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We are! The past two weeks have been very challenging when you are trying to care for lawns. One can’t really do much when there is a lot of snow on the ground and/or sub-freezing temperatures. Pumps don’t work when the liquid weed-control freezes, so we’re ready for some warmer weather to get our work done. And everyone is ready for a little sunshine and warmer days so we can all get outside more.

There is still plenty of time to apply our spring pre-emergent weed-control, as crabgrass won’t germinate until the 4” soil temperature stays at 56 degrees for four consecutive nights. We are a long way from that as most soils are frozen now! So as the weather warms, don’t let folks or other companies try to tell you that unless the pre-emergent is applied by mid-March that it’s too late, as that is just not true. We will have all of our customers serviced with their Round 1 by late March, which provides great crabgrass control for up to 7 months.

As a 30-year business owner in the lawn care business, I get a little annoyed and disappointed when younger competitors do things that are not right, and even unethical. I’m seeing more and more companies doing what they’ve learned from the big corporate guys, with breaking up the spring pre-emergent into two treatments, at half rates of pre-emergent, and billing their customers twice then. It’s all about cash flow for them and giving a cheap price, rather than doing what’s right for the customer and for the lawn. With LawnAmerica, we apply with a full rate, one treatment in early spring. That’s all you need, so that in our Round 2 we can then apply slow-release fertilizer, which is what the lawn needs then. The lawn is green and growing then, allowing us to come in during Round 3 a short 4-5 weeks later for our blanket treatment of Echelon Herbicide before going back to granular fertilizer treatments during summer.

So we’re ready for some green grass here at LawnAmerica, so that we can do our magic on the lawns. Let’s hope this coming snow is the last one and spring comes on strong after that. Give us a call if you have questions or need professional lawn care.

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If so, you probably have moles, gophers, or both in your lawn. Moles and gophers always seem to be a big problem in Oklahoma lawns at this time of year. The bermudagrass is dormant, lawns are not being mowed, so the unsightly dirt piles just stay there after the moles and gophers do their digging. Gophers are larger than moles, did deeper tunnels, while bringing up larger mounds of dirt. They eat plant roots, so they can destroy gardens if left un-checked. Moles on the other hand are much smaller, eat earthworms, grubs, and other soil insects, and make shallow tunnels as they search for food in the lawn.

There are many methods that homeowners have tried over the years in controlling moles and gophers, most of them failing. We do offer a mole control program at LawnAmerica which consists of setting baits that look and smell like earthworms, a major source of food for moles. We consistently set the baits as we come out for regular lawn treatments, and provide service calls in-between treatments also. This works well sometimes, but in other cases may not be as effective, so you just never know. We can’t make the mole eat the bait, but it does help in some cases.

Applying insecticide to control grubworms is not very consistent either, so we really don’t recommend that as a control method. Spray on products containing castor oil are not very good either. Other products are just a waste of money.

The best way to control both moles and gophers in the Tulsa area is to contact our wildlife trappers we recommend on our website. Both are very good, and charge a base fee plus a bounty per animal caught. If a homeowner is persistent and has plenty of time, you can learn to trap them yourselves. But from our experience, just pay these guys and you will probably be happy!

Read our mole control page for more information.

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We finally have some moisture in Oklahoma, in the form of snow and ice. Hey, we’ll take it in any form with it being so dry now. It wasn’t much, so let’s hope for some good, soaking rains soon.

We were able to fire up the snow plows and use some of the truckload of ice melt we have in the warehouse at LawnAmerica though. Some of our trucks are equipped with the capability of adding a plow and a large ice melt spreader, so we are able to help some of our customers with ice and snow control in the Tulsa area. It looks like the snow won’t last long though, and that’s fine with us.

As the snow melts into the soil, it will water in any pre-emergent weed-control applied last week. We are in the middle of applying our Round 1 Early Spring Weed-Control Treatment, and with decent weather, should have all of our customers lawns in the Tulsa and Oklahoma area serviced by early to mid-March. Crabgrass won’t even begin to germinate in Tulsa until late March at the earliest most seasons, so as long as the Barricade pre-emergent is applied before then, your crabgrass issues should be minimal.

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Last year at this time of the season, we were experiencing the driest January and February on record in the Tulsa area. Well, here we go again. 2015 is starting off as another year of drought it appears. We are currently in the D1 moderate drought category. But go west and it gradually deepens to extreme and even exceptional drought, and it is gradually moving this way.

We’ve really been in a long-term drought since 2010 in Oklahoma. Yes, we’ve had some periods of nice rains last year, but still ended up well below normal. So how does this affect you, and LawnAmerica, who is responsible for much of the care and quality of your turf in the landscape? It’s pretty simple…..plants need water to survive and thrive. Yes, many of our customers have irrigation systems, or can put a hose and sprinkler out in the lawn. That’s great, and is necessary most of the time for a quality turf. But there is nothing that can take the place of good, soaking, natural rainfalls. These provide much-needed deeper soil moisture, which trees especially need for survival.

Even during the winter, it’s important to provide good soil moisture for lawns and ornamentals. I’ve had to irrigate my fescue turf several times recently, as the topsoil is very dry, and those seedlings from last fall’s plantings are still not fully mature. Fescue turf can die in the winter if it becomes too dry and cold. Even bermudagrass should be watered some, as the chances for winterkill occurring are much greater if the soil is extremely dry.

If you have recently had an early spring pre-emergent herbicide applied (hopefully from LawnAmerica), that weed-control product needs to be watered into the soil within about five days for best results. If a homeowner does not water it in, and just waits for the next rainfall to occur, which could be weeks on end, some of the product will break down with sunlight. It is not activated until it’s watered into the soil, where it will then be able to do its’ job.

It’s going to take a lot of rain this spring and summer to really bust out of this drought, so in the meantime, please water your lawn, shrubs, and trees even now in the winter.

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The practice of chopping off the tops of crepe myrtles over the winter has become very common in Oklahoma. We sometimes call it Crepe Murder at LawnAmerica, as it really hurts the look and health of the plant over time. Many folks believe this is necessary to promote flowering, but that is not necessarily the case. More often than not, it’s something that some commercial maintenance companies tell you needs to be done, but really just gives them something to do in early winter. It’s not really needed in most cases.

Pruning in late winter or early spring will stimulate vigorous new growth in spring, and may lead to slightly more blooms. However, they will bloom if pruning is not done.

Proper pruning can serve several purposes in plants, including crepe myrtles:

  • To encourage blooming or fruiting
  • To restrict growth
  • To train the plant into a certain shape
  • To improve the health of the plant

The main justification for pruning crepe myrtles is to develop the proper shape of the tree by removing suckers at the base and removing all limbs growing from ground level except 3-5 of the strongest limbs. As the tree matures, remove lower, lateral branches up to one-third to halfway up the plant, and ones that are crossing or rubbing against each other. Make your cuts to a side branch or close to the trunk, using good, sharp pruning shears.

Do corrective pruning to remove dead branches, and remove small twigs or branches in the center to create more open spaces for sun and air movement. If the plant is becoming too large, you can limb up or chop off the tops of the crepe myrtle in an attempt to keep it from becoming too large. Do not just cut it off at the same place every year though. If you have doubts about your ability to correctly prune, don’t hesitate to contact a local arborist.