Why Winter Can’t Save Trees From Emerald Ash Borers

Because we live in an area that has cold winters, we can often rely on these chilly temperatures to help us get rid of some annoying plant and lawn pests without treatment. But when it comes to the invasive emerald ash borer, this approach unfortunately does not work. While the cold may kill a few of the emerald ash borers in your ash trees, it will not kill all of them.

Emerald ash borers are a very sturdy tree pest. They burrow deep inside of trees before winter hits in order to hibernate. The insulation from the tree, plus their hibernation cycle, help them to survive throughout the winter. Exceptionally cold temperatures may kill weaker borers, or ones that are inhabiting smaller, younger trees. But the healthier the borer, the more likely they are to survive. This means that, after a particularly harsh winter, you may be left with only the toughest emerald ash borers. This can make it even more difficult to eradicate them during the spring, and that, if they are allowed to breed, they will produce even heartier offspring.

With this in mind, the best approach to preventing and treating these destructive pests is in watching your trees for signs of an emerald ash borer infestation. The signs are often the most noticeable during the fall and winter, when leaves have fallen which allows you to better see the state of the bark and branch attachments. Bark splitting, S-shapes under the bark of your trees, and increased woodpecker activity may all be signs of impending trouble.

If your trees become infested with emerald ash borers, it can take just two to four years for the tree to die if left untreated. In addiction, the borers can spread to neighboring ash
trees, quickly decimating an entire neighborhood.

If you’re concerned that your trees are showing signs of an emerald ash borer infestation, have them inspected immediately by our professional arborists. Schedule your appointment as soon as possible so that we can ensure your ash trees can be saved before the emerald ash borer infestation gets too far advanced.

Fall Deep Root Fertilization for Trees and Shrubs

Just as your lawn needs regular fertilization throughout the year to be healthy and strong, so do you trees and shrubs. Think of fertilizer like food for your plants, helping give them all of the nutrients they need to thrive. But the fertilizer you use on your lawn is not going to have the right nitrogen to phosphorus to potassium ratios. Instead, trees and shrubs need special fertilizers in order to get exactly the right nutrients. They also need to be fed in a different way.

Deep Root Feeding Trees and Shrubs

Feeding a lawn is an easy process; you simply apply fertilizers evenly across the lawn’s surface. The fertilizer only needs to reach the soil, where it is absorbed by the grass’ shallow root system. Unlike grass, trees and shrubs tend to have larger, deeper root systems. Fertilizer cannot always get through the soil to reach deeper roots. In addition, just applying shrub and tree fertilizer to the surface can affect surrounding grass by either damaging it or causing excessive growth. That is why deep root fertilizing is a better option for trees and shrubs.

Deep root feeding is a process best done by a certified arborist. We use specialized equipment to inject fertilizers into the root zone of your trees and shrubs. The most effective way to do this is to make a grid pattern starting at least a foot away from the base of the tree, ending at the drip line or canopy. Smaller trees and shrubs just need to be injected around their perimeter. By injecting the fertilizer evenly throughout the root system, nutrients are placed right where trees and shrubs can best absorb them.

Should all Trees and Shrubs Be Fertilized?

Deep root fertilization is most beneficial to either ornamental or young trees and shrubs. Mature shade trees that are large and well-established tend not to need additional nutrition. Your young and ornamental trees and shrubs will absorb the injected nutrients, allowing them to use it for enhanced growth as well as better root development. This helps them to become healthier overall, and more resistant to disease and insect infestation.

We recommend deep root feeding twice a year, once in spring and again in the fall. By following this feeding schedule, you can help ensure your trees and shrubs stay healthy, reducing the chances of having to remove one due to damage or disease. Schedule your appointment as soon as possible so that we can ensure your trees and shrubs are fertilized before the end of the year!

Preparing Your Lawn for Winter

One of the best parts of summertime is a full, lush lawn of healthy grass. It is a great place for your family to spend time outside without having to leave the comfort of home. But once cold temperatures start coming in, it isn’t enough to just put the lawn chair and toys away. Now is the time to help get your lawn ready for the cold to make sure it comes back as healthy as possible come spring. Here are six ways that you can prepare your lawn for winter.

Know When It’s Time to Stop Mowing

In the fall, you should be mowing every 10 to 14 days until all of the leaves have fallen. This keeps leaves from preventing sunlight and water from getting to your grass, keeping it healthy for winter. It is also best to keep your lawn short, about .75 inches, which helps prevent fungus or molds from growing in a lawn that is too wet from fall storms. Once all of the leaves have fallen, stop mowing and don’t start again until warmer weather returns.

Don’t Forget to Fertilize

While most people only think of fertilizing during the spring in summer, right now is an even more important time to do it. Feeding your lawn before winter means that it has all of the nutrients it needs to get through the winter without damage.

Stop Irrigation

As temperatures drop, your grass doesn’t need as much water. It is important to stop watering, or reduce if the fall is long and warm. This keeps water from freezing on your grass in a sudden overnight temperature drop.

Build Your Compost Pile

With all of the leaves falling, and late season grass clippings, now is a great time to start your compost pile for the spring. Gather everything you need into one area, and pile them up. Add a little water to keep it moist, and turn it every few days, even through the winter. This will help everything to break down, providing you with the best fertilizer for yard projects next year.

Get Rid of Water to Prevent Mosquitoes

While mosquitoes are a summer nuisance, it is now that they lay eggs to hatch in the spring. Take a walk around your property and look for any pools of water, from flower pot saucers to water features, and dump them out. This can help reduce the mosquito population in the spring.

Leave the Snow Where it Falls

Many people’s first instinct is to remove snow from their lawn when they can. Instead, you should be leaving the snow in place on your grass and garden beds. This is because snow works to insulate your lawn from the cold winter air and harsh winds. Grass that is left uncovered might not grow as well in the spring, making your lawn look patchy and uneven.

If you have any questions about preparing your lawn for winter, we are here to help! Give us a call anytime with any lawn or landscaping questions you may have.

LibertyLawn@gmail.com / 402.423.0061

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

Drought Concerns Going in to Winter

Nebraska’s current drought conditions range from abnormally dry to extreme drought. This makes fall and winter watering extremely important. Homeowners often believe their landscape plants survived a drought year, but then dieback shows up three to five years after a drought. There are a few different ways that drought can affect your landscaping, including:

  • Cold Temperature Injury
    A lack of water creates an increased risk of winter desiccation and cold temperature injury. When a plant is dealing with drought conditions, it can mean the plant cells aren’t as full of water as they need to be. This can make plants less able to protect themselves from damage during colder weather, even when many are usually dormant.
  • Pest Attacks
    Drought conditions create more stress for trees and shrubs. This makes them more susceptible to attack by harmful pests like borers, canker disease and Verticillium wilt. And once these pests have taken hold of a tree or shrub, they can be difficult to treat when a plant is already stressed due to drought.

While most plants benefit from fall watering, the priority should be evergreens, newly planted trees and shrubs and younger woody plants. Soil needs to be kept moist to an 8” to 12” depth from the trunk/stems out to at least the dripline of trees and preferably well beyond. If plants are not mulched, a 3” to 4” deep layer of organic mulch, like wood chips, should be applied in at least a 4’ diameter ring around plants to conserve soil moisture. Winter watering may be needed in the absence of rain/snowfall. Water can be applied early in the day when soils are not frozen and air temperatures are above 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Irrigation Systems and Cold Weather

When you are watering during fall, make sure to disconnect hoses at night to prevent freezing of water trapped in the lines. Irrigation lines should be drained and prepped for winter. This will help protect your watering systems and components from freezing winter temperatures, which can cause damage to the system.

As always, we are here to help you with any lawn or landscaping questions you may have. Give us a call anytime!

LibertyLawn@gmail.com / 402.423.0061

Fall Lawn Care

Fall weather is finally here, which means that lawns are going to soon start slowing their growth and going dormant. Most fall core aerations have been completed, and leaf clean ups will begin soon. Here are a few items to keep in mind as we progress towards winter:

Stem Rust in Turfgrass

Stem rust is a fungal disease that develops late in the season on lawns with older bluegrass varieties and slow growth due to low nitrogen. The obvious symptom is rust colored “powder” (fungal spores) on grass blades, shoes and lawn mower. Heavily infected turf may show some yellowing of grass blades. Fungicide controls are recommended or needed for high maintained lawns. Fall lawn care, especially correct nitrogen fertilization, along with cooler fall weather promotes turfgrass growth and rust disappears.

Fall Herbicide Applications

Now is the time to consider applying herbicide for knotweed and crabgrass control. When chemical control is justified, an application with the correct herbicide in the fall can be effective for knotweed. If both crabgrass and knotweed were serious problems this year, prodiamine can be used. It will provide control of both crabgrass and knotweed.

Mowing Tree Leaves into Lawns

Most professional turf managers mulch mow leaves. Mulch mowing can be easier and returns complex organic matter and nutrients to the soil. Some research suggests mulch mowing can even help control weeds. While this weed control benefit can be sporadic, it can help improve the health of your lawn and soil. Mulching leaves is also easier and less time consuming than bagging. Sometimes a double mowing at a slightly higher cutting height will help shred those leaves and bury them in the lawn. The ground tree leaves won’t add to thatch. Up to three inches of leaves can be mowed into turf at a time. Sometimes tree leaves come too fast and quickly pile over the lawn. You will need to rake and bag if that is the case.

Fall Lawn Fertilization

Fall lawn fertilization is best completed before Thanksgiving. Later applications are not well-utilized by turf. Late Fall is the best time to apply root winterizer fertilizer to cool season lawns. Fall is the best time of year to fertilizer your turf for deeper root growth.

Late Fall Perennial Weed Control

Herbicide applications for perennial weed control can still be made effectively while the following conditions apply.

  • Daytime temperatures are above 45°F.
  • Weeds have green leaves and can uptake herbicides.
  • Soils are not frozen.

We will begin Lawn Care Application #5 (Lawn Winterizer) and Fall Weed Control very soon. As always, we are here to help you with any lawn or landscaping questions you may have. Give us a call anytime!

LibertyLawn@gmail.com / 402.423.0061

It’s Time for Core Aerations

Now that September is over and October is just beginning, it’s time to start scheduling your fall core aeration appointment. Core aeration is a great way to help feed your lawn before it goes into dormancy for the winter in order to promote lush and full grass come spring. If your grass is looking thin or yellowed, your soil is hard to the touch or develops puddles during rainstorms, you may have compaction problems. It’s easy to test for compaction yourself with a simple test. Take a regular screwdriver and stick it into your soil by hand. It should slide in fairly easily, but if it is difficult to get the screwdriver in more than an inch, your soil is compacted. Read on to learn more about how aeration can help reduce compaction and benefit your lawn.

What is Core Aeration?

Healthy lawns all have one major thing in common: air pockets within the soil. While it may seem counterintuitive, these pockets are essential for allowing a healthy root system to develop. As soil is compacted by things like foot traffic or a thick layer of thatch, these air pockets are reduced or eliminated. This can lead to issues like moss or weed growth, as well as stunted grass growth.

Core aeration is a type of lawn aeration that relies on a machine called a lawn aerator. This machine removes small plugs or “cores” of soil from your lawn, as well as thatch, to reduce compassion in order to allow more air to get into your soil. It also creates a channel through with water and nutrients can get under your grass to feed it at the roots. While there are other ways to aerate your lawn, these methods often create cores that are too small for maximum penetration. By using a lawn aerator, we are able to remove plugs that are ½ to ¾ of an inch in diameter, providing maximum access for water, air, and fertilizer.

Performing a core aeration on your lawn can help solve many different types of common lawn problems. It can eliminate moss that is growing in areas with poor drainage due to compaction, as well as help grass regrow stronger in areas where it was previously struggling to survive.

When is the Best Time to do Core Aeration?

For the cool-season grasses most common in our area, core aeration is best done right now in early fall. If you are growing a warm-season grass, core aeration is best done during mid-spring to early summer.

If you’re ready to have your core aeration done, give us a call to set up an appointment. As always, we are here to help you with any lawn or landscaping questions you may have!

LibertyLawn@gmail.com / 402.423.0061

3810 Cornhusker Hwy, Lincoln, NE 68504 / PO Box

September Updates

The summer heat may still be here, but with October just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about fall landscaping tasks. Here’s a list of things that your lawn may need to have done in the next six weeks.

Lawn Reseeding/Overseeding

The time for lawn seeding is getting short, so it’s important to complete seeding/overseeding as soon as you can. For cool season grasses, Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue, late August into mid-September is the best time for seeding. Perennial ryegrass is not recommended for use in Nebraska lawns.

The seeding window is getting smaller, but there is still time to seed. Preparing the seedbed is always a very important first step, whether doing a complete renovation or overseeding. The key to success is seed to soil contact. When purchasing seed, buy from a reputable retailer and look for blue tag certified seed to avoid planting a problem.

Lawns that have recently been seeded or overseeded some damage may be expected on newly germinated lawns if temperatures dipped below 28° F. As cool season grasses, newly germinated Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue seedlings can tolerate light frost, down to approximately 30-32° F, but hard freeze temperatures below 28° F will likely cause some seedling death if plants are less than 7 days old.

Lilac Leaf Browning

In the last few weeks, many lilacs have suffered severe leaf browning. This is caused by the fungal disease Pseudocercospora. It shows up as brown spots on the leaves, moving from the edge of the leaves inward, sometimes splotchy in appearance. The fungus is favored by moderate summer temperatures and high humidity. It is common when temperatures are around 76 degrees but the infection occurs at least 7 days before any symptoms are seen on the plant.

Because high humidity favors disease development, increasing airflow around and through lilac stems will help reduce disease severity by decreasing leaf wetness time following rain or a heavy dew. Prune affected plants by cutting out 1/3 of stems, removing the largest canes and those canes that are cankered, girdled or completely dead.

The fungus can survive for at least 2 years on plant debris, so fall cleanup of the infected leaves will also help reduce disease pressure next year. Fungicides are not effective at this time on plants already infected. Next year, fungicide should be applied in the spring when the leaves first emerge.

Perennial Weed Control

Fall is the best time to control perennials broadleaf weeds in turf. Fall applications are more effective because weeds are translocating stored energy (and properly applied herbicide) into roots and other underground structures. For the best control, an herbicide should be applied by the end of October. A second application can be made 3 to 4 four weeks after the first if targeted weeds have not been controlled by the initial application. Single applications applied later in fall can still be effective if soil moisture isn’t limited at the time of application, but control may not be evident until spring. Herbicides are most effective when spot applied to actively growing weeds that are not stressed by extreme temperatures, drought, etc.

Fall Lawn/Landscape Clean Up

Some insect pests overwinter in or on overwintering garden debris. For example, Iris borers spend the winter as eggs on old iris leaves and plant debris at the base of iris stalks. Squash vine borers overwinter as cocoons in the ground or on leaf litter, and squash bugs find shelter in the fall under dead leaves, rocks, wood, and other garden debris. As the landscape season winds down, practicing fall sanitation and removing plant debris is an important piece of the management puzzle for reducing serious pest population levels.

As always, we are here to help you with any lawn or landscaping questions you may have. Give us a call anytime!

LibertyLawn@gmail.com / 402.423.0061

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

Late Summer Lawn Maintenance

It’s the time of the year where we here at Liberty Lawn start thinking about late summer and fall lawn maintenance. There are a few different turf issues you should be on the lookout for, as well as some maintenance tasks that should be scheduled soon.

Gray Leaf Spot in Turf

This disease primarily affects perennial ryegrass and tall fescue. Kentucky bluegrass is resistant. High heat and humidity help this disease develop rapidly. Symptoms start as small, water-soaked lesions, progressing to leaf death. As leaves die, they twist and develop a Shepherd’s hook appearance. Disease in mixed grass stands look sparse as leaves die, and can often be confused with wilt or heat stress. Gray leaf spot is most severe in highly fertilized turf, or those stressed by environmental factors (soil compaction, drought, etc.) Leaf wetness favors infection, so irrigation should be done in the morning to allow grass leaf blades to dry before evening. Strobilurin fungicides and thiophanate-methyl provide the most effective control.

Dollar Spot in Turf

This is a minor disease for most home lawns. To identify dollar spot, symptoms appear as four to six-inch, straw-colored patches of blighted turf. A bleached lesion in the shape of an hour glass is present on the leaf blade. The lesion has a characteristic reddish-brown margin. In early, dewy mornings, a cobweb-like mycelium is visible in the affected area. Applications of a lawn fungicide will be needed to control this disease.

Winter Annual Weed Control

It’s time to start applying pre-emergent herbicide to control winter annuals in lawns. Common winter annuals include little barley, henbit and corn speedwell. Winter annuals germinate in fall, survive the winter, then grow, bloom, go to seed and die the following spring/summer. Maintaining a dense turf and tall mowing height to help lawns shade out and compete with weeds, along with the use of a herbicide applied in early-mid September provides the most effective control.

Lawn Renovation & Overseeding

LATE AUGUST TO MID-SEPTEMBER

Late August to mid-September is the time to start thinking about lawn renovation and overseeding for cool season grasses, including Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue. Now is the time to prepare the seed areas, whether doing a complete renovation or over seeding. When purchasing seed, buy from a reputable retailer and look for blue tag certified seed to avoid planting a problem.

As always, we are here to help you with any turf and lawn questions you may have. Give us a call anytime!

LibertyLawn@gmail.com / 402.423.0061

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

Japanese Beetles Treatments: Apply Now

With over 300 ornamental and edible plants they like to feed on, Japanese beetles (JB) can quickly become an overwhelming insect in the landscape.  Last year, one customer brought in his peach so covered in Japanese beetles that it was hard to identify the fruit as a peach!

If you didn’t have Japanese beetles last year, then hooray, you may not get any this year or if you do get them, they will be in low numbers. But if you had JB last year, chances are very good you’ll have them this year, too.

For perennials and roses, systemic products containing imidacloprid can be used in May to allow time for distribution within the plant. Topical sprays containing bifenthrin or chlorantraniliprole will keep JB populations down while limiting the amount of injury or death to bumble bees and other pollinators. This can be done when the adults emerge, usually in June.

Treating the soil for JB grubs does control this immature life stage but does not create a force field of protection to keep Japanese beetle adults from flying in from other areas.  Where there is food, the Japanese beetle will feed.

Using Japanese beetle traps is NOT a good idea because the traps are too effective at what they do. Research indicates JB traps attract more beetles to the yard than those yards that have no traps, resulting in more damage to trees, roses and edible plants.

Linden trees can be a magnet for Japanese beetles.  Treatment options are limited because it is illegal to use any systemic insecticide (one that moves internally via the tree’s vascular system) on linden trees.  Contact Liberty Lawn & Landscape, Inc. for treatment if your linden and/or other landscape plants have Japanese beetles.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions or concerns about Japanese beetles in your landscaping!

CapitalArborist@gmail.com / 402.466.0160
P.O. Box 240, Ceresco, NE 68017

Late Summer Lawn Concerns

Brown Patch

IRREGULARLY SHAPED TAN LEAF LESIONS WITH RED MARGINS; ROUGHLY CIRCULAR BROWNISH PATCHES IN TURF

Brown Patch disease shows up as reddish-brown patches in lawns. Grass blades within or near the affected area will have tan colored, irregular shaped lesions with a reddish margin. Fungicides may be needed to reduce the disease infestation. Also, to aid recovery, maintain consistent growth; not too slow and not too fast. Try to keep grass growing about 1 to 1.5” per week. If it is below that, a summer fertilization is recommended; especially if the lawn is less than 10 years old. Water in the mornings when the wind is calm, humidity is high, and evaporation rates are lowest. Know that turfgrass does not need, and will not benefit from, “cooling” irrigation (syringing) in the afternoons.

Turf Dormancy

KENTUCKY BLUEGRASS VS. TALL FESCUE

A tall fescue lawn should NOT be allowed to go dormant as it is not likely to recover. Kentucky bluegrass (KBG) can be allowed to go dormant for a short period to conserve water. Why the difference? KBG physiologically has the ability to go dormant (turn brown but still be alive) to escape drought conditions during hot, dry summers. On the other hand, tall fescue tolerates drought due to a much deeper root system but cannot physiologically go dormant to avoid drought. If tall fescue turns brown, it is likely dead.  Due to a deeper root system that uses soil moisture deeper in the profile, tall fescue does require less frequent irrigation than shallow-rooted Kentucky bluegrass.

If a homeowner chooses to let KBG to go dormant, remind them that during very hot, dry conditions, the lawn may need about ¼” of water a week to moisten crowns; and KBG can remain dormant for about 4 to 5 weeks only. If fall conditions remain hot and dry, irrigation should resume.

Yellow Lawns & Iron Chlorosis

WEATHER CONDITIONS FAVOR DENITRIFICATION AND YELLOWING OF TURFGRASS

While summer yellowing of Kentucky bluegrass & Tall Fescue lawns is due to iron chlorosis, the chlorosis is believed to be caused not only by high pH soil but also by a root dysfunction from hot and/or wet soils. Iron chlorosis will NOT respond to an application of nitrogen. When yellowing occurs, apply an application of iron, such as iron sulfate.

Eastern Red Cedar and Juniper Browning

MAY HAVE A VARIETY OF CAUSES

Cercospora blight is a fungal disease that will cause browning from the bottom of the tree up and from the inside of the branches out. If this disease is confirmed, applications of Bordeaux mixture or a liquid copper fungicide such as Tenn-Cop 5E will effectively control this disease. At least two applications are needed for good control. The first application should just prior to initial infection (June/July). The second treatment should be made during the last half of July through mid-Aug. The second application normally gives good protection against infection for the remainder of the season. However, additional applications may be necessary during periods of frequent rains.

Turfgrass watering

ENCOURAGE CUSTOMERS TO USE CORRECT IRRIGATION PRACTICES PROMOTE TURFGRASS HEALTH

Watering turf wisely during mid-summer is especially important to promote a healthy turf, reduce insect and disease pressure, and conserve a natural resource. It is much better to stay on the dry side than to over-water. Excess moisture in the root zone reduces soil oxygenation, increases soil heat retention, and increases disease risk.

Some broad advice to help avoid all of these issues:

  • Make sure your irrigation systems are working correctly
  • Adjust irrigation schedule according to weather conditions
  • Know how much water each irrigation system puts out
  • Don’t over water
  • Resist the temptation to syringe turf (water in afternoon to “cool off” turf)

Thank you for your business, please get in touch if you have any questions or concerns!

LibertyLawn@gmail.com / 402.423.0061

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