Organic Lawn Care

Organic lawn care is a topic that we love to discuss with our customers. The term organic is large and broad. Some might even call it a “hot topic” and for sure, it’s important. 

Is organic lawn care a viable option for me?

In our part of the country, organic lawn care is not the best option for ridding and preventing weeds in our lawns. However, that doesn’t mean we aren’t using what is safe for our environment. At Lawn and Pest Solutions, we use a safe application for weeds that has been approved by the EPA. We don’t just make the strongest mixture and dump it in a tank. We use the correct rate at the correct time with the correct application. 

The applications for lawns in our region have been through rigorous testing and are based on our long growing weed season and warm climate. There are organic applications in cooler climates that are effective, however, these applications are very, very limited for weed control. Now let’s talk about weed control…

A major component of weed control is applying pre-emergent in the fall and spring. There are currently no “organic” pre-emergents available. The pre-emergent we use at Lawn and Pest Solutions is derived from plants and in a less stringent world, it would be considered “organic”. 

Why is pre-emergent important?

A good pre-emergent in fall and spring means less herbicide later. The other major component of lawn care is fertilization. A strong, fertilized lawn is going to fight off weeds as much as an herbicide. Currently, there are organic fertilizers available, they are effective yet require more frequent applications.

So, here’s the news. 

We live where you live, we care as much about the environment as you and we want to use the least amount of harmful ingredients in our lawn as you. Everything we do involves a risk, whether it’s driving a car or spraying our countertops with cleaner before we prepare food on them. At Lawn and Pest Solutions, we strive to provide you with a weed free lawn with the least amount of risk to our environment. 

Our licensed lawn technicians are always ready to discuss with you the options for the most current, environmentally friendly and effective way to treat your lawn. There is a balance and we feel we strike a very good one between effective weed control and caring for our environment. Contact our office here and get the ball rolling on your beautiful lawn!

Should you remulch your flower beds?

We have had some nice weather for a bit, and before winter strikes again, our Southern selves are already asking, “should I go ahead and mulch my flower beds? It only takes a couple of days of sunshine for some of us to break out the shorts and the shovels. 

Why should you remulch your flower beds? 

Mulching for the first time or the remulching for the fifth time allows air, water and nutrients to get to roots while also protecting the plants. We have featured mulching in several blogs before, like this one about mulching or bagging.

When should you remulch your flower beds?

According to Gary Bachman at Mississippi State Extension Service, anytime. Fresh mulch always makes your landscaping look nice and it can really be done anytime of year. However, most of us start thinking about adding mulch or remulching in the middle of spring or towards the end of spring. One thing to remember is that if you mulch too early, your mulch might keep the soil colder or frozen longer. Try waiting until the last freeze is over to allow the soil to warm up. It won’t be long!

Here’s some good news…

You don’t have to remove the old mulch! Experts say we should leave last years’ mulch and allow it to break down into the soil. Now that’s the kind of advice I like to hear! Here are some easy tips about mulching from HGTV that are mostly aesthetic in nature.

Mulch. Mulch. Mulch.

If you say mulch enough, it starts to sound really weird. Here is where the word “mulch” comes from. Mulch is an added bonus to most landscapes. Mulch protects your plants and gardens while making everything look a little nicer in the process. Lawn and Pest is part of the protection you can add to your lawn and landscape. Your landscape is an investment and we are here to help you protect your investment. Contact our office here and we can send a licensed lawn technician to you ASAP. We serve Mississippi and Tennessee homes and businesses and would be glad to help you. 

The Art of Scalping

“The art of scalping” seems a little dramatic for what is really just a good “haircut” for your lawn at the end of winter. Some may remember learning about scalping in history class. Others may have learned that scalping involves an expensive ticket to a big event bought from a less than scrupulous character outside the venue.

Ticket scalping is a prevalent undercover activity that has strong ties to the upcoming Super Bowl this Sunday. NFL coaches and players are even known to get involved. Yard scalping on the other hand, is a good thing. 

What IS scalping my lawn?

Scalping your lawn just means that at the end of winter, you lower the blade on your mower and give your grass a really good cut. It won’t look pretty, but it serves a great purpose. Just think of it like good skin care. You are removing all of the tough, dead “skin” that has built up over the cold winter. Scalping is preparing your lawn for the spring sun and new growth that is lurking just under the soil. 

Scalping is a reboot for your lawn

When you mow down low, just one inch from the ground, you are removing the accumulation of winter that can cause thatch. Once you have mowed down to the stalk more light can get to your grass. More light on your grass means warmer soil. All of this adds up to stronger grass that turns green earlier. Your healthy lawn is just waiting underneath!

Should I scalp my lawn now?

Timing is everything with lawn scalping. Wait until the last of the sub-freezing temperatures to pass. If you scalp too early, your tender grass stems will be exposed to extreme cold. The best time for scalping in our region is middle to late February. 

Again, timing is critical. Don’t wait too late to scalp. If you wait too late and your grass has already started growing, scalping will only cause your grass stress. Stressed out grass means slower growing grass.

What types of grasses need scalping?

Scalping works best on warm-season grasses like Bermuda and Zoysia. Never scalp Centipede, St. Augustine, or cool-season grasses like fescue.

Quick tips for scalping your lawn:

Sharpen the blades on your lawnmower, dull blades damages grass and exposes it to diseases

Scalp when your lawn is pretty dry, mud covered grass stems don’t get enough sunlight

Bag up your clippings from scalping, debris left on your lawn is basically an undoing of the scalping

Don’t forget to use the clippings in your compost pile

As we say here almost every week, having a beautiful lawn is a year round job and we are here to help. Your lawn is part of the investment of your home and we can help you keep that part of your investment looking its’ best. Our certified lawn technicians serve Mississippi and Tennessee. You can easily spot our uniformed employees in their white Lawn and Pest Solutions trucks. Contact us here to get a quote on your lawn, you can text, email or call us just by clicking this link

Crape murder

You don’t have to watch Netflix to observe this heinous crime. On trees.

Crape murder is quite a dramatic statement, isn’t it? It does capture the attention of gardeners and homeowners across the South. And it’s time again. Late January and early February signal aspiring Paul Bunyan’s across the South to gather their weapons.

Before you go chopping away on your crape myrtle trees…

I can’t mention Paul Bunyan and walk away…this link explores whether he was a real man. Whether Paul Bunyan was real or not, he did have a way with chopping down trees, and that’s what we are all here for today. The pruning of our treasured Crape Myrtle trees across the South. 

Crape murder is the practice of pruning your crape myrtle back on the main trunks, often to the same location each year, and often to a height of 4 to 5 feet. The misconception is the tree will produce more new growth the following spring and summer. Many believe this result in more bloom, but it really just means more shoots. Weak shoots that will be weak and will place stress on the tree.

Why do crape myrtle trees need so much pruning?

Many times, crape myrtle trees need severe pruning because they are planted in improper locations. Reminding us of the importance of a good landscaping plan! But if your trees are in need of pruning, don’t commit crape murder, but follow these guidelines:

  • Don’t prune far down onto the main trunks
  • Don’t cut out large sections
  • Remove branches that cross one another
  •  Remove seed pods from last year
  • Allow your crape myrtle to look like a tree
  •  Your crape myrtle should look like an umbrella from a distance
  • If your Crape Myrtle is too tall, you can prune it back down to a more appropriate height, but not every year!

While Lawn and Pest Solutions does not offer a pruning service, we want to help you maintain a beautiful lawn. We have licensed technicians ready to assist you with all of your lawn and pest control needs. We serve Mississippi and Tennessee and are always available to take your calls, texts or messages. You can contact us here for a quote. If the mention of Paul Bunyan has you sentimental, check out these statue locations

Winter pruning

Is winter pruning a good idea for shrubs and trees? Before you go hacking away at everything in your landscape, do a little research. For some plants, winter is the very best time to prune. 

Winter is when plants go into dormancy, which appears to be death to the unknowing observer. Dormancy is really when plants go to sleep. Plants in dormancy are preparing their insides for freezing weather and lack of water and nutrients. Dormancy is like hibernation for plants. Before deciding on an across the board winter pruning for your plants, keep reading.

What does temperate mean?

In temperate climates like ours, most of our plants go into dormancy. Temperate is a word that is used a lot, but I decided to look it up.  The regions between the middle latitudes of the Earth are considered temperate. That means our temperatures can span greatly throughout the year. We have distinct seasonal changes unlike more tropical areas. In the South, we joke that our four seasons can all appear in one week!

What happens in dormancy?

Plants that are in dormancy may appear to be dead, but they are really just saving energy until the weather is right for them to grow. For some plants, this is the best time to prune. While they are in dormancy they may not have any leaves and it is easy to see their true shape. It is also a good time to prune because when they come out of dormancy, they can focus all of their energy into new growth. 

Are you feeling artsy?

As usual, researching a topic about anything can lead you down a “rabbit hole” of information. When reading about pruning the art form “espalier” caught my eye. For the daring gardener, espalier is an extreme form of pruning which leaves the tree (typically fruit trees) as a two dimensional form. Read more about espalier here, and let us know how it works out for you!

How do I know which plants to prune?

Here are a few suggestions, but it is really worth a few minutes of your time to google specifically the plant or tree. This link to the Farmer’s Almanac has a through listing of many plants and trees and when it is best for you to prune. 

  • If your shrub or tree blooms in the spring, it is best to prune it in the spring right after the blooms fade.
  • If your shrubs are evergreen, prune them in the winter while they are in dormancy.
  • If you are thinking of pruning your trees, it is worth hiring a professional tree trimmer once every three years. Chain saws and ladders are not a good idea for amateurs. 

Plant health care is important to us a Lawn and Pest Solutions. Our trained and licensed lawn technicians are always willing to listen to your concerns and advise you on ways to improve your landscape. Contact our office here and let us schedule a visit! We serve the Mississippi and Tennessee areas with lawn and pest control.

Is now the time to mulch my flower beds?

If you have too much time on your hands and your yard is looking a little too wintery, you may be wondering if now is the time to mulch your flower beds? The answer is yes! To be honest, you can mulch your flower beds all year round, according to many, now is a really good time to mulch.

What is mulch?

Though mulch is a rather odd sounding word, it is simply material used to cover the surface of soil. Mulch can be organic or inorganic, and as discussed in this article from Mississippi State Extension, “Nature’s Mulch”. Whatever you decide to use, it should be porous enough to let air and water through, but dense enough to keep weeds out.

Organic mulch such as shredded wood products, compost from leaves, pine needles and grass clippings will eventually deteriorate but they also add nutrients to your soil. Organic mulches need to be reapplied yearly to maintain the health of your plants. Inorganic mulch includes rocks and recycled rubber products. These types of mulch don’t have to be replaced every year but they also don’t add any nutrients to your flower beds.

Why mulch now?

 Many people prefer the cold climate for mulching, ideally before a deep freeze. Mulching at this time of year helps prevent from winter burns and from frost heaving ( Definition: the uplift of soil or other surface deposits due to expansion of groundwater on freezing.)

Why mulch at all?

Mulching is inexpensive, it is easy and it doesn’t take long to do. This video shows great tips on the mulching experience. 

Other benefits of mulch include:

Reduces evaporation of moisture

Moderates the temperature of soil

Helps control weeds

Adds beauty to landscape

Protects shrubs and trees

Tips for mulching:

Apply mulch 2-4 inches thick, this may seem like a lot, but remember it will settle into the ground over time

Remove weeds before mulching 

Don’t make “mulch volcanoes” around trees

At this time of year, there aren’t many things a homeowner can do around the yard. As always, we like to remind our customers that having a beautiful and healthy lawn is a year round job. Your landscape is an investment and it adds to the value of your property. A simple task like mulching is something that will pay off for the rest of the year. If you have questions about mulching or any other concerns with lawn care, give us at call at Lawn and Pest Solutions. Our licensed lawn technicians serve Tennessee and Mississippi and would love to help you with the beautification of your lawn. 

Winter prep for spring lawn

Remember the childhood candy, Now and Later ? Minus the dental work issues, this candy is a great synonym for winter to spring lawn care. The year round process of lawn care is truly that, year round. Now that winter is here, there is work you can do to prepare your lawn for the winter ahead and ensure a healthy lawn once spring arrives. Here are seven things you can do to prep your lawn for winter:

  1. Remove debris from your lawn

Get those heavy limbs off of your lawn. Piles of sticks and branches cause compacted lawns, patchiness and dead grass. They also create great hiding places for pests that are waiting to get into your home. Now is a good time to get that fire pit up and running!

2.  Rake your lawn

If you haven’t started already, get to work on the fall raking project. If you have started…finish! Rake up the leaves and remove them from your lawn. Anything piled up in your lawn is a hiding place for pests or a great way to kill a healthy (though probably dormant) lawn.

3. Aerate your lawn

If you haven’t already aerated your lawn, winter isn’t an excuse. As long as the ground isn’t frozen, you can aerate. Breaking through “thatch” is what allows air, water and nutrients to get down into the roots of your lawn. Thatch is the thick layer of living material and debris between the top layer of lawn and the soil beneath. About one inch of thatch is normal and healthy for a lawn, anything more is not. Whether using plugs or spikes to poke down through thatch, this process increases airflow and helps with drainage.

4. Water your lawn

Just because it is cold outside doesn’t mean your grass isn’t thirsty. Cold air and wind can dehydrate your grass. Give your lawn a deep watering if it needs it, but don’t water if it is below 40 degrees out.

5.  Weed your lawn

It is really easy to see fresh green weeds in a brown, dormant lawn. Remember dormant lawns aren’t “dead” they are just “asleep”. Don’t let weeds take over just because your lawn doesn’t look pretty. The rainy and mild winter days usually result in a fresh batch of weeds, so watch out for them! This is also a good time to apply pre-emergent weed killer, our guys are pros at when/where/and how much to apply.

And just to review:

Dormant

adjective (of a plant or bud) alive but not actively growing. 

Similar: asleep, sleeping, slumbering, resting, reposing,
drowsing

6. Repair your equipment

Things may be busy now, but once you survive Christmas and put all of that away, drag out your mower and get to work. Now you can clean it up, repair it, replace parts and sharpen the blades. Think about your lawn mower blades like the scissors or blades a hairdresser or barber uses. If using a dull mower to cut your grass, the grass blades will be ripped and torn, this opens your lawn up to all sorts of issues in the spring. While you have the mower out…

7. Mow your yard, one last time

As long as the grass is dry, you can mow it one last time if you haven’t already. You want this last cut to be a little shorter than your summer cuts. This helps to keep rodents away, especially voles. It also helps with other issues and will give your spring lawn a better chance.

Remember “now and later”

To wrap it all up, your lawn is a year round job. There is always something to do. Preparing your lawn for winter in the fall turns to preparing your lawn for the spring in the winter. It never ends. A little bit of work and prep year round will result in a healthier lawn come spring. A lawn that has been cared for over the winter is not as much work in the spring, so that’s the good news! 

Call us if you have any questions or concerns about aerating or applying a pre emergent for your lawn. At Lawn and Pest Solutions we have licensed lawn technicians who know exactly how to help you. This winter is a great time to set up a consultation. We can schedule a program for you that will simplify your year round lawn care routine. We serve the Memphis, TN to North Mississippi areas and would love to assist you with your lawn and pest needs. Contact our office to set up a visit!

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.