Monday, February 23, 2015

Getting Ready For Spring

Here are a few things you can do now to make your yard activities go much easier this year and a few things to help you around the house if you are a DIY (do it yourselfer).

Get your mower ready for another season. There are only so many small engine shops and mechanics, so get your mower in early to beat the rush. New blade, air filter, spark plug, and be sure your pull start rope is in good shape. Ask them to set the height of cut for you, so you are mowing at the right height. Finding a source of ethanol free gas should help with all your small engines.

Put out preemergent control products now and control weeds before they ever come up in the lawn or beds. Pushing a spreader now will save you a lot of work later. Imagine not battling the small seeded annual weeds – no crabgrass, yeah!

Measure your lawn and bed areas. After seeing Shelton’s (Big Bang Theory) commercial, maybe there is an ap for this. Just like buying medicine for my dog, the veterinarian needs to know how much he weighs to give him the correct amount. The different fertilizers and control products all have rates associated with them (5 pounds per thousand square feet, 3 pounds per thousand square feet, etc), so you have to know how big your yard is so you know how much product to purchase.

Measure your bed areas and turf areas in small defined spaces. Side yard by Smith’s, front yard to the right of sidewalk, front yard to left of sidewalk, back yard, side yard by Jones’s, bed along front of house, big bed by Jones’s...

Once you have these measurements you have a big key to having a better landscape. I’m “old school “, so after measuring my yard, I immediately made 5 copies of the paper I was recording the information on so I wouldn’t lose it. I have one posted in the garage, 3 taped to and under magnets on file cabinets in my home office and one in a file. After writing this I realize, I could be a little “new school” and scan the information into a file in my computer (if I could figure out how to work the scanner…).  

With the rain we have had this winter, fleas are going crazy. Prefurred One and Prefurred Plus are two products that contain Fipronil and will provide long term control of fleas on dogs and cats. I know at Possum’s we are selling way more flea products this time of year than usual. Alpine Flea Insecticide with Growth Regulator and Precor 2000 with growth regulator are two popular aerosol products that are very effective especially if you put them out before the problem and the growth regulator keeps them in check.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Kill Summer Weeds Now!!

This cool weather really has our local oysters tasting good, and the soil temperature indicates that it is just about time to apply preemergent products to your beds and turf. Valentine’s Day (applying preemerge for your wife is a great present by the way if you like living with the dog in the dog house) has come and gone and the running of the Daytona 500 is this week. So now is the time to apply the magical weed preventer, and this year is shaping up to be no different.

Depending on which Phd doctor you believe, crabgrass germinates when the soil temperature (3 inches deep) stays above 55 degrees (some people say 57 degrees), for 3 straight days provided adequate moisture in the soil. Now some doctors say remains 57 degrees or above for 24 hours at a depth of 3 inches with adequate moisture.  If you are not in to monitoring the soil temperature, Valentine’s Day or the running of the Daytona 500 should work for you.

The turf areas as well as the landscape bed areas will greatly benefit from the use of preemerge products. Not only will the yard look better, but your plants will not have to compete with the weeds for sun, nutrients, and water. If you are controlling weeds with preemergent products, there are less weeds there for you to spray or pull, saving you time. There is also less stress on you trying to find time to control the weeds in your yard (example “Honey, [Johnny or Jane] and I are going [turkey hunting, spot tail fishing, golfing, to watch March Madness and eat chicken wings {Jane shopping, going to the movies, getting my hair done}].” Spouse reply, “ok sweetie, have you sprayed the weeds in the front yard like you said you were going to do last week?”) Kill them now with a preemergent control product!

For those new readers of the Horticulture Hotline (with the record setting snowfall in the Northeast, I expect many new readers as soon as they can sell their house and get down here), preemergent control products kill weeds as they germinate.  The weeds never come up and you never have to worry about them.  Crabgrass, goosegrass, barnyardgrass, crowfootgrass, dallisgrass (seedling), foxtail, annual bluegrass, smutgrass, barley, kikuyugrass, wild oats, bittercress, carpetweed, chickweed, Carolina geranium, henbit, knotweed, lespedeza, marestail, black medic, mustard, oxalis, pineappleweed, pigweed, redroot, parsley-piert, purslane, rocket, shephardspurse, speedwell, spurge, and woodsorrel are examples of weeds controlled by preemergent products.  Small seeded annual weeds are controlled by preemergent products.

Read the label of the specific product that you are using to get an exact list of weeds that the manufacturer has tested and shown to control. Preemergent products applied now do not control winter annual weeds that are already up like annual blue grass. To control annual bluegrass, you would have used a preemergent in August.

Clover, Florida Betony, Nutsedge and Dollar weed are not controlled by preemergent control products.  These are perennial weeds. Weed Free Zone is a liquid that will do a good job on controlling many of your broadleaf weeds. The Nutsedge will require a different product and is most likely not visible right now.  It is important to control these weeds now before they go into their reproductive stage.  A weed in its reproductive stage is harder to control than a weed in its vegetative stage. By killing the weed now you avoid having to deal with more weed seeds next year.

It is very noticeable when you ride through the Lowcountry which homeowners and which businesses used preemergent products last fall at the correct time. One business or home lawn will be nice and brown and dormant with-out a spec of green in sight. Right next to it will be brown turf mixed with green weeds. Again, it is very important to control those weeds now before they begin to flower.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Roaches, Nasty Roaches

Although this is the Horticulture Hotline, I decided to write about entomology (insects) today. The old cockroach has found its way into many Lowcountry homes.  Contact your pest management company if you have a contract or consider getting on a contract if you do not like dealing with cockroaches.  If you are a die hard do-it-yourselfer, here are a few tips that will make your battle a little more effective. 

Treat your outside perimeter. A band about three feet from your house generally in the mulch is a good place to start. A granular product like Bug Blaster in the mulch beds surrounding your house will help kill the roaches before they get inside your house. A NOP (National Organics Program) organic product that is very effective is InTice Perimeter Bait. Using a spray around windows, doors, garage entry, and any other entry point to your house will also keep them from entering your house. EcoVia is a NOP product you can use around the outside and inside of your house.    

Underneath your house, consider dusting with a boric acid product. BorActin is a NOP product labeled for this or you could use the InTice Perimeter Bait. These products will last a long time in the crawl space of your house because they are away from sunlight and moisture. 

In your house, consider using InVict Gold cockroach gel. InVict Gold is a fast acting bait that has our customers at Possum’s singing it’s praises. The bait products are great because they move throughout the roach population.  Maxforce Gel capitalize on roaches nasty habits needed to survive, making these products very effective.  An immature roach has to eat the fecal pellets of the adult roach in order to mature into an adult roach.  Roaches also cannibalize each other.  By using this bait, you get a domino effect by the little roaches eating the fecal pellets of an adult that has consumed the bait.  When one roach dies from the bait, then another eats the dead roach, it will also die.  In wall voids you can also use InTice Perimeter Bait. 

There are many good aerosols that come with a long straw that are designed to be sprayed in cracks and crevices.  Now there is a good selection of “green” aerosols to choose from along with the old standbys. If you treat the outdoors and use a gel, an aerosol application probably will not be necessary.   

Definitely consider using a growth regulator to help lengthen your control of the roaches.  Generally, growth regulators are very safe to humans if applied properly, and some will also help with fleas (Nylar). Growth regulators will keep roaches from reproducing; therefore, breaking up their life cycle. 

Knowing where to put these products is crucial for the success.  Always read, understand and follow the product label.  There are also many pest control companies that are well established in this area and are very capable of taking care of any of your uninvited guests. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, this article should help and the products suggested should work well without being very toxic.