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Free Weed Control?

"S1160 - This bill authorizes a recurring annual tax credit of $250.00 against the State income tax to owners of properties situated within 1,000 feet of Barnegat Bay and its tributaries who replace grass lawns with stone, crushed shells, or other similar materials. Property owners with existing stone or crushed shell lawns would also be eligible for this benefit. This bill has been released from committee. Companion Assembly bill A1312." www.njleg.state.nj.us/bills/BillView.asp?BillNumber=S1160

Our average cost per season is about $170.00. Call your state representative!

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Salt Damage Repair

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Salt Damage Repair

We have a customer with a fast food restaurant in a mall parking lot. One thing you can count on in a mall parking lot is that when it snows there will be plenty of salt put down. What happens to the lawn? 

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We tilled in gypsum to correct the high soil salinity, added some top soil, and spread a blend of mostly rye but also some fescue and bluegrass and two weeks later:

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Progress!

We will encourage the owner to do a normal aeration and seeding at the end of the year, and monitor these new areas throughout the season because predominantly rye lawns are susceptible to certain diseases and are less heat tolerant than fescue/bluegrass mixes. But its quick coverage is hard to beat! 

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Oh the places you'll go

We have some large accounts that include local school districts and industrial sites. Sometimes these jobs make our trucks look a little out of place.

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We spray the perimeter of the school buildings and the fence lines for Howell Township. Creating a buffer along these hard surfaces helps to cut down on the amount of work the mowers have to do throughout the season. Having an open space between the grass and the buildings also helps reduce pest problems in the school. 

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Too much mulch!

Here Gregg is clearing mulch off of the crown and roots of an Alaskan Cedar

Here Gregg is clearing mulch off of the crown and roots of an Alaskan Cedar

Adding mulch to your beds every spring is a great idea for a number of reasons--it helps the soil retain moisture, regulate temperature, suppresses weed growth, and makes your beds look great! 

One important thing to remember about spreading mulch though: keep it off the crown of your trees and shrubs. The crown is the area of the trunk or stem right above where the plant enters the ground. Putting mulch against this area restricts gas exchange and traps moisture against the bark. Here are a few good websites on proper mulching:

http://richmondtreestewards.org/volcano-mulching/

http://guilford.ces.ncsu.edu/2014/02/volcano-mulching-too-much-of-a-good-thing/

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Bagworms!

Anyone who has ever seen bagworms (Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis) on their arborvitae or junipers knows this is one strange critter.  One week your arborvitae hedge is dense and beautiful the next it looks thin and has been decorated with what appear to be Christmas ornaments made out of dried leaves.  The question is often asked--- where did they come from?

Inside each of these bags is a fast growing hungry caterpillar.  The caterpillar is protected by the bag and moves, suspended from the branch, eating leaves or needles and occasionally adding to its home.  The caterpillars and their bags start out very small but grow to about two inches as the insect reaches maturity in August.

Unlike most insects the female bag worm spends her entire life in the bag which she creates.  Her eggs are laid in the bag; the female then exits the bag, dropping to the ground, where she dies.  The eggs hatch the following season in May or early June.  The young larva move out of the bag and start to weave their own bags.  In some cases as the larvae spins its silk, the wind carries it off and deposits it on another plant— this is known as ballooning and is how these otherwise slow moving pests spread.

Look for and control bagworms in June.  They are relatively easy to control when small. Minor infestations can be removed manually

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Poison Ivy

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Poison Ivy

Watch out for Poison Ivy!
Poison ivy is a natural component of the dune ecology and is also a frequent weed in yards and along the edges of roads and paths.  Long Beach Island and the surrounding pinelands and coastal forests are prime areas for poison ivy.  The best way to avoid rash and discomfort of poison ivy is to avoid the plant.  

Spotting poison ivy
“Leaflets three let it be!”  The leaves of poison ivy are always in threes, two leaflets are split by a third, which is on a slightly longer stem.  New leaves will be tiny and red or maroon colored, older leaves are usually shiny, and dark green.  The shape of the individual leaves varies from smooth to notched to lobed.  The leaves will never be serrated like a saw blade.

In fall the leaves of poison ivy become bright red. In winter the vines of poison ivy will appear as hairy rope running up the sides of trees and fence posts.  The seeds of poison ivy are in grey berries that frequently hang on in loose clusters through out the winter.  These berries may be eaten by birds and then spread from one location to another.  This is why poison ivy will appear under your trees or along fence lines—all under places birds perch.  

What makes poison ivy poison?
The oil in poison ivy, urushiol (u-roo-she-al), causes contact dermatitis (an itchy rash) in a large percentage of the population, although the severity of this can vary widely from person to person.  Itchiness begins about 24 hours after exposure and can last over 3 weeks!  In severe cases the rash will continue to grow over this period, leading to the misconception that scratching will spread the rash. Actually your body is just continuing to react to the first exposure.

Urushiol is present in every part of the poison ivy plant—the roots, the stems, and the leaves all have this oil on the inside and outside of the plant. 

Exposure
Urushiol will stick to anything that comes in contact with the plant, including your skin, cloths, gloves, tools, shoes, and the ball that got kicked over the fence! The oil will not spread through the air unless poison ivy is burned.  Inhaling smoke from burning poison ivy can cause serious, even fatal reactions. Mystery exposure is usually the result of contact with garden tools that came into contact with poison ivy (the oil can stay on garden tools for years) or carrying firewood into the house.  Animals are not bothered by poison ivy, but the oil on their fur can affect a person who pets them.

Those that seem immune to poison ivy today should not count on that immunity, sensitivity can and often does change over time.

Treatment
If you know that you have been exposed to poison ivy, repeated washing with cold water and soap or with Tecnu (available at drug stores) will remove the oil from your skin.  Clothing should be laundered separately, or dry cleaned (it is only fair to tell the dry cleaner about the poison ivy!).  Tools that have been in contact with the plant should be assumed to be contaminated and washed repeatedly with soap and water.  Chemical control is best left up to a licensed professional.  A severe infection warrants a visit to a doctor.

Keep in mind that poison ivy is one of the few native plants that still thrive on Long Beach Island.  An old timer in Barnegat Light once told me that poison ivy is what “holds the island together in a storm”; he may not have been wrong.  If the plant is not growing in an area where it is likely to contact people it should be left undisturbed.  

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Scale Insects

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Scale Insects

Scale Insects
Scale insects are tiny, tiny insects that protect themselves by secreting a waxy coating that resembles a reptile or fish scale.  These herbivores are immobile under their shell and feed on trees and shrubs by “sucking” out the sap through their specialized mouth parts. They start life as an egg, which has overwintered inside of their mother’s scaly home.  The potential pests then hatch, exit the scale, and are able to crawl around the host plant as a “crawler”. Often, scale insects are blown around to surrounding vegetation during this crawler stage.  The crawler stage is the best time to treat these insects as they are not protected by their scale.
Once settled, females insert their mouth parts into the plant, lose their legs, and start to feed.  They either mate with males who have retained their wings and legs or females reproduce without mating (process called parthenogenesis). During the mating and egg lying period, the female produces its waxy scale and lays its eggs under its protection.  The female will generally die through the winter, but her brood lives, overwintering as eggs to hatch and form crawlers in the spring.
Scale insects are a huge problem in ornamental trees and shrubs.  Their numbers build and spread rapidly, introducing populations to new areas and new ornamental species.  Timed applications are able to dispatch these foes, but their persistence in our landscape ecosystems will require continued monitoring and control.
Damage of scale insect can include browning of leaves or needles shoot and branch death. Eventually populations can reach a high enough level to severely weaken the planting, opening up opportunities for secondary pests which may cause mortality.  
Another byproduct of scale insects is honeydew or sugary waste excreted by the bug.  Fungi feed on the honeydew and cover a plant with a black, blotchy, sooty mold, which reduces the surface area available to receive light.  This further weakens the tree or shrub, possibly influencing secondary problems that are usually shrugged off by a healthier plant.
One such scale insect, Chionaspis pinifoliae, or Pine Needle Scale is one of the most serious pests of ornamental pines in the United States.  They can cause significant needle deterioration and needle loss in Japanese black pine and other ornamental pine species.   Scale, combined with secondary infections of fungi or infestations of opportunist insects can eventually contribute to the death of a planting.  
If you are unsure if you have a scale problem on your landscape or would like to learn more about what you can do to preserve your trees and shrubs, please have our arborist out to do a complimentary inspection of your property.  Not all pest populations need treatment!
Citation
Johnson, Warren T., and Howard H. Lyon. Insects That Feed on Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Practical Guide. Ithaca, NY: Comstock Pub. Associates, 1976. Print.

 

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