Of the damaging insects that exist in Yakima Valley lawns, the bluegrass billbug (larval state) appears to be the most common culprit causing harm. Billbug damage will first appear in the warmer areas of turf, typically adjacent to paved surfaces. These areas are not only warmer, but receive less irrigation coverage than the rest of your lawn. Insect damage often appears as, and in conjunction with, drought stressed grass. To test for infestation in a suspected area, lightly pull up on a tuft of turf with your fingers. If it pulls up easily (contrasted with healthy adjacent turf), view the base of the grass and root portions held in your fingers. If you notice sawdust like "frass", you have strong evidence of billbug infestation. If you want to see the actual larva, cut a six to eight inch triangular section of your sod, pulling it back to a two to three inch depth. Lightly tap the sod, (some probing may be required) you will likely find the small, white, red-headed larva residing in the root system. If insects are found in any number, insecticide treatments will be necessary for control.
Other prevalent lawn insects in Yakima are crane-flies, sod web worm and cinch bugs.
The cliché, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.", is so true when in comes to weed control in beds. The fallow, well-irrigated soil-beds that many of us create are the perfect environment for weed seed germination. So to reduce weeds, we need to modify the environment in a way that is less appealing to weeds and more appealing to ornamentals. The following tips will point you in the right direction:
- A layer of bark or rock mulch will create a dry surface less favorable for weed germination. As an added benefit, this insulation (provided by the mulch) reduces evaporation, reducing water requirements.
- Pre-emergent herbicides prevent weed development by inhibiting germination. Applied correctly, these products will not harm your desirable plants.
- Round Up, and other post-emergent herbicides, are very effective in controlling existing weeds. These products control by contact with the green surfaces of actively growing weeds. Caution must be used, as unwanted drift will harm desirable plants.
- Some selective herbicides are designed to control grasses without harming broadleaf and evergreen ornamentals. Weed grasses can be controlled with multiple applications of these products.
- Ground covers such as ivy, juniper or other "mass plantings", do a great job of reducing weeds. Just as a thick healthy lawn leaves little room for weed invasion; the same truth applies to our shrub beds. Keep your plants vigorous and healthy.
- Regardless of the preventive tactics employed, manual pulling remains an effective sure fire method of weed control. The above tips will reduce, but unfortunately not eliminate, some good old fashioned weed pulling.
"Dormant spray", the first application of our annual tree spray program, is preventive in nature and should be applied anytime during the window of February through April. Our dormant application uses horticultural oil as the primary insecticide component, along with a copper based fungicide to assist with control of mildew and other disease. As the season progresses and temperatures rise, we modify the prescription, adding and reducing products to ensure your plants start the season off right.
Systemic insecticide is injected into the soil where the tree roots move it up the plant. To be most effective, a systemic treatment should be made in the fall or early spring (A systemic injection can be applied in the summer months, but it may take two weeks for it to work). A systemic injection, applied just once a year, is by far the most effective treatment for aphids; ending the sticky mess caused by them. In addition, these applications are environmentally friendly and do not harm beneficial insects such as lady bugs.
Most trees and shrubs can be trimmed and thinned anytime during the growing season. Heavy pruning, if needed, should be performed during the cooler days of fall and early spring. Spring flowering shrubs such as lilac and forsythia should be pruned after to ensure a good flower the following season. To reduce frost damage, roses should not be pruned hard until the month of March.
Our landscapes are composed of a diverse variety of trees and shrubs, each with their own varying needs. Pest problems (and the timeframe for control) occur at various times throughout the season. To ensure your living landscape is protected throughout the season, we designed our program to deliver the best products, applied at optimum times, to control damaging pests all season. Each visit, a technician will treat your trees and shrubs and also monitor and report corrective measures if necessary, proactively addressing issues prior to irrevocable damage.
Dormant spray is effective as soon as it is dry. In most condition one hour is sufficient drying time.
- Inadequate irrigation. Check soil for moisture. Increase watering "run times" if necessary and/or check sprinkler heads for correct operation.
- Insect damage. Billbugs and other pests cause a "browning" of turf which is often combined with and/or mistaken for "dry spots". Insect damage increases and becomes more noticeable as temperature rises. (June - Sept.)
- Disease. Many different turf diseases appear throughout the growing season.
- Dull-mower blade damage. When turf is cut with a dull blade, the blades will turn brown from the "ripping" of the grass blades. Lawns cut with dull blade are extremely susceptible to turf disease.
- Gas or chemical spills.
- Dog urine burn.
- Misapplied fertilizer or other lawn products.
- Turf variety. Warm season grasses go dormant at first frost and do not green up until May. Fescue grasses tend to turn off color in the hot months of summer.
- Lack of fertilizer.
Turf disease is a broad term we use to describe damage caused by a wide host of fungal and bacterial pathogens. Generally speaking, disease outbreaks occur most in stressed turf. Turf stress can be caused from environmental factors out of our control such as temperature extremes, humidity, grass variety and existing soil profile. Proper maintenance practices can alleviate the outbreak of turf disease symptoms:
- Excessive irrigation and/or inadequate irrigation can cause turf disease outbreaks.
- Compacted soil. We recommend annual aeration to reduce soil compaction.
- Excessive thatch. We recommend annual aeration to reduce thatch build-up.
- Improper fertilization-both excessive and/or insufficient nitrogen will promote disease.
- Dull mower blade. Dull mowers rip the turf-grass blades, which causes stress and creates an entry point for disease.
- Excessive shade and reduced air flow. (Ideal for growing mushrooms.)
- Necrotic Ring Spot. Disease pathogens are everywhere in all soils. However, disease symptoms often appear in lawns established by sod (not seeded) three to five years of age.
Aeration should be performed annually.
Core aeration is one of the most important maintenance procedures. Aeration reduces soil compaction and thatch while increasing water and air penetration- all of which contribute to a healthy root system- leading to a healthy lawn.
For optimum quality, lawns require at least five pounds per thousand square foot of nitrogen each growing season. To prevent and control crabgrass and other weeds, pre-emergent herbicide applications should be applied before weed seed germination. Since germination occurs over an extended period of time, we apply preventative pre-emergent herbicide treatments twice. Broadleaf weeds are difficult to control preventively as their seeds are continually being introduced by wind, water, etc. Therefore, multiple herbicide applications are required to achieve broadleaf control. When we consider all factors, six treatments are necessary to deliver all of the products at the right time for your lawn to thrive!
QUESTIONS CONCERNING LAWN SPRAY:
If broadleaf weeds such as dandelions are present, delay irrigation for 12 hours. If broadleaf weeds are not present, you may water immediately. When temperatures exceed 80 degrees, we recommend irrigation 6 hours following our treatment. For specific watering instructions, please refer to the "door-hanger" invoice provided with each application.
Delay mowing until after your lawn has received one watering cycle. If you "mulch" your lawn clippings and do not "bag", you may mow when the lawn is dry. If waiting to mow before irrigating is not practical, do not become overly concerned, as mowing removes only a fraction of the applied fertilizer.
For practical purposes as well as safety, pets and children should not be present while we are performing our service application. Humans and pets should stay off of treated areas until the sprayed areas are dry, typically after one or two hours. Once dry, you and your pets may return to enjoy your landscape.
Visible weed control results are dependent upon several factors including: weed type, temperature, and season of the year. Dandelions, for example, will display signs of control within hours of an application- you may notice an immediate twisting, or distortion of the plant. Initially, the weeds may appear to be growing faster, this, however, is a positive first sign of control. It will take two to three weeks for our herbicide products to run their full course. Some weeds are difficult to control and will require repeat applications. Weed seeds are ever-present in turf; they germinate and appear throughout the season. For this reason and others we recommend treatments every 5-7 weeks to keep your lawn healthy.
Rainfall will not hamper the effect of our Early Spring lawn application. The primary products contained with this application work in the soil profile. For this reason, rain actually accelerates the efficacy of this application.