Do-It-Yourself Ways to Control Ticks

Do-It-Yourself Ways to Control Ticks

Ticks are not only annoying, nasty little bugs, but they also can carry and transmit dangerous diseases such as Lyme. Diseases are transmitted from pest to host as the tick feeds on the host’s blood. Although there are chemical ways to keep these bugs at bay, some prefer more natural methods that are safer for people, pets, and the environment. Find out how you can control ticks.

Signs & Symptoms

Before battling these bugs, you must first be able to identify them. Ticks are eight-legged bugs in the arachnid family with round, flattened bodies. There are many types of ticks ranging in color from black to brown to reddish brown. Many are as tiny as a pinhead, but grow in size as they feed on blood.

Ticks love high humidity and moisture. Damp, shaded places and grassy overgrown areas are welcome environments. For example, woodpiles retain moisture and offer dark crevices in which pests can hide. Areas in your yard that are adjacent to woods or weedy lots are another popular locale.

Control Ticks in Your Yard

Keeping your yard clean and well-maintained is the first step in helping to control ticks. Here are some ways to make your property a less appealing environment for pests.

  • Trim back shrubs and trees to let more sun shine into your yard.
  • Get rid of debris, piles of cut grass, and dead twigs and branches.
  • Mow grass regularly and keep your lawn well-maintained.
  • Fix any areas with drainage problems.
  • Take care not to over-water.
  • Keep firewood neatly stacked in a dry location.

More Methods to Control Ticks

Make a bug barrier. Oddly, this picky pest does not like gravel or wood chips. Ticks avoid crawling over these materials and irritating their feet. Put a border between your yard and wooded areas adjacent to your property and fill it with gravel or wood chips to prevent pest passage. Or pick an area of your lawn and build a safe zone where your pets play. Cedar mulch naturally repels ticks, making it an ideal material for your border.

Consider fencing your yard. This keeps out larger animals like deer, raccoons, and foxes, which can carry ticks on to your property.

Landscape with herbs and plants that ticks tend to avoid. Rose geranium, pennyroyal, lemongrass, rosemary, garlic, and eucalyptus are natural tick repellents. And here’s a bonus, they help deter mosquitoes, too! Place a few citronella candles on your patio, as well.

There are essential oils that naturally repel ticks. Concoct a spray using cedar oil, which is non-toxic, or choose from a variety of cedar oil products that can be used on your lawn. Lavender, geranium, and peppermint essential oils are also natural repellents, but are not safe for certain pets.

Let Us Help You Control Ticks

Sometimes natural methods are not enough. If ticks are still ticking you off, contact Free Spray Lawn Care at [phone] and we’ll help you rid your home of unwanted pests.

Preventing Dog Urine Damage on Your Lawn

Preventing Dog Urine Damage on Your Lawn

You love your furry friend Fido, but your lawn does not. When your dog does his business outside, he leaves behind a pattern of burnt-out brown spots on the grass. These dead spots are harmful to your lawn’s overall health, as well as being visually unappealing. But how can you help your lawn when it’s under doggie duress? Here’s how to prevent dog urine damage.

How Dog Urine Damages a Lawn

Dog urine damage occurs when a pet prefers to pee in the same location again and again. Over a period of time, this area receives a concentrated amount of urine, which is rich in nitrogen. The roots of the grass absorb this overload of nitrogen, which causes grass to turn brown and eventually die.

A dog’s diet is high in protein, therefore, canine waste contains a lot of nitrogen. Both female and male dogs cause the damage, but females tend to be more frequent offenders. Why pick on females? Generally, the majority of female dogs usually squat in one location, while many male dogs opt for a variety of places.

Signs and Symptoms of Dog Urine Damage

Urine-burned blemishes look similar to lawn disease or pest infestation damage. Of course, if you follow Fido outside and watch where he does his business, you’ll know for sure. Look for roundish patches of dead grass that are brown in color and range anywhere from a few inches to over a foot in size. Sometimes these patches have a bright green border around the damaged area. This is because the nitrogen in the dog’s urine is the same ingredient in fertilizer. The center of the spot is getting a deadly overdose of nutrients, while the outer ring is getting just a little extra nitrogen. It’s experiencing the benefits of being fertilized, but will eventually succumb to the same outcome.

Solutions that Deal with the Dog

Obviously, the easiest way to stop dog urine damage is to keep your pet off the lawn, but that is not realistic. Fido needs to take his bathroom break somewhere, and you don’t always have time to take him for a walk or to the park. Training your dog to do his business in one location keeps the lawn lush in the rest of the yard. However, this solution takes time and patience. Start off with a larger area and take him there on a leash until he gets the hang of it. Pick a spot that’s out of the way or doesn’t have grass. Or better yet, create your own doggie zone with gravel, mulch, or artificial turf that won’t be harmed by urine.

Another solution is dilution. When your dog drinks more water, the urine is diluted and contains less concentrated nitrogen. Make sure your pet always has a fresh bowl handy.

There are dietary supplements you can give your dog to help counteract the high nitrogen, but these anecdotes may end up doing more harm to your pet than good for your lawn. Talk to your vet before you decide to make any dietary changes.

How to Help Your Lawn

  • Fertilize less or don’t fertilize at all in burnt spots. You can also find fertilizers with reduced nitrogen.
  • Pick a grass that can withstand extra stress. For example, fescue and perennial ryegrasses are more resistant to dog urine damage than Kentucky bluegrass and bermudagrass.
  • Water down blemished areas after Spot marks his spot. This helps dilute the urine. You can use the hose or even a bucket of water.
  • Reseed dead spots of grass. While this won’t stop the problem, it goes a long way in helping your lawn’s appearance.
  • Consider landscape changes. Hardscaping your yard is an option if you aren’t too attached to green grass. Try paver stones or bricks in some or all of the yard. These are easy to rinse off, plus require much less maintenance.

Let Us Help

Fortunately, some smaller areas of dog urine damage will recover over time and with a little TLC. Larger areas require reseeding or special treatments. Contact Free Spray Lawn Care today at [phone], and we’ll help you stop Rover from ruining your lawn.

Stop Crabgrass from Taking over Your Lawn

Stop Crabgrass from Taking over Your Lawn

An aggressive annual plant, crabgrass (digitaria) is considered a common weed by most because of its ability to easily invade lawns. This quick growing grass makes a mess of your lawn with its thick mangled appearance while robbing it of nutrients. Also known as foxtail, finger grass, or crow’s foot, the ugly weed is the bane of homeowners and lawn professionals alike. Find out how to stop crabgrass before it takes over.

Signs and Symptoms

Crabgrass appears in spring and spreads quickly during the hot summer months. It’s most noticeable in the late summer when it develops an unattractive appearance and begins to produce seeds. Bare spots, thinning turf, or high foot traffic areas make popular potential environments for this weed as well as others.

At first glance, crabgrass looks like most other newly sprouted grasses. However, it develops thicker blades and forms in clumps close to the ground as it grows. Stems grow outward instead of upward, making it easy for the plants to avoid a pass from the lawn mower. This weed gets its name because it resembles a crab, with bent legs of grass extending outward from the plant’s center.

Controlling Crabgrass

If you have to kill a large amount of crabgrass, herbicides are the way to go. This control method is all about timing. Using a pre-emergent herbicide is the best option for prevention. It’s applied in spring before crabgrass develops by forming a barrier to prevent seeds from sprouting. However, don’t use it if crabgrass is already present or if you have just put down new sod.

Post-emergent herbicides come into play with crabgrass that’s already established. There are two types of post-emergent herbicides. A selective one kills only the plants you target, while a non-selective herbicide kills everything in its path. Use a non-selective product for out-of-control infestations. It kills what remains of your grass as well, so you’ll need to reseed.

Crabgrass Prevention

While crabgrass diminishes a lawn’s beauty, it also signifies grass that’s in need of better care. Having a healthy lawn is the best way to stop crabgrass before it starts. That means a regular schedule of mowing, fertilizing, aerating, and watering. When grass is a thick lush mat, there’s no room for outsiders. Here are some other tips.

  • Overseed at the first sign of bare or thinning areas of grass.
  • Don’t mow too short. Taller grass shades the soil and helps prevent weed seed growth.
  • Water less frequently for longer periods of time. This promotes healthy grass roots and at the same time discourages weeds.
  • If you choose to pull out crabgrass, do it as soon as it sprouts and only if there’s just one or two young plants. You risk scattering more seeds by pulling established plants.

Let Us Help

A thorough maintenance program is required to ward off weeds. If you are short on time or patience, we can help. Contact Free Spray Lawn Care today at [phone].

Keep Mosquitoes Away this Summer Without Chemicals

Keep Mosquitoes Away this Summer Without Chemicals

Best known for their blood-sucking abilities and itchy bites, mosquitoes (Culicidae) are one of the most irritating summer pests around. They buzz around us and bite at barbecues, ball games, and basically every outdoor summer activity. Mosquitoes are becoming more and more dangerous for the deadly diseases they can carry. If you want to keep mosquitoes away this summer, but you don’t want to use chemicals, there are more natural ways to beat these bugs.

Signs and Symptoms

Most active at dawn, dusk, and dark, mosquitoes are most notorious for the itchy welts left behind when they sting. People react differently to the bites. Some suffer from a mild irritation or nagging itch, while others have more intense reactions.

Contrary to popular belief, not all mosquitoes bite. In fact, only females do. Male mosquitoes are usually smaller, and don’t have a thirst for blood. The females use long, piercing proboscises to draw blood from their hosts. They lay eggs anywhere they find standing or stagnant water.

Natural Prevention

Getting rid of breeding grounds is a good place to start. This means draining any standing water in your yard and eliminating places where water can collect. Some places to watch include empty plant pots, kiddie pools, bird baths, small ponds, buckets, garbage or recycling bins without lids, and old tires. Fix leaky outdoor faucets or hoses. Don’t worry about the pool because it has chemicals in it that already keep mosquitoes away. Fountains or koi ponds with moving water are okay. Water that flows is not a stable surface to lay eggs.

Maintain a clean yard and home. Examine your home for gaps around windows and doors, and fix any screens that need repair. A clogged gutter makes a good place to lay eggs, so clean them every year and check them often. Mow grass regularly, trim shrubs when necessary, and get rid of weeds.

Natural Ways to Keep Mosquitoes Away

Having an outdoor gathering or want to relax on the patio? It’s not always necessary to coat yourself in insecticide to keep mosquitoes away. Although many people use chemicals, there are also natural methods to prevent pests.

Use dish soap to sink the stinkers. Combine water and dish soap in a small bowl and place it on the patio. When mosquitoes come to breed on the standing water, they get stuck in the detergent and die.

Bring some fans outside. These pests are not strong fliers and any breeze makes it difficult for them to stay on course.

Fill your yard with scents they hate. Marigolds, rosemary, and catnip plants are good to have around since they naturally help repel mosquitoes. Other scents to consider are cedar, garlic, basil, lavender, cinnamon, and eucalyptus.

At many health stores you can purchase these scents as essential oils, such as the popular lemon-eucalyptus. Put a few drops of oil in a spray bottle with water and spritz yourself before you head outside. Keep in mind most natural scents require more frequent applications.

Decorate your deck with citronella candles. This is another scent detested by mosquitoes and other pests.

Shed some light on the subject. Incandescent white lights attract the bugs, so try using yellow LED lighting on your deck or patio.

Itching for Assistance?

Sometimes these natural methods are not enough. If mosquitoes are still getting under your skin, you don’t have to spend the summer indoors to avoid them. Contact Free Spray Lawn Care at [phone] and we’ll help you rid your home of unwanted pests.