Now that the harsh winter is finally behind us, it’s time to assess the damage to your property and take action. If you see white patches of mold in your grass or discoloration among your trees and shrubs, there are steps you can follow to remedy the situation.
The experts at J.P. McHale Pest Management, Inc. have a variety of eco-friendly tips for the most effective damage repair.
When an area has long periods of snow cover, as we experienced this past winter, a fungal disease called “snow mold” can affect grass blades (especially if the ground was not frozen beforehand). The mold appears in circular patches ranging in size from 3 inches to 12 inches. “The matted-down areas are caused by mycelium that first appear to look like cobwebs and then can turn a whitish or salmon color,” says J.P. McHale Pest Management owner Douglas McHale. “When these patches coalesce, they of course can become a large mass.”
To cut down on the likelihood of developing snow mold, there are things you can do during the fall, such as mowing your lawn until it stops growing, cleaning up fallen leaves, aerating the turf to reduce thatch layers, and using a fall fertilizer that isn’t high in nitrogen. However, if the mold still appears, McHale lists a few environmentally conscious steps you can take this spring using any fungicides:
1. Aerate your lawn (with mechanical core aeration) to improve air circulation, dry out the turf and stimulate root growth.
2. Over-seed with a high-quality seed that is disease-resistant and drought-tolerant.
3. Add nutrients with a well-balanced fertilizer to strengthen roots, crown, and top growth.
4. Apply Gypsum to improve soil structure and revive areas affected by road salt.
McHale advocates the use of proper cultural practices throughout the season to ensure that your turf remains strong and healthy. These practices should include an effective seasonal turf management program, the use of sharp mower blades and proper cutting techniques, and making appropriate pH adjustments.
As a result of the blustery winter weather, many trees and shrubs have paid the price. You’ve probably seen browning on some evergreens, trees that are no longer perfectly upright, sagging or broken branches, and large amounts of yellowing foliage.
The browning tips of evergreens are the result of rapid moisture loss caused by cold, windy conditions that draw moisture out through transpiration. As McHale explains, “Just like when skin loses moisture on a windy, cold day, foliage becomes dry and chapped.”
High winds and heavy snow can also cause the roots of recently planted trees and shrubs to be severed and disturbed. These plants should be straightened and supported with wire if needed.
Sagging evergreen branches should also be supported and broken branches removed properly.
Yellowing foliage can be the result of excessive moisture or the lack of iron in the soil (also known as chlorosis). In addition, deer may have wandered closer to homes this past winter, searching for plants to feed on while the rest of the landscape was draped with snow.
“Plants that are stressed have a much greater chance of having insect and disease problems throughout the growing season, especially during the dry, hot summer months,” McHale says. “Just like humans, strong, healthy trees and shrubs can ward off pathogens and insects better than stressed, sick shrubs.”
J.P. McHale Pest Management recommends three important steps you can take to get trees and shrubs back in shape for the long haul:
1. Vapor-guard your evergreens with an anti-desiccant spray that holds in moisture and helps prevent winter burn. “We say it’s like Chapstick® for your plants,” says McHale, who notes that the spray can also be combined with a deer repellant.
2. Deep-root feed your trees and shrubs. “We inject organic, well-balanced nutrients into the root zones of your plants, allowing air and oxygen to reach root systems,” McHale says. “This process helps rebuild root systems that had been disturbed by heavy snow and wind.” The process also replenishes iron in the soil in order to eliminate yellowing and restore healthy, green foliage.
3. Give your plants systemic injections to protect against damaging insects. “This scientific injection process to control insects delivers the product directly into the plant’s vascular system like a shot,” explains McHale. In this way, overhead spraying can be avoided and no beneficial insects, such as butterflies and ladybugs, will ever be harmed.
By following these tips, your lawn, trees and shrubs can be looking healthy again in no time, and the winter will be just a fading memory.
J.P. McHale Pest Management, Inc. has been in the urban pest and green industry for more than 30 years. Owner Douglas McHale attended the University of Delaware and studied plant science and pathology.
J.P. McHale Pest Management, Inc.
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