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

How to Trim Your Bushes

Though perhaps not the most popular types of landscaping plant, bushes, shrubs, and hedges are beautiful plants that add natural beauty and curb appeal to your home. Easy-to-maintain and often vibrant year-round, they make a great addition to accent your lawn, trees, gardens, and hardscapes, such as walks, patios and walls. They can also be great ways to provide a windbreak, privacy screen, or even a living fence around your yard. Keep reading to learn about the types of trimmers you can opt to use, as well as some tips on how to trim bushes yourself.

Types of Trimmers

If your bushes are left to become overgrown, however, they can negatively impact your curb appeal, making your yard look messy and unkempt. But maintaining these types of plants is actually quite simple, thanks to readily available and affordable hedge trimmers. There are three types of hedge trimmers available, depending on your individual needs and preferences:

  • Gas-powered Trimmers

These trimmers have the most powerful engines, and are best for cutting through thicker branches. They also have the advantage of not being tethered by a cord, which makes them a great option for people with large yards. They can be more expensive than other trimmer options, and require you to mix a small amount of oil with the gas in order to keep the engine lubricated.

  • Corded Trimmers

Less expensive in quieter than gas-powered trimmers, corded trimmers are a great option for those with smaller yards and are virtually maintenance-free. You also don’t have to worry about using a pull-start or a choke to get it going each time you use it. They are slightly less powerful, making them better suited to small and medium-sized bushes.

  • Cordless Trimmers

While cordless trimmers have been around for a number of years, it was only recently that, thanks to advancements in battery technology, that they became a popular option for trimming bushes. Much like corded trimmers, they require little maintenance, are easy to start, and are very quiet. While they can be less expensive than gas-powered trimmers, many require you to purchase the battery and charger separately, which can make them more expensive than corded options.

Hedge trimmers are very simple to use, though it is important to be careful as they have sharp blades. Always keep two hands on your trimmer when it is turned on. If you find a branch that is too thick to cut with your trimmers, never try to hold it still with one hand while cutting. Instead, use a pair of hand pruners to ensure you don’t accidentally injure yourself or the bush with your powered trimmers.

Trimming Your Bushes

The number of times you trim your bushes every year depends on the look you’re going for. If you want less formal, more natural-looking bushes, trim them just once or twice a year. For more formal bushes and hedges, you’ll want to trim three to four times per year.

Start trimming your bush from the bottom and work your way up, taking on a little bit off at a time. Avoid trimming the bush into a “V” shape, which discourages light from getting to the bottom branches and root system, and can make them lose their leaves or needles. Instead, aim for a shape that is slightly wider at the bottom, which allows optimal exposure to sunlight and promotes a full, lush bush.

To cut the top flat, hold the blade level with the ground and move from right to left, then left to right. Take only a little bit off at a time, guiding the blade as level as possible. For tall bushes or hedges, you can use stakes with a string tied across them as a guide to get a straight, even cut. Stop as you go to use your hands to remove cut pieces from the bush. It will likely take several passes to get the bush into the shape you want.

Make sure to trim bushes in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid sunburning the freshly cut branches. You should also avoid trimming bushes in early spring when birds are nesting. When you’re done trimming the bush, you should go through it by hand with your pruning shears to find and remove any dead or diseased branches inside of the plant.

If you aren’t confident trimming your own bushes, Liberty Lawn is here to help. We offer all kinds of yard services, including bush trimming, to keep your yard looking its best all season long. Give us a call today to schedule a free consultation!

How to Fertilize Your Lawn

All plants need more than just water and sunlight to thrive, and grass is no exception. Applying fertilizer to your lawn feeds it necessary nutrients that it needs to grow thick and lush. Maintaining a thick, lush lawn helps prevent weeds from sprouting and moving in, allows your lawn to fight off disease, and helps roots retain more water during warm summer days.

Most fertilizers are only effective for 6 to 8 weeks, so maintaining a regular fertilization schedule is essential in keeping your lawn healthy all season long. Here are the steps you should take to fertilize your lawn:

  1. Water your lawn. A day or two before you fertilize your lawn, give it a good watering. Ensuring your soil is damp, but not soaking wet, helps the soil absorb the fertilizer.
  2. Pick the best spreader for your lawn. There are a few different types of spreaders, and you’ll want to be sure you have the correct one to make the application quick and easy. For small lawns, a handheld spreader can work just fine, whereas people with bigger lawns will benefit from a push-type spreader. Make sure to adjust the spreader settings. Each fertilizer product has a spreader setting on the package to ensure correct coverage.
  3. Start by applying grass fertilizer around the perimeter. It is always best to start applying fertilizer around the perimeter of your grass, as it is the easiest area to accidentally miss spots. Simply walk around the entire perimeter, ensuring you move steadily for an even application.
  4. Fill in the middle. Similar to a mowing pattern, feed your lawn by walking back and forth in straight lines, making sure to overlap slightly with each pass.
  5. Properly store any remaining product. Once you’ve finished fertilizing your lawn, return any unused product to the bag and store it for future use. Be sure to keep it in a cool, dry place away from pets and children.

We hope that this article has helped you to learn about the benefits of fertilizing your lawn. If you aren’t certain which fertilizer is best for your individual needs, or aren’t able to fertilize on a regular schedule, Liberty Lawn is here to help. We offer all kinds of yard services, including lawn fertilization, to keep your yard healthy and looking good all season long. 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!

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

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.

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!

Importance of watering your plants and lawns

If you are a homeowner with even the tiniest of yards in the back or in the front, then you are probably already aware of the fact that lawn care or lawn maintenance is no mean feat. Plants and landscape plants are much like children and require very close attention from their caretakers or they will suffer a terrible fate. One of the most important things to be included in your lawn maintenance or lawn care routine is the process of watering the plants. But while this is the most obvious and intuitive process because we are all aware that all living things on earth need water to survive it is also the most commonly misunderstood process as watering the plants is not as simple as splashing them every day. There are intricacies to this process that every lawn owner should be aware of.

While a lot of people may think that watering your plants on a hot day is what’s really important and it is but the benefits of getting that H2O on a relatively cooler day is far more than most people realize. Here are all the reasons why you should tend to your plants during those cooler temperatures.

To begin with, on hotter days the high temperatures will turn most of the water that you sprinkle onto your lawn into vapors that will rise into the air and provide little to no benefit to your lawn and hence your plants and landscape plants will require a lot more water to keep themselves growing and healthy and stabilized.

Contrary to which during the Cooler temperatures the air will lose its ability to hold extensive amounts of water vapor which means that very little water will be lost to evaporation and hence a relatively smaller amount of water will be more than enough and your plants will reap the maximum benefits that they can from the fixed amount of water as all of will be absorbed without loses in the form of vapors.

Another benefit of these phenomena relates to diseases of plants. Diseases of plants and landscape plants are generally bacterial or fungal in nature meaning they are caused by organisms known as bacteria or fungi. Both of these organisms thrive in the presence of any form of moisture, and this is just another reason to water your plants and landscape plants on a cooler day or maybe in just some cooler parts of the day. How so? During the higher temperatures most of the water tends to turn into vapors and provide no benefit to your plants and landscape plants which will lead you to use more water increasing the overall moisture in the region drastically which eventually gives life to fungi and bacteria and in turn to fungal and bacterial diseases that will damage your lawn drastically. In contrast, when temperatures are lower, there is much less water lost to evaporation, and you do not feel the need to add more and more water, which reduces the overall moisture in the region. Hence the lack of moisture in the region provides the bacteria and the fungi with a much less friendly environment to grow in ultimately inhibiting the growth of bacterial and fungal diseases.

The next benefit of watering your plants on cooler days relates to you more than your plants and landscape plants. The benefit is simple and intuitive, because of lower temperatures the total water lost into the air in the form of water vapors is reduced greatly, and much less water is wasted. On a hotter day, most of the water will escape into the environment and be completely wasted, but by watering your plants on a cooler day, you will prevent this phenomenon. So if you are concerned about saving water, as all responsible citizens of planet earth should be this is all the more reasons to water your plants on a cooler day.

If you have trees planted in your front lawn or back while tree care is different from landscape plant care, it can reap all of these benefits as well. Tree care involves proper watering techniques, especially if your tree is recently planted as during the early years a tree required maximum but also delicate attention in terms of provision of water. In such circumstances your tree care regime can benefit greatly from the fact that you can accurately measure the amount of water you are supplying to your tree which is made possible in cooler temperatures only as in warmer temperatures there are massive losses in water in the form of evaporation which makes the measurement of water provision very difficult.

All in all, in the coming days when the weather will be relatively on the cooler side your plants and landscape plants and trees will be in need of your careful attention and in this period you can provide the maximum benefit possible to your plants.