Can I Overseed My Lawn in Late Spring?

For many homeowners, achieving a thick, lush lawn in a battle they fight each and every year. From winter damage to summer droughts, there are many things that can get in the way of achieving your dream lawn. If your lawn is looking weak, or is thin in some areas, there is a solution beyond just fertilizing: overseeding. Many people don’t realize that overseeding is a great solution to keeping your lawn healthy, even after your grass has established itself. Read on to learn about how overseeding helps your lawn, the best time of the year you can do it, and how you can tackle this task yourself.

Why Should I Overseed My Lawn?

Overseeding simply refers to applying new grass seeds over your existing lawn. Unlike reseeding, it doesn’t require removing any of your existing growth. Instead, overseeding works to fill in bare spots, improve the thickness of the lawn, and enhance its color. In addition, overseeding newer varieties of grass into an older lawn can improve its ability to withstand insects, disease, drought, and heavy traffic.

When Should I Overseed My Lawn?

There are two ideal times of the year to overseed your lawn – fall and spring.

  • Fall is the best time of year to overseed. This is because your soil is still warm, which means that the grass seeds will germinate faster. And because there are fewer weeds growing this time of the year, your grass will have fewer competitors vying for their water, sunlight, and nutrients.
  • Overseeding in spring is still a good option. The key is to wait until the soil warms up enough that the seeds can germinate before they’re eaten by your local wildlife. You’ll also want to be sure you overseed before the hot summer months, which can kill seeds and new sprouts if there isn’t enough rain to keep them moist.

How to Overseed a Lawn

In order to give your need grass seeds the best start, you should follow these steps:

  • Choose a Grass Seed

Which type of grass seed you choose depends on your existing grass type. There are many options to choose from, including warm and cool season grasses, as well as ones that are aimed at helping to thicken thin lawns. If you aren’t sure of the best grass for your area, your neighborhood garden or home improvement center can help you choose the right seed.

  • Mow Low

Before overseeding your lawn, cut your grass shorter than normal and be sure to bag the clippings. Next, you should rake the lawn to help loosen the top layer of soil and remove any dead grass and debris. This helps to give the grass seed easy access to the soil so it can root quickly after germinating.

  • Improve the Soil

Before spreading you seend, it’s a good idea to rake in a thin layer of compost over your lawn to help the seed settle in, especially in areas where grass is thin or completely gone. Aim for about a quarter of an inch of compost so that you don’t kill your existing grass.

  • Spread the Seed

Spreading the seed is the easiest part of the overseeding process. Simply fill up your spreader, adjust the setting according to the label directions, and apply. You can choose either a hand-held spreader, or a push-type model which is very handy for large yards.

  • Feed and Water

To give your new grass seedlings the nutrients they need to grow strong, apply a quality fertilizer after spreading your seed. Then, be sure to keep the soil consistently moist by lightly watering once or twice a day until the seedlings are the same height as the rest of your lawn.

We hope that this information has helped you to learn about overseeding your lawn. If this isn’t a job you’d like to tackle yourself, Liberty Lawn is here to help. We offer all kinds of yard services, including overseeding and fertilization, to keep your lawn lush and green all season long. Give us a call today to schedule a free consultation!

The Best Time to Fertilize Your Lawn

One of the easiest ways for you to ensure your lawn grows thick and green this year is to fertilize and reseed. A well-fed lawn is healthier, and has a stronger root system that can withstand heat, drought, cold snaps, foot traffic, mowing, and other stressful events. While feeding your lawn once a year is adequate, having a schedule in place to fertilize your lawn four times per year is the best option to keep it healthy through the growing season, and ensure it comes back just as strong each spring.

When to Fertilize Your Lawn

When it comes to using fertilizer on your lawn, timing is everything. Making sure your lawn gets fertilized at the right time not only helps to boost its growing potential, it also ensures you don’t apply it when it isn’t going to be as effective.

  • Early Spring

When your lawn begins to wake up in the spring, its store of nutrients is typically completely gone. Fertilizing in early spring helps to immediately feed your grass’ roots, and gets the spring growing season off to a great start. Apply early spring lawn fertilizer once between February and April, as soon as your grass greens up and begins growing. This is usually best done around the same time that your lawn needs its first mow of the season.

  • Late Spring

By late spring, your lawn has likely used up all of its stored energy from its last feed and is in need of another boost. Apply late spring fertilizer once between April and June, about six to eight weeks after you fed it in early spring. This will keep your lawn well-fed into the hot summer months.

  • Summer

The summer months bring heat, drought, foot traffic from kids and parties, as well as a host of insects. All of this can be tough on grass, and if it isn’t fertilized it can turn brown and patchy. Apply summer fertilizer once between June and August, about six to eight weeks after you fed it in late spring, to keep your lawn going strong through the heat.

  • Fall

It may seem odd to fertilize your lawn right before it goes into hibernation, but it is in fact a very important time to fertilize. Your lawn needs nutrients to recover from many summer damage, as well as to get ready for hibernation. Fall fertilization helps to strengthen roots to keep your lawn from getting damaged through the winter. Apply fall fertilizer once between August and November, right before you expect your first freeze, which should be about six to eight months after you fed it in summer.

We hope that this information has helped to to learn about when you should be fertilizing your lawn. If this isn’t a job you’d like to tackle yourself, or if you’re worried you’ll forget about it, Liberty Lawn is here to help. We offer all kinds of yard services, including fertilization, to keep your lawn lush and green all season long. Give us a call today to schedule a free consultation!

Dethatching your Lawn to Maximize Growth

Most people know that having a healthy lawn requires good soil, the right amount of water, and plenty of sunlight. But did you also know that dethatching can be an equally important part of your yearly lawn care routine? Not all lawns will require dethatching, but it is important to be able to tell when it does need it, and how to do it properly.

What is Thatch?

Everytime you mow your lawn, small bits and pieces of grass get left behind to die and settle on top of your soil. This is thatch. A small amount is actually good for your soil, as it breaks down and adds nutrients that the grass will feed off of, and also helps to hold in moisture. Anything less than half an inch is considered safe and beneficial for your lawn. Too much thatch, however, can lead to problems as it prevents water and air from reaching the down into the soil. If your grass isn’t growing as well as it should despite proper care, there is a very good chance that thatch is to blame. An easy way to tell if you have too much thatch is to touch it; if the thatch is too thick, your lawn will feel spongy and it will be difficult to get your finger all the way down to the soil.

How to Dethatch

Before you work on dethatching your lawn, you should first trim it to half its normal height. Make sure to mark and shallow sprinkler heads or water lines if using powered dethatching equipment. There are a number of different ways that you can go about dethatching your lawn. These include:

  • Manual dethatching with special rakes.

These heavy, short-tined rakes have curved blades that are designed to dig into your lawn and pull up thatch as you rake. Dethatching rakes are good for light thatch and general thatch maintenance on small lawn areas.

  • Power rakes.

These mower-like devices have rotating, rake-like tines that dig into thatch at the soil level and pull it up. Power rakes work well for lawns with thinner thatch layers and grass that can withstand intense raking.

  • Vertical mowers.

Also called verticutters, these mowers have vertical blades that slice down through the thatch layer and into soil, pulling thatch—and often grass roots—to the surface as they go. Their blades adjust to control how much thatch you remove at once. Verticutters are best for thick thatch layers on lawns that have been neglected for an extended period of time.

You can purchase a manual dethatching rake at most home and garden stores. For power rakes and vertical mowers, you will need to find a local equipment rental store. These stores often keep power rakes and vertical mowers on hand, especially during the dethatching season. Whatever option you choose, when you are finished make sure to clean up all of the debris and water your lawn thoroughly and consider fertilizing to help any damaged areas recover.

The Best Time to Dethatch

The best time to dethatch your lawn depends on the type of grass you have, as it should be done when the grass is actively growing and the soil is moderately moist. For cool season grasses, this means early spring or early fall. For warm-season grasses, late spring through early summer.

If you aren’t ready to tackle this job yourself, or if your thatch is extremely thick, consider calling in a professional instead. We offer dethatching services to suit any yard size, and always clean up all debris. Give us a call today to schedule a free consultation!

Spring Yard Cleanup Checklist

Now that temperatures are finally rising and spring is in the air, it’s time to consider completing some spring cleaning tasks for your yard. Yards that are left unkempt not only look unsightly, but they also aren’t able to maximize their growing potential throughout the season. We’ve come up with a spring yard cleanup checklist to help you get your yard nice and tidy in time for spring and summer outdoor activities.

  • Check for lawn damage and prep for reseeding.

While your grass can withstand cold winter temperatures while hibernating, sometimes you’ll end up with damage from traffic, road salt, or disease. Prepare to reseed damaged areas by removing dead areas with a heavy square metal rake. Then, apply a ¼ layer of compost to help give seeds a jump-start when it is time for planting.

  • Prune dead and damaged branches on shrubs and trees.

Any branches that have been damaged by winter weather should be trimmed back to keep your shrubs and trees happy and healthy throughout the growing season. If you have hedges, use hand shears to shape them as electric shears can cause damage that prevent the hedge from being able to grow a nice thick outer layer. Prune summer-flowering shrubs, such as Rose of Sharon, before buds swell, but wait to prune spring bloomers, like forsythia, until after they flower.

  • Cut back and divide your perennial plants.

To start, prune flowering perennials to a height of 4 to 5 inches and ornamental grasses to 2 to 3 inches. This helps to encourage vigorous new growth. As soon as the ground has thawed, it is safe to dig up perennials to thin your beds or transplant them to other areas of your yard. Make sure to leave at least three stems per clump. Cut back any rose canes that have been damaged to about 1 inch below any blackened areas.

  • Clean up fallen leaves and debris.

All leaves, dead foliage, or remaining dead annuals should be cleaned up and removed from your yard. Now is also a good time to remove any mulch that you plan to replace, which also allows you to see heaved plants that need to be tamped back into the ground.

  • Start your compost pile.

If you choose to compost your yard waste, now is the time to start your new compost pile with the debris and old mulch that you’ve collected from around your yard. Shred leaves and chip branches over ½ inch in diameter if you can, or add a bagged compost starter to give the pile a boost. Make sure to keep it evenly damp, and aerate it with a pitchfork every two weeks.

  • Tidy up paths and patios.

If any decorative gravel has moved out of its boundaries during the winter, now is the time to rake it back to where it belongs. Order more gravel to fill any areas that are thin or bare. Remove any pavers that have been heaved by winter freezes, tamp down and add base material as needed to get it back to level. If you have flagstones, refill joints with new sand or stone dust as needed.

  • Replace or repaint wood fences and trellises.

Start by checking that all posts are still securely in the ground, then remove any badly damaged pickets, boards, or lattices. Next, scrape off any loose old paint and sand smooth for the best results. Install new wood and perform any required patching with wood epoxy. Once temperatures are above 50 degrees, you can apply your new paint.

We hope this checklist has helped inspire you to get your yard back in shape this spring. If you simply don’t have the time or the patience to do your spring yard cleanup, we offer many different services to meet your needs. Give us a call to set up a free estimate today!

The Benefits of Bed Edging

It’s no secret that a well-designed yard is not only visually appealing, but is also easier to maintain throughout the year. One of the easiest and most affordable ways to help add appeal to your yard is also perhaps one of the most frequently overlooked: bed edging.

Bed edging is a permanent divider between your garden beds and your lawn, walking paths, or driveway. There are many different material options available, the most popular being low-profile aluminum or plastic strips, natural stone, or cast concrete pavers. All of these different options means that you can choose the material that best compliments your home or yard.

The benefits of bed edging include:

  • Clean and Well Defined Borders

Edging helps to provide a clear and well-defined border between the different areas of your yard. And because there are many decorative options available, it can actually contribute to the overall curb appeal of your home.

  • Weed Growth Prevention

Edging helps to create a defined break between areas of your yard, because it adds a trench between your bed and your lawn. This means that weeds are much less likely to spread from the lawn to the natural area, or from the natural area to the lawn.

  • Easier Edge Maintenance

By leaving a slight lip (approximately 1 inch) on the lawn side, trimming your grass is quick and simple because it allows room for your mower to reach all of the grass.

  • Less Unwanted Growth

Bed edging not only helps prevent the spread of weeds, it also helps to prevent other plants from growing where they aren’t wanted. This includes both grass and decorative plants, which can overgrow into unwanted areas during the summer.

  • Mulch Stays in Place Even after Heavy Rains

Your mulch does the job it was intended to do, hold moisture and block weeds, much better because it stays in place. Even after inches and inches of rain, the trench at the edge provides a natural drain and helps contain the mulch. This not only saves you from having to clean up or rearrange your mulch every time it rains, but it also saves you money on replacement mulch.

If you are considering adding bed edging to your lawn and aren’t sure of where to start, we are happy to help you. From design to material choices to installation, we can help you with all aspects of the process. Give us a call today to set up an appointment for your initial consultation!

Rocks vs. Mulch – Which is Better in Flower Beds & Around Trees?

Whether you are considering adding mulch to your flower beds or around your trees, there are many different points to consider. Which looks better? Which benefits my plants more? Which is lower maintenance? Let us help you answer some of these questions by listing the pros and cons of the two most popular mulch options: organic mulch and river rocks.

Organic Mulch

Pros

  • Better Growth: Mulch can nearly double how fast trees and plants grow, according to studies.
  • Less Water: Mulch reduces water evaporation, so you spend less time and money watering!
  • More Nutrients: As mulch breaks down, it adds nutrients that plants need to thrive.
  • Fewer Weeds: Mulch stops weed seeds from sprouting, so you may see 50 percent fewer weeds.
  • Just the Right Temperature: Mulch keeps plants warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
  • Reduce Compaction and Erosion: Mulch reduces soil erosion by up to 85 percent. Plus, people are less likely to walk on mulch, so there’s less soil compaction.

Cons

  • Annual Replacement: Depending on your mulch type, you’ll have to replace it every one to four years. So, it’s a recurring cost and time expense.
  • Too much of a Good Thing: Adding a layer of mulch more than 2-3 inches of mulch stresses out plants.
  • Too Early = Late Blooms: Mulching too early may slow how quickly the ground warms, which means you could see blooms a bit later than normal.
  • Too Late = Weeds: Mulch stops weeds from germinating. If you mulch too late, it may not stop them as much.
  • Check for Seeds: Some organic mulches, like pine bark and hay, may have weed seeds in it.

River Rocks

Pros

  • Low Maintenance: You almost never need to replace them.
  • Lower Cost: Because they’re longer lasting, it is generally less expensive to mulch with rocks.
  • Fire-Proof: If you live in an area with wildfires, rocks could be better since they’re nonflammable.
  • Weeds Be Gone: Rocks can keep weeds away longer.
  • Wind-Resistant: Heavy rocks are great at preventing soil erosion in windy areas.
  • Perfect for Rock and Cacti Gardens: Rocks are just right for these garden spaces!

Cons

  • Too Hot: Rocks, especially lighter ones, raise the soil temperature, leading to stressed, thirsty plants.
  • No Benefit to Plants: Rocks don’t aid plant growth or soil health.
  • Messy pH: Most trees prefer acidic soil, but rocks create alkaline soil, which can hurt trees.
  • Return of the Weeds: Wind will eventually blow soil between rocks, creating a spot for weeds to grow.
  • No Good for Pruning: Rocks can prohibit rejuvenation pruning, creating unwieldy shrubs.
  • Remove by Hand: If you want to remove stones, you must do it manually, which can be tedious!

Our Verdict

Organic mulch is much better overall for the health of your flower beds and trees. Stone, however, is better than no mulch at all if you absolutely must have rock. Still unsure of what you’d like in your landscaping? Give us a call or send an email to get our expert opinion.

LibertyLawn@gmail.com / 402.423.0061

3810 Cornhusker Hwy, Lincoln, NE 68504 / PO Box 29442. Lincoln, NE 68529

Should You Treat or Remove Your Ash Tree with EAB?

The Midwest currently faces a very real threat to a large portion of its public and private trees. An invasive and exotic pest known as Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has already infested many ash trees, and will eventually infest all ash trees if it is left untreated. Initially discovered in the U.S. in 2002 near Detroit, Michigan, EAB is a very serious pest that has a track record of killing all untreated ash trees in infested cities.

EAB is now considered the most destructive forest pest ever seen in North America. It has been killing ash trees in cities for over a decade, and it is now widely accepted this pest will kill all untreated ash trees, likely costing cities, states, and homeowners billions of dollars in the process.

When to Remove Your Ash Trees

The decision whether or not to remove an infected ash tree is up to you. While there are a number of effective treatment options, they typically last only 1-2 years and need to be repeated for the life of the tree. Please remember that treatments are not effective if more than 30% of the tree canopy is already dead.

Removing a beloved tree is a tough choice to face. We want to help you make an informed decision that is best for you and the health of your trees. Our certified arborists will guide you through a process that considers your budget, the value of the tree to your property, and respects the sentimental nature of your trees.

When to Treat Your Ash Trees

When it comes to EAB, there is one big question for cities and homeowners alike: “Should I treat my trees to protect them, or should I remove them so dead trees don’t threaten other people or property?” For homeowners, there is a short list of steps to consider:

  • Check your property to see if you have ash trees. Check your trees now before you begin to see dieback.
  • Make some tough decisions about whether to remove the tree and replant, or treat the tree and protect it. A certified arborist can be a big help in quickly assessing the health of the ash and help you make a decision. Doing nothing will only delay the problem and will likely result in the tree’s death and possible injury or damage to nearby property.
  • Realize that most treatments require re-application at least every two years for the life of the ash tree. Ask yourself if you’re willing to keep up treatments if you decide to keep the tree. If not, it is recommended that the tree be removed.

Please contact our licensed and certified arborists at Liberty Lawn & Landscape, Inc. for your free Emerald Ash Borer Evaluation. We can help you assess your ash trees so that you can make the decision whether to treat or remove your ash trees. In making either decision, you can help be a part of the nationwide effort to keep EAB from removing ash trees from our communities.

LibertyLawn@gmail.com / 402.423.0061

3810 Cornhusker Hwy, Lincoln, NE 68504 / PO Box 29442. Lincoln, NE 68529

 

COVID-19 Precautions

With the increasing concerns in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, we here at Liberty Lawn & Landscape are trying to be proactive while still providing you the quality services that you expect from us. We understand our responsibilities to our employees, the citizens of our community, and to you, our customers, and we take these responsibilities very seriously.

We are going to continue to perform services as close to normal as possible, while adopting a few government requested changes to our normal procedures. These changes will be as follows:

  • Our meetings, estimate requests, service requests, and all other questions or concerns in general from customers will happen electronically by means of email, phone, texts, skype, etc.
  • We will be limiting contact between our clientele and maintenance personnel while they are on your property.
  • We will endeavor, when weather permits and times are available, to work on days and hours that will lessen our physical contact with your employees and residents.

We hope that these changes limiting our contact with our clients will allow us here at Liberty Lawn to lessen the possible exposure to COVID-19 for both ourselves and your families. In turn, we ask our customers to:

  • Please have your employees and/or residents minimize contact with our employees as much as possible while they service your business or residence.
  • Any questions or concerns regarding your services we ask that you contact the office either by email, text or phone. 402.423.006, or libertylawn@gmail.com

Thank you for your patience while we endeavor to provide the best service possible in these trying times. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to relay them directly to our office. We look forward to continuing the best possible service to you, and hope that all of our clients remain healthy and safe during these testing times.

Pruning Tips for Spring

Pruning Tips for Spring

Spring is just around the corner, which means that now is a good time to start thinking about pruning your trees and shrubs. Well-maintained trees and shrubs don’t just look better, they’re also healthier. Pruning helps plants maintain their shape, encourages new growth, and helps prevent pests and diseases. We’ve got some tips in order to help you to time your pruning based on what’s right for each of your trees and shrubs.

Trees

Recent research has shown that the optimum time to prune living branches on trees is late spring and early summer. Pruning at this time helps trees to quickly seal off wounds, because tree cells are most active during the growing season. Pruning outside of this timeframe can still be accomplished with little risk to plants, and should always be done as quickly as possible to repair tree damage that occurs during a wind or ice storm. The only exception to these tips is for oak trees, which are best pruned in December, January or February, as this helps to avoid potential infection with oak wilt.

Shrubs

The correct time to prune your shrubs depends on their variety. Summer-flowering shrubs, such as spirea, potentilla, and smoke bush, should be pruned during dormancy, typically late February to March. Spring-flowering shrubs, such as forsythia, weigela, mock orange, lilacs, and viburnums, should be pruned when they are finished blooming.

Fruit Trees

Fruit tree pruning is often neglected either due to a lack of pruning skills and knowledge, or a fear that the tree will be damaged or killed by incorrect pruning. But productive fruit trees that have an abundance of high quality fruit do not just happen by chance. They are the result of good cultural practices, including proper pruning.

Most fruit tree pruning is best done during the dormant season when no leaves are on the tree. For most fruit trees, late February through March is the best time to prune. Tree species that are susceptible to winter injury, such as peach and apricot, are best pruned in late spring before growth begins. Regardless of the cultivar, do not prune any tree before January or winter injury can occur.

Fruit trees may also be safely pruned outside of their dormant period. Trees may be prune at planting, during July and early August to restrict growth, to remove water sprouts, or to remove diseased or damaged wood. Once the basic structure of your fruit tree is developed, you should avoid pruning until fruiting occurs.

We hope these tips have helped to clear up any confusion you may have had about tree and shrub pruning. If you’re ever in doubt about pruning, or would like to have a professional tackle the task for you, give us a call to set up an appointment today!

Late Winter Means it’s Time for Disease and Insect Inspections

Making sure to inspect your trees and shrubs routinely for disease and insect problems is a pivotal part of maintaining their health. While you may think that you can only check for these issues during the warmer parts of the year, late winter is the ideal time to inspect for reoccurring or new issues on your dormant plants. There are a number of different concerns facing southeast Nebraska homeowners. Read on to learn about what you need to look for.

Oystershell scale

Now is a good time to check plants for evidence of Oystershell scale insects overwintering from last season. Oystershell scale can be found on many different shrubs and trees, the most common hosts for our area being lilac, cotoneaster, and dogwood, and injure plants by sucking out their sap. Scale insects can be easy to overlook because they do not look like a typical insect, and can build up to large infestations that dry out branches before they are even noticed. As adults, they become immobile by attaching themselves to twigs and growing a protective covering over themselves. To the untrained eye, oystershell scale appears to be a part of a branch.

There are two main types of oystershell scale. One type has one generation per year, and the second type has two. Identifying which your tree is afflicted with is relatively simple. If the scale on your plant is gray or banded, it will have one generation and the eggs will hatch in late May. If the scale is brown, it will have two generations, with the first hatch in late May and a second in late July or August.

In order to manage oystershell scale, timing of treatment is very important. During winter, homeowners can scrape off the scales to prevent eggs from hatching by lightly rubbing affected branches with a plastic dish scrubbing pad. It is also important to prune out and destroy heavily infested branches during this time. Once spring hits, you can spray the tree with horticultural oil to suffocate eggs and reduce hatching before the buds on the tree expand. Be sure to check the label on your oil before spraying, as some plants are sensitive to oil sprays and should not be treated.

For a few weeks after hatching, oystershell scale insects will remain in their crawler stage. During this period you can apply a labeled insecticide sprays. Insecticides labeled for control include horticultural oil, insecticidal soap, aseptate, bifenthrin or malathion. Some sprays require reapplication in 7 to 10 days, so be sure to check your label. If you expect a second generation to hatch, you can repeat the application again in August.

Magnolia scale

If your magnolia tree had scale issues last year, it’s likely that it will require further treatment this year as well. Now is a good time to inspect for signs of continuing infestation. This type of scale insect is a little different than oystershell scale, as it does not form the same hard outer shell when attaching to the tree. Instead, magnolia scale insects secrete a softer waxy substance as protection. And because they are much larger, they are also easier to identify. Right now is a great time to apply a dormant oil to affected trees, as this will help to eliminate overwintering nymphs.

From late August through the end of September crawlers will emerge, which is when you should apply a insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Adults are largely unaffected by any treatment. For small infestations, pruning out affected branches can help remove adults before they can reproduce. Another option is to have us come and apply a soil drench insecticide which, when applied early, can help to kill crawlers.

Winter Desiccation

This winter’s cold and dry conditions could have caused some desiccation injury on your evergreens. Damage occurs when evergreens lose more moisture from their needles than what can be replaced by roots from frozen or dry soil. Plant tissue dries out, resulting in brown foliage and dieback, and is usually most severe on the side of the tree that faces the wind or a source of radiated heat.

To help prevent any further damage until spring arrives, place burlap wind screens between plants and prevailing winds or radiated heat sources, You can also apply antidessicants when temperatures are above 40º F, and water evergreens if soils are not frozen and air temperatures are above 45º F.

When spring does arrive, take care when going to prune damaged evergreen tissue, as they should never be pruned past where they have green leaf tissue. While needles may be brown, the buds on the branches may still be viable and eventually open. If the damage is not too severe and twigs are not killed, the area may eventually fill in on its own with proper watering and fertilization.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

A fairly new invasive pest to southeast Nebraska, the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB). A little over ½ inch in length, these bugs are shield shaped with marbled or spotted brown backs. What differentiates them from our native stink bugs is their lime green underside.

The main issue with BMSB is their frequent invasion of homes in the fall, when they are looking for places to overwinter. While they do not breed or cause structure damage, they are annoying and can cause off-putting odors in your home. If found inside, simply vacuum them up and dispose of them. Be careful to avoid putting them outside near your garden, fruit trees, or small fruit crops like grapes and raspberries. BMSB have needle-like mouths that siphon the fluids from plants, causing damage to fruits and leaves.

Spotted Lanternfly

A new invasive species to be on the lookout for is the spotted lanternfly. While it has yet to be found in Nebraska, chances are it is only a matter of time before they are here. These insects damage host plants by feeding on sap from stems, leaves, and the trunks of trees, and pose a serious risk to grape, orchard, and logging industries. Affected trees may be found with sap weeping from the wounds caused by the insect’s feeding. The sugary excrement the spotted lanternfly leaves behind may coat the host plant, later encouraging the growth of sooty mold.  Host plants have been described as giving off a fermented odor when this insect is present. It is important to familiarize yourself with what to watch for, and report possible sightings to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, or your local Extension office.

The spotted lanternfly is not a true fly or a moth, but instead a member of the bug family. Adults are 1 inch long and ½ inch wide. The forewing is gray with black spots of varying sizes and the wing tips have black spots outlined in gray. Hind wings have contrasting patches of red and black with a white band. The legs and head are black, and the abdomen is yellow with black bands. Adults, when startled, expose the bright red coloration on their hind wings. When adults are at rest, their gray, spotted color helps them blend in with their surroundings. Early instars (immature stages) are black with white spots. By the last immature stage, the 4th instar, they develop red patches in addition to the black color with white spots. This is the last immature stage before they mature into an adult.

Freshly laid spotted lanternfly egg masses appear as if coated with a white substance. As they age, the egg masses look as if they are coated with gray mud, which eventually takes on a dry/cracked appearance. Very old egg masses may look like rows of 30-50 brown seed-like structures aligned vertically in columns. Common locations for these eggs are Tree of Heavens, bricks, stone, lawn furniture, recreational vehicles, and other smooth surfaces. Egg masses laid on outdoor residential items such as those listed above may pose the greatest threat for spreading this insect via human aided movement.

Bagworm

Now if the time to inspect plants that were affected by bagworms last year. Bags can be removed until the next hatch, which happens around the middle of May. Once bags are removed, destroy the eggs by crushing them or immersing them in soapy water. As many as 500 to 1000 eggs can be contained in one bag, so removing and destroying them can help to significantly reduce this year’s bagworm population.

If you’re ever unsure about whether or not any of your plants are being affected by these issues, we are happy to come out and inspect your plants for. Simply call our office to set up an appointment that works for you.