Beneficial Bugs for our Gardens

Pests can be very annoying but at the same time, some of them can be very beneficial for us.

There are a variety of bugs that can particularly be good for a healthy garden. These beneficial bugs actually keep destructive bugs away from your fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs.

Beneficial bugs are categorized into three groups:

Predators

beneficial bugs

The praying mantis (mantids) is one of your garden’s best friends.  These bugs only eat other insects including many that may attack plants in your garden.  In addition to mantids, spiders and centipedes also feast on garden insects.  Mantids will catch and eat flies as soon as they land on a plant.  Spiders simply wait until files, moths and other flying insects get caught in their webs before they begin snacking.  Centipedes typically attack garden insects on or near the ground.

Parasites

beneficial bugs

Certain wasps and flies will fly up to and land on garden damaging caterpillars.  Once they land, they lay their eggs on the caterpillar and fly away.  These eggs will then hatch and the larvae begin to feed on the caterpillar until it dies.

Pollinators

beneficial bugs

Honeybees are the primary pollinators in our crops and gardens but there are a number of other bees, wasps, flies, beetles and butterflies that also like to feed on nectar or pollen.  When they feed they spread pollen from male flowers to female flowers and as a result, provide a wide variety of food that we are able to enjoy.

Attracting Beneficial Bugs

beneficial bugsA number of different perennials, including pollen and nectar-producing plants such as
fennel, daisies, dill, clover, cabbage, sunflowers, goldenrod, catnip and yarrow can be planted to attract beneficial insects and pollinators.  Having a variety of these plants helps to maintain a ready source of pollinators to aid in pollinating any fruit that you may be growing.

Give Your Lawn And Landscape The Right Attention

right attentionProper mowing and watering dramatically impact the health of your lawn. Give your lawn and landscape the right attention with the following tips:

  • Mow frequently. Don’t remove more than 1/3rd  of the leaf blade height in any single mowing. Mow at least once per week during the growing season.
  • Mow high. During the heat of the summer, you should mow your lawn at the highest recommended cutting height to help grass retain water.
  • Water deeply and infrequently.  Our Florida sands dry out quickly so set your sprinkler system to run twice per week to deliver ¾ inch of water per zone.  Clay soils may not need to be watered as frequently. Check your local extension service for recommendations or contact us for a free inspection.

foot prints in dry lawnLook for signs indicating your lawn is too dry:

  • A dull bluish-gray coloring to your grass
  • Foot tracks that seem to remain in the grass
  • Leaf blades that are folded in half or wilted.

The key to a healthy landscape during dry periods is a balance of proper irrigation and proper maintenance. Either too little or too much irrigation can lead to an increase in weed, pest and diseases. For help keeping your landscape healthy and green all year long, contact Massey Services GreenUP for a free, detailed inspection.

Winter Irrigation Tips

475343297croppedIrrigation is one of the most important factors in maintaining our lawns. Irrigation systems should be reset seasonally to reflect the water requirements of different grasses based on the time of year. Proper winter irrigation is just as important as that of any other season.

How frequently should you water?
Irrigation frequency varies based on the type of grass, rainfall amounts, soil type, shade presence, geographical location and season. Failure to adjust for seasonal changes usually leads to overwatering. Overwatering increases disease susceptibility and thatch buildup and leads to a shorter root system, which reduces the turf’s stress tolerance and ability to survive with less water. Overwatering also promotes the growth of certain weed species such as dollarweed and sedge.

In the winter months, St. Augustine grass with 6-inch roots can go without irrigation for as many as 10-28 days. University of Florida IFAS Extension recommends watering lawns on an “as-needed” basis, which can be determined by looking for the following signs:

  • Leaf blades that are folded in half lengthwise to conserve water
  • Grass that begins to have a blue-gray tint
  • Footprints or tire tracks that remain visible on the grass

Not all parts of your lawn have the same irrigation needs. Grass that grows in the shade will require much less irrigation. Sandy soils can require more frequent irrigation.

Check with your local Water Management District to learn about any watering restrictions in your area.

How much should you water?
The amount of water applied does not vary seasonally. Efficient watering wets only the turfgrass root zone and does not saturate the soil or allow water to run off. When grass begins to show stress symptoms, ½ to ¾ inch of water should be applied.

When should you water?
The best time for lawn irrigation is early morning. During the day, excess evaporation can waste water. Watering in the evening extends the time the lawn is wet from dew and can lead to disease.

It’s important to check your irrigation system regularly to make sure it is operating properly and providing uniform coverage. Contact the experts at Massey Services for a free inspection and recommendations on an irrigation maintenance program that’s right for you.

 

Eight Tips for a Lake Friendly Landscape

water-lilies-on-the-water-surface-among-other-aquatic-plants-and-weedsProper landscape care and healthy landscapes help our environment. Fertile green spaces reduce pollutants and dust in the air, minimize heat buildup, convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and minimize water pollution.

Massey Services promotes sustainable lawn and landscape practices in our communities and offers the following water and lake friendly tips for homeowners:

  • Homeowners are encouraged to follow guidelines from the University of Florida’s Florida Yards and Neighborhood program for strategies on proper design, installation and maintenance for healthy landscapes that use minimal water, fertilizer and pesticides.
  • Massey Services has been using phosphorus-free fertilizers for nearly 20 years. Phosphorus-free lawn fertilizers have now become common in lawn and garden centers and are readily available for homeowner use. We recommend phosphorus-free fertilizers with a minimum of 50 percent slow-release nitrogen for a healthier more sustained feeding for your lawn.
  • Homeowners should always read and follow label directions for proper fertilizer usage. Applying fertilizer at rates greater than what the plant can utilize serves no beneficial purpose.
  • Hard surfaces such as concrete driveways, sidewalks and roadways act as funnels into the storm sewers that lead to waterways. Fertilizer and organic debris from these hard surfaces should be removed and deposited into turf areas where the turf can utilize the nutrients. If not removed, this debris can reach waterways, which feeds algae and can create algae blooms.
  • Turfgrass areas have the ability to capture tons of organic debris such as leaf litter. Mow the debris into the turf with a mulching mower and the leaf litter virtually disappears. Leaf litter can provide valuable nutrients to the turf.
  • Utilize a water smart irrigation program – smart technologies like advanced sensors which measure factors such as temperature, humidity, wind and rainfall accurately monitor the amount of moisture in the soil which help prevents wasted water.
  • Homeowners, at a minimum, should maintain an irrigation system equipped with a rain shutoff device. Irrigating at a time when rainfall has been sufficient is a waste of precious natural resources.
  • Use targeted and timely weed control applications. Many weed control materials used after weeds have emerged will kill weeds through contact. Be targeted in your use of weed control applications as no benefit is gained by applying these types of materials to areas that do not have weeds.

If you would like to learn more about our lake friendly landscape care, contact the experts at Massey Services today and schedule a free landscape analysis.

Winter Weeds Thrive in Cooler Temperatures

weedsFall temperatures are finally making their way to our Southern regions. While summer annual weeds will begin to die, perennial weeds, like dollarweed, continue to be an issue.

With the rainy season behind us, you may think additional watering is needed, but dollarweed thrives in wet conditions that may be caused by overwatering. It’s important to have a professional that can help control your landscape weeds and prescribe proper irrigation. The professionals at Massey Services will ensure your lawn is receiving the correct amount of water and can help to control any winter weeds that may begin to invade your lawn and landscape, like winter annual broadleaf weeds.

Winter annual broadleaf weeds thrive in the cool temperatures. While these weeds die naturally when it warms up, they are problematic during the winter creating competition for the turf you want on your lawn.

This is the last month to apply a pre-emergence herbicide in order for it to be effective before the winter annual weeds sprout. A thick healthy lawn maintained through proper nutrition and proper watering and mowing is important. Please contact the experts at Massey Services for a free landscape inspection. They’ll build a a customized plan to keep your lawn and landscape looking its very best year-round and to help prevent winter weeds.

Tips on Maintaining a Healthy Landscape

Maintaining a healthy and beautiful landscape can be challenging, especially in the Southeast duelandscape slider to the drastic weather we experience throughout the year. Here are a few tips for homeowners to prepare our landscapes for the season ahead:

  • Spring is the time to apply fertilizer to the turf and shrubs. Make sure to follow the label directions and remove any fertilizer debris from the driveway, sidewalks and roadways for the protection of our waterways.
  • Provide a thin layer of mulch to shrub bed areas to aid in the prevention of new emerging weeds and to help retain soil moisture. Mulch should be applied to a thickness no greater than 3 inches.
  • Inspect the irrigation system for proper and thorough coverage:
    • Each irrigation head overlapping to another irrigation head
    • Irrigation heads in all turf corners, such as the corner of the sidewalk and the driveway
    • No mixing of spray and rotor zones; the water output of these heads are vastly different
  • Make sure a rain shutoff device is installed and working properly.
  • Inspect turf and shrubs for plant-damaging insects and disease

There are a variety of pests and weeds that can invade our landscapes, especially as the weather starts to warm up. For additional information or for a free landscape inspection, contact Massey Services today!

Florida-Friendly Landscapes

Ever hear the term “Florida-Friendly Landscape” and wonder what exactly it meant?  It’s actually a very detailed approach to creating and maintaining an environmentally responsible landscape!

So what exactly is it? 

Florida-Friendly Landscaping is a trademarked concept created by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Services (UF/IFAS) with support and cooperation from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.landscape slider
The primary goal of Florida Friendly Landscaping (FFL) is to protect our natural water resources by conserving water, reducing waste and pollution, creating wildlife habitat and preventing erosion.  The FFL concepts include proper plant selection and care as well as overall landscape design.

Florida-Friendly Landscaping is based on nine principles designed to create and maintain landscapes that are visually attractive as well as attractive to wildlife and reduce environmental impacts.  The 9 principles are:

  1. Right Plant – Right Place:  Certain plants will flourish based on the conditions in the areas they are planted.  Make sure the plants you select will thrive in the areas natural conditions where you are planting.
  2. Water Efficiently:  Irrigation is key to maintaining a beautiful lawn and landscape.  Check your irrigation system regularly to ensure it’s providing proper coverage.
  3. Fertilize Appropriately
  4. Mulch:  Utilize mulch in open areas of planting beds to protect against erosion, maintain soil moisture and inhibit weed growth.
  5. Attract Wildlife:  Tree-sized shrubs provide a nesting place for birds and those with berries provide a food source.
  6. Manage Yard Pests Responsibly:  Overuse of one particular type of plant stimulates an increase in pest problems.
  7. Recycle
  8. Manage Storm-water Runoff
  9. Protect the Waterfront

All Massey Services Landscape Team Members are trained on the Florida-Friendly Landscaping (FFL) program and its concepts. If you would like to have a Florida-Friendly Landscape for your home, contact the experts at Massey today and schedule a free inspection!

Be On Alert for Sod Webworms

Sod webworms – they’re a landscape pest with a funny name but can also cause serious damage to your landscape.  What’s worse, sod webworms are drawn to beautiful looking lawns that are healthy and lush. They are small lawn caterpillars that feed on lawns, causing severe damage very quickly.  These inch-long, leaf chewing caterpillars are light green and brown in color, feed on your grass blades and leave it looking like a badly cut lawn.Sod Webworm Damage

Here are a few tips to know and be on the lookout for in your lawn:

  • Check for brown spots or uneven, jagged-edged lengths of grass in your lawn – this is a potential sign your lawn is under attack
  • St. Augustinegrass lawns are most commonly attacked by sod webworms but they can feed in other types of grass as well.  It is common to find them feeding first in small patches of crabgrass so pay close attention to these weedy patches as an early warning sign
  • White spots on grass blades indicate that young sod webworm caterpillars are present, where they scrape the leaf surface and leave only the veins of each blade
  • Look for small, brownish-gray moths flying around in the late afternoon.  These are adult versions of this pest that can indicate a new wave of caterpillars could be on their way.
  • The tiny caterpillars will hide in the soil but you may also see green pellets that they leave behind on grass blades

Adam Jones, VP of Quality Assurance for Massey Services, said the following about these pests. “Sod webworm infestations are incredibly difficult to prevent.  The adult moths are uncontrollable as they fly into your lawn to lay their eggs.  When the eggs hatch, the young caterpillars emerge and begin to immediately feed on the grass blades.”

If you suspect you may have a sod webworm infestation in your lawn, don’t wait until it’s too late!  Contact Massey Services to schedule a free inspection today!

Irrigation During the Summer is Tricky!

Irrigation during the summer can be challenging, especially here in the Southeast where the unpredictable weather can bring periods of both dry and wet conditions.irrigation maintenance

Here are a few tips to follow when it comes to irrigating your lawn and landscape:

  • Be sure you have a rain sensor installed and that it’s working properly
  • Check your coverage to ensure all sprinklers are covering each zone evenly with 3/4″ -1″ of water
  • Check your landscape frequently for browning, dry areas and hand water if necessary
  • Look out for areas that are saturated and overwatered, and reduce your watering time in those zones

At Massey Services, we’ll provide a free Water Management Audit, along with a recommended Irrigation Maintenance Program that can take the guesswork out of maintaining your irrigation system throughout the entire year!

 

The Facts on Chinch Bugs

The most damaging insect pest of St. Augustinegrass is the chinch bug.  And depending on the location, one to several generations of chinch bugs can occur each year.

Their damage is caused when they suck the juices from grass blades and inject toxins back into the leaf blade. Chinch bug activity often starts during the drier part of the year in many southern areas and is often first noticed in water-stressed areas such as along sidewalks or in poorly irrigated areas. Therefore, conditions such as poor irrigation design, insufficient watering, or both, help to exacerbate the problem.

Chinch Bug Identification

Adult chinch bugs are about 1/5 of an inch long and black with white patches on the wings.  The white patches can sometimeslandscape-invaders resemble the shape of an “X” on the back.

The young nymphs range from 1/20 inch long to nearly 1/5 of an inch.  The small nymphs are reddish with a white band across the back, but become black in color as they approach adult size.

Chinch Bug Biology

Adult chinch bugs will sometimes hibernate in the winter.  All stages of life are present year-round in most of the state of Florida due to the warm climate, but the primary time of activity in most states is April through October.

Their eggs are laid in leaf sheaths or pushed into soft soil and other protected places.  In the summer, the eggs hatch in 10 days and the young develop to adults in three weeks.  It takes about 20 chinch bugs per square foot to cause damage.

What Does Damage Look Like

Symptoms appear as irregular patches of lawn that resemble drought stress.  These areas gradually turn yellow and then brown.  The dead turf will have a yellowing on the outside margin and the growth of the yellowed grass will be stunted.  Weeds will also begin filling in the dead areas.

If you suspect you may have chinch bugs, call a professional for an inspection immediately.  If left untreated, the damage will continue to spread throughout your lawn.

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