Fall Lawn Care: Next Steps

Fall Lawn Care: Next Steps

The weather is noticeably cooler and the leaves are starting to fall. Summer is quickly coming to an end and so is lawn maintenance season… right? Not quite! Fall is the perfect time to do some last minute preparations so your yard is ready for spring. By investing a little time before winter sets in, you can guarantee a lush, green lawn once the weather warms up again. Check out these next steps to take care of your lawn this fall.

  • Continue To Mow. Your grass will continue to grow until the first hard frost so don’t put away your lawn mower just yet! Continue to cut your grass to a height of 2-1/2 to 3 inches. Leaving your grass any longer than this can cause it to mat which can lead to fungus and mold. Cutting any shorter than this can damage the root system to the point that it can’t tolerate the winter cold and dryness.
  • Continue To Water. Even though there is more rain and dew in the fall, it’s usually not enough to keep your plant roots hydrated and healthy. Your grass needs at least an inch of water per week. If you’re not getting that much in rain, etc., keep your sprinklers and irrigation system running until the end of October. Then you can disconnect your hoses and flush your irrigation system so the pipes and spigots don’t freeze over the winter.
  • Rake The Leaves. Contrary to popular belief, leaving a layer of leaves over your lawn doesn’t insulate it over the winter. The leaves, in fact, will block light from getting to the grass and trap moisture underneath which can lead to disease and fungus and kill your grass. Blow or rake the leaves as often as you can – or – mow them and reuse the clippings as a nutritious mulch for your yard!
  • Aerate The Soil. Aeration should be done regularly – once every couple of years. Aeration prevents the soil from becoming compacted and covered with thatch (a thick layer of roots, stems, and debris). Thatch blocks water, oxygen, and nutrients from reaching the soil. The best practice is to aerate your soil right before you fertilize so the fertilizer goes straight to the plant roots where it is most needed.
  • Fertilize. Fertilizing not only protects plant roots from freezing in the winter cold but also gives them a boost of energy so they can bounce back in the spring. It is best to fertilize in 2 steps: Apply a weed and feed first so you can kill weeds and nourish your lawn at the same time; then apply a 2nd feeding about 6 to 8 weeks later to give your lawn the last bit of nutrition it needs to store energy for the spring.
  • Overseed Your Lawn. Overseeding is is the planting of grass seed directly into existing turf, without tearing up the turf, or the soil. Overseeding not only fills in thin spots and bare patches but also makes your lawn denser which helps protect against weeds. Fall is the best time for overseeding because the ground is still warm, moisture is plentiful, the nights are cool, and the sun is not as hot during the day.
  • Clean Out Your Flower Beds. Fall is the perfect time to clean out your flower beds before spring planting. Clean out the remains of any old annuals, dried stems, and other debris. This not only helps keep destructive pests away but also helps prevent the spread of disease and fungus. Cut perennial stems to within an inch or 2 of the ground.
  • Clean Your Tools. Once your fall lawn preparations are complete, it’s time to put your tools away for winter. Make sure to clean them before you store them to prevent rust. Perform any maintenance on your mower after the last cut of your yard before you store it away for winter also.
  • Check Your Gutters. Falling leaves are a big culprit of clogged gutters and downspouts. Clean out any leaves and debris from your gutters before winter sets in. Inspect for damage and make sure downspouts are pointed away from foundations. Consider installing gutter guards to eliminate the hassle of cleaning your gutters in the fall.

If the thought of getting all of these chores done before winter sets in seems overwhelming, we can help! Contact Northwest by filling out the form below or giving us a call for a Free Lawn Analysis!

9 Ways To Protect Your Outdoor Fun From Pests

9 Ways To Protect Your Outdoor Fun From Pests

One of the perks of summer is spending more time doing what we enjoy outdoors – barbecues, picnics, gardening anyone? But, you know that all of these fun activities come with another risk – pests! Nothing ruins a picnic faster than ants or mosquitoes. What can you do to make sure you can still enjoy all the fun times outside this summer? Check out these 9 ways to protect your outdoor fun from pests.

  1. Remove standing water. Standing water is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Walk around your yard and fill in any areas where water is prone to pooling. Use pumps in ponds and fountains. Empty out any containers that contain standing water like wading pools, flower pots, buckets, toys, wading pools, and more. Check gutters and rain spouts for clogs and clear them. Consider using gutter guards to help prevent clogs. Check around AC units for leaks.
  2. Clear out clutter and debris. There are lots of items around your yard that can hold rainwater like toys, tires, and even half empty bags. Make sure these are empty and cleared away or, if you can’t get rid of them, turn them over so they can’t collect water. Piles of leaves, fallen branches, and rotting fruit can attract pests to your yard by providing them with food and shelter. Make sure these are cleared out of your yard.
  3. Landscape your yard. Tall grass and weeds can harbor ticks, fleas, and ant hills. Mow your lawn regularly in spring and summer so pests have less places to hide. Overgrown shrubbery and tree branches that are in contact with the side of your home can provide a clear pathway for roaches and other pests. Keep trees and shrubs trimmed with at least 1 foot between the branches and the walls of your home.
  4. Store firewood properly. Firewood provides food and shelter for many different pests, especially termites. Make sure firewood is dry before storing it. Keep firewood stacked above the ground and use a rack or a platform if possible. This way ants and termites can’t easily access the wood. Make sure firewood is stored at least 5 feet away from any structures like houses or sheds. If possible, store firewood with a cover or roof over it.
  5. Use screens. Keep windows and doors closed as much as possible. Make sure doors and windows have screens on them. Check screens regularly for holes and tears and repair or replace them as needed. Check around doors and windows for gaps and replace weatherstripping as needed.
  6. Inspect your outdoor equipment. Regularly check the chains of swing sets and the corners of outdoor furniture for spiders and egg sacks and remove them immediately. Check under your porch, in your eaves, or near your grill for wasp nests and remove them immediately. Keep outside toys outside and inside toys inside. If you have to bring outside toys items inside make sure to wipe them down beforehand.
  7. Cover your food. Keep all food and beverages in sealed covers and containers. Keep food covered at all times. Keep garbage containers sealed. Bring utensils and dishware indoors shortly after the meal. Clean trash, spills, and crumbs immediately from tables and other surfaces. Rinse all beverage bottles and cans and dispose of them in tightly closed garbage containers. Use clear plastic cups for drinks since aluminum cans and plastic bottles provide hiding places for stinging insects.
  8. Use insect repellent. Mosquitoes are most active from dusk to dawn. If you must be outdoors during this time, use insect repellent that contains DEET. Use repellent on both exposed skin and on your clothes. Wear long sleeves and pants to avoid bites. Use citronella candles around decks and patios.
  9. Call a professional. If you suspect you have a pest problem, call a professional pest control company who can provide you with a thorough evaluation and a comprehensive treatment and prevention program for pests.
Mosquito Prevention – How Does A Mosquito Reduction Program Work?

Mosquito Prevention – How Does A Mosquito Reduction Program Work?

The best approach to controlling mosquitoes takes advantage of every life stage of a mosquito. This approach is known as an Integrated Pest Management approach (IPM). IPM employs a variety of different pest management techniques with an emphasis on pest prevention, pest reduction, and the elimination of habitats that can lead to pest infestations. A successful IPM strategy is made up of 4 different strategies:

  1. Removal Of Habitats. Mosquitoes require a water habitat for 2 stages of their life cycle. Elimination of water leaves them with nowhere to breed. Get rid of any standing water in gutters, buckets, toys, old tires, tarps, and any other container in and around your home. Consider installing gutter guards to prevent standing water in your gutter systems. Empty and change out the water in your fountains, bird baths, rain barrels, wading pools, and potted plants at least once a week. This will get rid of any eggs that may have been laid in the water since emptying it the week before. Make sure to keep your swimming pools treated and circulating.
  2. Use Structural Barriers. Using structural barriers decreases the incidence of mosquito bites. Install screens on your windows and doors and make sure they are in good repair. Make sure the edges are sealed. Cover any gaps in walls, doors, and windows.
  3. Control Adult Mosquitoes. This is the best and fastest method to prevent diseases transmitted by adult mosquitoes. Adult mosquito control uses an EPA-registered pesticide and is applied by aircraft or on the ground by truck-mounted sprayers.
  4. Control Larval Mosquitoes. Controlling mosquitoes in the larval stage allows them to be eliminated before they emerge as adult mosquitoes. This involves a method called source reduction (also known as physical or permanent mosquito control). Source reduction is the removal or permanent destruction of mosquito breeding sites. The goal of source reduction is to minimize larval mosquito production through habitat destruction. It can minimize or completely eliminate the need for multiple applications of both larvacides and adulticides. Source reduction can be as simple as properly disposing of containers that can hold water or as complex as draining swamps or installing ditches. Some methods of source reduction you can do at home include disposing of, covering, or tipping over any containers that can hold water such as flowerpots, cans, and old tires. Source reduction for freshwater lakes and ponds include periodic drainage, minimizing emergent or standing vegetation, and maintaining steep banks. Source reduction for swamps and marshes is difficult because of severe restrictions in environmental law.

If you suspect you have a problem with mosquitoes in or around your home, contact a professional pest control company who can provide you with a thorough inspection and comprehensive treatment plan.

Common Winter Pests and How to Prevent Them

Common Winter Pests and How to Prevent Them

During the colder months of winter, most of us like to stay bundled up and warm – with warmer clothes and inside our cozy homes. Unfortunately, many animals also seek this same shelter and warmth in the winter – oftentimes in our homes! Do you know which animals can cause problems for you during these colder months? What can you do to prevent them from seeking shelter in your home? Check out these common winter wildlife pests and 6 ways you can prevent them.

SQUIRRELS

Squirrel
Squirrels can be a problem year round. They don’t hibernate in the winter and stay very active. They like to seek shelter and warmth in attic spaces. They may also seek out your attic as a storage space for their winter stash of nuts, grains, and seeds so they don’t have to search for food in the cold winter months. Squirrel nests are easy to spot in the winter in bare trees. Squirrels are notorious chewers – so if you have them in your attic you can expect your wood, insulation, and electrical wiring to suffer damage.

SKUNKS

Skunk
Skunks live in the same areas during the winter as they do in the summer. They like to burrow under our decks, patios, and stoops. Skunks don’t technically hibernate, but they do lower their body temperature and heart rate in the winter to conserve energy and therefore become less active. They can go up to a week without food and water but will venture out on a semi-regular basis in search of sustenance. They live in larger communities in the wintertime for warmth.

RATS/MICE

Rats and Mice
Rats and mice are also year round pests but they can become more of a problem in the winter. These rodents seek out warmth, food, shelter, and water inside our homes during the harsh winter months. They can squeeze into your home through extremely small openings. Like squirrels, they are also notorious for chewing through insulation, wiring, and wood.

BATS

Bats
There are at least 40 different species of bats in the United States. Bats are mostly active in the summer months and will hibernate in the winter. They will, however, hibernate in your attic! Bats like to roost in attics, belfries, behind shutters, and loose boards. They are carriers of rabies and can spread disease.

RACCOONS

Raccoon
Raccoons are nocturnal and rarely seen during the day. Raccoons can cause significant damage to roofs and chimneys in their search for den sites. They will also get into crawlspaces in search of den sites. They are a major carrier of rabies.

CHIPMUNKS

Chipmunk
Chipmunks are like squirrels in that they gather and store their food in the fall. They are less active in the colder weather, lowering their body temperatures and heart rates to conserve energy. They usually make their nests in underground burrows that can be up to 10 feet long. They will venture out every few days to eat, drink, and go to the bathroom. Oftentimes they will use attics as a storage space for their winter stash.

OPOSSUMS

Opossum
Opossums are the only marsupial found in North America. They will occasionally make their dens in attics and garages. They are known to make very messy nests. Opossums have very sharp teeth and will show them, as well as hiss, when they feel threatened. They are known to bite in very rare cases.

PREVENTION:

Winter wildlife can be a problem especially if they build a nest or store food in or near your home in the wintertime. The cold weather also doesn’t eliminate the diseases that they carry and spread. If these pests get into your home they can cause significant damage to your roof, insulation, foundation, wiring, and more. What can you do to prevent winter wildlife from making your home theirs? Check out these 6 tips to prevent winter wildlife.

  1. Eliminate Entry Points. Winter wildlife can’t get into your home if they don’t have a way in. Carefully inspect your home for any openings that animals can use to get in. Check and proof any weep vents in your bricks. Seal around HVAC and utility lines, in gaps in the foundation and siding, in gaps between your roof and soffits, and gaps between the soffits and fascia. Check your roof vents, as well. Seal gaps around windows and doors, including your garage door. Many rodents can chew through rubber or thin plastic seals so consider using heavy duty metal seals or caulk. Check screens on doors and windows to make sure they are in good repair. Use chimney caps. Consider enclosing your crawlspace to prevent unwanted critters, as well.
  2. Clean Your Gutters. Clogged gutters can block the drainage of rain and melting snow and ice. This can not only cause damage to your home, but also invites birds and other wildlife to build their nests here. Make sure drains are clean and that your spouts are far enough away from your foundation. Consider installing Leafproof XP Gutter Guards to make gutter cleaning and maintenance easier for you.
  3. Clear Out The Clutter. Now is the time to reorganize your belongings. This not only lets you get your garage or attic cleaned out, but also allows you to inspect areas of these spaces that you might not normally have access to. If possible, get rid of cardboard storage boxes and use plastic containers with lids instead. Get rid of old newspapers or other paper products as these invite rodents and other pests to make nests.
  4. Get Rid Of Their Food. Winter wildlife will eat anything they can get their hands on. If you have birdfeeders, take them down in the evenings and put them back out in the mornings. Clean up any spilled birdseed from the ground underneath them. If you do keep your birdfeeders out all the time, consider squirrel proofing them. Use trash and compost bins with locks and store them in the garage if possible. Make sure outdoor composts are well sealed. Store food in airtight containers and refrigerate them if possible. Don’t leave pet food out overnight, especially outdoors. Clean up any spilled food and crumbs daily and sweep and vacuum often.
  5. Clean Up Your Yard. Clutter and debris in  your yard can invite all sorts of pests to invade. Keep your yard clean and free of debris. Trim shrubs and branches away from your home as pests can use these to access your house. Stack firewood at least 2 feet off the ground to keep animals from nesting underneath. Dead trees, brush piles, and tall grasses should be put in yard waste bags and kept in the garage until garbage day.
  6. Call The Pros. If you suspect you have a wildlife problem, call a professional wildlife control company. They can come out and inspect your home, remove any unwanted critters, and provide you with a prevention and treatment plan to keep them from coming back.

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