Fairway Green, Inc
9 Ilene Ct, Suite 14 Hillsborough, NJ 08844
Phone: (908) 281-7888

Author Archives: Bob Windish

Bagworms and Treatment Methods

Have you ever noticed pine cone shaped or cocoon-like sacs on ornamental trees and shrubs in the spring and summer time? These are not normal pine cones that we see on evergreen plants in the winter time, instead they are a type of caterpillar that creates this ‘bag’ around it as it feeds on the host plants. Bagworms can cause substantial damage to ornamental trees and shrubs, which makes various treatment options important for homeowners with effected plants.

What do Bagworms look like?

Most notably known for the ‘bag’ the larvae make out of silk has an exterior of leaves or pieces of twigs from the host plant it is currently inhabits.

A close-up look at a bagworm sac.

The larvae are dark brown with a yellow head and yellow and black spots on their bodies. While. the adult males look like moths that are a sooty black color, hairy and have almost clear wings that can span to one inch in diameter. The adult females, seldom seen, and are wingless, lack any functioning eyes, antennae, or legs. The adult females remain in the bag as they are not able to fly or move easily like the males.

Host Plants

Common to the New Jersey and East Coast, the bagworm can affect a large variety of trees and shrubs that are popular to this area. For example, some evergreen varieties of plants commonly affected by Bagworms include; arborvitae, juniper, cedar, fir, pine and spruce. These plants are largely popular among residential landscapes, making heavy infestation of Bagworms detrimental to landscapes in our area. Bagworms are found on other trees an shrubs such as rose bushes, maple, elm, black locust and sycamore.

Bagworm Damage

The primary damage caused by Bagworms is tree defoliation and brown spots. The bagworm larvae feed on the upper layer of leaves or needles on the ornamental trees and shrubs it is attached to. Heavy infestation of bag worms can leave plants looking completely defoliated and can eventually lead to severely damaged trees and even the death of the plant.

Bagworm Life Cycle

The spring time is when we first start to see bagworms hatch and immediately start to feed on the foliage of the host plant. In our area, bagworms really begin feeding on plants between May to early June. During this time, they also construct the bag like outer shell, and continues to feed on the plant only emerging from the bag a small amount when feeding.

In the summer time, the larvae stops feeding on the plant, and this occurs between late July to mid-August. This is when the larvae goes completely inside the bag, closing it up with a band of silk to enter the next stage of its life. This pupal state lasts around four weeks long, bringing the insect to the next season.

Starting in the fall, the bagworm males emerge from their bags as moth like insects. The male insect then flies around to find a female mate. The adult females remain in their bag and produce a pheromone to attack males. Once the insects mate, the female deposits between 500-1000 eggs in the bag and then both adult insects die after reproduction.

Through the winter, the eggs in the abandoned bag remain protected through the harsh weather months. In the spring, the eggs hatch and start the next generation of bagworms.

Bagworm Control and Treatment

There are a couple methods of control when dealing with bagworms; there is manual removal, natural predators, and chemical control. First, we can talk about manual removal. This method is only effective when you have detected the bagworms early; meaning late fall, through the winter, or before the larvae hatch in the spring. You can manually cut the bag from the ornamental tree with pruning shears. We recommend disposing of the bags in a separate bag and removing them off your property Manual removal is also only reasonable when a bagworm population is low.

Natural predators for bagworm control include certain bird species, insects and fungi. We do not recommend relying on natural controls when dealing with bagworm infestation on your ornamental trees and shrubs as damage is still likely to occur.

Finally, there is chemical control. For the treatment of bagworms, we recommend contacting your local ornamental tree service who can safely apply an insecticide in the spring once the larvae have emerged from their bag.

Conclusion

Bagworms can cause substantial damage to ornamental trees and shrubs on a property and we do not recommend ignoring their presence as they can lead to tree death. If you are in our service area and would like to receive an estimate for bagworm treatment, request an estimate today. Our licensed technicians have the knowledge to work with customers on creating a plan to treat the insect.

Minimizing Disease Activity: Cultural Practice and Fungicides

The grass on your property is sometimes easy to dismiss as just ground cover, or a playing surface, or even some sort of given amenity that comes with the purchase of a home. However, the reality is that the lawn is a living thing; and not only that, it is an entire population of living things. In fact, when considering the soil environment it inhabits, it is an entire ecosystem with millions of living organisms. Among the myriad of organisms that dwell under our feet disease pathogens reside. When conditions are favorable, microbial fungi populations cause lawn disease outbreak. This is when a lawn breaks out in disease activity.

First, it is important to realize that the only plants affected by lawn diseases are desirable grass species, the same grass we spend a lot of time and money trying to maintain. Weeds such as dandelions, clover and crabgrass are not adversely affected by lawn diseases. Lawns without fertilization or irrigation are also much less likely to exhibit any issues with lawn disease. This is discouraging, because it means that only the lawns that are kept weed free, well-fed, and watered are the ones that can contract significant disease, while a not maintained lawn dodge this bullet altogether.

So, what does this mean? We should not try to maintain high quality lawns? Of course not, it just means that if you are going to have a premium lawn, you should consider the potential for disease activity.

Infections occur in lawns when the activity of the disease-causing fungi is higher than the activity of the lawn growth. The best defense against disease outbreak is creating an environment within the lawn that favors growth of turf and discourages fungal activity. Creating a favorable turf growth environment and a healthy soil ecosystem all happens through the initiation of good cultural practice techniques.

Core Aeration

This photo demonstrates what core aeration plugs look like in the soil.

It pretty much goes without saying that human beings are wildly fond of oxygen. What you might not realize is that plants love this stuff just as much as we do because plant roots need oxygen to thrive. The problem is the oxygen is up here and the roots are buried, and in New Jersey they are buried in what is often compacted clay soil. Lawns grown in soil with high clay content need to be core aerated at least every-other-year if not annually in order to keep the micro pores at the soil surface open so that the soil remains as oxygenated as possible. This is super important in terms of the battle against lawn disease activity because not only does the grass love the oxygen, the pathogenic fungi hate it. Fungi that cause lawn disease thrives in low oxygen environments, so lawns with compacted soil are far more likely to suffer from disease than those aerated regularly.

Irrigation

Irrigating the lawn can be the most beneficial cultural practice in trying to promote a healthy lawn, or it’s the most serious detriment when done improperly. Plants need water just like we need water, but as previously mentioned plants also need oxygen. Whenever an environment has too much water and not enough available oxygen, plants (just like people) can potentially drown. This is the problem that can be brought on by improper irrigation. Clay soil, that we have in New Jersey, holds water very well, and it takes a while (usually a few days) for water to percolate down through the root zone of the lawn. If ample time is not given between irrigation cycles for the water to move out of the upper few inches of soil, the roots never have a chance to breath in any of the oxygen from the surface. This causes plant roots to become weak and promotes the low oxygen soil environment that the pathogens love. It is critical that when the lawn is irrigated it is done so deeply but not often, maybe once every third or fourth day. And if there are areas of the lawn that hold water longer than others due to partial shade or lower spots, they may require even less frequent irrigation. As a rule, no water should be added until whatever previous water introduced has had a chance to work its way deeper into the soil; this is typically a couple days, however largely depends on the weather.

Seeding

One of the most important cultural practices overlooked in the fight against lawn disease is seeding. Lawns that have been established for a long time probably have grass that is of lesser quality than more recently developed grass varieties. Turfgrass scientists are always hard at work trying to cross-breed new varieties of grass that are less susceptible to drought stress, traffic stress, insects and disease. Re-doing portions of the lawn with newer turf varieties can provide a lawn that is able to help itself a bit more and create a lower maintenance situation.

The Implications of Weather

Sometimes despite the best efforts to provide the most beneficial turf environment, a force much more powerful than human cultural practice can step in and create a very favorable disease environment…the weather. Periods of stressful, dry heat followed by rain or vice versa can cause full blown disease epidemics. When this happens, the best thing to do is call a professional lawn care service to have the lawn evaluated. A good lawn service agent should be able to not only diagnose the lawn disease correctly, but also consider all the conditions at a particular property and decide what the best course of action should be.

Fungicides

One of the things a professional may recommend as part of an action plan in response to lawn disease outbreak is applying a fungicide. Fungicides are very much like medicine for the disease. Once applied, fungicides keep the lawn disease activity down for anywhere between 2-4 weeks, which allows the lawn time enough to grow out the infected leaf tissue. What is important to realize when using fungicides is that they are not a cure. These treatments simply provide a window of disease inactivity, so that professionals and/or homeowners can promote the growth and recovery of the turf. It is also important to understand that while these products can be very effective, they are not always the answer. Like medicine, fungicides are expensive, so they are not going to be part of a professional recommendation unless the service provider is sure they are effective. You do not administer medicine after a sickness has run its course, do you? Similarly, a lawn care professional does not recommend a fungicide if the lawn disease would be subsiding naturally due to changes in weather, among other reasons.

 

Fungicides can also serve as part of lawn disease prevention. Just like your doctor may prescribe medicine to take daily along with the right diet and exercise to thwart illness, in some cases a professional may decide that a regimen of fungicides added to the annual maintenance program to keep out lawn disease. A preventative fungicide program consists of several applications done periodically when the lawn disease targeted is most likely to occur. The timing and number of applications can vary a great deal depending on the disease you are aiming to controlled, the products used, and the budget allocated for the lawn. Again, fungicides are expensive and only work for 2-4 weeks at a time, so adding this type of service to the annual maintenance expense is not for everyone. Therefore, they are not included as part of any “standard” professional lawn maintenance plan offered to homeowners. While they are part of a standard golf course or sports turf regimen, preventative fungicide programs are generally reserved (if even offered at all) for only those residential properties where there is a documented history of disease year after year.

Conclusion

In the end, maintaining the long-term health of the soil and the grass through good cultural practice is always beneficial. After all, lawn diseases aren’t the only problems a lawn can face each year and keeping the lawn healthy always insures that it is more likely to recover from any number of issues. If serious disease outbreak occurs, or the lawn develops chronic issues with disease, a complete consultation with a knowledgeable lawn care professional may provide all the answers you’re looking for.

If you are in our service area, and have questions regarding disease activity on your property, you can request an estimate, or give our office a call at 908-281-7888.

Boxwood Blight

Relatively new to New Jersey, the destructive disease boxwood blight can cause substantial damage to Boxwood plants. Because boxwoods are commonly used in landscapes in our area, this disease has the potential to be widespread across many landscapes. First identified in the United States in October 2011, the disease made its way to New Jersey two years later. Although the name would allude to this disease only impacting boxwoods, this disease also affects pachysandra and sarcococca varieties. In this blog we discuss the cause and favorable conditions of the disease, how it spreads, what the disease looks like on boxwoods, and finally prevention and boxwood blight treatment.

Technically, the disease is caused by the fungus Calonectria pseudonaviculata and symptoms of the disease becomes evident in the middle to late summer. This pathogen requires warm humid conditions, ideally over 68 degrees, to grow and spread. With the weather patterns that we experience in New Jersey, late May through late September typically provides the warm humid weather suitable for boxwood blight. Additionally, this disease progresses very quickly as a boxwood plant can go from the beginning stages of infection, to having leaves defoliate within one week, if conditions are conducive to disease growth.

How it spreads

How does this devastating boxwood disease spread? The spores produced by the pathogen are sticky in texture and cling to most surfaces that encounter the fungus; pruning tools, vehicles, shipping containers, shoes, clothes and even animals. The disease can also be transported by wind, rain and irrigation water.

Identifying the Disease

Boxwood blight symptoms includes light to dark circles on the leaves of the newest foliage and typically start at the base of the plant and move upward. Over time the spots grow and coalesce with other areas, quickly turning the whole leaf brown. The lesions, or brown spots, can lead to death and leaf drop of the infected areas. Other characteristics of the boxwood disease include dark streaks on the twigs and white structures on the underside of the leaves. In the images below, you can see the early stages of the disease with the picture on the left, and the devastating impact it has on a boxwood as the disease spreads with the picture on the right.

   

Prevention and Control

What can you do once boxwood blight has been identified in your landscape? Eliminating the fungus on plants that are infected is not possible and controlling the pathogen in the soil is very difficult. Unfortunately, the best thing to do is remove the diseased plant(s) from your landscape to stop the further spreading to surrounding boxwoods. It is important to note that the removal of diseased boxwoods and leaf debris does not eradicate the pathogen alone. The pathogen has been detected in soil for five to six years after removal of the plant, and potentially even longer.

Often times when dealing with a disease in a plant, a fungicide can be applied to suppress the disease, which would allow the plant to continue to grow without the spread of the disease for a number of days. Fungicides can also be used as a preventative measure to attempt to keep healthy tissue from being infected. Unfortunately for boxwood blight, the research has shown limited control even when fungicides are perfectly applied to protect boxwoods that have not yet been infected in an area where the disease is present. The fungicides also have no control in curing a boxwood if the disease is already present.

Ultimately, the best recommendation is the removal of infected boxwoods, fallen debris and surrounding soil and mulch, and to replace with a completely different plant that is not susceptible to boxwood blight. The University of Georgia put together a recommendation of various plants that could be a substitute for boxwood(s) in your landscape; some plants include, pieris, junipers, rhododendron, and euonymus.

Other Boxwood issues

If you are experiencing issues with your boxwood plants, and boxwood blight is not the obvious suspect, another common issues in our area is leafminer on boxwoods. For more information on the damage caused by leafminer insects, check out our blog.

Conclusion

Boxwood blight has proven to be destructive in our area when weather conditions are favorable. With a disease that does not have a cure and rapidly spreads, control and prevention of the disease has been difficult. If you are in our service area and suspect that boxwood blight is found on your landscape please call our office or request a free estimate to talk to a knowledgeable professional about your options.

The Benefits of Preventative Grub Control

As the old saying goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This statement is spot on when it comes to preventing grubs and the damage associated with them.

Beetle Life Cycle

Before we get into the benefits of preventative grub control, we need to understand grubs and how they can impact your lawn. Grubs are the sub-surface larval stage of beetles. Although there are several types of beetles, most people are familiar with Japanese Beetles because they like to dine on our favorite trees and shrubs. Beetle species in our area typically lay eggs in the summer, sometime between June and early August depending on the species and environmental conditions.

The eggs hatch into grubs, which survive by eating plant roots, especially grass plants. Over time, as the larvae continue to feed, areas of the lawn turn brown and feel sponge like as you walk over it. An easy way to determine if grubs are the culprit is to pull on the actual grass plants. The grass pulls right up like a carpet and expose the feeding grubs underneath. The grubs are typically white and shaped like the letter C.

White grubs burrowing into the soil. The larva of a chafer beetle, sometimes known as the May beetle, June bug or June Beetle.

Grub Prevention

To avoid having this happen to your lawn, apply a preventative grub control to the lawn in the summer. The product moves into the soil prior to the eggs hatching, providing protection to your plants from feeding larvae. The application is very effective at controlling grubs and saves you lots of time and money compared to dealing with the issue after the fact.

Post-Emergent Grub Control

If you did apply a preventative grub control, and you find grubs damaging your lawn, there are still things you can do to help. You should treat the grubs, but keep in mind the treatment is less effective when compared to preventative treatments because the grubs are larger and more mature. Every person on the planet is not born on the same day, we all have different birthdays. The same can be said for grubs. They don’t all hatch from their eggs in the soil on the same day. The younger the grub the more effective the material is on it, the older (more mature) the grub, the less effective the material is on it. At this point it is safe to say that this material applied at this stage will produce about 60-70 percent control results on the actively feeding grubs. Typically, the treatments to control the grubs at this stage of their life cycle requires heavy watering after the application as well. This helps move the product to the root zone, where the grubs are feeding.

When grubs have caused damage to turf, the grass can be easily separated from the soil exposing the grubs underneath.

What is more cost effective?

One benefit to preventative grub control is saving money. Products used to preventatively treat grubs are typically much cheaper than the ones used to control them after they have matured. The results are also more effective when treating them preventatively, so you’re getting better control at a lower cost.

Because grubs feed on the root system, the damage they cause kills the plant and reseeding will be necessary to help those areas recover. Another benefit to preventatively controlling grubs is you won’t have to spend your time and money reseeding grub damaged areas of your turf, that is often very costly.

Conclusion

A little bit of prevention goes a long way when it comes to grub control. Save yourself the time and hassle associated with controlling mature grubs and reseeding damaged areas by getting a preventative grub control application this summer. Whether you do it yourself or have a lawn care professional apply the treatment, we highly recommend it. If you are in our service area and have any questions about grub control, feel free to contact us at 908-281-7888.

Japanese Beetles

Unfortunately for New Jersey residents, the Japanese beetle causes damage on lawns and plants everywhere. Japanese beetles have been found to feed on over 275 species of plants. This little beetle feeds on the leaves, fruits, and flowers of many plants, including the lindon, Japanese maple, cherry, plum and crabapple trees. Additionally, rose plants are some of their favorite plants to feed on in many landscapes. Luckily, there are plants they do not like to feed on as well; this includes arborvitae, lilac, euonymus, holly and rhododendron. Serious defoliation may occur in heavily infested areas. Not only can beetles defoliate many plants in a short amount of time but their young (grubs) can destroy turf grass as well.

Where did it come from?

The Japanese beetle was found in New Jersey in a nursery in 1916, and prior to this time the pest was only found in Japan where it did not cause substantial damage to plants and turf. New Jersey proved to provide favorable climate with vast amounts of open land and hundreds of plant varieties, making for the perfect location to survive and flourish. Unfortunately for New Jersey, there are no natural predators that would help control the Japanese Beetle population here in the United States, explaining the devastating effects the insect has on our turf and plants.

Japanese Beetle Life Cycle

The identification of Japanese beetles is simple. They are ½ inch long, with a metallic green body and brown wing covers with white tufts of hairs on the edges of the wings. Japanese beetles overwinter as a grub in the soil and in the spring, the grubs move up towards the soil surface and feed on grass roots. At this time, the grubs go through their metamorphosis and change into adult beetles. The adult beetles begin to emerge in late June and are active until late September. Most beetles live between three to four weeks and female Japanese beetles lay 40 to 60 eggs over their lifespan.

Treatment for Japanese Beetles

One option for treating Japanese Beetles is a contact pesticide spray. Pesticide treatments applied while adult beetles are active gives only partial control, even if weekly treatments are applied. These types of treatments are mainly used to stop the vast majority of the beetles present on your plant material from devouring your landscape, but unfortunately provide little residual control when new populations of beetles move in to feed. Foliar spray treatments for Japanese beetles work well for beetles that are actively feeding during the time of treatment, but please be advised that beetles may return and can continue to do further damage to your landscape plants.

The best defense against these pests are preventative treatments for your plants with a systemic soil injection of an insect control product. This application goes into the soil around the root system of the particular plants that beetles like to feed on. The material is then taken up by the plant through its vascular system and then dispersed into the leaves. Beetles must feed on the foliage of the plant to ingest the product before being affected. Therefore, some feeding damage may be present on the plant, but very minimal compared to no control. Treating the beetles during their grub stage is also a good idea for control. Applying a grub preventative to your lawn between June and the end of July helps suppress the grubs and reduce damage to the lawn. If high levels of grubs are present in a small area of lawn, the turf turns brown and peels back like a carpet, exposing the grubs underneath, causing permanent damage to the lawn. You may also find damage to the lawn done by birds, skunks and other vertebrate mammals digging up the ground to find and eat the grubs.

We also recommend that you DO NOT put Japanese beetle traps in the lawn or landscaped areas. Beetle traps often prove to be counterproductive because they attract beetles to your property which increases the amount of feeding damage that can occur. If you have already purchased these bags, we recommend returning them if you can. The damage to your plants could be worse with these traps present than if you had done nothing at all. The less beetles coming onto your property the better off you and your landscape will be.

Conclusion

Japanese beetles can become a major problem if left untreated. If you suspect that you may have a Japanese beetle problem in your landscape and are located within our service area, please feel free to contact Fairway Green Inc. with any questions or for a free evaluation and estimate.

Brown Patch Lawn Disease

There are several different lawn diseases that plague nearly all the desirable turf species in our area. One of the most frustrating and damaging of these is caused by the dreaded pathogen rhizoctonia solani, or what we commonly refer to as brown patch. This microscopic menace can survive embedded in plant tissue or on the surface of the soil. Found nearly everywhere, the pathogen can lie in wait for extensive periods of time, even in the absence of a suitable host, just waiting for the conditions to become favorable.

When is brown patch active?

You can expect this uninvited guest anytime during the summer months. Brown patch activity begins as soon as the weather becomes hot and humid, and especially when such conditions persist through the night. The speed with which this disease starts to matriculate into residential lawns is what frustrates homeowners and lawncare operators most. Brown patch can severely blight large portions of turfgrass inside of a 6 to 8-hour period when conditions are favorable. This means you can literally wake up one morning to see large patches of discolored, wilted turf!

Turf Symptoms

In researching symptoms of this disease on the internet, this conjures a lot of images of how brown patch appears on the golf course. On low cut turf, maintained at the highest levels of fertility, halos of dark gray “smoke rings” appear on the turf making the diagnosis a no brainer. On residential lawns however, the turf kept at a 2”-3” height under moderate levels of fertility, the damage is far subtler.

The thread-like mycelium of brown patch is present in the morning dew and look very much like cob webs. These cob web structures disappear however, once the surface moisture evaporates. The damage to the turf appears as more or less circular shaped areas of tan to brown colored grass. The plants become wilted, giving the patches a sunken look to them, almost as though they have been pressed into the lawn by a strange, oversized stamp. These damaged patches can coalesce into larger areas of discolored turf as the disease continues to spread, and eventually cause thinning of the turf that requires seeding at the end of summer to repair. If there is any additional stress on the property from drought, machine traffic, insects, etc., the damage can be more extensive.

A close up look at brown patch mycelium

Cultural Practices in Minimizing Brown Patch

Since conditions that allow for extensive periods of leaf moisture promote this disease, especially in the overnight hours, it is critical that homeowners not create such conditions with improper irrigation. Whether using hose-end sprinklers or an in-ground irrigation system to water the lawn, the goal is always the same. Ideally, water the lawn heavily between 12am-6am so that the water penetrates the soil while the sun is not out, and any excess evaporates from the surface immediately following.

Also, give the lawn enough time in between watering, usually about 3 to 4 days, for the moisture to make its way down into the root zone before adding more water. This allows the soil surface to dry out so that oxygen can enter the pore spaces. If you water the lawn in the evening the surface remains wet from then until dawn, or you water too frequently, and the roots never can take in oxygen, this creates conditions that are perfect for brown patch. Deep, infrequent watering is the best way to prevent severe brown patch outbreak.

Low oxygen soil in general promotes brown patch activity, therefore allowing the soil to become overly compacted can also be a catalyst. Maintaining porous soil, that is as oxygenated as possible, is the best long-term cultural deterrent against brown patch. The best way to achieve this type of soil structure is with regular core aeration. Soil such as ours here in New Jersey, that is high in clay, needs to be core aerated at least every other year to maintain good structure. Annual core aeration would especially be advisable on properties with a history of frequent disease.

Brown Patch Fungicide Treatments

If brown patch outbreak does occur quickly, you should call your lawn care provider to schedule a fungicide treatment as soon as possible. If outbreaks are left unchecked, brown patch can damage the turf to the point where re-seeding becomes necessary. A timely fungicide application completed when symptoms start to appear can render the disease inactive for a few weeks. This gives the homeowner time to promote new growth through proper irrigation, so that infected portions of the grass can grow out and mowed off. It is important to point out that fungicides are not a “cure”, they are more like medicine we use when we get sick. They control the symptoms so that the patient (in this case the lawn) can fight the infection by taking care of themselves.

When we get a cold, it is bed rest and fluids that cure us from the illness, not the cough syrup. In the case of the lawn, it is making sure it has adequate soil moisture and oxygen.

Conclusion

In the end, as with almost all diseases, the better cultural care you provide for your lawn, the less likely any serious brown patch activity can arise. The more you water the lawn properly and core aerate regularly, the more equipped the turf is to fend off the barrage of fungi activity out there. Should your lawn quality start to suffer at the hands of this disease despite your best efforts, there are fungicides that can be utilized to relieve the symptoms so that the grass can be nursed back to health.

If you are located in our service area, and have questions regarding disease activity on your lawn, please give our office a call or request and estimate.

Scale Insects on Landscape Plants

Scale insects hiding on plants in New Jersey can cause substantial damage to a homeowner’s landscape. Of the most common insects, scale is a small insect that feeds on sap from many plants. Below we discuss the two main categories of scale insects, the damage they cause, their life cycle and the ways to control the insect.

There are many varieties of scale insects, however all are sap feeding insects and feed on most types of shade trees, fruit trees, and ornamental shrubs. Scale differs from other insects because they feed on trees and shrubs through a mouth piece that pierces the tissue of the plant, similar to a straw. Most notability, these insects get their name from the scale-like covering that conceals their body.

The two types of Scale

The scale species can largely be broken up into two categories: soft scales and armored scales. Soft scales produce a smooth, cotton-like or waxy surface over themselves and is inseparable from the insect’s body. A distinguishing trait for the soft scale insects is that it produces honeydew from excess sap. This honeydew makes leaves and stems appear shiny or wet and attracts ants, flies, bees, wasps, and other similar insects. Armored scales, based on their name, have a hard-flattened shield-like covering that is not actually attached to the body of the insects.

                                   

Damage to plants

A large scale infestation on a plant can cause and lead to several problems for the plant. The leaves of the plant can start to wilt and turn yellow in color, the plants could appear weak, unhealthy, and in some plants, it may also cause death of the plant. Scale damage can also lead to overall weakening of the plant. A weakened plant becomes more susceptible to injury from drought, severe winters we often experience in New Jersey, attacks from other insects and disease. Unfortunately, many types of scale insects are hard to see due to their small size and populations of scale build up over years until plant damage is noticeable. This makes noticing scale insects before it is a larger problem very difficult for the average person.

Scale Life Cycle

The scale life cycle is rather simple, the adult females remain in a fixed location and lay eggs under their shield-like scale. As the eggs hatch, the tiny nymphs equipped with legs, eyes and an antenna allows them to walk away from the maternal cover in search for a new feeding site. This life stage of the scale is often referred to as “crawlers” due to their ability to walk or crawl to a new feeding site. From there, when they have found a suitable location to feed, they insert their feeding mouthpart into the plant and begin feeding on the plant’s sap. The shield like covering the scale insect starts to develop after feeding begins. Separately, adult males resemble tiny flying gnats that fly around to find new females for mating. In a given year, scales can go through one or more generations.

Natural Scale Insect Control

Managing the control of these tiny insects can be difficult because their outer covering creates a barrier to traditional insecticides. Although it may sound hard to manage these pets, an integrated approach can provide substantial control to minimize damage to your plants. First there are the biological controls, which includes introducing natural predators and parasitoids to the infested plants that can attack and significantly reduce scale populations. There is also mechanical control, this is only practical on small infestations and on small trees and shrubs. Trying to mechanically remove large infestations on plants may be very difficult.

Chemical Control

Finally, there is chemical control, which is often the most common and effective way to reduce and control scale insects. There are three chemical control strategies that have been effective when used together treating infested plants. First, a dormant oil spray applied to the plant prior to budding in the spring. If you plan on applying your own dormant oil spray, we recommend carefully reading the product’s label because some plants are sensitive to the oil and cannot be sprayed.

Next, is a traditional contact insecticide spray that should be applied when the “crawler” nymph stage of the scale is active. The insecticide is effective for the nymph stage of the insect because they do not yet have an outer protective barrier.

Lastly, a systemic soil injection is an insecticide that circulates through the plant and controls for both crawlers and adult scales. It is important to note that we recommend the use of all three chemical control options when dealing with a scale infestation because they effect the scales at different phases of their life cycle.

Conclusion

Although the scale insect can be difficult to control, a program that address the pest at all aspects of the life-cycle should provide significant results for most scales on the trees and shrubs in landscapes. If you are in our service area and think your landscape is being affected by scale, Fairway Green Inc,’s Tree and Shrub specialists can perform all three applications at the appropriate time of year. If you are interested in receiving a free estimate, please let us know.

Planting Best Practices

Adding new plants to your landscape is a great way to make your property pop. Below we discuss where and how to properly plant your landscape to keep it healthy and give it the best chance to survive for years to come. While these are best practices and recommendations, please note that each property is different, and the general recommendation may not hold true in every instance.

We understand that not everyone’s favorite activity is tending to their outdoor landscapes, and if that is the case we recommend working with a reputable landscaper that provides accurate recommendations and maintenance. If you prefer to do it yourself, the following can help you plant and maintain your landscape.

House with impeccable lawn care

Planning your landscape

Survey your land and plan where you would like the landscape beds to be. Most beds are around the foundation of the house and areas around a patio, edges of driveways and possibly in the lawn as well. Check to see if water sits in the areas you want to build your landscape beds or add your plants to existing beds. If it does, most plants do not do well in waterlogged soil because they need good drainage to thrive.

Check the soil. Is it clay or shale based? Hard and/or compact? If the answers are yes, then we recommend taking out about 12 to 18 inches of the hard/compact, clay/shale soil and adding fresh organic-rich soil.

If you are making a raised landscape bed with hard stone or Belgian Block, build the landscape bed and then fill it in with 12 to 18 inches of fresh organic-rich soil. Make sure to slope beds away from the house so water doesn’t sit around the plants and suffocate them or run backwards onto the foundation of the house. If water is going to be an issue you may have to install a sub-surface drain pipe. This should be done by a professional.

Selecting Landscape Plants

When purchasing plants you want to install in your landscape, we recommend using a reputable nursery. Most plants are sold either in pots, out of pots with the root ball wrapped in burlap, or bare-rooted. If the plants are not going into the ground right away, make sure they remain in the shade and watered until they are planted. Make your plant selections based on the location that you want to plant them in. Certain plants do well in full sun and certain plants do well in shade and installing plants in the wrong spots affects their long-term health.

Research the plants you want to install before the installation, because once installed into the soil most plants go through “transplant shock”. Transplant shock refers to the stress a plant undergoes when transplanted to a new location. Failure to thrive can come from lack of water or failure for the plant to root well. This can lead to further injury of the plant from external factors like insects, disease, and weather. When multiple stresses happen simultaneously, the plant may no longer be able to function properly. The goal is to transplant the plant with as little stress as possible and digging them back up after they have been planted adds more stress to an already stressed plant.

Installing the new plants

When planting, make sure the holes are big enough to accommodate the roots and/or root ball. The hole should be twice as wide as the root ball and make sure to dig the hole so that the root ball comes close or 1 to 2 inches above the soil surface. If the root ball is wrapped in burlap, remove any wires, cord or string and peel back the top 1/3 of the burlap off the root ball. This helps the roots spread and grow unimpeded by the burlap. Once the plant is in the soil, wet down the roots and then fill soil in around them. Each plant should be carefully researched to ensure proper planting depth, spacing and how tolerant they are to full sun, full shade, both or neither.

You may need to stake trees less than 4 feet tall with a trunk diameter of 1 inch or less. Place a guide wire around the trunk and then secured to a wooden stake on either side. This helps hold the tree upright as the roots develop and secure into the soil. Be sure not to leave the wire on too long as the tree eventually grows, and the wire/wrap grows into the tree choking it off and blocking the nutrient flow inside. If the wire/wrap must stay on for a longer stretch of time, it is best to move the wire in different locations up and down the trunk every six months or so.

You may need to wrap the trunk of the tree for transport from the nursery to its destination. This helps protect the trunk from injury and should be removed prior to being installed or right after installation. Wraps do not need to stay on the trunk once planted.

Once all the plantings are done, adding mulch annually to the landscape beds is a good idea. Mulch not only helps hold in moisture but also to reduce weed growth. As the mulch breaks down over time it converts to healthy nutrients that go back into the soil for the trees and shrubs to use.

Watering is very important for the newly planted trees and shrubs. Water new plants immediately after they are installed. This helps settle the soil and aide in removing air pockets, so the roots do not dry out. The roots should be kept moist but not too moist as that can cause suffocation and rot. The amount of water and frequency should be based on the type of plants, soil and site conditions. For hose watering, lay the hose down by the trunks and let the water trickle out. Some people install a “drip system” and have it tied to their already established irrigation systems or attach it to a spigot that’s on your house.

Popular New Jersey Plants

What plants are popular for our area and thrive under the various factors like soil type, and temperature? If you are adding plants to your landscape and need some ideas, check out some popular landscape plants that might be suitable for your new landscape.

Conclusion

Once the plants are installed and have a chance to develop firm roots, it is a good idea to fertilize. Fairway Green Inc. offers a tree and shrub fertilizing program as well as a soil conditioner. This helps to establish and aide in root growth for the new plantings. If you are looking to install new plants in your landscape and have any questions, please give our office a call and we would be happy to help. If you are in our service area, request a free estimate for our Tree and Shrub services.

Popular plants in New Jersey

There certainly is a reason New Jersey is called the Garden State, as the state is covered in beautiful native trees and shrubs. Below we discuss some of the most popular trees and shrubs in New Jersey and information about each one that is helpful for homeowners to understand and best choose what landscape plants they wish to have on their property.

Popular Trees

Flowering Dogwood a common ornamental tree that grows between 20 to 40 feet in height with white, pink and most recently scarlet fire (the first red dogwood). Its fruits are small red clusters that ripen early in the fall. These are usually food for deer, wild turkeys and squirrels. Also, there is a Kousa Dogwood that has become popular as well. This type of tree is very similar to the Flowering Dogwood in size, shape, color and differs with its fruit. A Kousa Dogwood grows red marble-sized berries instead of the red clusters.

Weeping Cherry grows between 20 to 30 feet tall and spread out to about 15 to 25 feet. They bloom beautifully in the spring time that produces wonderful pink to white colored blossoms. The bark has distinctive circular rings along the trunk of the tree.

Plum trees produce beautiful pink and white blossoms in the spring and then maintain a vibrant deep purple color throughout the year. A plum grows to 25 feet and at peak maturity reach 25 feet wide. These trees are excellent for full sun and can tolerate moderate heat stress.

Japanese Maples are one of the most common trees planted in a landscape. Japanese Maples have been cultivated for over 300 years. This tree reaches 15 to 25 feet in height. The leaves are about 2-5 inches and turn from a green color to a maroon. Some varieties can yield yellow, bronze, purple or red leaves in the fall.

Japanese Maple tree Close up of Japanese Maple tree leaves

Saucer Magnolias are large in size and have pearly white to pink or purplish bell-shaped flowers. The petals fall off very early in the spring due to a frost or particularly cold night. There are other types of magnolias in our area such as the Star Magnolia and the Southern Magnolia that are popular to our area.

Red Buds often reach 20 to 30 feet in height and spread to 25 to 35 feet. With its broad heart-shape leaves and rosy pink with a purplish tinge flowers makes this tree a great addition to any landscape.

Pears were originally introduced as a fruit tree and quickly became popular as an ornamental tree in landscapes and street trees. The flowers are described as “clouds of white blossoms.” One downside of pear trees is they tend to split at the crotches of weak branches during windy weather or when they have heavy loads of snow upon them.

Douglas Fir known to be the most popular evergreen for Christmas trees. They are used in home landscapes where they can grow to be up to 300 feet tall. These trees should not be planted close to houses because of how tall they can get.

Hemlocks grow 70 to 100 feet and have soft slender branches that produce small ½ – 1 inch cones and referred to as one of New Jersey’s most “graceful” trees.

Hemlock tree

Norway Spruces have been one of the most widely cultivated species for its use in landscapes and reforestation in New Jersey and also used as a windbreak for farmland. Norway spruces are mostly recognized for the large cones that hang from the branches. These cones can grow over 2 inches in length.Norway spruce tree

Blue Spruces or otherwise known as a Colorado Spruce, are Colorado and Utah’s state tree and are native to the Rocky Mountains. Known for their dull green or bluish to silvery white colored needles, they typically grow between 30 to 60 feet tall in landscapes and can reach 100 feet in the wild.

Blue Spruce tree

White Pines are the only pine that have 5 needles per bunch. These trees were once used for timber and usually grow between 50 to 80 feet tall in a landscape setting and can grow over 200 feet tall in the wild. White pines are very recognizable from a distance and used in reforestation and as buffer trees, like seen in the image below.

white pine trees close up of white pine tree

Arborvitae are another of the most common trees planted in a New Jersey landscape. Typically this plant acts as a privacy buffer for home lawns and are easy to maintain. The name arborvitae translates to “tree of life.” This tree is long lived and has a high amount of vitamin C in the leaves.

 

Popular Shrubs

Azalea come in both fragrant and non-fragrant varieties. This plant’s colors vary from perfect pink to white funnel-shaped flowers that are at their peak by mid-May. They are chosen for their size and beauty. Azaleas in our area can grow 3 to 4 tall and wide.

Holly mostly known as mistletoe. These plants should be planted in pairs of 2 or more so they can cross pollinate to produce the beautiful red berries they are known to have. They grow between 15 to 18 feet in height. They were said to be a favorite of George Washington and some of the hollies he planted are still around to this very day.

Inkberry Holly related to the holly species and most notably identified in the winter time when its leathery, notches, green looking leaves and black fruits are present. Relatively free of insect pests and diseases, the Inkberry Holly make a great shrub to have in a landscape.

Rhododendron which means “rose tree,” produces beautiful rose to white colored flowers that are spotted on the inside with yellow or orange. The leaves can be large with thick, oblong and an evergreen color. These flowers are considered “nectar rich” which attracts butterflies, bees and moths. This shrub grow between 4 to 15 feet in height with the flowers blooming in late June through late July. Rhododendron are related to azaleas and prefers areas that are shaded but still get some sun.

Juniper a global type shrub that exists everywhere. It does not exceed six feet in height and serves as a nesting place for small mammals and birds. The blue to black colored berries, which reach ripening in October, are primarily used as the main flavoring of Gin. In the picture below, notice the two varieties of Juniper; the low to the ground variety and the larger shrub.

Juniper shrub

Boxwoods are the most common landscape shrub in our area today. Almost every landscape has boxwoods present. This is due to its adaptability to any soil type. A boxwood’s small, simple rounded leaves are easily sheared for pruning and last year-round. They are ideal for every landscape because they contain a toxic alkaloid that makes the plant unpalatable to deer and other wildlife.

boxwood shrub close up of boxwood shrub

Golden Threaded Cypress or a “golden mop” used frequently in landscapes due to their vibrant golden or yellow color. Also, this conifer is small in stature and grows slowly reaching about 3 feet tall. The leaves resemble a mop or threads.

Golden Threaded Cypress close up of a Golden Threaded Cypress bush

Burning Bush or a “winged euonymus”. This shrub grows to about 10 to 15 feet tall and identified by its “corky-winged” branches. Most of the year the leaves are green and in fall they turn a bright deep red color before dropping all its leaves off for the winter.

winged euonymus bush close up of winged euonymus

Barberry a small 2 to 6-foot plant. This shrub has green leaves that turn to a red, orange or purple in the fall. It develops bright red berries and has small spurs or thorns on its stems which makes it undesirable to deer or other mammals.

barberry shrub

Spirea also known as the “bridal wreath” can grow up to about 6 feet in height. They have stunning- clusters of white, yellow, pink or purple flowers. People plant spirea in landscapes for their ability to act as a shrub border, ground cover or hedge.

Spirea plant

Forsythia often associated with the coming of spring and are known for light or deep yellow colored flowers.

Laurels are a very versatile shrub. They’re a popular evergreen with green broad glossy leaves because they can thrive in shade or sunny areas. They produce small white flowers in the spring. They are commonly used as a border or boundary and privacy due to their dense-like nature. They usually grow to a height of 10 to 12 feet.

laurel shrub row of laurel shrubs bordering a house

Pieris or often called “Andromeda”, foliage changes color throughout the season and has long dangling multicolored buds that open to creamy-white blossoms in the spring. This shrub reaches 6 to 8 feet in height and be a focal point or integrated with other shrubs in your landscape. Additionally, Pieris tend to grow very slowly and are beautiful.

Where to plant?

For many homeowners, deciding where to place landscape plants can be a tedious process. In order to make that process easier, we put together the most important factors to deciding to plant the right plants in the right place. Feel free to give our office a call with any questions, our tree and shrub experts are happy to help in any way they can.

Conclusion

These are just some of the trees and shrubs that are popular in New Jersey.  There are many other types of plants that we see. If you have any of these plants and want information on caring for them, check out our tree and shrub program. If you have any questions or if you are in our area and would like a free estimate, please call or click here.

 

Seed Heads

Annual Bluegrass seed heads

This picture shows what Annual Bluegrass seed heads look like.

One of the most common lawn care questions we receive each year is about a strange wheat like weed growing in lawns. Good news, it’s not a weed, but rather a seed head! A seed head is a normal part of the grass life cycle that occurs each spring in our area. All grasses produce seed heads at some point throughout the growing season, it’s the plants way to reproduce and ensure survival.

Seed heads can be different in shape and size depending on the grass species. The timing of seed head production in the grass life cycle varies from plant to plant. Some grass species produce seed heads very early in spring, such as Annual Bluegrass and Rough Stalk Bluegrass; while others may produce seed heads later in the season such as annual rye grass. Seed heads are attached to a stalk that stems from the center of the grass plant and resemble miniature wheat plants. How many seed heads are visible on the lawn at any given time depends on the grass varieties and time interval between mowing. Seed head production normally lasts for a period of 2-4 weeks. As mentioned previously, many homeowners commonly mistake seed heads for weeds but no need to worry, they’re just a part of the grass life cycle. If you want more information on weeds, click here for our blog about weeds and ways to control them.

Seed head production requires energy from the grass plant, potentially causing a temporary lightening in color. The turf looks stemmy due to seed stalks, and short-term thinning of the turf stand. All these temporary issues eventually correct themselves as the plants grow and enter the next step in the grass life cycle. The best way to ensure a speedy recovery is by enhancing growth through regular watering and fertilization.

Seed heads are a necessary step in the life cycle of grass and ensures the specie’s survival, therefore stressed areas of the lawn may generate a greater density of seed heads. Dry soil is a tell-tale sign of seed heads. Check the soil moisture in the turf and compare areas with and without seed heads. The drier sections yield more seed heads. Cool shaded areas where the water evaporation rate is much less may have less seed heads. Watering the lawn properly with an adequate amount of water each week is important to the turf’s appearance and health.

There is no way of controlling or preventing seed heads from occurring chemically in a lawn because it is part of the natural grass life cycle; however, there are ways to improve the appearance of the lawn while seed heads are growing.

Ways to manage seed heads in turf:

  1. Seed headsThe best way to combat seed heads is to mow the lawn often and make sure the mower blades are sharp. We recommend mowing once a week at a height of 3-3 ½ inches and not bagging the clippings.
  2. We do not recommend lowering the mowing height of the mower to help control seed heads. Lowering the mowing height puts additional stress on the lawn and may also cause damage to vital structures of the plant, such as the crown.
  3. Proper fertilization is key. Properly fertilized lawns grow out of the seed stage of the grass life cycle faster. The grass becomes easier to mow and have a much neater lawn.
  4. Make sure the lawn is receiving the proper amount of water each week. The lawn should receive 1-1 ½ inches of water per week. The best time to water is between the hours of 12 am – 6 am. This keeps the turf growing at a good rate to help grow out the seed heads on the turf. We have great tips for a successful watering schedule on our website.

Conclusion

If you see plants that look like wheat in your lawn, no need to worry this is a normal part of the grass life cycle. The timing and amount of seed heads produced depends on grass varieties and environmental conditions. Proper watering and fertilization help improve the appearance of the turf while it’s producing seed heads and promote quicker recovery. If you are in our service area and have any questions about seed heads or your lawn in general, feel free to give us a call at 908-281-7888.

9 Ilene Ct, Suite 14, Hillsborough, NJ 08844 United States | (908) 281-7888
Phone: (908) 281-7888