Stories



Create a safe, tick-free zone in your yard

Despite their diminutive stature, ticks are a big concern for people, particularly those with pets.
As the weather warms, ticks are out looking for a host to climb on and get a blood meal. Ticks are a significant concern because they can be infected with bacteria, viruses or parasites, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lyme disease,
ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and babesiosis are just a few of the many tick-borne diseases. These pathogens can be passed to humans and pets via the bite of infected ticks.
In 2018, at least one variety of disease-transmitting tick had been found in all of the lower 48 states, according to the CDC. In addition, researchers at Cornell University identified 26 species of ticks along the East Coast alone. Preventing tick bites has never been more important. The process starts right in one's own backyard.
According to Consumer Reports and the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, controlling wildlife that enters one's yard can help keep tick numbers down. Open access means animals can enter and so can ticks. Fencing and pest management solutions may help.
Other ideas include landscaping techniques that can reduce tick populations:
· Remove leaf litter from the yard.
· Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edges of the lawn. Mow regularly to keep the lawn short.
· Create a barrier between wooded areas and the yard if it abuts a forested area. According to Consumer Reports, a three-foot-wide path of wood chips or gravel can prevent tick migration by creating a physical barrier that's dry and sometimes too hot for ticks to tolerate. Such a barrier also serves as a visual reminder to anyone in your household to be especially careful if they step beyond the perimeter.
· Bag grass clippings, which can serve as habitats for ticks.
· Remove old furniture, trash and other debris that can give ticks places to hide.
· Remember to use a tick-repellent product when venturing into wooded areas. Flea and tick products also are available for pets; consult with a vet.
Ticks are problematic, but various measures can help control tick populations in a yard. 


Potential culprits behind thinning grass


Thick grass is often a hallmark of a healthy lawn. If grass begins to thin, homeowners may feel as though all the time and effort they spent tending to their lawns was for naught.
Thinning grass can be caused by any number of things. And while it might take a little effort to
address, thinning grass can be treated if homeowners correctly identify that cause of the problem.
Leaf spot
The Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment at the University of Massachusetts Amherst notes that leaf spot diseases affect both cool- and warm-season turfgrasses. Various fungi can cause leaf spot. Symptoms and the timing of the appearance of leaf spot will vary depending on which fungi is causing the problem. For example, bipolaris sorokiniana, which affects grasses in warm, wet summer months, produces small spots that are dark purple to black. Dreschslera poae is another fungi that causes leaf spot, and it also produces dark purple to black spots. However, it tends to appear in the spring when the weather is cool and moist. Understanding the different fungi and when they typically strike can help homeowners identify what is causing their grass to thin. In such situations, professional landscapers can be invaluable resources as well.
Stripe smut
The University of Maryland Extension notes that stripe smut primarily poses a threat to Kentucky bluegrass that is older than three years. Pale green streaks that run parallel to the veins in the leaves and leaf sheaths are symptomatic of stripe smut, which tends to be noticed in spring and fall, when weather is cool. As the disease progresses, stripes turn black or a silvery gray, causing the leaf blade to shred and curl. After the blades have shred, they turn brown and die. The grass thins because stripe smut makes it vulnerable to problems like drought.
Ascochyta leaf blight
Lawns suffering from ascochyta leaf blight will become straw-colored. According to the lawn care and pesticide experts at Ortho®, when a lawn is affected by ascochyta leaf blight, its healthy grass blades will be mixed in with diseased grass blades. Most prevalent in the spring, this disease can affect grass at any time during the growing season. That's because the ascochyta fungi invade leaf blades through wounds, such as those that can result from mowing. Ortho® notes that dull lawn mowers can contribute to the disease, which might disappear on its own and can even return after it's seemingly been cured.
Various issues can cause grass blades to thin. Working with a landscape professional is a great way to combat such issues before they compromise the look of a lawn.


Tips for recognizing and addressing grub infestations


Lawns face many threats, not the least of which is grubs. The larvae of certain types of insects, including beetles, grubs feed on the roots of grass and plants and can turn even the greenest, most impressive lawns into unsightly eyesores.
Many homeowners spend lots of time tending to their lawns, so the effects of grub infestations can be especially frustrating. Learning to recognize what grub
infestations look like and how to address them can help homeowners restore their lawns as quickly as possible.
What do grub infestations look like?
According to the University of Illinois Extension, lawns affected by grub infestations will show wilting and browning of irregularly shaped areas. But grass that is turning brown is not always indicative of a grub infestation, as numerous factors can cause grass to turn brown.
Homeowners who suspect their lawns have been infested with grubs can approach spots where brown grass is meeting green grass and pull up the sod. Grubs appear slimy and C-shaped, and 10 or more within a square foot of sod is a sign that grubs have taken over.
Another potential indicator of grub infestations is holes or dirt channels in the lawn. These might be a byproduct of skunks, moles and raccoons digging up the lawn in search of grubs to eat.
Soft, spongy ground that is easy to pull up may also be indicative of grub infestations.
When are grub infestations likely to occur?
The timing of grub infestations may depend on geography. Homeowners who suspect their lawns have been infested by grubs can consult with lawn care professionals to determine if that's likely.
Some grub infestations discovered in the spring may actually be byproducts of infestations that began in the previous fall.
How can grub infestations be treated?
One way to treat grub infestations is to remove thatch from lawns.
Thatch can harbor grubs by shielding them from pesticide applications. Aerating a lawn allows air, water and nutrients to penetrate the soil, fostering stronger roots that promote healthier lawns. Aerating also removes thatch, taking grubs' shelters away in the process.
Another way to combat grub infestations is to water deeply and infrequently, which encourages strong roots. Grubs prefer moist soil, and beetles are less likely to lay eggs that become grubs in lawns that are watered infrequently and deeply.
Insecticides can be applied to treat grub infestations, but insecticides might be most effective at preventing such infestations rather than treating existing ones. If grub infestations are discovered early, insecticides can prevent the problem from spreading.
Grub infestations can be an unsightly nuisance. But such problems can be solved if recognized and addressed quickly.


Why you need a hammock or hanging chair


Sunny days and warm weather beckon us to the great outdoors. A day spent in the pool or lounging around the patio is a great way to embrace the relaxing spirit of summer. But those who want to go the extra relaxing miles should consider adding a hammock or swinging chair to their backyard oasis.
Hammocks and swinging chairs make great investments. Outdoor enthusiasts can take them on camping trips, and they're equally at home right in the backyard.
People on the fence about these symbols of relaxation can consider these benefits of hammocks or swinging chairs.
Nap comfortably outdoors
Who needs an excuse to catch up on missing sleep? If the time presents itself, the sun and the fresh air can induce a deep sense of relaxation. Lying on a hammock or floating in a hanging chair provides that additional soothing rocking motion that can make a cat nap even more enticing.
Use it indoors or outdoors
Create a retreat in any corner of your yard or home. A hanging chair can be hung in the corner of a bedroom to provide a spot to curl up with a good book or rock a baby to sleep. The same chair can be brought to a covered deck or patio so people can swing with the breeze when the weather allows.
Super stargazing retreat
Hammocks and swinging chairs can make it easier and more comfortable to stargaze at night. With a double hammock or chair, bring a romantic partner along to snuggle and watch the cosmos. Or teach children about the constellations in the night sky.
Be inconspicuous among nature
Lying on the ground disturbs the lawn and other outdoor components. Being suspended several inches above the ground in a chair or a hammock can help a person blend in with the natural environment. Birds, small animals and insects may not even know you're there, and that can make them easier to observe.
Everyone can appreciate the opportunity to sit back and relax. Hammocks and swinging chairs can help a person feel lighter than air and recharge in the warm summer air.