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Lawn care: All you ever wanted to know about slugs and snails

Although snails and slugs look harmless enough (just kind of gross and slimy, maybe), they are actually quite destructive to domestic and commercial gardens. They can cause so much damage that it is best to have an effective Houston lawn care regimen in place to stop the damage before it begins. First you should know a little about these squishy insects.

Snails and slugs are mollusks. The slimy trail they leave behind as they squirm all over your pavement and plants is what allow them to stay alive, since they need to be moist. This slime also helps them move around. These bugs are hermaphrodites, so they can populate your garden all by themselves without any help. Lawn care specialists say you may find them attached to garden fences or other structures near plants when the temperature becomes much cooler.

There is a small difference between the two insects. Snails have shells that give them protection. Slugs are basically the same insect, but without a shell. Both can stretch their bodies quite far and both have a set of antenna and eyes. Although they enjoy any type of foliage, they are partial to fruit plants such as tomatoes, strawberries, lemon trees, etc.

During the winter, snails and slugs hibernate, sometimes in your home in a warm, dark, damp location. They don’t like the sun much since the heat and light can dry out their mucus. When they reproduce, they can lay up to 500 eggs in one season, however that is not to say all will survive. Their life expectancy is about four years, but most tend to die off before then.

If you have a persistent snail or slug problem, be sure to save your garden by calling your local Houston lawn care authorities.

Quackgrass, Smooth & Hairy Crabgrass

Quackgrass is differentiated by pale- to blue-green coarse grass blades that are bumpy on their upper exterior. If quackgrass is not mowed by a professional Springs lawn care technician, it can grow up to five feet or more in just one season. It is often mistaken for rye or wheat because of the narrow flower spikes rising from the plant. Quackgrass rapidly grows in spring and fall. It is especially vigorous in thin, undernourished turf. Though it sometimes goes unnoticed in early spring, quackgrass becomes quite noticeable as it turns brown in summer.

Smooth and hairy crabgrass grow close to the ground and have coarse, light-green blades. The blades are small, pointed and hairy. This energetic, warm-season yearly weed begins growing quickly in the early spring and continues to thrive until seed heads form in late summer to the beginning of fall. Crabgrass grows particularly well in lightly-watered Springs lawns that are also not sufficiently fertilized or drained and grow thin and sparse. This weed spreads by seed and by rooting from the lower swollen nodes of stems.

With the help of a professional Springs lawn care team that knows how to effectively combat these weeds, your turf should remain unburdened by quackgrass and crabgrass. There are several types of products that can be used to wipe out crabgrass, with Barricade® being one of the best. This product works to prevent crabgrass in the spring before it has a chance to become a problem for your Springs lawn. After an application, it is important to keep an eye out and make sure there are no problems throughout the season. If you happen to notice crabgrass once again encroaching on your turf, call your Springs lawn care specialist right away to have the weed obliterated.

Lawn Care Tip: Wasp Watch

No one wants to get stung by a wasp. Their stings hurt tremendously and if you’re allergic to them, a sting can be detrimental to your health, especially since they’re not like bees that can only sting once. Wasps are capable of stinging multiple times and don’t necessarily need a reason to sting you. Since wasps tend to build their nests close to homes, sometimes INSIDE homes, it is very important to get rid of them before they become a hazard to you and your family.

Lawn care experts say there are right ways to remove wasps and wrong ways. Wrong ways might include hosing them down with water during the middle of the day. Definitely going to incur the wrath of these wily wasps with that method. Pretty much any kind of removal activity that occurs during the day is going to be a bad idea. Wasps are very active during the daytime and are going to be on guard to defend their nest.

Lawn care technicians recommend planning an all-out evening or nighttime assault when wasps are dormant and will be caught off-guard. The key to getting rid of wasps for good is to eliminate the nest. Lawn care specialists recommend spraying the nest with an insecticide to make sure the wasps within are either dead or severely incapacitated. Once you are able to access the nest safely, remove and destroy it as soon as possible.

Once the nest has been removed and all signs of these stinging insects are gone, create a barrier to ensure that future nests are not constructed. This might mean caulking cracks or crevices or fixing holes in your attic (wasps often like to build nests in attics). If you’ve managed to get rid of the nest but aren’t sure how to keep them from coming back, contact your local Katy lawn care company. They will know how to efficiently protect your property from further infestations and will have a perimeter Katy lawn care product to help stave off wasps.

Lawn care Tip: Growing a pear tree

Pear trees are some of the easiest fruit trees to grow and when homeowners are looking to spice up their landscape with a bountiful tree, pear trees are often the way they go. It is important to realize, however, that as easy as growing a pear tree is, your pears are not guaranteed to have the same taste as the pear’s seed you’re using. Professional pear tree growers often mix the seeds to get a good genetic mix before planting them in the ground. But if you’re looking to plant a pear tree just to have, regardless of what the fruit will taste like, then here are some easy steps to follow to get your pear tree well under way.

Before you get started, you will need four-inch planting pots, potting soil, paper towels, large plastic baggies, a misting bottle, access to a refrigerator and of course, the pear seeds. Start by washing the pear seeds and drying them off with a paper towel. Insert the pear seed half an inch deep into a planting pot filled with potting soil. Add some water to the soil, just enough to get the soil damp. (This step only needs to be performed if there is frost in your area or it is too cold outside. Place the planting pot into one of the large plastic baggies and close it so air does not get inside.) Remove the plant from the baggie and place it an area where it will receive indirect sunlight. Use your misting bottle to dampen the soil on a daily basis, but be careful not to over-saturate the plant. Once the seedlings have begun to spout, they are ready to plant in the ground.

Choose an area of your landscape that receives copious amounts of sunlight and where water does not pool or the ground does not become saturated. Create a hole about twice as big as the seedling’s root ball and plant with potting soil and compost (a half and half mixture). It is important to keep the soil damp, but do not allow it to become saturated. Follow these steps and pretty soon you should be well on your way to being the proud owner of a pear tree!

Lawn Care Tip: Protect your tree during winter with black plastic

Fruit trees are very sensitive to cold weather and recently, some states such as Georgia and Florida experienced an unexpected frost that damaged much of the fruit. However, Houston lawn care professionals say there are ways to prevent extensive damage when the weather turns colder than what the trees can handle or are used to.

Sun scald is very damaging to all trees, but especially fruit trees. The direct sunlight causes the cells within the tree to unfreeze, but the drastic change in temperature once the sun goes down can crack or split the bark, if not cause it to fall of completely.

Lawn care experts say a great way to prevent sun scald from negatively affecting your fruit trees is by wrapping your trees in black plastic during the late fall months. Choose a sturdy black plastic (you may be able to find some at your local gardening outlet) and begin at the base of the tree, wrapping the plastic in an upward motion. You will probably have to overlap the layers in order to sufficiently cover the entire base of the tree. Fasten the plastic by using staples (staple the plastic NOT the tree) or using a powerful adhesive, taking care to avoid getting any on the tree itself. The tape could damage the bark.

Be sure to check on the wrap throughout the winter and early spring to make sure there are no gaps or places where the plastic wrap is coming undone. If you properly protect your tree during the winter months, you should have a healthy, vibrant tree once spring finally rolls around!

Lawn Care Tip: Adding clover to your landscape

Clover is an easy addition to your landscape, and offers a unique charm that even the best looking grass cannot match, say Katy lawn care agents. Additionally, clover holds a great number of advantages over grass. If you’re looking to spruce up your landscape and add in something different, here are some reasons why you should consider installing patches of clover.

  • Low-maintenance. Put your Katy lawn mower and garden hose away! Clover is quite drought-resistant and requires little to no mowing since it only grows between 2 and 8 inches. Because it doesn’t have dramatic growth spurts, it also doesn’t need very much water and will remain green throughout the seasons.
  • Grows in any climate, in any soil. Landscapes all over the country can grow clover and it will even grown in soil that you may have a hard time planting grass or other plants. If this is the case, clover is a perfect solution for utilizing this otherwise useless area.
  • No need for fertilizer or herbicides. Clover self-fertilizes, so there is no need to add anything to the mix in order to make it grow. Additionally, clover is very unlike grass in that it defeats weeds in the competition for nutrients and water. Ugly weeds are highly unlikely to appear in your clover patches.
  • Resistant to “urine spots.” If you have grass and a dog, Katy lawn care professionals say you more than likely have discolored spots in your Katy lawn that are revealing of where your dog likes to relieve himself. Clover will never discolor due to the nitrogen and salt that causes the discoloration of grass.
  • Cheaper than grass. Clover is a much more cost-effective choice for your landscape. In addition to requiring no fertilization or herbicides and less water, the seeds are also cheaper than grass seed. Lawn care specialists estimate clover costs around $ 4 for every 4,000 square feet! The only disadvantage associated with this is that clover may need to be re-seeded every 2-3 years, but since it’s relatively inexpensive and doesn’t require much upkeep, this seems like a positive trade-off!

Lawn Care Tips for Exotic Weeds

The one thing any homeowner does not want is to find their lawn swimming in a sea of weeds. Not all of us are lawn care experts, so we probably aren’t aware of half the weeds out there other than your standard crabgrass and fescue. However, there are several types of weeds to be on the lookout for and here is the description of some of the most exotic types.

Mouse-ear chickweed sounds nothing like a weed, other than the “weed” part at the end of its name. However, it is indeed a weed and can be discovered in the late spring and early summer when small, white flowers begin to appear. The leaves are narrow, long and fleshy and also have a fuzzy appearance. The best time to eliminate them is in the spring because by mid-summer they have begun to sprout seed heads.

Oxalis is another spring/early summer weed. It stays close to the ground, which makes it easy for it to remain on your lawn even after mowing. If your turf is damp, does not have proper irrigation and is heavily shaded, it is the ideal growing conditions for oxalis. This weed is distinguishable by its bright yellow flowers with purple or reddish leaves and stems.

Purslane has rubbery leaves that are thick and sprawling, along with five-petaled yellow flowers that are in full bloom when the sun is shining its brightest. Lawn care experts say the seeds of this weed are most dangerous because even though you may remove the weed and its roots, the seeds lay dormant in the soil for years. This lawn sabotager loves hot, dry weather and is often found in thin areas of a lawn or in turfs that have been seeded in the summer.

Pruning Can Be Easy According to Lawn care Specialists

Many homeowners are intimidated by the prospect of pruning. Knowing that improper pruning can lead to a sick or otherwise compromised tree or shrub can be too much for some people, especially after they have invested so much in their landscape.

No matter how scary the idea of pruning is, it should be a practice you get into with comfort and regularity because a well-pruned plant is a healthy plant. Pruning improves the flow of moisture and nutrients through the plant, as well as allows thriving areas to receive most of the nutrition while dead or dying areas are removed from the plant, according to Houston lawn care agents.

Pruning is one of the best practices you can perform on the plants in your garden and landscape. Lawn care experts say becoming proficient at pruning plants just takes experience and the right tools. Here are four basic tools that will take care of pretty much all your garden pruning tasks. You should keep these tips in mind when selecting your hand pruners, loppers, shears and saws:

  1. Don’t be cheap when it comes to investing in pruning tools. Good quality tools stay sharp longer, cut easier and will last longer, paying for themselves in the long run.
  2. Keep your tools sharpened to make cutting easier and to produce clean cuts that heal faster. A sharper pruning tool also puts less stress on your hand, according to Houston lawn care professionals.
  3. Keep your pruning tools clean and clean the blades in between trees or shrubs. One pruning cut on a diseased branch can spread disease throughout your garden. Wipe the blade clean with rubbing alcohol. Don’t ever put your pruning shears away without cleaning them first.

Why soil tests are important to optimal Springs lawn care

Most homeowners know what services are necessary for good Springs lawn care: proper mowing, aeration, overseeding, adequate hydration and fertilizer. Aeration is one of the most beneficial Springs lawn care services, especially if you live in an area that experiences episodes of little to no rainfall. Aerating your Springs lawn will allow the water from your irrigation system to reach the grass roots directly and be immediately absorbed. However, even though aeration ensures that your Springs lawn and soil are manipulated, you should go one step further and also have your soil periodically tested by a Springs lawn care professional.

A soil test is a fairly simple procedure and many Springs lawn care companies offer the service for free in conjunction with their Springs lawn care programs. The Springs lawn care technician will take a small soil sample and have it sent to a lab. A qualified soil expert will examine the sample and look at the pH level (acidity); the presence or absence of such macronutrients as phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen; the presence or absence of such micronutrients as iron, calcium, zinc, boron, manganese, copper and other nutrients that deter weed growth and enhance the Springs lawn’s resistance to insect and disease infestations; the soil type, which can help your Springs lawn care technician create a preventative plan to reduce the incidence of compaction; and levels of decomposed plant material, also known as thatch.

Once the results are back, your Springs lawn care specialists can consult with you on what the best plan of action is regarding your Springs lawn care regimen. To schedule a soil analysis, call your local Springs lawn care company today.

Lawn Care Tip: How to make your own cedar mulch

There are several different varieties of mulch to choose from, but many homeowners and commercial property owners seem to prefer cedar mulch. Cedar mulch offers the landscape a hint of rich color, and of course there is the aromatic cedar smell that adds an extra incentive. Cedar mulch also offers landscape beds superior protection against soil erosion and compaction, weed growth and protects the roots of your plants from the hot sun. If you think cedar mulch is only useful when the weather is warm, you’ll be happy to know that mulch also protects the roots from freezing during spells of cold weather. So now that you know all the benefits of cedar mulch, you may wonder how you can make your own.

In order to make your own cedar mulch, according to Katy lawn care experts, you will need cured cedar wood in the form of a stump or logs, a chainsaw, a hatchet and a hammer. Using the chainsaw, cut the cedar stump or the logs into two-inch sections, stacking the pieces atop one another. Once you have a complete stack, use the chainsaw to cut vertically down the stack again in one- to two-inch sections. Gather the stack back together and proceed to perform another vertical cut, this time forming a crosshatch pattern. All of the resulting wood shavings and pieces will serve as part of your mulch.

You will still have some smaller pieces that need to be broken up into tinier pieces. Use your hammer and hatchet to bust them up in whatever sizes you prefer. Place all the wood in a large container and add an amount of water that is proportionate to the wood chips. Lawn care professionals say for this project, a gallon of water is usually plenty. Make sure all the wood chips have been dampened by the water and let sit for three days. Drain the water from the container and let the cedar mulch dry in the sun for a day, turning it occasionally to make sure the undersides of the wood chips have a chance to dry out as well. Once all the pieces have dried, you have your very own source of cedar mulch to adorn your Katy lawn!

Making your own cedar mulch may be a fun activity, but perhaps you’re looking for a more professional approach. Call your local Katy lawn care company and ask about their mulching services.