Are Those Circles in My Lawn Brown Patch Fungus?

brown patch fungusIs your lawn dotted with large yellow or brown circles? A fungus in your lawn’s soil might be the reason for these spots. Brown patch fungus is common in the fall, winter and spring and the beauty of a lawn can be quickly destroyed by the fungus. So as the temperatures begin to change this fall, your lawn is changing too.

Brown patch fungus thrives in cool temperatures and high moisture, and may lie dormant in the summer months before making its appearance. Shaded areas that receive and hold water are most at risk.

If brown patch fungus goes untreated, it can cause major damage to your lawn by attacking the lower portions of the plant and thinning large areas of turf. When turf thins due to brown patch fungus, weeds that flourish in cooler temperatures and high moisture will take advantage of the empty space and fill it in.

How to Identify Brown Patch Fungus In Your Yard:

  • Circular patches of damaged turf that may be several feet in diameter
  • Turf changing from green to yellow, or even orange or purple
  • Blades of grass that are rotten and slide out easily when pulled

Prevention and Treatment Tips:

  • Prompt responsive treatment is the best way to keep brown patch fungus at bay.
  • Irrigate grass only when needed and to a depth of 4 to 6 inches (generally 1/2 inch of irrigation per watering event and no more than 1 inch of irrigation or rainfall per week), but do not subject the lawn to drought conditions. Watering in the morning, ending by sunrise is best since the grass blades have plenty of time to dry during the day.
  • Avoid spreading the disease to other areas. Remove clippings if brown patch fungus is present and avoid walking through the patches to prevent spread to other areas.
  • Mow your lawn at the highest recommended height for your grass type. Different types of turf have different recommendations for mowing height. Standard varieties of St. Augustine should be mowed at 3.5 to 4 inches. Seville is a dwarf variety of St. Augustine and should be mowed at 3 inches. Empire Zoysia should be mowed at 2.5 inches. Bahiagrass should be mowed at 4 inches.
  • Have the soil pH tested and treat according to test recommendations.

If you need professional assistance to control brown patch fungus or to evaluate your irrigation system, contact Massey Services for a free inspection.

Training Thursday: Protecting Pollinators

bee-friendly gardens help in protecting pollinatorsMassey Services is pleased to support the health of bees in the communities we serve. Some
experts say that the domestic honey bee population has declined nearly 50 percent in the last 50 years. Wild honey bees, bumble bees and other pollinators have also experienced losses. Massey Services has taken steps to develop service protocols and share important information with our customers to aid in protecting pollinators.

Why have pollinators experienced losses? Potential causes have been debated and include:

  • Bee-keeping practices
  • Diseases
  • Use of certain pesticides
  • Lack of available nectar and pollen sources due to urbanization.

Why is protecting pollinators important?

  • Pollinators are important because every fruit, vegetable or nut we eat comes from a flower.
  • Bees account for one third of the food we eat.
  • They also contribute to the diversity of flowering plants we enjoy around our homes and gardens.

What steps does Massey Services take in protecting pollinators?

Our landscape specialists and pest technicians have been trained to:Massey Services GreenUP specialist

  • Recognize the importance of pollinators on our environment.
  • Use alternate control measures or to delay treatment when plants are in bloom and pollinators are present.
  • Avoid the application of pest control materials when pollinators are foraging and plants are currently in bloom.

What can you do to protect pollinators?

Consider planting a bee-friendly garden. Here are a few tips for planting wildflowers that provide natural habitats for foraging pollinators:

  • For mild-winter areas: You can plant almost anytime,
    except during your hottest season.
  • In Florida, fall is best.
  • In cooler climates: Plant after the last frost.
  • Seeds can be planted in a pot or directly into the ground.
  • Plant in an area that receives full sunlight.
  • Loosen soil and scatter seeds generously.
  • Rake lightly to cover seeds.
  • Keep seeds moist. They may need to be watered
    more than once a day in warm conditions.
  • Seeds should germinate within two to three weeks.

Cooler Weather Brings Unwanted Attic Guests

rodent_01roofrat_enlAn unwelcome consequence of the change of seasons is an increase in rats, mice and other animals finding their way into our attics. Adam Jones, vice president of quality assurance at Massey Services, recently shared his expert recommendations for keeping these unwelcome guests out of our homes with the readers of Pest Control Technology magazine.

Massey Services recommends a comprehensive rodent control program that incorporates sanitation, exclusion, repellents, traps and baiting. “Taking one action without the others may allow rodent problems to persist,” Jones says.

Homeowners can apply many of these strategies in their own efforts to keep rodents out of their homes.

Sanitation. Proper sanitation is the first step. Animals need food, water and shelter. Eliminate debris such as piles of unused lumber or trash to reduce potential shelter. Remove fruit that falls from trees in your yard and keep lids on trash cans. Store pet food and seeds in rodent-proof containers.

Exclusion. Rodents can squeeze through any opening their heads can fit through. For mice that can be an opening as small as ¼ inch. Conduct inspections for possible access points, focusing around wires, conduits and pipes, chimney and plumbing stacks. Also inspect soffits, eaves, attic and crawlspace vents for openings, and check your doors for worn or missing door sweeps. Seal small access points with rodent proof materials such as copper mesh, ¼-inch hardware cloth, 24-gauge metal or cement.

Repellents. Place gel repellents made with plant and pepper oils in and around access points. If you have a heavily pitched roof or a crawlspace with large open areas, consider using strobe lights to drive animals out of the space. The light should be placed in an area that allows for maximum coverage.

Traps & Baiting. Use snap traps or sticky traps baited with seeds, fruit and other foods that attract pests. Secure the traps so that the pest cannot move it. Repeater traps can also be used. It’s important to follow up once traps are placed. Dead rats or mice must be removed before decay begins. This helps avoid odor and staining and prevents the attraction of other pests, such as flies and beetles. Note: Rodenticides should never be used in the attic.

For more information on preventing rats and mice from entering your home, contact Massey Services for a free, detailed inspection and written analysis.

Termite Threat to Our Biggest Investment

For most of us, our homes are the largest financial investment we’ll ever make. Most people don’t realize the termite threat to our biggest investment. In fact, termites cause more damage to homes in the United States than tornadoes, fires and earthquakes combined – over $5 billion annually.

termite threat to our biggest investmentTermites are silent and very difficult to detect. They can eat on the wood in your home for years before you ever know you have a problem. And each year, unfortunate homeowners fork out thousands of dollars to repair termite damage. If you plan to renovate your bathroom and discover termite damage, it will cost you anywhere between $3,500 and $8,000 to make necessary repairs.

And unfortunately, most homeowners’ insurance does not cover the repair costs of any damage caused by termites.

Termites are active all year round. They get in through plumbing or other openings as well as tiny cracks and crevices about 1/64 of an inch. And it doesn’t matter if your home is made of brick, block or stucco, or even built on a concrete slab. Preventive treatment is critical and is recommended because every home is at risk.

Here are several tips to help you identify termite activity in your home:

  • Termite Wings: Often present after a swarm, wings are typically found in small piles near window ledges or other light sources.
  • Mud Tubes: Made of particles of soil, wood and debris, these allow subterranean termites to reach food sources above ground level.
  • Damaged Wood: This can include wood that sounds “hollow” when it is tapped with the handle of a screwdriver or wood that is soft when probed with a sharp object.
  • Small Holes or Ripples in Drywall: When termites damage wood within your home, they often create tiny holes in the drywall. Extensive damage to the wood can make the drywall look rippled.
  • Pellets: Drywood termites excrete pellets that are kicked out of holes. These pellets often accumulate in piles on window sills, baseboards and under wooden objects.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to protect your home from termites. The financial impact can be devastating.

Contact Massey Services for a free, thorough inspection of your home and learn more about your choices for termite protection.

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.

Healthy Turf is Nature’s Gift to the Urban Environment

Did you know in addition to being aesthetically pleasing and a great asset to your property value, a healthy turf that is actively growing has great environmental rewards? Here are just a few of the benefits you can enjoy from a healthy landscape:healthy turf benefits

  1. Trees, bushes, hedges, shrubs and flowers reduce air pollution by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.  In fact, one tree can reduce 26 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year…the equivalent of 11,000 miles of car emissions.
  2. In the heat of summer, your bushes and hedges can absorb heat from the sun, reducing your utility bills and conserving energy. Grassy lawns are 14 degrees cooler than bare soil in the summer heat.
  3. A landscaped garden can also reduce noise pollution in your home by blocking out surrounding noises.

How Can We Help You Achieve a Healthy Turf?

Massey Services is committed to Best Management Practices (BMPs) to manage water, nutrients and landscape care applications. When we design a program, we take into account all factors – sun, shade, temperature, soil type and geography – to perform the correct treatment and only apply the necessary applications for the type of plants present in the landscape. Plus we use non-chemical means of creating healthy landscapes like core aeration, which creates healthy roots by ensuring landscape applications make their way into the soil and prevents water runoff to protect our waterways.

To schedule your free inspection and start enjoying the benefits of a healthy, beautiful landscape, contact us today.

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.

 

The Health Risk of Rodents

They surprise us by suddenly appearing, tiny eyes and long tails, squeaking as we scream. Just the appearance of rats and mice can scare us. The diseases they carry on their bodies and produce from their urine and droppings are just as frightening.rodent_02housemouse_enl

Rodents are known to carry at least 10 different kinds of diseases, including murine typhus, salmonella, rat-bite fever, bubonic plague and bacterial food poisoning, all of which can cause severe illness. Hantavirus, another disease carried by rodents can progress to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), which can be fatal. Cases of HPS occur sporadically, usually in rural areas where forests, fields, and farms offer habitats for rodents. Hunters and campers have been known to contract HPS when they make camp in areas that have been infested with mice. Deer mice, cotton rats and rice rats in the southeastern states carry the virus.

Keeping rodents at bay helps reduce the threat of illnesses they may spread. Here are some important things you need to know about rodents:

  • Block access points like holes around plumbing pipes, spaces in eaves and around doors and windows to keep rodents out of homes and sheds. Rats can enter a building through holes half an inch wide; mice can enter through holes one quarter of an inch wide.
  • Rats and mice tend to enter homes in search of food and shelter and will eat any kind of food that people eat. Store food in airtight containers. Rodents can gnaw through cardboard boxes and plastic packages.
  • Rodents can contaminate 10 times as much food as they eat, with urine, droppings and hair. Discard any food that may have come in contact with rodents.

Keeping rodents out of your home is one of the best ways to avoid the illness and disease that they spread.  Massey Services’ Pest Prevention program will prevent these pests from gaining access by identifying and eliminating areas they may be using to get inside your home.  Contact Massey for a free inspection today and avoid these frightening encounters!

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.

Pest Facts for National Trivia Day!

National Trivia Day Pest Facts

January 4 is National Trivia Day. It may seem trivial to celebrate a day dedicated to information considered of little importance or value, but we thought it would be fitting to share some interesting pest facts!

Ants

  • Ants can distinguish between sour, sweet, bitter and salty tastes.
  • Some species of ants have compound eyes and well-developed vision, while some unfortunate species are blind.
  • Ants vary in length from about 1/16 of an inch to almost 2 inches.

Bats

  • Bats are the only mammal that can truly fly.
  • The largest bat in the world is the Malayan flying fox, which can have a wing span of over 6 feet!
  • One bat can devour up to 3,000 insects in a night!

Bees

  • It’s estimated that honey bees pollinate one out of every three bites of food that we eat.
  • Not all bees live in hives. Only 10% of the world’s 20,000 bee species are social, and only a small percentage of these construct hives.

Cockroaches

  • Cockroaches can live seven days without a head.
  • There are 4,500 different species of cockroaches in the world.
  • Most roaches are cannibalistic and will eat dead roaches if they are not cleaned up.

Mosquitoes

  • Mosquitoes have killed more humans than all the wars in history.
  • The name “mosquito” comes from a Spanish or Portuguese word meaning “little fly.”
  • Only female mosquitoes bite.

Spiders

  • Spiders have a lifespan that ranges from one to 25 years, and it’s estimated that you’re never more than 10 feet away from one.
  • There are more than 43,000 different species of spiders in the world, and only a small number of those species are considered dangerous.
  • It’s estimated that spiders eat more insects than birds and bats combined, helping to control the pest population.

Termites

  • Termites cause more damage to homes in the United States than tornadoes, fires and earthquakes combined – over $5 billion annually.
  • A single acre plot may have as many as six subterranean termite colonies, with each colony housing millions of termites.
  • The total weight of all the termites in the world outweighs all the humans in the world.

If any of these pest facts cause you to wonder about pests around your home, contact Massey Services, and we’ll provide a free pest inspection or termite inspection to keep pests and termites away from you and your family.

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