum sculpture is out of budget for you, here is a really cool handpainted vintage travel case in the theme of fire ants (Christmas is just around the corner, folks). 

Speaking of painting fire ants, did you take notice of the amazing fire ant illustration as our cover photo? It was created by Mississippi artist, Joe MacGown who works for the Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology at Mississippi State University as a Scientific Illustrator/Curatorial Assistant. Here is a really cool article about Joe and how he came to be an artist who of all things, draws fire ants for a living. Well, he does more than that, but how cool is that for an artists’ resume? 

Moving on, but there’s still two more pop culture references that can’t be missed.

  • First, the giant ant scene in Indiana Jones, 4. If you have ever seen it, I don’t need to remind you. If you haven’t seen it, please click here. Please. You will want to contact Lawn and Pest Services immediately to remove any and all ants for now and forever. Promise. 
  • Second, this song about fire ants. Please watch it for at least one minute. If you are entertained and also wondering, “what the heck did I just watch?” Here is the backstory on the fire ant song, and it involves the Christian standup comedian Tim Hawkins and a poem his son wrote about fire ants. 

OK. OK. Here’s the real blog about fire ants.

Fire ants are dangerous and sometimes deadly to those who are highly allergic. Though they are tiny and pretty easy to spot with their unsightly mounds in your lovely lawn, they can cover you up in the blink of an eye. Before you even realize you have disturbed their nest, they are all over you, your child, your grandchild, or your pets. The venom of a fire ant stings and turns into a white blister the next day (don’t pop it, it can spread infection). 

If you get stung, wash the area with soap and water, put some ice on the area, watch for swelling and redness. Those who are allergic should be extra careful and keep a close eye on the stings. There really are cases of hospitalization and even death from fire ant stings. 

Someone who steps on a fire ant mound will typically get a lot of stings at once. This is because the ants all live together and have been disturbed. Some mounds are small and fairly unnoticeable, so you can easily step on one and not even see it! Each sting starts as a red bump and will turn into an itchy white blister the next day.

Fire ants are better as art, not deadly pests in your lawn. 

Remember this quote, “fire ants are one of the most studied insects on the planet” ? That’s because they painful, dangerous, deadly to a few. Their unsightly mounds can sneak up on you or can stand out in your otherwise lovely lawn. There are plenty of examples of how they destroy property and crops. 

There are plenty of at home, do it yourself “treatments” for fire ants. As one Lawn and Pest employee said, “you are just chasing them around your yard with those products”. You may get rid of a few fire ant mounds for a while, but you really just made them move a little. They will be back. Our licensed lawn technicians can treat your lawn and win the battle against fire ants. Contact us here and let us help you ASAP so you can get back to that Indiana Jones movie. 

Crape Myrtle Bark Scale, it’s still here!

Crape Myrtle Bark Scale (CMBS) is still a “thing” here in North Mississippi and the surrounding areas. Just because we aren’t currently talking about “Crape Murder” (also still a “thing”) doesn’t mean this especially ugly and pretty gross scale insect isn’t making its’ presence known around here.

First of all, what is a “scale insect”?

Oh, you didn’t know either? Well, I googled that for us. If you just want a one click answer, here it is. The easy explanation is that they are insects that suck on a plant, they have a waxy and protective outer coating. They don’t have wings, so they can’t move and their outer coating eventually turns to a matted felt like texture. They secrete a fluid (called honeydew) that is sticky and attracts other insects like pests. The CMBS is tiny and about the length of the thickness of a dime. Once it lays eggs on your Crape Myrtle, it dies. 

So what’s the harm?

Crape Myrtle Bark Scale isn’t as harmful as some of the other things that might be lurking in your lawn, that’s the good news. But let’s be honest, the reason we all love a Crape Myrtle is that it is a beautiful tree. It is pretty tough, it grows back even when you try to murder it and it just exudes Southern charm. So, we don’t want our lovely Crape Myrtle to be covered in this gross, sticky, layer of life sucking scale insects, right? Not only does CMBS make the trunk and limbs of your tree look and feel yucky, it also tends to exude a black or gray sooty mold. This mold makes your tree dark and it also falls over everything under your tree. You may have noticed the black mold that appears on driveways, sidewalks, garbage cans, children’s toys, etc. 

Sooty mold isn’t the only problem.

Again, we planted this Crape Myrtle for the beautiful flowers…right? When the trunk and limbs are covered in scale insects that are slowing sucking life from the tree, guess what happens? It is going to affect not only the quantity of your flowers and blooms, but also the quality. It won’t kill your tree, but your tree won’t be living its’ best life covered in this pest. This expert from Oklahoma gives us a great up close view of Crape Myrtle Bark Scale and discusses ways a homeowner can treat it. Oh, and one last really gross issue with CMBS, when you crush it, a pink blood-like liquid is exuded. I couldn’t let that go without being said.

What can be done?

One of the zillion cool things about nature, is that sometimes, nature can try and take care of itself. In this instance, it’s the lady beetle . If you are so lucky to be visited by her, she can attack and eat up lots of Crape Myrtle Bark Scale. Before the Lady Beetles pupate, they can clean up a lot of problems, so if you see these friends, leave them alone! Let them do their job. Here’s a cool and short video of a lady beetle feasting on Crape Myrtle Bark Scale. 

If you like to think of yourself as a “Do it yourselfer” 

As mentioned above, you can wash off the trunks and limbs that you can reach. You can also cover the tree in dormant oil for the winter to kill off any remaining scale. You don’t have to commit “crape murder” and you don’t have to cut down your trees. If you decide to do just that, please be careful in the removal of the cuttings, as this can easily spread to other healthy trees and lawns if not handled properly. 

We can help you.

Climbing ladders and scrubbing your trees may not be in your fall plans, but saving your trees and lawns, it’s what we do.If you have determined that you have a tree or trees that are infested with Crape Myrtle Bark Scale, give us a call. These scale insects are laying eggs now, and now is as good a time as any to handle this problem. If you want the pros to help you, click here to leave a message with our office. If you call during regular office hours, we always answer the phone. If you want to get in touch with us after hours, leave a message on our easy to use Podium link (the photo of the girl in the bottom right corner) and you will be not be missed.

Can I be done with the lawn for the year?

Can I be done with the lawn for the year? Can I be done with the laundry for the year? No. Are we ever “done” with anything? Really done? Does the burden of summer heat and the never ending mowing and fertilizing and weed management have you ready to throw in the towel? Let’s think about your lawn in a different way, but not in a never ending list of things to do way. Your lawn is a major part of your home. It’s the first thing you see when you approach your home.

It’s an investment that must be protected.

When you buy or build a home, it is really exciting at first to spruce it up. Picking out paint and windows and doors that show off your style are part of your outdoor look. Landscaping is a huge investment that accentuates your home and it’s overall design. These are exciting times for a new homeowner! Fast forward ten years when the roof is starting to leak, the paint is peeling, the driveway is stained, and the front door is looking dated. Ugh. This is not the fun we remember from being new homeowners….

The day’s work is never done.

Keeping up the work around the house every season keeps us from being ten years down the road with thousands in repairs and sprucing up to do. Keeping up the lawn, the landscaping, the turf and plantings, these are all things we need to do year round. This continuous upkeep and management keeps a monster from growing. A weekly weed check is much easier to handle than a yearly weed check. Check out this story on Audible voiced by Kevin Bacon. It’s a horror story about a man who decides to tackle an unattended and overgrown piece of land. The comparison to a Steven King story is enough to make anyone want to listen. 

Don’t let your lawn become a horror story.

There are plenty of resources for homeowners who have great aspirations of beautiful lawns year round. A simple search for podcasts brings up this blogger from Utah who has great and simple suggestions for keeping on top of things, especially at the end of summer. Between videos, blogs, podcasts and audiobooks (even fictional horror stories about lawns) we are never short on information. 

Feed Me, Seymour.

A blog that references weeds and horror stories screams for a link to the unforgettable scene in “Little Shop of Horrors” when plant life becomes blood thirsty and violent. While dramatic to say the least, it is certainly a reminder that we should all do a little work in the yard every day (or week) even after a long summer. There are many small jobs that can be done year round, even in fall and winter that will give our lawn the best chance at being beautiful. 

To do list for the fall:

  • Keep mowing as long as the grass is growing, and don’t forget to take care of your lawnmower!
  • Just because it gets cooler, your lawn still needs water! 
  • Wet piles of leaves left to rot on your lawn are suffocating the turf.  Rake those piles up before the job is “monstrous.” 
  • Aeration and fertilization will pay off when spring arrives!
  • Never stop fighting the war against pests in your lawn. We have been covering these in our weekly blogs. Armyworms, moles, weeds…these need to be controlled.

So back to your question…

Can I be done with the lawn for the year? No. But you have unlimited free resources if you want to do the work yourself. You have the services of licensed technicians at Lawn and Pest Solutions if you want us to do the work. Definitely don’t let your lawn chores build up until you have a monster of a weed to battle on your own. Go outside and make a list, make a plan, do a little every day. And if you feel like that’s just too much, give us a call

Moles, Grubs and Armadillos

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly?

While calling moles “good” might be quite a stretch, there are some who say they do have their good qualities. No research on this end found grubs to be anything but “bad”, and just take one look at an armadillo and you will have to agree that it’s definitely the “ugly” of the three. This is another of those blogs that after doing a few hours of research, the writer feels the need for a shower. Moles, grubs and armadillos are some of the least attractive pests to study and today, we are talking about all three! 

One of these is not like the other

The grub is what hatches when a beetle lays an egg in your lawn. It is white, soft and has legs up near the head. Grubs eat on the roots of your lovely lawn causing patches to turn brown and die. Untreated, they will grow up and become beetles and lay more eggs in your lawn. You know what happens after that…more grubs to eat your roots. The best time to treat for grubs is mid to late summer and early fall. 

So what connects grubs to moles and armadillos?

Moles and armadillos like to eat grubs. If there are grubs in your lawn, moles and/or armadillos will dig into your lawn and feast on grubs. The easiest way to first attack a mole or armadillo problem is to rid your lawn of grubs. While this may not work all of the time, it is the first and easiest way to start. While most people can tell if they have been invaded by a mole or an armadillo, grubs might sneak up on you. Look for spongy grass, perhaps a brown patch. Pull up a piece of the turf, if it comes up easily with no roots attached (like a piece of carpet), grubs have been feeding there.

Is it a mole or an armadillo?

Let’s talk about moles. First, as any Chevy Chase fan would do, I had to read the difference in a mole and a gopher. “Caddyshack” featured a gopher, not a mole, so no best of Bill Murray clips today. At the introduction of this blog, the mole was the “good” of the good, bad and ugly. To be honest, there’s not a lot of good to be found here, especially if you are a homeowner with a mole problem. The only good is that they eat grubs and grubs aren’t good for lawns. Yes, it was a stretch. Moles can be fairly destructive, they live underground and create tunnels in your yard. Moles are small and have paddle like feet that help them dig under your lawn. Usually they leave a small mound of soil as their “entrance” to the underground and this is how you might discover your mole issue. Of course, the tunneling under your lawn is not good for the roots of your turf.

The pest so legendary they made a movie about it.

Again, a stretch. But who doesn’t remember the wedding cake scene from the southern classic, “Steel Magnolias” ? Please pardon one word at the end of this clip, but the armadillo shaped cake with the red velvet cake inside most likely gave (formerly silenced) grooms a voice in the wedding planning process.  We will never know how many horrified brides had to consent to an armadillo grooms cake after this movie came out. So what makes us so fascinated with armadillos?

Leprosy or quadruplets, where should we start?

Whether naming your new craft beer brewery, looking for the perfect new recipe for a cookout, or just researching one of the strangest and yes, ugliest animals ever, you can’t go wrong with going down the armadillo “rabbit hole”. This young girl gave a very intriguing (slightly annoying) presentation on armadillos with lots of cool info. Who knew that handling armadillos frequently or even eating them could result in leprosy? (Rare, it’s rare!) Heck, even prolific songwriter/singer Robert Earl Keen, Jr. wrote a song about armadillo hunters. The fact that the only armadillos in the US are the 9 banded variety and that they always give birth to identical quadruplets is really just enough for us to make a reality show about them. 

Now back to armadillos in your southern yard…

  • They thrive in warm, moist climates
  • They prefer loose and porous soil
  • They live underground, specifically under your lawn
  • They are nocturnal and forage for food at night
  • Those quadruplets? They become independent at around 6 months, so they multiply quickly 
  • They will destroy your lawn looking for grubs, earthworms, food. 

The good, bad and ugly…moles, grubs and armadillos. 

There are a lot of links in this blog that you should definitely click. Funny, gross and a bit frightening. One thing is certain, if you are suspicious that you may have moles or armadillos, you need to act now. Remember you can start just by lifting up a piece of turf to look for grubs. If you are ready to get help, our licensed lawn technicians can come evaluate your situation. We answer your calls promptly. In fact, our website has an instant chat that can get you the quickest service possible. Look for it in the bottom right corner, just type in your email address and your cell number and you will get an instant reply. Lawn and Pest Solutions of New Albany, MS is not afraid of the good, the bad or the ugly. Let us help you in the battle against whatever that may be digging a tunnel under your yard!