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Treat Your Lawn to Prevent Tick and Flea Problems

We take the precaution of treating our pets for fleas and ticks.  We wear protective clothing and repellents when hiking.  Yet experts say we can take an extra step to help protect our family and pets from being attacked by fleas and ticks while playing in the yard.  The good news is this extra step is easy and does not cost much.

The milder than normal winter for many of us this year generally leads to a big population of fleas and ticks during the warmer months.  Since fleas and ticks can hideout in your lawn, you can help protect your family and pets by taking a few minutes to spread Ortho Bug-B-Gon MAX Insect Killer granules on your lawn using your trusty Scotts lawn spreader.  The good news is that this single treatment not only kills fleas and ticks for up to 3 months, but also knocks out ants, chiggers and 100 other insects, many of which can cause your lawn to thin and turn brown in summer.  The final step is to water your lawn after spreading to put the kill in motion.

Our neighbor took this picture this week of a dog tick that dropped off her dog after gorging itself with blood.

Our neighbor took this picture this week of a dog tick that dropped off her dog after gorging itself with blood.

When I have written about this in the past, there are two questions readers ask:

Will this flea and tick killer harm my pets or kids?

Answer:  We keep Dudley, our cat, inside while I spread the granules.  I then give the lawn a good watering of ¼ to a half inch to activate the kill.  Once the lawn is dry we let Dudley back outside.  The same precaution is suggested for kids (our kids are grown).

Will this flea and tick killer harm earthworms?

Answer:  According to my friend Walter Reeves “The Georgia Gardener” the ingredient in Ortho Bug B Gon MAX (bifenthrin) is classified as “low toxicity to earthworms with 0 to 25% reduction in population”. Here is a link to an article posted by Walter on the subject of pesticides and earthworms from a 3 year study at University of Kentucky.

As you can see, Dudley is not worried about fleas and ticks!

As you can see, Dudley is not worried about fleas and ticks!

How to Kill the Bright Green Grassy Lawn Weed Called Nutsedge

Ortho has a spray to kill tough lawn weeds like Nutsedge, Wild Onion, Wild Violet, Ground Ivy, and about 50 others including Dandelion and Clover without harming your good grass.  Ortho Nutsedge Killer for Lawns can be used on most any kind of lawn.

You think you are getting rid of this very pesky weed because it is easy to pull. However, Nutsedge quickly grows back from the bulb-like roots that are left behind in the soil.  (Some folks call this weed Nutgrass)  Click photo to enlarge

You think you are getting rid of this very pesky weed because it is easy to pull. However, Nutsedge quickly grows back from the bulb-like roots that are left behind in the soil. (Some folks call this weed Nutgrass) Click photo to enlarge

Ortho Nutsedge Killer for Lawns comes in two kinds of sprays.   If you only have a small patch of weeds you are trying to kill, there is a ready to spray squeeze trigger bottle (click here to check it out).  If you have a big area with lots of lawn weeds it comes in a spray bottle that attaches to the end of your hose (click here to check it out).

It is best to spray weeds when they are actively growing.  If your lawn is stressed from drought and weeds are not growing very much, wait to spray when your lawn is getting regular rain or irrigation.  Also, you do not need to drown your weeds with spray to kill them.  Just wet the leaves and they will eventually die.

Your Lawn’s Roots… Here Today… Gone Tomorrow

How long do you think your beautiful lawn would stay alive without its root system?  A day, maybe two?  Well, if root-munching grubs show up later this summer you will find out.

Right now is the best time to prevent hungry grubs from feasting on your lawn like an all-you-can-eat buffet later this summer.  Fortunately Scotts GrubEX will wipe them out first.  GrubEX has a one-of-a-kind formula to kill grubs early on in their life cycle before they can destroy your lawn’s root system.  If you do not take the step to stop them now they could leave you with brown patches of lawn that peel right up like a carpet.  Just one application in late spring protects your lawn for the rest of the season.

Be sure to water your lawn good after spreading GrubEX.

Protect your turf by applying Scotts GrubEX this weekend to destroy the grubs before they destroy your lawn.

Protect your turf by applying Scotts GrubEX this weekend to destroy the grubs before they destroy your lawn.

Kill Weeds Not Your Good Grass

I get asked this question a lot:

“What kind of weed and feed should I put down to kill dandelions and other weeds without hurting my good grass?” 

My answer:

“The kind that actually sticks to the dandelion leaves and kills it root and all.”

Don’t give ugly dandelions a chance to dig in and take root on your lawn.  The small particles in Scotts Turf Builder Weed & Feed stick like glue to your dandelions and other weeds.  This is absolutely crucial for penetrating and killing down to the root.  That’s the rule of thumb:  If it’s going to kill, it has to stick.  You don’t want those big particles that don’t stick and don’t work.  You find them in those weed & feeds that may cost a little less resulting in hit or miss weed control.

And a second bit of good news.  Scotts Turf Builder Weed & Feed gives your lawn that deep Turf Builder feeding which helps to strengthen your good grass so it is a better competitor against new weeds that may try to take hold.

So to keep it simple, stick with the weed & feed that sticks to the dandelions:  Turf Builder Weed & Feed.  And here is a helpful hint:  apply Turf Builder Weed & Feed to a moist lawn on a day when rain is not expected.  This short 44 second video shows you how it is done:

 

What Mowing Height Is Best For Your Lawn?

You hear experts say to mow your grass tall.  You see your neighbors mow at different heights.  So the question comes up:  “What is a good mowing height for my grass?”  Different kinds of grass types like different mowing heights, so here are some guidelines for how tall your grass should be after you mow.  The higher end of the range is good during the hot summer months.  The lower end of the range is good for spring and fall.

2-1/2 to 4 inches for Bluegrass, Ryegrass and Fescue

2 to 4 inches for St. Augustinegrass and Bahiagrass

1 to 3 inches for Centipedegrass

1/2 to 2 inches for Bermudagrass

3 /4 to 2 inches for Zoysia

Many folks cut off TOO MUCH grass when they mow.  Your lawn suffers when you mow off more than 1/3 of the top growth at a time because you force it to scramble to create more leaf growth to survive.  This extra energy to create leaf growth comes at the expense of root growth.  If you mow frequently enough so that you never cut off more than 1/3 of the leaf growth you will not “shock” your grass plants and stunt their root system. So the 1/3 rule would mean if your final cut is 3 inches you can allow your grass to grow to 4-1/2 inches and then remove 1-1/2 inches when you mow leaving your grass 3 inches tall after you mow.

The best grass varieties will have less weed, disease and insect problems.

Most folks mow their grass too short and they mow off too much growth at a time.

And one more tip: You can leave your grass clippings on your lawn. Allowing your grass clippings to stay on your lawn will return some free food back to your grass plants.  Now if you find that you have to break the one-third rule because of vacation or too much rainy weather, leaving you with an excess of grass clippings, then pick them up to help keep from smothering your grass, otherwise leave them on your lawn.

If you have lawn questions, here is a link to help you connect with the lawn experts at Scotts.

Guaranteed to Please Mother’s Day Idea

I pass this suggestion along just about every Mother’s Day because it is a great idea that is guaranteed to be remembered as an extra special surprise for Mom or Grandma.

So here’s the plan:  This Mother’s Day weekend your family makes a visit to the local garden center to pick up the components for an extra special Mother’s Day gift. And… the best part is Mom (or Grandma) is in on the “picking-out-part.”  She selects a container, several herb or flowering plants and the secret ingredient to success:  Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix.

Then here is the cool part.  When you get home you teach your kids how to plant the container.  Kids learn something cool, Mom is impressed that she has such a thoughtful family, and oh yes… you score some extra points that are sure to come in handy.

Note to Mom:  Hint dropping is allowed in this instance!

This video gives you some planting tips:

We planted a "Fireworks" Fountain Grass in the center, 2 each of three different Coleus and 3 yellow Creeping Jenny (click photo to enlarge)

We planted a “Fireworks” Fountain Grass in the center, 2 each of three different Coleus and 3 yellow Creeping Jenny (click photo to enlarge)

Select herbs that have different colors and textures. Pinch frequently to enjoy fresh herbs in the kitchen and to keep the container looking good

Select herbs that have different colors and textures. Pinch frequently to enjoy fresh herbs in the kitchen and to keep the container looking good

World Naked Gardening Day, Saturday May 7

Mark your calendar:  The 12th annual World Naked Gardening Day is this Saturday (always celebrated on the first Saturday of May).  To kick off my all day celebration I am joining my friend Walter Reeves (The Georgia Gardener) on his Atlanta radio show from 7 to 9 am.  I must say it is not as embarrassing to celebrate this special day on the radio as it would be on TV!  Click here to check out all the great information on Walter’s website and click here to find the WSB radio site where you can listen live.

Container Gardening is only one way I plan on celebrating World Naked Gardening Day this year. (By the way, Rita was totally naked under her clothes when she took my picture.)

Container Gardening is only one way I plan on celebrating World Naked Gardening Day this year. (By the way, Rita was totally naked under her clothes when she took my picture.)

Just saying the word “naked”, reminds me of Lewis Grizzard’s humor.  Lewis said:  “Depending on how you pronounce certain words here in the South their meaning can change.  For instance if you are naked, you have taken all your clothes off.  If you are nekkid, you have taken all your clothes off and you are up to something!”

If you are more interested in keeping your clothes on, while getting answers to your lawn and garden questions, click here to see how to get help from the Scotts Help Center anytime, not just this Saturday.

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