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Ants & Jimmy Stewart

Who has been stung by an ant and thought “ants are good, they are an essential part of our environment and we could not live without them” says no one ever!  But it’s true!



I won’t bore you with a lot of numbers but there are over 22,000 different species of ants in the world and they have evolved over the last 99 million years from the wasp family.

  • They are smart and are good problem solvers, working well together within their colonies, each doing their job and are adaptable to change.  Us humans could take some lessons from these tiny guys!
  • Ants are pests themselves but they eat the eggs of even pestier bugs – like flies, fleas, bedbugs and cockroaches – and help rid areas of pests that do serious damage to gardens and crops.  They’ll eat ticks, termites and even scorpions.
  • By feeding on dead animals and other insects along with dying vegetation they help keep our world clean.  
  • Ants are natures soil tillers, their underground tunnels help with air and water circulation of the soil which benefits all plant life.  Earthworms steal the credit, but ants do the real work.
  • Plant seeds are carried by ants back to their nests where some will take root, thus helping plants spread and grow over a wider area.

I realize that ants do good work, but I don’t want them bothering me while they do it.  I do not use a complete insect killing granule on my lawn since it kills many beneficial bugs – including the most important of all – the bee.  I choose to kill individual fire ant mounds with Quick Kill which works within minutes killing the entire colony and queen.  Lesser ants like sugar ants are dealt with in a similar fashion.   

Ants are like Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life” – the world is a better place with them in it.

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Should I Weed & Feed?

From the research I’ve done on this subject the answer is unanimously NO, it is not recommended for our area in North East Texas.   

What is Weed and Feed?  It is a granular combination of fertilizer and weedkiller in 1 bag.  In theory it sounds too good to be true and according to the experts it is just that. 

The granules aren’t as effective as spray weedkillers since most herbicides work through leaf absorption.  Granules fail to adhere to the weeds as well as a weedkiller applied as a spray. In turn the granules of fertilizer that stick to the grass blades can cause stress to your grass.

Application through rotary spreaders scatters the granules into flowerbeds and under trees which can cause damage to desirable plants.  Directions on the bag caution against using under trees and shrubs but tree roots can grow 1 to 1 ½ times the tree’s height out from the tree making it difficult if not impossible to prevent contact of the weedkilling herbicide to the roots of trees and shrubs. 

Neil Sperry says, “No” to the use of Weed and Feed.  In our area the best time to apply a weed killer is not the best time to apply fertilizer to our grass, so applying them both at the same time through the use of a Weed and Feed is not ideal.

He suggests the following for weed control and fertilizing your lawn in spring:

  • Apply a pre-emergent weed killer to stop germination of weed seeds in late February to March and then again in June.  
  • Use a broadleafed herbicide to kill clover, dandelions and other non-grassy weeds, 2-4,D in spray form. 
  • Fertilize your lawn in North Texas around April 1- April 15th.  Wait until your grass is actively growing. 

There are people who have applied Weed and Feed for years with good results and will disagree with this article.  Please don’t send me emails…  There are 2 sides to every coin and that adage fits as to whether you decide to apply or not to apply Weed and Feed.  

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It’s Time To Put Out Pre-Emergent!

Is it always weed season in Texas?  Seems to be the case.  Actually, we have 2 main weed types – cool season weeds and warm season weeds.  What’s growing now are the cool season weeds and as they begin to disappear the warm season weeds will take their place – so yes, it is always weed season in Texas!

The best place to start is to understand what you’re up against.  Weeds throw off thousand of seeds per plant, think about that – thousands per plant, multiplied by how many plants?  Not all of them live and sprout into a weed, otherwise the world would literally be overrun by weeds. 

One method of weed control is by using a pre-emergent in your lawn and flower beds.  This chemical option stops weed seeds from germinating and becoming a weed.  Spread the pre-emergent granules onto your lawn and in your flower beds before the seeds begin to germinate.  The granules are broken down by water so watering the area after applying allows the herbicide to be drawn down to the seed level. 

When do I apply a pre-emergent?  In early spring (mid-February/March) to prevent warm season weeds and in the fall (Oct) to prevent cool season weeds.  It is so much easier spreading these granules than pulling weeds!

Neil Sperry suggests using a pre-emergent with Dimension as the active ingredient.   Bring us your lawn and bed dimensions (pardon the pun) and we’ll calculate how much you need. 

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It’s Fall! Time to put out Pre-Emergent!

Is it too late to apply a pre-emergent to my lawn and flower beds since it’s Fall?

No, this is the perfect time to broadcast pre-emergent granules on your lawn and flower beds to help prevent cool season weeds from germinating and growing this winter. Your lawn will be so much healthier when it isn’t competing for nutrients and water with ugly weeds.

Neil Sperry suggests using a pre-emergent with Dimension as the active ingredient. There are several products that include Dimension and we’ve found one that works in both lawns and flower beds which has a higher concentration than many on the market – thus saving you money. Bring us your lawn and bed dimensions (pardon the pun) and we’ll calculate how much you need.

A Pre-Emergent lawn care product eliminates weeds at the earliest stage of growth — before you even see them. Several key factors are important to consider if you want to use this type of weed killer effectively.

Here in East Texas, because our weather is all over the place, it is recommended to put it down every 3 to 4 months.

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Enjoy a Lush Summer Lawn!

Do you struggle each year trying to keep your lawn looking lush during the heat of the summer?  If so, follow these tips to help your grass look its best.

lushlawn1Mow it High:  By allowing your grass to grow longer by an inch or so more in the summer you cut down on water evaporation from the soil, grow deeper roots, and help shade the soil and cut down of water evaporation.  Only mow 1/3 of the length of your grass at each mowing.  Warm season grass should be mowed between 2” – 3” high.

Water Deeply but Infrequently: Lawns need at least 1 inch of water per week.  It is best to water early in the day to help reduce evaporation and fungal growth.  Frequent, shallow watering encourages grass to grow short roots, causing the grass to stress so be sure to water deeply but infrequently to encourage deep roots.   Tip:  place a small tuna can in your lawn to capture water while your sprinkler is on.  When it measures 1” of water then you have watered enough – watch the time and this is how long you need to water each time.

Feed Regularly:  There are conflicting points of view on whether to fertilize your lawn in hot weather.  Within 6-8 weeks of feeding, nutrients in the soil need to be replenished to maintain a thick lawn.  If you irrigate your grass then fertilization is most definitely helpful.  The opposing point of view is that the increased growth results in additional stress on the lawn. lushlawn2

Control Weeds:  Weeds compete with your grass for water – so start a weed management program to rid your yard of weeds.  Use a selective weed spray on actively growing weeds and apply pre-emergent granules twice a year (Spring & Fall) to prevent weed seeds from germinating.

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Building Curb Appeal

15 Seconds……………

That’s about how long you have to create a good impression when a buyer first views your home. The moment they pull up, even before the car door opens, they’ve formed an opinion and you had better be sure it’s a good one!

“Because today’s buyers have much more to choose from in the way of inventory, any home for sale must make a positive first impression,” according to the National Association of Realtors.®

But the good news is, you can shape your prospective buyer’s opinion by maximizing your home’s curb appeal – and it’s not going to cost you a fortune.  Here are some ideas of how you can quickly improve the appeal of your home so that it doesn’t stagnate on the market and fetches the best possible price.   These same ideas work for those of you who just purchased a new home and wish to improve upon your existing curb appeal.

  • Eliminate Weeds

Kill them, pull them, dig them – whatever method you choose is up to you, but      get them out of your flower beds, sidewalks, driveways, and paths.

  • Prune or Trim existing plants and trees

Overgrown beds hide the beauty of your home.  Trim back overgrown shrubs,       prune branches from trees, thin out overgrown areas in your flower beds.  If you      are unsure how to properly trim or prune your shrubs and trees look on the internet for advice.  Neaten up any overgrown beds.

  • Plant Rye Grass (if selling in the fall / winter)

Make your yard stand out by having a bright, cheery, green lawn all through the    fall and winter.  It is simple and inexpensive to over-seed your existing lawn with           rye grass.  Just make sure you have not applied a pre-emergent to your lawn – it will prevent the rye seed from germinating.

  • Apply Pre-Emergent

If you are not going to over-seed with rye grass then apply a pre-emergent on your lawn.  This will prevent any cool season weed seeds from germinating and growing into weeds.  Your lawn won’t be green, but it won’t have weeds either.

  • Freshen Mulch

Spread a thin coat of mulch in your existing flower beds and it will make the bed   look much cleaner and new.

  • Replace Dead Plants

            If you have dead plants in existing landscapes then replace them with healthy       plants.  Dead plants give the appearance of neglect and a potential buyer will     wonder what else hasn’t been tended to other than just the plants.

  • Create an instant garden

Container gardens add a welcoming feel and colorful appeal to any home exterior — quickly and affordably. You can buy ready-made containers or create    your own with your favorite plants.

A staggered, asymmetrical arrangement of 3 to 5 pots creates a dynamic setting or flank both sides of the door with single matching pots.  Choose bold colors to add the “wow” to the neutral color of most homes.  The current trend is to combine several different type of plants into your pots designs – small shrubs, ornamental grasses along with an area for seasonal color.  The best part is you can take them with you if you are selling your home.

  • Add Outdoor Fountain to cover road noise

If you happen to be on a busy street and road noise is an issue in your outdoor     seating area you can minimize it with the sounds of falling water from a water           feature.  Offered in a variety of sizes and styles (ornate, contemporary, earthy) let the burbling sounds of falling water take the place of the sound of cars rushing by. Place fountains on level ground in optimum hearing and sight vantage points.

  • Add Seasonal Annual Color to Existing Beds

            Colorful annuals planted in groupings can make a statement that is easily seen     from the road.  These pops of color brighten up the yard and can help draw            attention to them and away from another area of the yard that you might want to          de-emphasize.

  • Create a new planting bed

Add contrast and color to your home with a new planting bed. Prime spots are at the front corners of the yard, along driveways or walkways, and immediately in         front of the house. When creating a new bed, choose features that will frame your home rather than obscure it.  Take advantage of our  “Plant by Number” design program – we design it and you plant it.  Best of all it’s free.

  • Outdoor Lighting

Low-voltage landscape lighting makes a huge impact on your home’s curb            appeal while also providing safety and security. Fixtures can add accent lighting to trees or the house or can illuminate a walking path. If you aren’t able to use lights that require wiring, install solar fixtures (but understand that their light levels are not as bright or as reliable).

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How to get RID of WEEDS!

Weeds – We all hate them, but we all have them.  I am going to share with you an easy way to kill weeds in your flower beds – it will work using either an organic or a chemical weed spray.   If done correctly there will be no more crawling around in your bed pulling weeds, no more aching backs or ruined manicures.

What you will need

Your weed killer of choice mixed up in a sprayer, a large piece of cardboard and a helper.  You will be spraying weeds in your flower bed, but don’t panic…..done correctly it will not harm your plants or shrubs – and here’s why.

 

The Secret: 

The poison is absorbed through the foliage of the weed – it travels down through the plant into the roots and kills it from the root up.  Think of the spray as a bullet.  If a bullet hits you – you die.  If the bullet zings past you – you are unharmed.  This works on the same principle.

 

The Fun Part: 

So step into your flower bed and use the cardboard as a barrier between you and your “good” plants.  You can spray all around your bed by shielding your shrubs with the cardboard – this is where the helper comes into play.  They can maneuver the cardboard around your plants while you spray the weeds.  It doesn’t take very long to accomplish spraying even large beds.

This method is very effective on both nut grass and Bermuda grass along with other weeds.  Over a period of time the number of weeds that reappear will decrease.  If you combine spraying with broadcasting a pre-emergent weed killer throughout your flower bed quarterly you will eventually be almost weed free.

 

Tips and Hints: 

  • When mixing your poison add a spreader sticker to your sprayer. This helps the poison stick to the weed and not drip off onto the ground so more poison is absorbed into the weed and it is killed faster.
  • Choose a non-windy time to spray to help prevent overspray from floating through the air to good plants.
  • If you do happen to spray a good plant by accident wash it off with the water hose. The plant could be cosmetically damaged but the root ball of the plant will not be effected.
  • Do not weed eat prior to spraying since the foliage is what absorbs the poison.
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Pre-Emergent: Stop Weeds Before They Sprout!

Is it too late to apply a pre-emergent to my lawn and flower beds?60400.png

No, this is the perfect time to broadcast pre-emergent granules on your lawn and flower beds to help prevent warm season weeds from germinating and growing this summer. Remember to do so again in the Fall to help prevent cool season weeds. Your lawn will be so much healthier when it isn’t competing for nutrients and water with ugly weeds.

Neil Sperry suggests using a pre-emergent with Dimension as the active ingredient. There are several products that include Dimension and we’ve found one that works in both lawns and flower beds which has a higher concentration than many on the market – thus saving you money. Bring us your lawn and bed dimensions (pardon the pun) and we’ll calculate how much you need.

A Pre-Emergent lawn care product eliminates weeds at the earliest stage of growth — before you even see them. Several key factors are important to consider if you want to use this type of weed killer effectively.

Here in East Texas, because our weather is all over the place, it is recommended to put it down every 3 to 4 months.

Read More
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