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.

Emerald Ash Borer Up-Date & New Adopt-an-Ash Program

Let the experts at Liberty Lawn & Landscape and Capital Arborists help you register your ash trees – free of charge.

The Lincoln Forestry Department has determined that it is time to begin planning for the inevitable infestation of the Emerald ash Borer in Southeastern Nebraska, including Lincoln and the surrounding areas. The City of Lincoln has decided that the best course of action is to remove ash trees in the city right-of-ways. This decision will, however, affect the aesthetics and value of many local properties. In an effort to accommodate the desires of residents, the city has decided to implement a program called the Adopt-an-Ash program. This will give homeowners who want to keep their right-of-way ash trees an option to preserve and protect them.

What is the Adopt-an-Ash Program?

In order to address the impending threat of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), the City of Lincoln has created an EAB Response and Recovery Plan. Working with neighborhoods, the city plans to remove and replace ash trees along streets in right-of-ways and on public lands. In implementing this plan, the city realized that some city residents would oppose the removal of mature trees around their properties. In order to address these concerns, the plan has an option to allow interested residents to preserve these trees. Dubbed the Adopt-an-Ash Program, it offers residents access to a no-cost permit that allows them to “adopt” ash trees in right-of-way areas adjacent to their home or business.

In order to adopt the tree(s), the resident must agree to arrange and pay for ongoing treatment in order to prevent the tree from becoming a host to EAB. This must be completed every two years on an ongoing basis in order to be effective. The optimal time for treatment to be completed is after trees have leafed out in the spring but before EAB eggs have hatched, which is usually between mid-May and mid-June.

Street Tree Eligibility

In order for an Adopt-an-Ash permit to be approved by Lincoln Parks and Recreation, certain criteria must be met. These include:

 

  1. The ash tree must be in the public right-of-way adjacent to the lot where you live or have a business.
  2. The diameter (width) of the tree when measured 4.5 feet above the ground must be at least 14”.
  3. The tree may not be under overhead wires.
  4. The tree must be in good condition with no significant wounds visible.
  5. Public trees may only be treated with a chemical trunk injection method. No other chemical applications are allowed for public trees, including: soil drench, soil injection, trunk sprays or foliage sprays.
  6. All chemical treatments must be in accordance with state and federal regulations and applied only by a licensed applicator.

 

How to Apply

The first step is to find the 7-digit tree ID assigned to the ash you would like to adopt. This can be done via an interactive map on the Lincoln Parks & Recreation website, or by contacting the Community Forestry division at the Parks and Recreation Office, at 402-441-7847 (Ext. 0). Next, download and complete the Adopt-an-Ash Permit Application, and be sure to include the Street Tree ID for each tree you would like to adopt. You can return the application to the department by mailing in to the address on the application, delivering it in person to the Parks and Recreation office, or by scanning the completed form and emailing it to: forestry@lincoln.ne.gov. If the application form is completed correctly, it will be approved immediately. The Permit Approval form will then be returned to the resident by the method the application was received.

After the EAB treatment has been completed on each tree adopted, you will need to return the bottom portion of the Permit Approval form, along with an invoice from the pesticide applicator. Once issued, the Adopt-an-Ash permit will be valid for two years. When it expires, you will need to request a new permit and re-treat the tree for EAB. If a new permit is not requested, the tree will be scheduled for removal.

In order to preserve as many ash trees in our community, we at Liberty Lawn & Landscape, Inc. and Capital Arborists, Inc. are offering to assist the public in taking advantage of the Adopt-an-Ash program.

For absolutely no charge, we will research your property’s ash trees through the Lincoln Forestry Department website, find your ash Tree(s)’ identification number, fill out the appropriate paperwork, and submit documents to either the City of Lincoln or to the property owner for their required signature.

We will also provide a free estimate for the required insecticide injection program. Contact us today for your free estimate.

If you have any questions regarding the Adopt-A-Tree Program please feel free to contact us. We can help with the logistics, procedures, and implementation in an endeavor to save your ash trees from both the Emerald Ash Borer and the chainsaw.

Thank you for your consideration and business, and Merry Christmas!

Doug McIntosh & Justin Maxson

City of Lincoln Licensed Arborists & Nebraska Arborist Association Members

What to do With Your Tree After Christmas

Each year, many people debate whether to purchase a live Christmas tree or an artificial one, and as eco-friendly living trends has become more and more popular, a part of that debate is whether or not purchasing a live tree means reducing the overall population of pine trees in the U.S. In fact, nearly all Christmas trees sold in the U.S. come from farms, where trees are grown like crops specifically to become a festive decoration in your home. Each spring, tree farms plant new trees to replace what was harvested. Unlike artificial trees, which can take up to 400 years to decompose in a landfill after they’ve worn out and been thrown away, real trees are biodegradable. And when the holiday season is over with, there are many ways to responsibly recycle your Christmas tree for other purposes. Here is a list of great options for you to choose from when it comes time to recycle your tree.

Mulch/Compost

One of the easiest and most popular ways to recycle Christmas trees is to mulch it, and then either use it as-is or compost it. Pine chips help soil to retain moisture, thus helping to reduce your summer watering bill. In addition, pine needles are full of nutrients that help to keep the PH of your soil at optimum levels, ensuring health and robust plants. As an added bonus, both pine mulch and compost resist compaction, which allows soil to breathe and prevent moss growth or root rot.

Benefit Local Fish

While not all areas will allow Christmas trees to be dropped in to local ponds or lakes, those that do present a great opportunity to repurpose your tree. When submerged in water, trees provide cover for fish to hide from predators. Over time, algae will grow on the tree, providing fish with a healthy food source.

Firewood

If you have a good dry spot to leave your Christmas tree in, then you have the opportunity to dry it out and use it for firewood. While pine sap poses too high of a risk of creosote build-up to be burned in indoor fireplaces, it is a great choice for outdoor fires. Pine burns hot and fast, making it a great choice for bonfires.

Fertilizer for your Garden

After you’ve had a lovely bonfire with your dried Christmas tree wood, don’t throw out the remaining ashes. Instead, gather them up and mix them into the topsoil of your garden. Wood ash provides many nutrients to plants, including potassium and lime, which helps plants thrive.

Air Fresheners

Are the needles on your Christmas tree still green? Carefully remove them from the branches, put them in paper bags or sachets, and place them around your home. As the needles dry they will fill your home with a fresh pine scent for months to come.

If none of these options are going to work for your particular needs, your best bet is to find a local tree drop off location. The City of Lincoln currently has six different locations where Christmas trees can be dropped off. The city will recycle the trees into mulch, which will be used to freshen up parks and playgrounds around the city.

So when it comes time to say goodbye to your Christmas tree, pick one of these eco-friendly recycling options, and save your tree from going to waste at the local dump!

Best Time of Year to Trim a Tree

No homeowner wants huge, wildly overgrown trees in their yard. They are unsightly and can even pose a danger to your home and vehicles, which is why tree trimming is the most common form of tree maintenance. Yet many homeowners are unsure of when is the best time of year to trim a tree, especially when advice from neighbors comes in well-meant but vague old adages like “Trees should be trimmed when the saw is sharp.” There is a best time and a worst time to trim a tree, and there is also a proper way to do it. Read on for some tree trimming facts to help you know how and when to trim your trees.

Why Trim a Tree

There are many reasons to keep your trees properly trimmed. Trimming helps maintain good tree health by removing damaged or diseased growth. It also increases safety by removing low-hanging branches that can inhibit pedestrians or block sight at the end of a driveway, as well as remove branches that hang over buildings and near electrical lines. Trimming can also help to increase the amount of air and light that penetrates to the inside of the tree, and to any landscaping below. Trees are also pruned for aesthetic reasons, to improve their looks or limit their growth. Homeowners can prune small trees themselves, using loppers and handsaws. Large trees, or any trees growing near electrical lines, should instead be pruned by professionals.

Best Trimming Time

Many homeowners don’t really know when to trim their trees to prevent problems. The best time to trim most trees is in late fall and throughout the winter months, while the tree is in dormancy. Trimming while a tree is dormant helps to minimize the risk of fungal infections, as the cut will heal quickly when trees being their vigorous growth in early spring. This is also the best time to trim evergreen trees, as spring growth will quickly cover signs of heavy or extensive trimming.

A few types of trees, such as magnolia trees, flower on wood grown during the previous year. Trimming at the wrong time can easily remove all the dormant buds, resulting in a non-flowering tree for the year. Any type of tree or shrub that bloom on old growth should not be trimmed in the fall, but instead just after they flower.

Worst Trimming Time

The only really bad time to trim a tree is in the spring when flower buds and new leaves are developing. Trimming a tree while the leaves are expanding disturbs the tree’s growth and causes it a lot of stress. If you see that buds on the tree are beginning to swell, leave it alone until the leaves have grown to their mature size. Then, if you need to trim before fall for safety reasons, it is safe to do so. Otherwise, it is best to wait until the tree is dormant, as trimming when the tree is still active will create a burst of new growth. This new growth is tender and more susceptible to becoming damaged in cold temperatures.

Trimming Techniques

There are different types of trimming techniques that professionals use in order to best address the needs of each tree. Cleaning refers to removing dead, dying, diseased, or poorly attached branches from the crown of a tree. Thinning involves removing selective branches in order to improve the tree’s structure, as well as to allow more air and light circulation. This technique helps to improve the shape of the tree, as well as to help unburden overheavy branches to reduce the risk of breakage. Raising is the removal of branches growing low on the trunk in order to allow room for pedestrians, vehicles, or buildings. Reduction refers to reducing the overall size of a tree through trimming. This is often done when trees are either close to or touching utility lines. This is best achieved by trimming back smaller branches throughout the tree, and is much more effective at maintaining the overall form and structural integrity of the tree than old-fashioned tree topping.

Emergency Trimming

Sometimes storms and strong winds can damage even the healthiest and well-trimmed trees. When a tree becomes damaged, it is important to trim it as soon as possible. Branches that become broken or have scrapes through the bark present an open invitation to disease and insects. Emergency trimming can be done any time of the year with little risk of damage to the tree’s overall health.

Treating the Cut

In the past, homeowners were often advised to paint or seal cuts left after trimming a tree, and many products came on the market for this purpose. These products claim that they must be used in order to sterilize or treat cuts, and while these products are still readily available, they actually do more harm than good. These products actually delay the tree’s healing process. Left alone, the tree will quickly grow a layer of cells over the cut, thus preventing the risk of disease or insect invasion.

No matter what type of trees you have, we are happy to stop by to give you a free estimate to determine your individual needs. Call our office today to make an appointment that best suits your schedule.

Fall Lawn Care

With winter weather fast approaching, now may not seem like a very important time to be performing much in the way of lawn care. However, it is in fact very critical to continue lawn care all the way through the fall months, as the cool and moist weather of fall help grass roots to develop far better than in the hot summer. Taking advantage of this growth spurt through proper maintenance now will help ensure a healthy start for your lawn when spring arrives. Here are some tips to help you make the most of the fall season.

Keep Mowing

Grass will continue to grow until morning frosts become regular. This means that you need to keep mowing your grass to its normal height until it is totally done growing: 2 to 3 inches for Midwest Bluegrass and 2.5 to 3.5 inches for Tall Fescue. Contrary to popular belief, taller grass does not protect turf from cold temperatures. Keeping grass too tall during winter months can actually promote diseases like snow mold, as well as increased vole activity.

Seed Bare Spots

Hot summer months can cause patches of your lawn to die, no matter how vigilant you are about watering. Now is the perfect time to fill in those areas with new seed, in order to give your lawn a head-start for spring. Make sure that the seed sits directly on top of the soil, and give it time to start growing in before the first frost.

Keep Watering

Fall showers don’t always provide all of the water that your lawn needs. Supplementing water as needed is important, even with cooler temperatures, so as not to stress your grass. A rain gauge can help you monitor how much rain water your lawn is getting, and whether or not extra watering is in order.

Consider Aerating

Watering, traffic, and heat all contribute to the compaction of your soil, which can cause browned or thinning grass in your lawn. Aerating your lawn involves removing plugs of soil in order to allow water and nutrients to get down deep and improve soil quality. It can be a big job depending on the size of your lawn, which is why we offer core aeration services. Simply call our office to set up an appointment for a free estimate.

Apply a Nitrogen-Rich Fertilizer

During the fall it is essential to fertilize your lawn, as it not only helps grass survive its dormant period, it also helps it to grow stronger in the spring. Apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer to your lawn after temperatures have become mild, but before the winter cold sets in. If you are going to aerate, wait until the process is complete before applying fertilizer in order to maximize the positive effects of both.

Keep Up on Pest Control

While winter temperatures may kill mosts pests that may be lurking in your lawn, the same cannot be said for their eggs. Most insects lay their eggs in soil, which insulates the egg so that it can hatch in the spring. That is why it is important to treat any pests that are present as part of your fall lawn care routine. The same is true of weed control, as seeds survive the winter as well. If you aren’t sure what is causing damage your may see in your lawn, we are happy to help you identify and properly treat any pest problem.

Consider Dormant Lawn Seeding

Seeding your lawn after it has gone dormant is often referred to as over seeding, and is a tactic typically employed by golf courses in order to ensure a lush fairway in time for golf season. Frost and snow will not harm dormant grass seeds, and the freeze-thaw cycle of fall and winter will help the seeds settle in to the topsoil. Come spring, the seeds will germinate and help to fill in your lawn. This is a service that we perform often, and we are happy to provide you with a free estimate for your lawn.

Remember to Rake

While a leaf blower may seem like a fast and convenient way to remove leaves from your yard, it doesn’t perform one of the most basic functions of a good old fashioned rake: dethatching. Thatch builds up naturally over time in your lawn, and loosening it up is an important part of lawn health and maintenance. Using a traditional rake on occasion helps to break up thatch, and allow better water and nutrient flow to your grass’s roots. This is very easily done during fall leaf clean up. For those of you who have booked a Fall Cleanup Service with us, we will endeavor to have all clean ups completed before Thanksgiving so that your yard is neat and tidy for holiday guests.

Following these tips will help your lawn be as healthy as possible when it goes into dormancy, and to be able to come back just as strong when the snow melts. Above all, the most important aspect of proper fall lawn care is consistency, and keeping a regular maintenance schedule. Proper timing of fertilizing, watering, aeration, and seeding is imperative to the sustained health of your lawn. If you’re having trouble finding time to schedule these lawn care tasks, our professional staff is always available to provide you with personalized quotes on services that your lawn needs.

Magnolia Scale

Magnolia scale may not look like much at first glance. Initially, many homeowners don’t even realize they are looking at an insect!

Magnolia scale may look innocuous enough, but they can be deadly to magnolia trees. Luckily, magnolia scale can be effectively treated during your annual lawn maintenance.

Magnolia Scale Life Cycle

There are two main species of scale: armored (hard body) and non-armored (soft body).

Magnolia scale is a soft body insect, which can make the process of tree maintenance treatment slightly easier because this type of scale is more vulnerable.

However, it is important to properly identify the pest as early as possible for treatment to have maximum effect. To help, here is a brief overview of the magnolia scale life cycle.

Winter: scale goes dormant.

During the winter season, magnolia scale goes dormant. The insects typically spend the winter in nymph form encased in soft protective wax on the undersides of tree leaves and branches.

Spring: mating and incubation.

In the spring, the adults emerge and mate. The male dies off and the female begins to incubate the young as eggs she lays right underneath her own body.

Summer and fall: birth and feeding.

The adult female covers the eggs with her body until the live young emerge. The young at this stage are called “crawlers.” But the young crawlers only crawl around for as long as it takes to locate a suitable place to sink their sharp mouth parts into the tree branches and start sucking the sap right out of them.

By this time, the cold season is rolling in again, and the now-stationary crawlers enter the nymph stage for the winter right where they sit. Then in the spring the whole life cycle will start all over again.

How to Spot Magnolia Scale

The first thing to know about magnolia scale is that it doesn’t behave like a typical insect. It only moves during spring when adults mate and crawlers are born. Then it stays immobile for the remainder of its life cycle.

For this reason, many homeowners who schedule tree maintenance initially report that their magnolia trees appear to be growing “mold” or have an “ant infestation.”

Magnolia scale often does look a lot like mold or mildew once it settles in to feed on tree branches. It is bumpy and white with a waxy, semi-soft appearance that looks like nothing so much as the early stages of mold rot.

But inside and underneath this “mold,” the now-immobile feeding crawlers are busy feeding on the amino acids in the tree sap. Along with the amino acids they need, the crawlers take in plenty of sugars they don’t need. So they discard the carbohydrate-laden sugar in the form of a sticky substance called “honeydew.” This honeydew in turn attracts ants, wasps, flies, bees and molds that recognize a feast when they see it.

For this reason, sometimes the first indication of a magnolia scale infestation is the honeydew itself. This is especially the case if the infested tree overhands a deck, set of patio furniture, vehicle or walkway. Honeydew is incredibly sticky and corrosive. It will turn anything it lands on sticky. It stains and is very hard to remove.

The presence of honeydew is confirmation of a magnolia scale infestation nearby.

When to Treat Infested Trees for Magnolia Scale

While healthy magnolia trees can generally withstand small, localized attacks of magnolia scale, these pests generally do not go away on their own. Over time, undetected and untreated magnolia scale can kill a tree by draining away its nutrient supply.

Luckily, there are a number of insecticide products that are effective against magnolia scale if they are applied correctly at the right time.

Here, learning about the magnolia scale life cycle is key to successfully terminating an infestation.

The crawler stage (whether mobile or immobile) is the time in the life cycle when magnolia scale are most vulnerable. The adult females give birth in late summer – anywhere from July to September depending on where you live. So this is generally the best time to apply insecticide to treat magnolia scale.

How to Treat Infested Trees for Magnolia Scale

The optimal treatment approach will maximize damage to magnolia scale while limiting damage of surrounding foliage and beneficial insect life.

Here, it is vital to select a lawn maintenance professional to apply treatment to avoid harming nearby lawns, shrubs and unaffected trees.

The first step is to identify the scope of the infestation and the part of the life cycle the scale is currently in.

Summer and fall treatment.

For a small-scale active infestation, it may be possible to simply prune back the affected tree branches and treat just the immediate surrounding branches to ensure it does not spread.

For large-scale infestation limited to one tree or affecting multiple trees, spray insecticides containing horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps can effectively treat magnolia scale in the crawler stage.

Winter and early spring treatment.

Once magnolia scale has entered the dormant stage, treatment requires a different approach.

There is a dormant oil product that can be applied directly to the dormant scale that must be applied before the bud open up in spring, which can happen as early as March in some areas.

Systemic insecticide products can be used to treat the soil surrounding the tree itself. When applied during the winter dormant period, these insecticides will have time to be absorbed into the tree and taken into the sap so it will kill the crawlers when they emerge in the spring.

By understanding what a magnolia scale infestation looks like at different times of the year, it is possible to make a positive identification earlier in the life cycle when the scale are at their most vulnerable.

By identifying magnolia scale accurately and early, a number of effective tree maintenance treatments exist to eliminate infestation and restore tree health.

Fall Webworm (a.k.a. Tent Caterpillars)

Fall webworm is often nicknamed “tent caterpillars” because of the soft white nests (“tents”) that they build at the tips of the branches of infested trees.

Unfortunately, the tent caterpillars are not very picky about their host trees and will readily move into the leaves and limbs of more than 200 different varietals of trees and shrubs.

While the fall webworm isn’t shy about announcing its presence at the larval stage while building its protective tents, for most of the rest of the year it lurks mostly undetected in and around the host tree. So it can be quite a surprise for homeowners to suddenly witness the formation of their trademark silky web-like nests.

Understanding the Fall Webworm Life Cycle

As with many similar pests, understanding the tent caterpillar life cycle is an important key to effective lawn maintenance.

Tent caterpillars are called “fall webworm” for a reason – fall is when the worms typically reach maturation.

While the fall webworm typically isn’t fatal for an infested tree or bush, when garden maintenance is neglected it can affect the ornamental value of the tree. Over time, repeat infestations that are left untreated can weaken and even kill a host tree.

Winter and spring.

Winter is the dormant season for the fall webworm. While you might not see them while doing your normal lawn care, their cocoons are typically located right in the soil or leaf litter that surrounds the selected host tree.

They will stay inside their cocoons as they mature all throughout the spring.

Summer.

In the summer, the adults emerge from their cocoons at last and are ready to mate. After mating, the females will get to work laying their eggs on the leaves of the nearby host tree. Often the females will lay on the undersides of the leaves so they are harder to spot.

The larvae begin to hatch in a matter of days after the eggs are deposited. Immediately, the larvae begin to do two things: feed on the surrounding leaves and spin a web around themselves for protection. The more they eat, the bigger the web gets.

Fall.

Because the webs start out small, most homeowners don’t even realize they have an infested tree until late summer or even early fall when the caterpillars and their webs are much bigger.

Getting close to the webs can help make a positive identification. Fall webworm caterpillars are typically tan, green and pale yellow in color and are covered with small spiky fine white hairs.

What Are the Most Common Host Trees for Fall Webworm?

While fall webworm infestations have been documented on more than 200 tree and shrub species throughout the country, the caterpillars do have their favorites. The webworm feeds on the freshest and most tender leaf parts so their choice of host tree can also vary depending on when they hatch.

Cottonwood, redbud, elm, walnut, sweetgum, poplar, willow, crabapple, maple, hickory, birch and cherry trees are common targets for the fall webworm.

Many of the fall webworm’s favored host trees are also popular fruit and nut-producing trees. Without active and vigilant garden maintenance to protect these trees, the annual harvest may be reduced or destroyed by the fall webworm caterpillars.

Fall webworm may only breed once in some parts of the country, but may breed twice or more frequently in other parts of the country depending on climate and local weather patterns.

When to Treat Trees for Fall Webworm

While fall webworm does have natural predators, including birds and other insects, a single tree can often play host to multiple nests and each nest can contain hundreds of maturing caterpillars. So inevitably, some of the caterpillars will survive to overwinter and re-infest the following year.

The best time to schedule lawn maintenance to treat for fall webworm is when they are at their most vulnerable – in the larvae/caterpillar stage.

The best timing for lawn care treatment may differ depending on how early or late in the summer/fall season the caterpillars hatch. For best results, time the treatment when the webs are just beginning to form and the larvae inside are very small. In most cases, this will mean treating in early to mid summer.

How to Treat Trees for Fall Webworm

For very small and self-contained infestations, it may be possible to treat simply with judicious pruning. Because the webs are built at the tips of the branches, it is even possible to remove them manually from young trees. Pole trimmers can be useful to remove webs on higher limbs and branches.

A lawn care professional can examine the infested tree and decide whether this approach will be sufficient to guard against a re-infestation later in the year or the following year.

For larger infestations on a single host tree or developing infestations that are impacting multiple trees and/or bushes, it is typically best to apply insecticide directly to each web to treat the problem. Here again, this is slightly easier because of the location of the webs.

The best approach for chemical treatment is to spray the insecticide directly within the webs. This not only provides targeted treatment directly to the source of the problem but also guards against inadvertently damaging surrounding foliage and to beneficial insects, including natural predators of the fall webworm larvae.

As well, part of the protective nature of the webs is that they become somewhat water-resistant once established. The earlier the insecticide is applied to webs, the more easily it will penetrate to the interior to ensure none of the larvae survive.

While fall webworm is not likely to be the most damaging tree infestation most homeowners will face, persistent infestations can severely damage trees’ appearance and even kill young, fragile trees.

A lawn maintenance professional can be an important ally to preserve your home’s “curb appeal” and ensure small fall webworm infestations do not ever pose a serious threat.