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.

Posted by & filed under drought, lawn care, post-emergent, pre-emergent, Weed-Control.

SpurgeWith hot and dry weather that we encounter in July and August in Oklahoma, a common summer broadleaf weed named Spurge makes its’ presence known. It can not only grow in lawns, particularly well along the edge bordering the street, but in landscape beds, small cracks in driveways, etc. It does not take much soil for Spurge to germinate in and grow, with its’ deep taproot sinking down wherever it can find a place to grow. It is well adapted to hot, dry, Oklahoma summers with thick fleshy leaves holding the water in the plant well. From one taproot, spurge can spread out like a mat into the lawn or shrub bed. The good news is that it’s easy to pull up. And since our broadleaf herbicides are not as effective when temperatures are over 90 degrees, this is really the best way to eradicate it. With the thick, waxy, and small leaves, it’s difficult for a broadleaf herbicide to adhere to the leaves and be absorbed for good control.

Spurge is one of those broadleaf weeds which the early spring pre-emergent really does not control much. It will help some, but spurge is just going to germinate during the summer.  Our Bed Weed-Control Program, with special pre-emergents applied in early spring, will actually control spurge better than our lawn pre-emergent, Barricade.  So with this troublesome summer weed, one will have to go “old school” some and hand pick the weeds in most cases.

Posted by & filed under Tree and Shrub Care, Trees.

Bradford Pear

Half a Pear tree gone!

Oklahoma is subject to some crazy weather, with spring and summer severe storms pelting us with rain, hail, high winds, and a few tornadoes spinning from time to time. This was the case on Thursday, July 14th, when blue skies in the morning gave way to dark scary looking clouds by noon. You know it’s going to be bad when the sky has that dark, greenish hue to it, with clouds swirling all around. Tornado sirens blasted, and the storm blew through for about an hour or so, with heavy rain and high winds.

As I drove through Tulsa, many neighborhoods had leaves, tree branches, even entire trees blown down by the high winds. One tree in particular which we really despise is the Bradford Pear tree. It was a popular tree planted in many home lawns back in the 80’s and 90’s especially, before folks discovered how weak they are in standing up to high winds. Bradford pears grow very quickly, and do form a nice oval canopy, with nice white flowers blooming in the early spring. However, they are really more like a shrub than a tree, need frequent pruning to keep from becoming too large, and eventually will just be blown down by Oklahoma winds.  Their wood and branch structure is very weak, so as the tree in this picture, will not stand up to high winds or ice storms. So the remaining part of this tree will not look good or survive, so it will need to be taken out.

SIlver Maple

This Silver Maple will now need some serious pruning or removal.

Another old tree variety that was planted years ago that has a weak branch structure is the Silver Maple. It too will loose entire branches with wind damage, which causes the tree to look really bad and eventually will need to be removed from the landscape. There are newer varieties of Maples, such as Red and Yellow Maples, which have much better shapes and structure, stronger wood, and are less prone to wind damage. They also exhibit great fall colors, so they are much better choices for a home landscape in Tulsa or OKC.

 

Posted by & filed under bermudagrass, Flowers, lawn care, post-emergent, Weed-Control.

weeds in beds

We can control weeds and bermudagrass from taking over your beds.

Our lawn care service in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City areas controls weeds in your home lawn, with applications of fertilizers and weed-control products to the lawn. However, we don’t apply these same products into landscape beds where flowers and shrubs are located. Sure, some of the granular fertilizer pellets will shoot into adjoining beds close to the turf, and that can help the plants some that are growing there. But much of the herbicides we are applying to the lawn cannot be sprayed into the beds, as they could harm desirable plants growing there. So we are always very careful when spraying lawn areas that have adjoining flowers and shrubs.

We do have a special optional program, our Weed-Control in Beds Program, which specifically targets weeds that can grow into ornamental beds. This is not only an eyesore, these weeds will compete for water and nutrients needed by the plants you are trying to grow. With this, we apply a special granular pre-emergent herbicide named Snapshot, which safely prevents many grassy and some broadleaf weeds from germinating. We apply this in early spring with our Round 1 Treatment, and again in early fall with our Round 6 treatment. It’s not 100%, and it does not stop nutgrass from coming up. That will just have to be pulled up by hand during the season.

During one or more of our summer treatments, we then go in and apply another special herbicide named Fusilade.  It can be sprayed over the top of most flowers and ornamentals to control grassy weeds such as crabgrass and even bermudagrass which often creeps in from the lawn and can take over a bed if left un-checked.  It does not harm ornamentals, and yet will kill any grassy plant, including bermudagrass.  It’s very tough to keep bermudagrass out of beds, but if this is done once or twice per summer, it really makes a difference.

Another cultural practice to help keep weeds from taking over a shrub bed is to properly mulch.  It not only looks better and helps preserve soil moisture, it also makes it more difficult for weed seeds to reach the soil and germinate.  Now is a good time to add some fresh mulch to your ornamental beds.

For more information on our Bed Weed-Control Program, CLICK HERE: