Spray foam insulation and termites
So what’s the big deal?
Spray foam insulation and termites, there are two sides to every story and this is no exception. Like most subjects, you can pick a side and defend it to better your cause. In this case, we really aren’t on the side of termites OR spray foam insulation. Hang in there with me on this.
Spray foam insulation is a cost effective and highly effective way to insulate your home. The foam is sprayed on as a liquid and it hardens to fill in the spaces between the wood framing of your home. Your walls and ceilings have a hard, waterproof barrier that effectively keeps heat and cold in or out. Many builders prefer spray foam insulation for all of these reasons. But, (you had to know that was coming)…there are disadvantages to spray foam insulation.
The good part of spray foam insulation are also some of the worst parts when it comes to termite control. The hardened foam can trap moisture between the wood in your walls and frames. Moist wood is the preferred meal of all termites. That’s just the first problem. The second is, the foam between your framing is very easy for termites to travel through. Some sources even call spray foam insulation a “super highway”. Now before anyone misinterprets that… this audio link can answer more questions for you,
Termites are not drawn to, nor do they eat spray foam insulation.
The fact above is the defense for many lawsuits that have been filed against builders who use spray foam insulation. And it is true. Termites like to eat wood. Termites are drawn to moist wood. Termites are not attracted to spray foam and they don’t like to eat it. They DO use the foam as a way to move faster than ever between the wood framing of a home. It DOES make them much harder to detect.
Even the most trained and experienced technicians have a very hard time finding termites in a home insulated with spray foam. Sometimes by the time that termites are discovered, it is too late. This homeowner lost his entire newly built home to termites because by the time he saw evidence, they had infested his entire home and compromised the structural integrity of his home. For those in the business of building homes, Mississippi State University has put together this information.
The state of Georgia has released an official statement warning about the dangers and repercussions of spray foam insulation. It’s not just Georgia, termites are a fact of life for us in the South. If termites haven’t gotten into your house, it’s not because they aren’t trying. We know they are out there and we can fight them.
Termites are a fact of life for us, but they can be prevented. We have said it before and will say it again, homeowners insurance does not cover termite damage because it is considered to be preventable. Read that again. If you aren’t protecting your home or business from termites, they are eventually going to get you. Yes, even you with the metal buildings. We all have cabinets, sheetrock, flooring, papers, trim…wood to protect.
Termites are tiny little pests that eat just a little bit of wood at a time, but they never stop eating. Termites can destroy your home or business if left untreated. Termite damage is not covered by homeowners insurance. Termites can be stopped. If you are building a new home, there is a pre-treatment available through Lawn and Pest Solutions.
If you have a home that is not insulated with spray foam, Lawn and Pest Solutions can help you to stop current termite troubles, or to prevent inevitable termite troubles. We are located in New Albany, MS and cover a large area from Memphis over the entire North Mississippi area. Our licensed technicians can come and inspect your home for termites and advise you on a plan of treatment. Contact us here to get a very fast and efficient response to your needs.
Is my home infested by termites?
Let’s first look at the definition of the word “infestation”.
Learn to pronounce
noun: infestation; plural noun: infestations
- the presence of an unusually large number of insects or animals in a place, typically so as to cause damage or disease. “infestation with head lice is widespread”
Why did they have to bring head lice into this?
An infestation of any kind of insect, animal, pest can’t ever be a good thing, right? Butterflies, maybe? There are multiple signs of a termite infestation, and the easiest one to spot by the average person would be flying termites. Also called, “swarmers”, these are termites that have left their nest and are flying around looking for a mate and to start a colony. Once a swarmer has found a mate, it loses its’ wings, and these are yet another sign of an infestation, discarded wings. You don’t have to be a pest specialist to see either of these signs.
What was that noise?
Another sign of termites (and this is a bit creepy) is the sounds they make. If your home or space is infested with termites, if you get really quiet and put your ear up to the wall, you might be able to hear them chewing. Crazy, right? Those loud chompers are the worker termites, chewing away on the wood inside your home. But they aren’t the only ones making noise, listen for the soldier termites. They bang their heads against the wall to warn others of danger to the colony. Here’s a link for you to listen to the sound of termites. Who knew termites loved rock and roll?
Mud tubes, that’s a nice way of putting it.
Mud tubes are easy to spot, they provide moisture for termites and are also made of termite droppings and soil. Termites like to move around inside the walls of your space, but when the space is harder to navigate (not wood, for example) a mud tube gives them a quick and easy tunnel or tube to move from space to space. This video ,titled “Termites turning your house into a poop palace” is just a charming as it sounds. But it does help to encourage the viewer to look for these signs of infestation! Who wants to live in a “poop palace” ?
This. Door. Won’t. Shut.
Yet another sign of termites is when doors and windows become difficult to close. This is because when termites are eating their way through the wood in your home, windows and doors, it causes excess moisture to build up. Excess moisture causes doors and windows to warp and that makes them hard to close. Who would have ever thought a “wonky” door could be a sign of termite infestation? In addition to difficult doors, paper thin doors, walls and baseboards are a sign that termites have been feasting. Try knocking on walls to see if they sound or feel papery or hollow.
Termites are active, devastating and costly.
Termites are active all year long and cost homeowners in the US an estimated $50 BILLION in repair every ten years. Termite damage is rarely covered by homeowners insurance because it is considered to be preventable. Here’s where you come in. You need to prevent termite damage. Don’t wait for paper thin walls, jammed up windows and doors, please don’t live in a “poop palace”. Get help from the professionals at Lawn and Pest Solutions. We are licensed to treat with the Sentricon System which gets ahead of the attack and protects your home. Contact us today to ask about our ultimate pest protection program. We can assess your situation for free. We treat homes and businesses from Memphis to all over North Missississipp including New Albany, Oxford and Tupelo.
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.
Can Your Lawn Handle the Heat?
A few weeks ago, I gave some tips on drought proofing your lawn. Hopefully you took advantage of those suggestions, because we are experiencing some hot, dry conditions that are stressing our lawns right now. While no time is a good time for extended days of upper 90’s with little to no rain, late summer is a time that places undue stress on your landscape. Grass and plants should be building up carbohydrate reserves for winter right now. Our turf and plants cannot do that when they are struggling, though.
What Should You Do?
Now the time when it’s nice to have an irrigation system. If you are lucky enough to have one, don’t over water, but be sure your landscape is getting the water it needs. Look for wilted plants or discolored turf and ensure your irrigation is running long enough and is reaching all areas.
If you are like me and don’t have an irrigation system, you can still help your plants and turf. Don’t attempt to water your entire lawn or water every day necessarily. Go for the long, soaking method and water the areas that need it the most. I’ve got an area in my front yard near an oak tree that struggles any time of the year. Right now, the grass in this area is fighting to survive so I soaked that area yesterday. Another part of my lawn was damaged when I did some work last year, so I have paid special attention to this area since the grass has been getting reestablished this year.
Pay attention to your landscape beds as well. If you have any plantings that were new this year, the roots of those plants are not as well established. Shallow rooted plants such as hydrangeas or azaleas will often wilt when it’s this hot and dry.
Insects and Disease Can Flare Up in the Heat
Armyworms, Chinch bugs and Spittlebugs often attack lawns during dry periods. The damage these insects cause mimics drought symptoms. The same goes for your plant material. A shrub covered in aphids can wilt much like it would during a drought. A fungus referred to as melting out disease thrives during dry, hot days. If you’ve watered your lawn and the discoloration gets worse, investigate for insects and disease.
Time to Give Up?
Hardly so. The good news is grass and plants are usually very resilient. Most of our landscape will come through this heat and dryness just fine. Lawns that have received proper fertilization and maintained properly will fare better. Bottom line is take a walk around your lawn and look for areas of stress. Water stressed areas to give them relief and be sure you water deeply and infrequently. If you see signs of serious stress, give us a call at 662-534-4535 or contact us. One of our certified, trained technicians will be glad to offer advice.