Tree and Shrub Care: Prevent Salt Damage in Winter with These Tips

Tree and Shrub Care: Prevent Salt Damage in Winter with These Tips

We all know the drill after a snowstorm: apply rock salt to streets, walkways, and other well-traveled surfaces to prevent accidents. However, while this practice preserves our safety, it harms the landscaping. Follow these tips to prevent salt damage on the trees, shrubs, and plants in your yard this season.

Winter Woes for Trees and Shrubs

Salty spray from the road and salt-laden chemicals leaching into the soil affect water and nutrient intake in the root systems of trees and shrubs. Over time, the soil’s quality deteriorates as toxin levels increase. The results range from fewer leaves and blooms to premature leaf drop and twig dieback. Other symptoms include delayed development, early fall foliage color, burnt tips or edges on leaves, and brown needles on evergreens. These symptoms of salt damage differ from season to season and tree or plant variety, but are most visible in the spring. Several winters of salt damage often leads to death of weakened vegetation.

Tips to Help Prevent Salt Damage this Winter

Most damage occurs on vegetation near busy roads and heavily traveled pathways. If you are planting trees or shrubs, take care where you place more delicate species. Choose more salt-tolerant tree or plant varieties when adding greenery to your landscaping. Some trees that are more salt-tolerant include white and red oak, blue spruce, juniper, and paper birch. Avoid planting Douglas fir, dogwood, white pine, pin oak, and red maple too close to areas in need of salting.

To prevent salt damage to already existing vegetation, try using other materials that are less harmful to the environment. Alternative products like calcium magnesium acetate or magnesium chloride may cost more but less is required. Other gritty materials like sand, cinders, and kitty litter can be used in place of salt. Or try mixing these materials with salt to dilute the effects. Whatever you choose to use, apply less than the label states.

After icy weather, rinse away salt that has sprayed on shrubs or trees near roads and walkways. A good watering dilutes salt that has soaked into the soil. Or build barriers around more delicate trees and shrubs using fabric or burlap to help prevent salt damage.

Call Us in Any Season

Symptoms of winter salt damage are often similar to those of pest problems, disease, and drought. If you are uncertain of the cause of deteriorating plant life on your property, call in a landscape professional as soon as possible to help you identify and fix the problem. Contact Call Free Spray Lawn Care at [phone] with any questions on how to prevent salt damage.

Worried About Winter Annual Weeds? Here’s What to Do About Them

Worried About Winter Annual Weeds? Here’s What to Do About Them

They germinate in fall, survive the winter, and wreak havoc on your lawn in the spring. Even when you can’t see them, winter annual weeds lurk underground waiting to take over the lawn when the warmer weather arrives. Now is the time to tackle these weeds! Arm yourself with knowledge to beat these persistent plants before they become a problem.

What Are Winter Annual Weeds?

Weeds fall into three life cycle categories: annual, biennial, and perennial. Annuals are defined by a year-long life cycle in which the seed germinates in fall, overwinters as a plant, and rapidly grows as soon as the weather warms in spring. These hardy weeds survive cold temperatures and harsh weather in the winter only to die off at the end of summer. But not before they produce tons of seeds to keep the species alive.

Your Usual Suspects

Many winter annual weeds thrive in this area, but here we describe a few of the most common offenders.

  • A member of the mint family, henbit has square-shaped stems topped with pinkish or purple flowers that appear early in springtime.
  • Purple deadnettle is often mistaken for henbit due to similar characteristics. However, this look alike differs in that its stem is fuzzy and hidden behind a thicker covering of leaves. Leaves tend to be spade shaped.
  • Common speedwell boasts blue and white small flowers, oval serrated leaves, and heart-shaped pods that hold hundreds of seeds.
  • Often found in moist shady areas, common chickweed displays white flowers with notched petals. Its bright green leaves are smooth and pointed.

What to Do About These Weeds

The best time to prevent winter annual weeds from growing is in the fall. Use a pre-emergent herbicide, but make sure it targets the weeds you want by checking the label on the package. Ask an expert to help you properly identify the plant. But whatever you do, don’t wait for the pretty little flowers to show up in spring. That means they are ready to set seed and overpopulate your once-healthy lawn.

Weeds won’t thrive in a dense healthy carpet of grass. There’s just no room for them. In order to ward off winter annual weeds, keep your lawn lush and strong with a regular maintenance plan that includes watering, fertilizing, mowing, and aerating. Call in an expert to help. Contact Free Spray Lawn Care today at [phone].

Fall Leaf Mulching: Make Your Life Easier and Your Lawn Healthier

Fall Leaf Mulching: Make Your Life Easier and Your Lawn Healthier

No one lists raking leaves as their favorite fall activity. But there’s more than one way to get rid of that layer of leafy litter on your lawn. Fall leaf mulching (shredding leaves into tiny bits with the mower) makes your life easier and your lawn healthier. Here’s why.

Leaves, Leaves Everywhere!

Fall’s fallen foliage makes a colorful carpet in our yards this time of year. As beautiful as it appears, it harms the lawn if left on too long. The leaf layer traps in moisture, creating an enticing environment for fungal diseases. It also blocks out sun, oxygen, and nutrients.

Most people dislike raking. But there’s another way to get the job done that involves less labor and helps the health of the grass. Fall leaf mulching uses a lawn mower to pass over the leaf layer, dicing each leaf into little pieces that decompose more easily. Eventually, the small bits of leaf break down in the soil and supply it with nutrients.

Fall Leaf Mulching: Pros

Raking, piling, and bagging leaves takes time and is more laborious than mulching. Using the mower requires less twisting and bending (just a lot of pushing!) and it’s one step instead of several. Mulching also takes away the challenge of finding somewhere to dump the leaves if your town doesn’t pick them up. So save yourself time, extra bags, and the clutter by the curb with fall leaf mulching. You’ll also save time and money with less fertilizing: mulch material feeds the lawn as it decomposes. And you keep those plastic bags of leaves out of the land fills!

Fall Leaf Mulching: Cons

Clearly, the benefits of fall leaf mulching outweigh the disadvantages. Mulching with a mower usually takes one pass over the leaf layer, but if the leaves aren’t shredded into small enough pieces (dime size or smaller) then another pass over the lawn is required. The only other disadvantage is that if the shredded leaf layer is too thick it still smothers the grass underneath. Make sure the layer is no more than a quarter of an inch thick.

Give Us a Call this Fall

Cross your least favorite chore off the list this season. Fall leaf mulching might just make your life a little easier (and your grass a little greener in the spring). Better yet, give Free Spray Lawn Care a call at [phone] and let us put the fun back in your fall. You can count on us for all of your lawn-care needs.

Repairing Bare Spots in Your Lawn Now Leads to Greener Grass in Spring

Repairing Bare Spots in Your Lawn Now Leads to Greener Grass in Spring

No one wants to see a nicely manicured lawn littered with patchy dead spots. If you fit one more thing on your fall to-do list, make it reseeding rough areas of the yard. Here’s how repairing bare spots in the lawn now helps you reap the rewards in spring.

What Causes Bare Spots?

There are many reasons for dead or thinning patches of turf, and sometimes it’s difficult to know which one is the actual cause. Of course, the obvious reasons are lack of water, too much shade, dog urine, and heavy foot traffic. Not so obvious reasons include disease, pest problems, and unhealthy or compacted soil. Even cutting the grass too low causes scorching. You may have to dig deep to get to the root of the problem. Pests, like grub worms, are easy to spot if you peel back a piece of the damaged turf.

Steps for Repairing Bare Spots in Your Lawn

Early fall is the ideal time for reviving grass. Reseeding is one way to fix patchy problems, but you can also use sod. Follow these simple steps for repairing bare spots in your lawn with reseeding.

First, prepare the area for planting new seed. Rake to remove weeds and dead grass, then loosen the soil so the seeds get embedded easier. If the soil is compacted, aeration is necessary. Manual aerating tools get the job done since these are usually smaller areas.

Select the proper seed type at the garden center based on the type of grass already existing and local climate, then sprinkle a thin layer of seeds over the area. If you are unsure of what seed mix to select, ask for help or call in a lawn-care pro.

Birds are big fans of freshly spread grass seed, so add a thin layer of straw to protect the new additions. The layer needs to be thin enough to let in some sun, yet thick enough to help keep seeds warm, moist, and hidden from hungry creatures. If you don’t have straw, use a little extra topsoil.

Keep the area moist by watering with a light spray so as not to wash the seeds away. Wait to mow until the new grass is about three inches tall.

Let Us Revive Your Lawn

It’s important to know the actual cause of dead grass in the lawn. If you don’t get to the root of the problem, the bare spots will recur. We can help identify the problem and return your turf to a thick healthy state. Contact Free Spray Lawn Care today at [phone] for help repairing bare spots or any other lawn-care needs.

Secrets to Eliminating Silverfish From Your Home

Secrets to Eliminating Silverfish From Your Home

Ever turn on the light during a middle-of-the-night trip to the bathroom only to be startled by a tiny prehistoric-looking pest prowling around the floorboards? Then you are familiar with silverfish, a common household pest. Eliminating silverfish once they invade is no easy feat. Arm yourself with the following knowledge and tips to fight these pests and keep them out of your home.

Evil Invaders or Harmless House Guests?

The answer is a little of both. Silvery and scaled, silverfish are mostly household nuisances not known to bite or carry disease. That said, no one likes to find these creepy creatures inside the home. Plus, the pests damage all kinds of stuff around the house. Their diet favors carbs and sugars, and they love everything from wallpaper glue to clothing to books and boxes. Your family photos are not safe from silverfish. And a photo album, well, that’s just a multi-course meal! They even have the audacity to invade your kitchen, chewing through cereal boxes and getting into cooking canisters of flour and sugar.

Our Top Tips for Eliminating Silverfish

The key to eliminating silverfish is prevention and making your home a less desirable environment. Follow these tips to help pest-proof your home.

  • Eliminating silverfish starts with eliminating moisture in your home. These pests prefer damp or humid environments like bathrooms or basements, especially if there are leaky pipes, dripping faucets, or any moisture issues. For a damp basement use a dehumidifier, and make sure bathrooms are ventilated.
  • The next step is to inspect your home for any points of entry. Indoors and out, seal up any cracks or crevices in walls or foundations and around windows and doors. Repair torn window screens and patch up gaps around pipes or utility lines entering the home.
  • Keeping a clean house is essential. Dusting and vacuuming regularly removes silverfish food sources. In the kitchen, store food in airtight containers, wipe up crumbs, and never leave out leftovers. Take the garbage out often.
  • Silverfish love to hide in and feed on piles of paper and cardboard, so remove stacks of old newspapers or magazines and trade cardboard boxes for plastic storage bins.

Let Us Help

Silverfish are nocturnal critters and notorious hiders. They are also super fast. Try to kill one by hand and watch it wiggle away fast into a crack or crevice, or any opening that their flat bodies fit but humans have a hard time reaching. At the first sign of an infestation, call in an expert. Contact Free Spray Lawn Care today at [phone] and we’ll eliminate silverfish and any other pest problems for you.