Posted by & filed under Armyworms, fescue seeding, Insect Control, lawn care.

Armyworms

These small Armyworms can grow to become quite large in about 3 days.

For the past few weeks, we’ve had sporadic Armyworm problems in the Tulsa area. The Fall Armyworm can be a devastating insect problem during some years, usually in late summer to early fall. Several years ago we had a significant problem in late August, but nothing like the “Great Armyworm invasion” of 2002 I believe it was. During a severe invasion, Armyworms can march in almost overnight, and invade home lawns like an army, munching and chewing a lawn down to the ground. This so far in 2016 though has not been the case in most areas. The damage seems to be spotty at best. However, that can change quickly, so be on the lookout.

On a bermudagrass lawn, Armyworms are not going to kill it. Even if they chew off the blades down to the stem, the turf will recover before winter sets in. It’s like getting a bad haircut….looks bad, but it will grow out! So at this point, unless it’s a severe problem, we’d not recommend treating with an insecticide unless you insist. Fescue turf, however, is a different story. If Armyworms eat fescue down to the ground, which they certainly can, then new grass seedlings that are just coming up from fescue seeding will die. Even mature fescue could die, or be severely stunted, with a high population of Armyworms present. So if a homewoner sees a large number of these small green to brownish worms in their turf, we recommend to treat with an insecticide.

The good news is that they are fairly easy to kill, with many common insecticides. A quick and simple way to do it is to purchase a bottle of insecticide from the box stores and spray them yourself. It’s one of the few lawn care chores that is actually simple to do. More can be learned on our YouTube channel here: How to Control Armyworms Yourself.

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under fescue seeding, seed.

Fescue Seed Label

Our LawnAmerica Seed…No weeds or other crop seed!

Now that fall is in sight, it’s time to be thinking and scheduling your fall fescue overseeding. Tall Fescue is a cool-season grass, that will grow in semi-shade areas where bermudagrass and zoysiagrass will not do well. It stays green pretty much all season, so some folks like to have it in full sun also, which if watered well will do fine. However, especially in the Oklahoma heat, fescue will thin out over the summer, and hence the need for fall seeding to help keep the turf thick and healthy.

There is a big difference in the quality of fescue seed out on the market, so don’t be fooled by the fancy names or packages. Here is a copy of our seed label for the product we are using this year at LawnAmerica. It’s a blend of three different types of fescue, Firenza, Virtuoso, and Sunset Gold. It’s preferable to blend different varieties, as each one has certain strengths that others may be weaker in, so you’ll be getting a stronger and healthier stand of turf. There are hundreds of varieties of tall fescue, with most of them good. There are some though that one wants to avoid, including the old variety K-31. This is a forage grass used in pastures, very course blades, and not desirable for a home lawn. The vast majority of seed is grown and produced in Oregon, where pretty much perfect conditions are present for growing fescue. And it’s certified, meaning that it is tested for quality and purity.

The biggest thing to look out for on fescue seed is the amount of “other crop seed” and “weed seeds” present. That should be listed on seed bags, and it should be ZERO on each! Our LawnAmerica seed is certified, and with zero other crop and weed seed, so you can be assured that your lawn is receiving the best pure quality seed. Most of the stuff you find at that big box stores will show small percentages of “other crop seed”, and even some weed seeds. The problem is that there are about 200,000 actual seeds in a pound of fescue. So even if the number seems small, like .05%, that’s 100 weeds per pound of seed you are planting, or over 1000 per 1,000 square feet. And most of these weeds and other crop seeds are pereneal grassy weeds, so there is no way to control them other then just pulling them up. We can’t spray them with anything to kill them without harming the existing fescue.

Using a quality seed is the first step towards success with fescue seeding, so compare apples to apples when it comes to seed. Don’t be fooled by the cheap price or fancy name. Look at the seed label, and if not showing zero on both weed and other crop seed, don’t use it. While our guys do a great job with preparation of the soil with aeration, fertilize, and even come back to check on seed germination three weeks later, you may want to do your own seeding. If so, you can even purchase our LawnAmerica seed from us in either 25 or 50 lb bags, so you’ll be assured of having the best quality seed on your lawn.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Gardens, Landscaping, Uncategorized.

Vegetable GardenSummer is winding down, with fall right around the corner. So now is a good time to think about planting a fall garden. Crops that can be planted now include lettuce, radishes, carrots, peas, spinach, and similar crops. There still is time to raise another crop of green beans along with some summer squash. And if you can find plants, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower can also mature during the fall season.

Fall gardens can have advantages over spring gardens in some ways. Weed pressure is typically  much less and insect problems may be far fewer than in a spring garden. With the warmer soil temperatures, seeds will germinate rapidly, so you will have crops up and growing in just a few days – compared to several weeks in the spring.

There are a few challenges fall gardening, and one of those is that you must provide regular, frequent watering (possibly daily) until the crops are up and growing. It’s best to plant the seeds deeper than you do for a spring garden because soil is cooler and moister down a little deeper. With soil preparation, you don’t need to till and break up the soil a whole lot. Just lightly work the soil enough to establish a seedbed, and save the deep tillage for later in the fall after the crops are harvested. Also, don’t concentrate on adding a lot of organic matter and fertilizer for the fall garden. The organic matter can be added later in the fall with the deeper tillage. Just a light fertilization should suffice as the plants get growing.

Most vegetables will need about 50-65 days to harvest, so don’t delay in getting your seeds into the ground so that you can enjoy fresh veggies before the first killing frost later in fall.

Posted by & filed under Insect Control, Uncategorized.

Fall ArmywormOver the last few days we have started getting a few calls from customers with Fall Armyworms eating away at their turf.  While the cases we have seen are isolated so far, we are keeping an eye out for more.  So with that in mind we wanted to reshare a blog post from a couple of years ago when the Fall Armyworm did do some damage in Tulsa.  Take a few minutes to learn what to be on the look out for and be sure to let us know if you start seeing them in your lawn!

The Fall Armyworm is the larva stage of a small gray moth, which migrates up from Mexico and Texas during the summer. Remember learning about complete metamorphosis in Science class years ago? Well, it starts when the female moth flies in and lays up to 2000 eggs in grass, shrubs, fences, tree, etc. at night, with hatching occurring a few days later into tiny larvae. They are very small and hidden down in the thatch layers of the turf. You won’t see them unless you get down on your hands and knees and look carefully into the turf. They are pretty harmless at this point as they are so small. But over a week or so, as they eat more and more grass foliage, they become much larger, over an inch long; mainly green, with brown stripes down the side. About 80% of the damage caused by Armyworms occurs during the final two days of their feeding, before they burrow into the ground to change to the pupa stage. Then a weak or so later, the pupa hatches into, you guessed it, the adult moth, and the process starts all over again. Several generations occur from August up until frost in late October or November.

These devastating insect pests can destroy turf almost overnight, as they typically invade the lawns as an army marching over the turf. In 2000 with the last big invasion, I remember actually seeing the lawns move as thousands of caterpillars moved across the turf eating grass blades down to the dirt. You could actually hear the chomping of the insects eating the turf, at least I could back then when my hearing was better. So the key to controlling Armyworms is to treat them with an insecticide when they are smaller and before they do damage to the turf.

Fescue turf is the main concern, because if they eat Fescue down to the dirt, it will probably just die, especially when it is hot. We never recommend scalping Fescue, and an Armyworm invasion is like a super scalp job. If your Fescue dies, then you’ll be re-seeding your lawn this fall, which is much more expensive than an insecticide treatment (same cost as your regular lawn treatment). They also love to feed on Bermudagrass, and can take it down to the stems and dirt. However, Bermudagrass is pretty tough, and it will recover in most cases with good irrigation and fertilization. Your lawn will look awful though for several weeks before it recovers. If you have a Zoysiagrass lawn, you’re in luck, as typically they won’t touch it.

There are several common liquid insecticides that control Armyworm larvae, but that needs to happen soon before they get much larger. Scout your lawn, and if you see them, we recommend contacting LawnAmerica promptly, or just treat it yourself. It’s actually a fairly easy treatment for the homeowner if they can buy a hose end sprayer and drench the lawn with the insecticide. Sevin and Permethrin are two common products you’ll find, but just read the label to make sure Armyworms are on it. Granular insecticides are OK, but don’t work as well as a liquid drench for Armyworm control. If we experience a major invasion of Armyworms in Tulsa, we’ll be hard pressed to be able to treat everyone who calls that day. We’ll be ready and do the best we can. But they can explode almost overnight, so I would recommend scouting your lawn and treating when they are small. It will be first come—first served when people call or contact us on our website, so I’d get with us sooner than later.10628307_10152410762428925_9189857543917194484_n

Posted by & filed under fescue seeding.

20150424_092206_resizedEvery year around this time, we start see little glimmers of fall on the horizon.  You start to notice mornings being a little bit cooler or the sight of kids in their new clothes waiting on the school bus each morning.  Football begins to take over weekend schedules and inevitably the question about whether I should seed my fescue lawn pops up again.

The answer is… Yes.

Oklahoma is located in what is called the transition zone.  Basically what that means is growing turf around here will require a little extra effort because we are sometimes too hot for cool-season turf and too cold for warm-season grasses.

Bermudagrass and zoysiagrass are best suited for Oklahoma weather conditions, but neither of these turf types perform very well in shaded areas.  That is where Fescue comes into play.

Fescue is a cool-season, clump type turfgrass.  It does not spread out and develop density with underground rhizomes or stolons on the surface as warm-season turf does.  Instead it has to be seeded every year to help repair any damage from drought, disease, insects or heavy traffic.  Re-seeding introduces new plants into the turf, which as they grow and mature, will develop into a thick, healthy turf.

Fall is the best time of the season for fescue seeding.  By seeding in the fall, seeds germinate and grow some before winter sets in.  As the warmth of spring sets in, these seedlings continue to mature and develop into a dense turf.  By the time summer heat and stress hits, your turf should be mature and be able to better stand up to the stresses of summer.

Your Route Manager will be leaving behind information over the coming weeks for fescue seeding.  Our seeding operation consists of using a top-quality blend of fescue seed, with zero weed seed.  We aerate the soil, rake bare areas, apply a starter fertilizer, and leave detailed watering instructions.  We then return in 3 weeks to overseed any thin areas and check on the progress.  Now is the time to plan for seeding and secure your place in our busy schedule, so contact LawnAmerica today.

Posted by & filed under Christmas Decor.

IMG_2453I can hear everyone thinking, “How in the world can you be talking about Christmas in August when our temperatures are hovering around 100 degrees!”

Well, it’s pretty easy after spending several days at our annual Christmas Décor Conference last week.

It was a busy time in downtown Dallas.  We were able to see the latest Christmas bulbs that are able to be changed to any color you can imagine using a simple smartphone.  There were new permanent lighting options that utilize LED bulbs to create an elegant look at night, but almost totally disappear from view during the day.  There were 20 foot tall trees with 10,000 individual bulbs.  There were toy soldiers, nutcrackers and Santa Claus was even hanging out on a bench, ready to have his picture taken with whoever would sit with him.  It was easy to get excited about Christmas coming soon.

For the last 20 seasons we have attended the Christmas Décor conference in the middle of the summer with more than 200 other Christmas Décor franchises.  We spend several days in trainings and breakout sessions discussing everything from the newest products to the best practices in safety techniques as well as the best installation practices to provide dazzling displays for our customers.

We believe this investment in training and education is one of the many things that sets us apart from our competition.  I challenge you to find another decorating company that invests the time and effort to improve that we do, especially in the middle of the summer.

Besides all the training and education going on, we are busy preparing our schedule for the season.  All of our current Christmas Décor customers should have already received a letter a few weeks ago with the ability to prepay for 2016 Décor services and save 7% off of the total cost.  But even more importantly the prepayment guarantees that the displays will be installed and ready to light up by Thanksgiving weekend, which by the way is only 15 weeks away!

Our schedule does fill up quickly, so make sure you get your spot reserved soon.  As with all of our services, estimates are free. So if you are ready to let a professional take over your lighting responsibilities be sure to give us a call. IMG_2450

Posted by & filed under Aphids, Insect Control, Landscaping, Mites, Tree and Shrub Care.

aphidsLooks like another hot week in Oklahoma, so you may not be  spending much time out enjoying your landscape. However, summer insect problems can sneak in quickly, and if not taken care of promptly, can damage trees and shrubs. So do be on the lookout for these.

Crepe Myrtles can sometimes have aphids on the underneath side of the leaves, which are fairly common on these shrubs in the Tulsa and Oklahoma area. Aphids are very tiny soft-bodied insects which suck the sap from the underneath side of leaves of certain plants such as Crepe Myrtles, Ash trees, Roses, Viburnum, and others. If the population becomes too high, they can cause yellowing and distortion of leave, and greatly harm the health of plants. Aphids will secrete a sweet sticky substance called Honeydew, which then drips down everywhere, and causes black sooty mold to form on leaves, which further affect plant health and beauty.

Aphids do have natural predators, such as ladybugs, which will help with control. Insecticidal soaps are safe to apply and can be effective by smothering the aphids. Applying a systemic insecticide such as Imidacloprid early in the season is a very effective and safe way to control plant-sucking insects such as Aphids, which kills them as they feed on plants later in the season. Spraying especially the underneath side of leaves with a high-pressure stream of water can help knock the Aphids off leaves.

Summertime insect problems such as bagworms growing on certain conifers, lacebugs on Azaleas, and mites infecting burning bushes can all be controlled with effective scouting and application of insect control products.  And again, the best way to control them is often with an application of a systemic insecticide into the soil before the insects begin to feed. Mites and Scale are other insect problems found in late summer, and these can be sprayed off somewhat with high pressure water, or rubbed off the branches in the case of Scale.  If there is a problem occurring now, pruning out small damaged areas may be in order. We can help at LawnAmerica  with our Tree & Shrub Program, which provides annual services on ornamentals to help combat these insect infestations and certain ornamental plant diseases from occurring.

And as with all plant issues, proper planting, irrigation, fertilization, and pruning of plants are important cultural practices for the overall health of your plants. Azaleas need to be  pruned back now before mid-August, before they set their buds in the fall.  If they’ve not been fertilized, that can be done also before mid-August.  And with the recent summer rains, which have been nice for lawns and landscapes, this can help increase insect populations. Mosquitoes especially will also be increasing, and LawnAmerica can help with this also with our Buzz Off Mosquito Control Program. 

Posted by & filed under Insect Control.

Dogs and kids playing in the gardenFleas and ticks can be a year-round problem in Oklahoma, especially with the mild winters we’ve experienced lately. They are a real nuisance on our dogs and cats, along with being a health issue. And especially with ticks in the landscape, diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease can be threats. So it’s a good idea to control these small but irritating critters with both cultural and sometimes chemical practices.

LawnAmerica provides a good Flea & Tick Control Program as an add on service for homeowners. We always stress though to not just treat the lawn, but also the pets, and even indoors if needed. Our service is good, but we can’t guarantee that you’ll never see a flea or tick on your pet.  Check with your veterinarian as to which products are good for pets.

We use a granular product that contains Permethrin, which is a very common and safe product. They affect the nervous system of the insect, causing repetitive nerve firings. They  are effective yet easily broken down, so this makes their toxicity fairly low. Permethrin controls fleas, ticks, ants, and many other common surface insects. After the granular product is activated with irrigation, it will provide about 3-4 weeks of residual control of insects. Permethrin is so safe that it is even applied directly to animals, such as my cattle in my pasture at the farm. Even certain clothing now has Permethrin imbedded into it for insect control in outdoor situations. For a label, which details probably more information about it than you really want to know, visit HERE.

For best results, we apply the Permethrin with summer applications of fertilizer, about every 4-6 weeks. So with 3-4 treatments during the peak of the insect season, this really helps lessen the population of insect pests such as fleas and ticks in the Tulsa and OKC areas. Our new Buzz Off Mosquito Control Program also uses a form of Permethrin, along with another insecticide, so this service also helps cut back on flea & tick pressure in the landscape.

For more complete information on controlling fleas and ticks, visit this OSU Master Gardener fact sheet: http://www.tulsamastergardeners.org/lawngarden/insects/fleas_ticks.shtml

And for more information on our LawnAmerica Flea & Tick Control Program, visit HERE.

Posted by & filed under bermudagrass, fescue seeding, lawn care.

AerationSummer is a great time to aerate a bermudagrass or zoysiagrass lawn in Oklahoma. The root system on these warm season grasses is very active during the warmth of summer, so roots will absorb oxygen from the soil efficiently and new turf roots will grow into the new holes in the soil made by the aeration equipment. Our service will remove thousands of small soil cores about 3.4” wide by 2” deep, and deposit them on the surface.  These plugs of soil will soon disappear, as they “melt” back into the turf with time and water.

Aeration provides several great benefits to the health of your turf:

  • Helps lessen soil compaction and allow better absorption of oxygen by the root system.
  • Helps stimulate a denser root system.
  • Allows water to more easily penetrate into the soil and prevent runoff.
  • Helps control thatch by depositing fresh soil micro-organisms on top of the turf and decompose thatch.

Many golf courses aerate their fairways at least once annually. While this may not fit into the budget of most homeowners, we’d recommend at least every few years to aerate your lawn. At LawnAmerica, we provide this service from June through September, with July and August being the preferable months to do this.  Cool season turf such as Fescue is besAeration plugt aerated in fall, in conjunction with fall fescue seeding.  In this case, we go over the lawn twice with the aeration equipment, which with all the loose soil provided, really helps with seed germination.

To order this service, and Save $25 off this summer, visit HERE, and enter the code SAVE25.

 

Posted by & filed under drought, fescue seeding, irrigation, lawn care, Organic fertilzer.

Summer Fescue

Fescue is not very green in our hot summers.

It’s July, it’s hot, and it’s pretty dry also.  With temperatures in the 90’s and breaking 100 degrees this week, it’s pretty rough not only on outdoor workers such as the LawnAmerica guys treating lawns, it’ tough on the turf also. Fescue is a cool-season grass, which is obviously not the case now in Oklahoma.  So no matter what a homeowner does, fescue is just not going to look real great in July and August in Oklahoma.  It’s just too hot, and it just sits there, and doesn’t even grow much, while fading to a brownish color if it’s dry.

Good irrigation will help, so supply about 1.5” per week of water if Mother Nature does not help us. Water about 3-4 times per week, not every day, and only early in the mornings if possible. Raise your mowing height on Fescue now, which will help the root system grow deeper and pick up that deep soil moisture, if it’s there.

At LawnAmerica, we treat our fescue lawns totally different in the heat of summer. Applying the same type of fertilizer to Fescue in summer as we use on warm-season turf such as abermudagrass and Zoysiagrass would burn and damage the Fescue.  So we use either a granular fertilizer product with mainly organic material and a bio-stimulate named Humic DG, or in most cases, will apply our liquid Soilbuilder to the lawn. Neither of these will burn the turf in summer and can be safely applied.  Both products will supply very small amounts of slow-release nitrogen, some iron, and mainly organic soil ammendments which help to feed and improve the soil. This helps Fescue to remain as healthy as possible during the heat of summer, while helping the turf to utilize soil nutrients more effectively in fall as the Fescue recovers from summer stress, and new Fescue plants are added with seeding in the fall.

So rest assured that LawnAmerica knows the drill on caring for Fescue properly and using the right materials at the right time. With our 32 years of experience in caring for turf, and by keeping up with the latest innovations on lawn care products, your Fescue will survive this hot summer just fine, as long as you do your part with proper watering and mowing.