Life Cycle of Winter Annual Weeds In Your Lawn and Landscape

winter annual weeds

In the world of weeds, there are three different life cycles – annual, biennial and perennial. Annuals only live for one growing period, biennials live for two years and perennials live for more than two years. Among these life cycles, there is also a distinct as to when the initial germination takes place. The common thought is that all weeds germinate in the spring, but many of them germinate in the fall, such as Dandelions, Henbit and Shepard’s Purse. These life cycles are referred to as winter germinating weeds.

Winter Annual Weeds In Your Landscape

Winter annual weeds are often the first ones seen in the spring. The germination process usually begins in the fall and the plants persist over the winter in a vegetative state. They can survive freezing temperatures and be ready to start growing again once the weather begins to warm up in the spring.

As the weather warms up, the plant will begin to bolt, or send up a flower stalk or stem as their life cycle continues. This is the time that the plant produces seeds to perpetuate the species. By that time, the weather has usually started to get warmer, which signals to the winter annuals that their life cycle has come to an end.

It is important to remember that when a plant produces flowers, it also is creating seeds and those seeds will be present in the lawn to germinate the following fall and the whole process will start again. Applying weed control products in the spring is important, but it is equally important to treat a lawn for weeds in the fall as well.

Common First Winter Annual Weeds of Spring

Henbit

Henbit is a member of the mint family and has square stems with opposite leaves. It has pink to purple flowers and usually grows about 6 inches high in the Midwest. The plant has circular or rounded leaves with rounded teeth on the leaf edge or margin.

Shephard’s Purse

Shepherd’s Purse grows 3 to 18 inches tall and forms a rosette that is like a dandelion. The main difference between the two plants, besides the obvious of a Dandelion being a perennial and Shepherd’s Purse being an annual, is the shape and direction of the lobs on the leaves. The lobs on a Dandelion point back to the center of the rosette while the lobs of Shepard’s Purse point straight out from the mid vein. The seedpods are heart shaped and contain hundreds of seeds.

Common Chickweed

Chickweed has a shallow fibrous root which grows best in moist, cool shaded areas. It has small white flowers with 5 petals that are split almost to the base. The leaves are bright green and are about ½ inch long, smooth and sharply pointed.

Prickly Lettuce

The distinguishing feature of this weed is the deeply lobed leaves with a prominent row of spines on the underside of the mid vein.

Catchweed Bedstraw

This weed also has square stems with short hooks on the stems. It grows best moist shady areas. The hooked spines cling to just about everything and are difficult to remove. And it was used as a filling for mattresses.

There’s a lot more types of winter annual weeds. These weeds may be growing in your lawn now, but remember, they actually starting growing last fall. They will die when the weather turns warmer, but they will leave behind hundreds of seeds, ready to germinate again next fall. If you have any questions, feel free to contact your local Spring-Green!

How to Get Your Lawn and Landscape Ready For Spring

get lawn and landscape ready for spring

If you live in the southern part of the U.S., you may have already started getting your lawn and landscape in shape for the coming spring. For those that live in the more northern parts of the U.S., you are most likely wishing that it will start to get warmer so that the snow will melt and you can see your lawn, but there are still things that you can do to start getting your landscape in shape for the coming year.

I conduct regional training programs across the U.S. at this time of year to help set the pace for the coming year. Besides sales and customer service topics, I also include sessions on technical topics as well as application and product safety. I start in the southern sections of the U.S. where we have franchise locations and slowly work my way north. In the southern sections, the primary work that is being completed is spreading mulch in landscape beds, selective pruning of trees along with controlling winter weeds and applying products to prevent annual grasses from germinating as the weather warms up.

About the only outdoor work that can be completed in the northern areas is selective pruning of trees. Winter is a great time to remove branches that may be crossing other branches or ones that are broken or misshapen. Up to now, snow fall has been far less than normal, so there is a good deal of tree pruning going on at this time of year. If you are pruning a spring flowering tree like a magnolia or crabapple, be careful of how much you prune off as it will reduce the number of flowers that will display this coming spring.

How to Get Lawn and Landscape Equipment Ready For Spring

Regardless of where you live, winter is a great time to get lawn mowers and other power equipment ready for the spring. If you are using a 4-cycle engine that requires oil, winter is a good time to remove the old oil and add fresh oil for the coming season. Change the spark plug if it hasn’t been changed for a couple of years. Clean the underside of the mower deck and clean and/or replace the air filter. It is also a great time to sharpen the mower blade. If you are not mechanically inclined, many hardware stores and small engine repair shops offer tune-up specials during the winter.

Many gas-powered line trimmers and blowers use gas and oil mixture so an oil change is not necessary, but cleaning and/or replacing the air filter is a good practice as is replacing the spark plug. If you use battery-powered line trimmers or blowers, there is not much maintenance that has to be completed on these items outside of cleaning them if they have become dirty.

Although gardening tools should have been cleaned and wiped down with oil before storing for the winter, sometimes this task gets forgotten. Using a stiff wire brush to clean off shovels, hoes, rakes or other metal gardening tools before things get busy again this spring. After cleaning off soil and any possible rust, either wipe the metal parts with oil are spray them with an oil-based lubricant.

Spring Gardening Ideas

This is also the time to start exploring different gardening ideas for the coming year. Think back and what you planted to determine what grew well and what sort of fizzled out and died. Seed catalogs are often abundant now, but not everyone has these publications delivered to their homes. Fortunately, the internet is a tremendous source for all types of advice for gardening. It is best to stick with recommendations for accredited sources such as university extension services or well-known brands such as Burpee or Proven Winners, just to name two.

The weather will get warmer, trees and shrubs will start to bud out and produce flowers and spring bulbs will surface to fill may landscapes with glorious colors. Gardening does require patience, so relax, explore landscape ideas online and before you know it spring will be upon us. Now is also a good time to start thinking about a lawn care service. Contact us to plan for the greener, thicker lawn you’ve been wanting!

Fall is a good time to fertilize cool season grasses!

fertilize cool season grasses

Right now many of us are wondering how it could possibly be fall already, but it’s a fact. The autumnal equinox has passed, football season is underway, and pumpkin spice flavored foods and beverages are all the rage. If your lawn contains types of cool-season grasses, like Bluegrass, Ryegrass, Fine Fescue or Tall Fescue, the fall season also presents some fantastic opportunities to improve the overall health, vitality and beauty of your lawn. Performing core aeration in the fall loosens the soil, breaks down thatch and allows air, water, and nutrients in. Overseeding immediately after aeration allows more seed to reach the soil as well. But perhaps the most beneficial thing you can do for your cool season lawn is feed it!

Grass is a seasonal plant whose growth rates fluctuate at different times of year. During the fall season, lawns are recovering from the stresses of summer, such as heat and drought. Early fall is a period for vigorous growth in cool season grasses, which take advantage of the milder temperatures and more consistent moisture levels. This new growth and recovery uses up nutrients, which must be replenished. A fall application of a controlled-release nitrogen fertilizer provides the necessary nutrients to keep your turf green and growing longer into the fall season.

Fertilizer For Fall  Applications

Here’s an interesting fact about cool season grasses: as growth above the ground begins to slow, the grass plants are putting more energy into root development, which is essential for winter hardiness and ensures greater turf density the following spring. As you might guess, all of this also requires nutrients. This is why fall fertilization is such an essential part of an effective cool season lawn care program. Depending on where you live, there may be enough time to apply a second, late fall application of fertilizer. We recommend that the applications be 4 to 6 weeks apart. In late fall, when the grass plants are no longer using the nutrients for growth, they begin storing the nutrients in the stems and rhizomes (the root system), which keeps the plants healthier not only over the winter season but also into spring.

What type of fertilizer is best for fall applications? There is no universally correct answer to this question because the nutritional needs of turf grasses vary by region based on predominant grass types, soil composition, and climate as well as when the product is being applied. It should most definitely be a lawn fertilizer, as opposed to a general purpose garden fertilizer. All bagged fertilizer products are required by law to display the guaranteed minimum percentage (by weight) of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Of these, nitrogen is the foundation nutrient essential to any fall feeding program. Nitrogen products can be formulated for quick release, where it becomes immediately available in the soil, or slow release, which becomes available over a longer period of time. Many lawn-specific fertilizers will contain both.

Preparing Cool Season Grasses For Winter

A few cultural practices will also help your cool season lawn prepare for its winter nap. As late fall approaches, begin to gradually bring the cutting height down on your mower. Do this in steps, over the course of several mowing, so that you are never removing too much of the grass blade at once, which would damage the turf instead of helping it. Also never adjust the mower so low that you are scalping the lawn all the way down to the soil surface. If you have a blanket of fallen leaves or other debris on the lawn, rake them up. Leaves can also be ground to a fine mulch with repeated mowing, though it is important to ensure that the resulting pieces have been finely ground. Both of these practices—gradually lowering the grass height and keeping the lawn’s surface breathable by controlling leaf cover and removing debris—will help prevent diseases like snow mold from taking hold.

Have we given you enough to think about? No worries! The easiest way to ensure that your lawn is receiving the correct balance of nutrients, in the proper amounts and at the right time, is to call on your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green and let us take all the guesswork out of it. We will be happy to answer any questions you have, too.

Thicken Your Lawn: It’s Time For Overseeding!

overseeding

Overseeding, sometimes called reseeding, is the process of distributing grass seed over an existing lawn. According to information provided by Pennington Seed, there are two primary reasons for seeding existing turf in this manner. First, to either rejuvenate a patchy or thinning lawn or to prevent one. Many grass types will thin out as part of their natural maturing process. Your turf may also develop thinning or bare spots due to the stresses of heavy traffic as well as certain diseases or pests. Simply put, if your lawn is receding, consider reseeding.

Purpose of Overseeding a Lawn

Lawn care professionals will frequently use overseeding as a preventative measure. Instead of waiting for the thin areas or bare spots to appear, they will reseed the lawn so that the new grass plants appear before the weak areas are able to develop. Rather than fixing a poor-looking lawn, this proactive approach keeps the turf looking full, green, and healthy.

The second reason for overseeding is to bring up color when warm season grasses go dormant in winter. This is done by seeding the warm season lawn with a cool season grass seed mix that will produce color during those months when the warm season grasses are dormant. It may seem odd to plant cool season grass seed on a warm season lawn but the very conditions that cause the warm season grass to go dormant—milder daytime conditions and cooler nighttime temperatures—will allow the cool season grass to thrive, if only temporarily. The desired result is year-round green color.

How and When to Reseed

So far we’ve looked at what overseeding is and why to do it. Now let’s address when and how. Cool season grasses of the northern regions enter a period of vigorous growth during late summer and early fall. The soil is still warm enough for the seed to germinate and the cooler temperatures, along with moist conditions, stimulate growth. This is the best time to overseed a northern lawn, with spring being the second best.

By comparison, warm season grasses experience their active growth beginning in late spring, which makes that the better time to overseed a thinning lawn or to prevent one. If winter color in a southern lawn is the goal, fall is the time—just as the existing warm season grass is beginning to turn brown and go dormant.

Without proper preparation and execution, one can spend a great deal of money on overseeding and not see great results. In order for grass seed to become grass plants, it must have an opportunity to germinate and thrive. Simply distributing seed, even good seed, over a lawn may not be good enough, especially if the soil is compacted, there is an excessive thatch layer, or both.

Improve Your Lawn With Core Aeration

Grass seed that cannot get into the soil and receive the necessary moisture and nutrients has a good chance of becoming bird food. Spring-Green’s core aeration service disrupts the surface of the lawn and the soil beneath it by extracting plugs of soil and plant material and then depositing them on the lawn’s surface. This process helps loosen compacted soil and break down thatch, allowing water, nutrients and grass seed to penetrate the soil. For this reason, we recommend scheduling core aeration and overseeding in combination.

Proper seed selection is also important. Use a quality seed mix that is well-matched to your growth region as well as to your overseeding objective. One objective may be to thicken an existing lawn without substantially altering the grass type. Another is to augment the turf by introducing additional grass types to it, such as the introduction of cool season grass seed to a warm season lawn in order to enhance winter color.

Watering, feeding, and weed control practices during the weeks following core aeration and overseeding may also vary according to the specific needs of your lawn. Contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green to obtain more information, ask questions, or schedule this service.

Summer Lawn Care: Mowing and Watering Tips

summer mowing and watering tips

It’s summer, which means it’s hot, and in many cases, dry. Lawns are showing the effects of these stress factors. It is critical to the health of the lawn to water properly and to set the mower to cut the lawn at a higher setting.

Mowing Your Lawn Properly

One of the most common problems that Lawn Care Operators face involve lawns that are mowed too short. Many homeowners are under the impression that if they cut the lawn short, they don’t have to mow as often. To a certain extent that is true, but by mowing short, the lawn will not grow well since it is trying to recover from the loss of food that was being produced by the grass blades. This is NOT a healthy practice to follow as it will weaken the lawn.

Here are the four main reasons why a lawn needs to be cut at a longer length:

  1. The grass blade is the food producing part of the plant. When mowed short, less photosynthesis is taking place until the plant grows a new grass blade.
  2. The longer grass blade will shade the ground underneath, keeping it cooler and inhibiting water evaporation. The lawn will require less water when cut at a higher length.
  3. By shading the ground underneath, less sun will reach the soil and there will be less chance for weed seeds to heat up and germinate. Having longer grass will help reduce weed growth.
  4. It is a natural balance of nature that the roots will grow in depth to match the height of the lawn. This does not mean that the grass should be mowed at 6 inches, but it does mean that the roots will be better developed and grow deeper than a lawn where the grass is cut short.

Many commercial lawn maintenance companies mow too short, stating that is what their customers want. It is important to discuss the mowing height requirements with the company that mows the lawn and find one that will mow at the proper height. These are the recommended summer mowing heights for common lawn grasses in the US:

• Bermuda Grass 1-1/2”
• Zoysia Grass 1-1/2”
• Centipede Grass 2”
• St Augustine Grass 3-1/2 ”
• Tall Fescue Grass 4”
• Bluegrass 3”
• Perennial Ryegrass 3”
• Fine Fescue 3-1⁄2”

Watering Your Lawn

Watering is the second most misunderstood lawn care practice. Unless the lawn has an automatic sprinkler system, watering can be a laborious task. Moving around hoses and sprinklers can be tedious and remembering to turn on and off the water can be difficult, especially when not at home during the day. The best time to water a lawn is during the early morning and try to avoid watering at night. The prime conditions for diseases to develop in a lawn is when it is cooler, there is a good deal of available moisture on the grass blades and the sun has set for the day.

Either water a lawn on a consistent basis or allow it to go dormant. Except in extreme drought conditions, most grasses can survive for about 30 days without water. Watering enough to stimulate new growth and then allowing the lawn to go back into dormancy, time and time again will use up the plant’s carbohydrate reserves – increasing its susceptibility to disease and insect infestations. If you are going to water, be consistent and provide one inch of water per week, regardless if you are doing it manually or have a sprinkler system.

If you do have a sprinkler system, be sure you have your system checked by a professional company. Many Spring-Green locations offer lawn irrigation system maintenance check-ups during the summer. This is a great idea to ensure that all sections of the lawn are receiving adequate water and there are no leaks or damaged heads. It is also a great time to update your system with rain gauges and moisture sensors to provide water when it is needed and not every day.

Feel free to contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green if you’re interested in learning more about our Irrigation System Maintenance program.

21st Anniversary of Renewal and Remembrance

Spring-Green Renewal and Remembrance

The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) held their annual Renewal and Remembrance service project at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA on Monday, July 17, 2017. This event has been organized by the National Association of Landscape Professionals for 21 years.

Over 500 Green Industry Professionals from across the US joined together to beautify the final resting place of over 400,000 of America’s military veterans and their spouses. Everyone joined together to spread lime and phosphorus, core aerated large sections of the grounds, completed tree trimming and cabling, and worked on the irrigation system throughout the cemetery grounds. There is also a Children’s Program for the children of those working at the cemetery.

Spring-Green Renewal and Remembrance

The children helped to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, placed flowers on the graves of nurses that are buried in the Nurses Memorial and who participated in World War 1 and planted additional flowers. It was an inspiring site to see all these people in their yellow safety vests working together on a hot, sunny day in our National’s capitol.

This year, NALP arranged for the same work to be completed at the Soldier’s and Airmen’s Home Cemetery in Washington, D. C. The cemetery is located just north of the Armed Forces Retirement Home and is the oldest National Cemetery in the US. It is the final resting place 14,000 veterans, many who fought in the Civil War.

Tom Warfel, Spring-Green Business Consultant, recruited the help of three of our Franchise Owners along with family members or employees to help with the event. In total, 15 Spring-Green people worked at Arlington. Tom is a former Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq. Being a part of this program has a special meaning for Tom.

The Spring-Green Team, along with representatives from several other Green Industry companies, spread lime over 17 acres. It was a lot of work, but it pales in comparison. Personally, I have had the honor to participate in this program for at least 10 of the 21 years it has taken place. I never get tired of being there and it has been my honor to be a part of the program. I am already looking forward to next year’s event.

View more photos of this year’s Renewal and Remembrance on the Spring-Green Facebook Page.

Lawn Lime Treatment: Should You Add Lime To Your Lawn?

lawn lime treatment

Depending upon where you live, adding a lawn lime treatment to your lawn is as necessary as adding fertilizer or even mowing it on a regular basis. Unless the pH of the soil is determined by a soil test, the fertilizer you apply may provide little benefit to the lawn. If your soil is too acidic, meaning that the pH is below 6.5, the fertilizer is not properly utilized by the grass plant and the lawn will appear weak and have a dull green to yellow color.

The soil in some areas of the US is naturally acidic, so adding lime every year is a necessity. For other parts of the country, having a soil test will help determine if lime is needed to counteract acidic soil or sulfur is needed to correct soil that is too alkaline. The most common soil pH problem involves the soil being too acidic.

Here are the basic steps to follow when taking a soil sample:

  1. Using a clean, rust-free trowel, take samples from up to 10 areas of your lawn.
  2. Each sample should be about 6 to 8 inches deep.
  3. Remove the grass and any thatch at the top and save about 2 to 3 inches from the middle of the sample.
  4. Mix the samples together in a clear container and allow them to dry at room temperature.
  5. Send the sample to a soil testing lab, such as the county cooperative extension service in your community. Contact the service first for fees and where to mail the sample.

There is other valuable information that you can learn from a soil test beside the pH level, such as the amount of phosphorus and potassium that the soil contains. There may be a situation where the addition of supplemental nutrients is necessary. The other reason for determining the pH of the soil is that applying lime to a lawn that has a high pH can harm the lawn instead of helping it. If the soil test of the lawn shows it to be very acidic, yearly tests may be necessary.

When To Apply Lawn Lime Treatment

A lawn lime treatment can be applied at any time of the year, but spring and fall are probably the best times to apply it. The main reason to do so is that is when the most rain fall occurs. An added benefit for a fall application, is the normal freeze and thaw cycles help break down the lime and allow it to work faster.

If your lawn does not seem to respond to fertilizer applications and appears weak and has a dull color, contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green. They can advise on the best practices to help ensure a healthy, green lawn, including soil samples and lawn lime treatment applications.

Grub Control: It’s Time To Treat Grubs On Your Lawn

grub damage

One of the most common and potentially destructive insect in lawns of all types is white grub. It is also known as grub worms, annual white grubs or just plain old grubs. They damage turf by feeding on the roots of the plant as well as disturbing the soil with their constant search for edible roots. They eat whatever is in front of them, including soil and other organic matter.

The digging and feeding of grubs is bad enough, but there are several animals that will feed on grubs when the grubs are active. Grubs are generally active in the late summer through fall and then again for a brief time in the early spring.

Birds, skunks, raccoons, armadillos, foxes, wild pigs and moles may dig up a lawn while looking for a tasty grub meal. These varmints can do more damage to a lawn with their digging then the damage caused by the grubs themselves.

Grubs are members of the scarab beetle family. Some of these stout-bodied insects can be colorful in design.

Fun fact, the ancient Egyptians fashioned jewelry that depicted the shape of the scarab beetle. The scarab beetle that was common in ancient Egypt is the dung beetle. It had a habit of rolling balls of dung and deposited the balls in their burrows, on to which they would lay their eggs. When the eggs hatched, the larvae would feed on the ball of dung. After the ball was consumed, the young adults would emerge from the burrow, looking for more food or a mate. This emergence was seen as a type of creation and it was associated with one of their gods.

Grub Species

In North America, there are at least 10 species of white grubs, 6 of which are native to the area. The accidentally introduced species are the European chafer, oriental beetle, Asiatic garden beetle and the Japanese beetle.

The Japanese beetle has become a severe pest mainly east of the Mississippi River, although their range seems to increase in size every year. Most grubs have a one year life cycle, but there are ones that have a two or three-year life cycle. Their life cycle is known as metamorphosis.

Grub Life Cycle

1. Begin life as an egg, laid into the soil 1 to 4 inches deep in a dehydrated state
2. Eggs absorb water from the surrounding soil to remain viable
3. After 2 to 3 weeks, eggs hatch into tiny grubs, about the size of a bluegrass seed
4. Start feeding on fine root hairs and other organic matter
5. Continue feeding until October/November, then move deeper into soil as temperatures fall
6. Resurface in early spring, do a little bit of light feeding and then dig back into the soil to pupate
7. After a few more weeks, adult beetles emerge to lay eggs and the whole life cycle begins again

Treating Grubs

The time to apply grub control for this year is from late June through mid-August. Most of the grub control products available work best as a preventative, keeping the newly hatched grub from growing. If you plan to apply the product yourself, be sure to read and follow label rates and directions. Since the grubs live and feed in the soil, it is important that the product is thoroughly watered into the lawn to reach the grubs.

If you or your neighbors had grubs in the past, contact your local lawn care professional at Spring-Green. They will be happy to provide this valuable service to help prevent grub damage to your lawn.

How Do Lawn Diseases Develop and Ways to Prevent Them

lawn disease

If there is a disease that can develop where you live, the spores of that disease are probably in your lawn already as they will move from lawn to lawn mainly through wind movement. Some diseases are soil borne, meaning that they already exist in the soil. All diseases are waiting for the right environmental conditions to develop to infect the turf.

Development of Lawn Disease

It is important to understand how a disease develops. The term used to explain how a disease develops is called the Disease Triangle. It is basically the same concept as the Fire Triangle. There are three basic components that are required for a fire to develop – fuel, heat and oxygen. If one of the three is removed, the fire is extinguished. In the Disease Triangle, the three components are host plant, pathogen and environment.

In regards to lawns, the host plant is the turfgrass in your lawn. The pathogen, as was mentioned earlier, already exists in the lawn as a dormant spore. Think of a spore as a tiny seed, waiting for the right conditions to begin its development. These spores can be fungi, bacteria or viruses. The right conditions is the environment that favors its development.

There are diseases that develop in cool weather, warm weather and hot weather. A critical component is moisture. Too much water or high humidity generally favors more disease development. Along with weather, the environment includes the growing conditions for the turfgrass. Soil pH and fertility can lead to an unhealthy plant, which can be more easily colonized by a disease. Lawns that are mowed too short will result in a weaker plant and more susceptible to disease development. Too much or too little fertilizer can also lead to disease development.

Preventing Lawn Disease

The amount of thatch that has developed in a lawn can also lead to disease development as thatch can act like an incubation chamber for many diseases. The best way to inhibit the development of a disease in your lawn is to follow proper cultural practices of mowing high, based on your turf species, watering deeply, but infrequently, core aerate the lawn once a year and follow a proper nutritional program to ensure the health of your lawn. Of these practices, the most important one is mowing.

Here are the recommended mowing heights for the most common turfgrasses:

• Bermuda Grass 1/2 to 1-1/2”
• Zoysia Grass 3/4 to 1-1/2”
• Centipede Grass 1-1/2 to 2”
• St Augustine Grass 3-1/2 to 4”
• Tall Fescue Grass 3 to 4”
• Bluegrass 2 to 3”
• Perennial Ryegrass 2 to 3”
• Fine Fescue 2-1⁄2 to 3-1⁄2”

Proper watering is also very important. Many people with an automatic sprinkler system water too much. Reduce the number of days you water and invest in a rain sensor so the system doesn’t run while it’s raining or if rain fall has been plentiful. Training a lawn to be more water efficient starts with reducing the frequency of watering, but increasing the length of time each zone is watered based on sprinkler head type and size of the area being watered.

sprinkler system
 

There are disease control materials available to treat most diseases, but the control is usually temporary and the disease often comes back. That is why Spring-Green recommends improving the growing conditions as the best approach to preventing diseases from developing in your lawn. There are some situations where, due to intense environmental stresses, a disease control program may be the best choice. Contact your neighborhood lawn care professional to determine the best approach to reduce disease development in your lawn.

Ways to Prevent Flea and Tick Problems For Your Pets

fleas ticks

If you have ever had to endure an attack of fleas or ticks on your pet, you will understand the frustration of trying multiple approaches to eliminate this nuisance from your home and yard. Having had to endure an outbreak of fleas on my dog last fall, I have come to understand the futility that comes with trying to control these nasty little insects.

It required three trips to the vet, numerous baths, extensive cleaning and vacuuming, an outdoor insect control application and “bombing” our house twice before the problem ended. It took over two months to clear up the problem.

“How did our dog get fleas?” was the question my wife asked me. It is a very good question, as we have lived in our home almost 30 years and had two other dogs during that time.

Neither of them have ever had a problem with fleas, so why did we have them last fall? Fleas are a part of nature; for better or worse. I suppose they do fill a need as food for some other insects, but they are part of the natural world.

The same is true with ticks, although ticks are considered the vector or source for many diseases including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever and Spotted fever. Fleas are associated with the spread of Murine Typhus in humans and three afflictions that infect dogs and cats like tapeworms and Cat Scratch disease.

What are some ways you can limit the chances that your pet will end up contracting one of these maladies from fleas and/or ticks?

Here are some things to consider with fleas and ticks on pets:

Is your dog or cat an “outside” or “inside” pet?

The more time your pet spends outside, the greater the chance that they may come in contact with fleas, especially if other wildlife frequent your yard. Squirrels, feral cats, raccoons, skunks and even other dogs can be the source of fleas. A flea can jump up to 7 inches vertically and up to 13 inches horizontally, making it a champion jumper among all known animals, relative to body size. In other words, the flea has the ability to jump from the lawn and land on to your pet. It all starts with just one flea to start the egg-laying process.

Does your dog go to a dog park or dog care center?

Again, if your dog spends a good deal of time with other dogs, there is a better chance that he/she may get fleas from a furry friend. Dog parks usually feature wide open spaces with taller grass and small shrubs, which are both good locations for ticks.

Are your lawn and gardens properly maintained?

Fleas and ticks prefer cool, shaded areas that are infrequently cared for through pruning and mowing. By staying current on mowing and pruning, you may be able to limit the ideal environment for fleas and ticks.

How often is your pet bathed?

If you are using a topical ointment to prevent fleas and ticks, make sure it is waterproof. The instructions that came with the product will let you know how long you should wait before bathing your dog after applying the medication.

Do you live in a wooded area or next to an area with tall grass?

These are both great locations for fleas and ticks. If possible, keep underbrush from encroaching on your property through trimming. Mow a strip or two of grass as a filter strip between your lawn and the tall grasses.

The other thing to do is to apply an insect control to your grass and shrubs to control any fleas or ticks that may be present. This should be applied about every three to four weeks, especially if you have had past experiences with fleas and ticks. Be sure to read and follow all label directions before using any insect control product.

Contact your local Spring-Green Lawn Care Professional to schedule your flea and tick control applications this summer. I know that I will be having my lawn treated real soon.