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

HenbitCall it another sign of global warming if you like, but I’ve never seen the annual weed Henbit out by mid-February in Oklahoma, seeing it out last week on Valentine’s Day. This plant is a common winter annual weed that germinates in fall, but is very small until the warmth of spring causes it to grow and produce those bright purple flowers. Henbit can be so plentiful that untreated lawns can be taken over by purple flowers in March…..not February though. This is a pic of Henbit out already in a lawn in Tulsa…..but not a LawnAmerica lawn!

Our Late Fall Weed-Control Application does a great job of control winter annual weeds like Henbit, Chickweed, and Annual Bluegrass to name a few. There may be some breakthrough in places, but typically we don’t see much of this on our lawns in February and March. Not so on untreated or thin lawns, as these weeds can take over in spring.  And this spring appears to be coming on strong, so expect to see more weeds sooner as we get into the season.  And spring does not even officially start until March 20th!

Once Henbit goes to flower, it’s very difficult to control. We spray it with a post-emergent herbicide, but it can take weeks for it to completely die. It really helps to mow down the dying weeds about 5 days after we spray, as this stimulates the plant to grow back, which helps the herbicide in the plant to work faster. And removing the dying vegetation helps the lawn look better. Contrary to some popular opinion, the weeds don’t just magically disappear! They do have to decompose, and that can take many weeks.

 

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

Euonymous Scale is one insect prevented with dormant oil.

Now is the perfect time to combat certain insect pests that can damage trees and shrubs later on in the season, with the application of a dormant oil treatment. Most commercially available horticultural or dormant oils  are refined from petroleum oil with the impurities filtered out. This is then combined with an emulsifying agent that allows the oil to mix with water so that the oil can be sprayed to plants.

Older true dormant oils were heavy and could only be applied during the winter.  These have been replaced with more refined, light-weight oils that can be applied to plant foliage year-round without damage. Dormant oils are most often applied during mid-winter to early spring, when plants are dormant. This is a safe yet effective way to control not all insects, but mainly pests such as scale, mites, whiteflies, aphids, and eggs of Eastern Tent Caterpillars.  The oil suffocates the small insects or destroys their eggs, while not harming desirable insects.

Dormant oil is simply mixed with water and sprayed on the stems and leaves of certain plants. Do not apply dormant oil when temperatures are forecasted to drop below freezing within 24 hours. And certain ornamentals, such as Spruce, Japanese Holly, Yew, Japanese Maple, and Eastern Redbud can be damages from a dormant oil treatment during the season. Always read the label before application.

At LawnAmerica, we are applying our T1 Dormant Oil Treatment now. We also add a small amount of systemic insecticide to our mix, which is absorbed by the plants and helps control damaging insect pests as they feed on foliage later during the season. Azaleas are one shrub that this treatment is applied to which does a great job of preventing Lacebug damage.

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

You may notice that sometimes lawns in the neighborhood are blue after they are treated by a lawn care company. So what’s up with that? Does the blue color make the lawn healthier? And why are some blue and not others?

Some companies add a blue turf dye to their mix so that their technicians can see where they have sprayed. It adds nothing to the turf or the soil, and is an added expense to the mix. And it can be messy, getting picked up by shoes, dogs, etc. and tracked into the house. We don’t use it at Lawnamerica for these reasons. And, our guys are experienced enough and well-trained that it’s not needed for them to do an accurate application. There is an art to treating lawns, and our technicians are artists! They follow the rules and know what they are doing.

On larger lawns, we use a ride-on machine with a boom to spray for weeds. With this, we have added a foam marker that puts out a little blob of harmless soap bubbles every so often on the outside edges. This enables our guys to see where they have sprayed without the hassle and expense of blue dye. We’d rather put our money into products that actually help with weed-control, like quality pre-emergent herbicides and post-emergent herbicides.

blue lawn

Is this ugly or what?

 

 

 

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

Watering lawnI know it’s still officially winter, and turning your irrigation system on or dragging the hose out is not high on your priority list. However, if you have had a pre-emergent treatment to your lawn, it does need to be watered into the soil within about 5 days for best results. We are actually in somewhat of a drought in Oklahoma now, going back to our dry fall. We typically don’t get much rainfall in winter, and the snow has been nowhere to be found again this winter. So even without the need to water in your pre-emergent, your trees, shrubs, and even the lawn would benefit from some irrigation.

All pre-emergent herbicides need to be watered into the soil in order to be activated and do their job in preventing weeds. Barricade, or Prodiamine, is our choice of products, and the very best on the market. Once waterered in, Baricade adheres to soil particles close to the surface, and will kill grassy weed seedlings as they try to germinate. Barricade does not last forever by design though, just long enough to last through the crabgrass weed germinating season of spring and into summer.

There are factors that can cause the pre-emergent to break down sooner than it should or to negate the effectiveness of the product. One of them is sunlight, which can break down the product with longer exposure than just a few days. Some of the Barricade when sprayed on the lawn adheres to grass blades, stems, and the very top layer of the soil. So this needs to be watered into the topsoil, where it is protected from the degrading sunlight. If Barricade just sits on the turf or top surface for a week or more without any significant rainfall or watering, some of the product will just dissipate.

Only about 1/4″ of watering is fine to move the pre-emergent into the soil and activate it. So It does not take much watering to wash the product off the turf and into the soil. We normally don’t recommend light hand watering, but even this would be better than nothing. And too much water can also be a factor in degrading the pre-emergent sooner than normal. If the soil stays saturated for weeks at a time, such as can sometimes happen during a rainy spring, or with over-irrigation, this will also cause the pre-emergent to break down sooner than normal.

And we can’t forget our old friend the mole. Disruption of the soil surface, such as mole activity, digging, or even aeration, can also break the pre-emergent barrier in the soil, leading to increased crabgrass and weed problems later in the season. So many things can affect the success of a pre-emergent. Watering in the treatment within a few days of application is one that a homeowner can control, so please do so to help enjoy a more weed-free and crabgrass-free lawn this season.

Posted by & filed under Environmental benefits, lawn care, Weed-Control .

RoundupThis past Friday as I got home my wife told me I should watch the CBS news, as there was going to be a news report on a weed herbicide. I really like Scott Pelley, and he was trying to give a fair report on the fact that a judge in California had ruled that Roundup, a common herbicide used in agriculture and lawns for well over 40 years, can add a “Cancer warning” on the label.  An international health organization from France had last year submitted a report that stated the chemical in Roundup, glyphosate, “probably causes cancer.” This, in spite of the fact that glyphosate has the approval from over 800 health and safety studies over more than 40 years, including our own E.P.A, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, and the European Food Safety Agency to name a few. This latest ruling from a California judge has caused much confusion, as it flies in the face of every other scientific study on Roundup.

Roundup is the most common herbicide used in agriculture in helping to grow crops. This article is not intended to justify the use of Roundup by agriculture. But suffice it to say, that without it, feeding the world becomes even more challenging and expensive. One would need to plan on spending more at the local grocery store, as farmers would lose an important tool which many use. In fact, most of the corn, soy, and cotton grown in the U.S. are genetically modified to be resistant to Roundup, allowing these crops to be sprayed with the product to effectively control weeds without harming the crops.

Roundup is also used some in home lawns, parks, sports fields, and other urban turf areas, but on a much smaller scale. The active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, affects only plant enzymes, and is very effective in killing green unwanted plants. So unless you’re a plant, you’re good. And once it is absorbed and utilized, it has a very short half-life, on average of 32 days, and is bound to soil particles before being broken down by soil microbes. At LawnAmerica, the main application we have for Roundup is during winter and very early spring. When the bermudagrass is dormant at that time, we spot-treat fescue clumps to kill them, since the dormant bermudagrass turf will not absorb the product. We also use Roundup on a spot-treatment basis to carefully treat weeds in shrub beds. I personally like to use Roundup to treat along borders to kill a small band of bermudagrass or zoysiagrass, so that I don’t have to use the weed-eater (saving trees and less emissions from an engine). And I’ll use it to kill weeds in non-turf areas such as cracks in driveways. I’ll use it in mulched areas and even around my blueberry patch and in gardens, as long as it’s not sprayed on desirable plants. So in reality, we use a very small amount of this product and only in spot-treatment cases in the lawn care industry.

My concern is the confusion and fear reports like this can cause to the public. Even my wife was alarmed when she heard the headline about cancer, before I set her straight. The facts are that the toxicity of glyphosate, or the LD50, comes in at 5,600 with scientific studies. This means that it’s slightly toxic. Then as I put salt on my potato tonight, with an LD50 of 3,000, eat biscuits made from baking soda (LD50 of 4,200), take acteminophin from the headache I got over this article (LD50 of 1,944), and then drink my cup of coffee the next morning (LD50of 192), I’m putting stuff into my body with lower LD50’s and are more toxic then the Roundup that I spot-spray on a lawn every now and then!

Truth is that it’s the dose that makes the poison, and how something is used which determines if it’s a valuable tool, or something that can harm you. For example, most medicines can be for good if used properly, but can kill if not. For some good information on this Roundup issue, relative toxicities, and what “probably causes cancer” actually means, visit here for a link to a website from gmoanswers.  To see the E.P.A.’s response, visit here. And for more information on Roundup specifically with links to other reports, visit here.

Rest assured, that after 32 years of caring for lawns in Oklahoma and other states, we’ll never use a product that is not fully tested and proven to be effective and safe. If anyone should be concerned it’s the people handling the products and applying them daily. Both of my adult sons are now working for LawnAmerica, applying many of the same products I’ve applied for 32 years. I believe in their safety if used properly, which we do. Now I’ll go have a glass of wine this evening (which could actually kill me or others if used improperly), and enjoy a good night of sleep before I wake up and drink that caffeine-loaded cup of coffee in the morning, even knowing that it’s rated as very toxic. It’s still very good!