Tips Growing a Healthy Lawn in the Ozarks

Cooler weather should be just around the corner. It makes a perfect time take care of the lawn. I don’t just mean cutting the grass.  Over seeding a lawn with bare spots, aerating and top dress to promote fertilization are all great things to do during cooler weather.

Top dressing  is when a thin layer of very high quality dirt is added to the top of a lawn. It is raked in to fill odd holes and divets in the lawn. The dirt is generaly composed of compost, manure and worm castings to help fertilize and replace the nutrients that have been absorbed by the grass root system over time. Every living thing appreciated a diet routine change. Here is a little more information on soil amendment  Natural Tricks for Better Soil

bare lawn

Top dress and over seed to fix bare spots.

Over seeding is simply adding new grass seed to the lawn to help fill in bare or thin spots. After topdressing is a great time to overseed. It gives the new seed a good place to rest and lots of nutrients help it grow. Benefits of Over-Seeding

Aerating is for lawns that have become root bound. The roots have in most cases become so grown together that there is no room for new starts to begin. Aeration can also benefit a lawn that has suffered drought or when the soil has not been properly amended and fertilized. Here is more information on  Lawn Aeration

Remove Rocks and other Debris. Cooler weather is also a good time to just get out in the yard and remove any loose rocks that happen to have grown. Yes, everyone that lives in NWA know that we actually grow rocks here overnight. They prevent grass from growing, trip children and wreck havoc on lawn mower blades.

Mulching can be done almost all year round. Autumn leaves can be mulched with a lawn mower to add the leaf debris back into the lawn. Its also a lot quicker than raking them all up. Saves garbage bags or the risk of starting a fire for those that burn them instead of bagging or mulching them.

During the growing season mowing over large clumps of grass several times adds the nutrients and any seed that was on the grass back in to the soil.

leaving clumps of grass when mowing can kill the new grass growing underneath

leaving grass clumps after mowing can kill the new grass growing underneath.

Let the Grass Seed. As the weather gets cooler or before it begins to get to hot let the grass get a little shaggy and produce its own seed. Why waste free seed and risk more bare spots later when the lawn can replenish its self.

grass does not have to grow to high only until you start to see the tassels

A lush grassy lawn takes a little TLC. Well maybe a little more care and attention here in NWA where the ground is so rocky and most of our dirt consists of clay that does not promote good drainage or root growth.

Best Grass to Grow in the Ozarks 

Aphids

Aphids do not look alarming when there are only a couple hanging out in the garden. More times than not they go unnoticed until a plant is doing very badly. Then the gardener starts running through a mental checklist, especially those of us with busy schedules that rely on technology to maintain our gardens throughout the week.

  • Is the watering system working properly?
  • Did I plant that in the right spot?
  • Is it getting too much light? To much water?

It was so pretty when I bought it. What am I doing wrong?

Aphid Appearance

Then on closer inspection you spot the mass of small nearly translucent bodies covering the underside of the leaves. The little aphids are out of sight and out of mind.

A few aphids in the garden is not a problem. The plants immune system so to speak will heal the little holes they eat into it when they move on after the sap or honeydew has dried. It’s when the garden or a more often even just a single plant, commonly rose bushes, become infested with hundreds of the tiny little ¼ inch pests. 

There are nearly 4,000 species of aphids in the world. Some are only attracted to certain plants others have a wider appetite. 

Aphids can come in almost any color green, brown, white even pink. They have soft pear shaped bodies with long antennae. Most species of aphid do not generally have wings but when an area becomes overpopulated they can grow them to move to a new location. A gardeners worst nightmare.

Aphids on Crape Myrtle

Aphids Effect on Plant Health

Most species will be found on the underside of a plants leaves. This keeps them out of the sun and protected from predators. 

A few species like the grey-white root aphid will bury in the soil and attack a plants roots.

Constant assault from aphids and them being overpopulated in an area can lead to severe disease and death in plants.

  • Leaf curl
  • Misshapen leaves
  • Yellow leaves
  • Fungal growth
  • Sooty mold

Aphids can also carry disease from one plant to another. Aphids are the plant equivalent to ticks and mosquitoes for humans.  

They can also attract other unwanted bugs to the garden that prey on aphids. Ladybugs love to eat aphids, and no matter how cute they are I do not want a swarm of ladybugs in my yard anymore than the aphids.

Aphid Control and Prevention

Prevention goes a long way when it comes to garden pests. Regularly inspecting plants and not relying too heavily on timers and other time saving routines can make a difference. 

Be sure to inspect all buds, fruit and flower but pay close attention to the underside of leaves. 

Companion Gardening is one of our favorite things. We know its not for everyone. But when it comes to low maintenance routines having a balanced garden is a big help.

Plants with certain smells are less appealing and tasty to most aphids. But with so many species it can still be tricky. Most pest don’t have a specific species just for beans, cabbage, melons, potatoes, but aphids do. So here are some of the most common plants to deter and repel aphids. 

Aphid Deterrent Plants  

  • Marigolds
  • Catnip
  • Lavender
  • Fennel
  • Dill
  • Garlic
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Oregano

Some plants are hardier and act as a trap for aphis. These plants will tolerate the abuse and heal themselves quicker. They are also cheaper than other aphid favorites.

Aphid Trap Plants

  • Sunflowers
  • Nuestriums
  • Mustard

Other Aphid Deterrents

Sometimes it may be as simple as hosing the pest of off the plant. Often times the aphid will not find it’s way back to the same plant. For example roses are an aphid favorite and the rose bush is the only plant being infested.

There are chemicals on the market for everything. Dust pest control products are quick and simple way to go. Again we know that not everyone wants unsightly powder spread on their plants for the neighbors to see. If you are willing to use a powder form for control you may also want to try

Powder Products from the house

  • Flour
  • Baking Soda
  • Borax
  • Epsom Salt
  • Diatomaceous Earth 

Spray Mixtures you may have on hand

  • 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water
  • Rubbing alcohol and water
  • Neem oil
  • Epsom Salt and water
  • Liquid dish soap, cayenne pepper and very little water

Banana peels chopped up and buried a couple of inches under the soil are said to prevent aphids as well. I have never tried this for pests, but it is a trick I personally use on my rose bushes a couple times a year to provide them with more nutrients. So it is worth a try.

We hope your gardens flourish and are pest free. As always give us a call if you are in Northwest Arkansas or Southwest Missouri and your yard or garden serviced. Feel free to email or reach us on any of our social media platforms even if you don’t live in our area and have a question.


Carpenter Bee Deterrents

Carpenter Bees also called Wood Bees seem to be taking over and causing havoc  this year. They start out as a loud slightly annoying house guest. Scaring children by buzzing and dive bombing when anyone gets too close to their nest. They annoy homeowners by leave perfectly drilled little holes in wood. Normally occupying the most serene of spring and summer sitting areas like porches and decks constructed of wood.

After a few weeks we stop really paying attention to them. Carpenter bees aren’t normally known for stinging, because only the females have a stinger.  They are however very good at pollinating all of our beautiful flowers. So how bad can they really be?

Carpenter bees aren’t just drilling a perfectly round simple little hole. Those holes are just the entrance to tunnel that can be as long as 4”. That’s a long ways for one little bee. Actually that’s about a third of the length of one of the boards that the roof to my porch rests on. Wood bees aren’t usually seen to pose any actual structural damage because they don’t take over a whole board the way a termite does. However I don’t want want to think about the amount of damage that they are doing or they shere number of holes they have made.

It may not be to bad but after the boring the entrance hole the female Carpenter bee cuts over at a 90 degree angle. She then continues on with the tunnel that can be anywhere from 6 inches to 4 feet.  This normally happens in April or May so that the female can lay her eggs.

The next generation of bees is ready by about August. The new bees will spend the rest of the year finding a new nest and hibernating until spring.

As a gardener I love pollinator insects. We go out of our way to not use pesticides in our yard to make it a better place for pollinators. At this point, after several summers of having wood bees nest on our porch and in the wooden siding of the house I have started to look into pesticides for them. Wasp spray is one of the few chemicals we use outdoors and it just is not helping with the Carpenter bees. Not only is it not working but we also don’t necessarily want to kill them just prevent them. That way they can go on pollinating.

While looking we came across several products that are supposed to prevent insects that damage wood, including Carpenter Bees and Termites. Unfortunately all of these products have to be used on untreated wood. Those products don’t do us much good.So what can we do?

Tips for Stopping Wood Bee Damage

  • Keep exterior wood surfaces well painted or sealed
  • Keep wood and brush piles picked up and away from other wood structures
  • Plug the existing holes to nest entrances with wood glue, silicone, or dowel rods
  • Treat newly built wooden structures with a product that deters wood damaging insects before painting or sealing.

What Deters Wood Bees

There is a wide range of dusts and aerosol sprays on the market that will kill Carpenter Bees. I don’t want the dust all over my porch, and the aerosols are pretty bad for the environment. I just can’t stop thinking about the bees that get into some of it and don’t die taking it back to the flowers they pollinate. Or all of the plants that won’t get pollinated as well if we keep killing everything that pollinates. So what can we use to keep Wood Bees from destroying our homes and harassing us while we relax?

  • Tea Tree Oil or Eucalyptus Oil most insects hate the smell. Can be mixed with water and put in a spray bottle to use on existing tunnels. 20 drops to a cup of water should be about right. Be careful both oils are dangerous to humans and pets.
  • Almond Oil contains benzaldehyde a known pest deterrent that should last about 3 months.
  • A mixture of Tea Tree, Lavender and Citronella Oils in a spray bottle.
  • Cloves of fresh Garlic can be boiled and then added to white vinegar in a spray bottle. This mixture should be reapplied frequently if used.

Yes, most of the these call for essential oils.No, we are not addicted to the essential oil craze. The oils help preserve and treat the wood in small areas where the problem is occurring with the added benefit of certain smells hopefully driving the pest away.It is also the reason why the garlic and water solution needs to used more frequently.

Our Favorite Carpenter Bee Repellent

We like to use 1 Cup of Water, 1 Cup of Apple Cider Vinegar in a spray bottle with 1 Tablespoon of Rubbing Alcohol, 6 Drops Lavender Oil and 6 Drops of Tea Tree Oil.

Remember that Tea Tree oil can be harmful to people and pets, and to always label your spray bottles for safety and future reference.

Plants that Deter Carpenter Bees

Plant deterrents don’t seem to work as well on flying pests, as they do on ground dwelling pests. Plants may still work fairly well in small areas such as decks or balconies depending on the size of the area.

  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Citronella
  • Chrysanthemums

Carpenter bees are wonderful pollinators. We want them to keep healthy and pollinating. It would just be really nice if they could make their nests in dead fallen trees and brush instead of in our homes.

Termite Prevention

Now Hiring Landscape Labor

2 J’s & Sons will have several positions open for the 2019 mowing season. This year is already proving different from other years. We still have a lot of work in January and it doesn’t seem to be slumping off anytime soon.

For the pre-mowing season we are in need of a couple of individuals to help with landscaping. These positions require hard physical labor and attention to detail. Therefore they pay more.

Pay starting at $12 an hour. We will need new leads for the season this year, for both mowing and landscaping. We would prefer to promote someone.

With room for advancement in just a couple of moths now is a great time to apply.

Applicants please have appropriate attire  for the weather and boots.

 

 

The Holidays Are Over

Hello 2019 we are so glad you are here. We have lots of great things planned here at 2 J’s for this year.  

For now that begins with finishing up things from 2018. First on our list is cleaning up from the holidays. Decorations need to be stored and lights (lots and lots of Lights) need to be taken down. Most yards in the area have already had fall cleanup taken care of, but with the few storms that have come through and everyone being busy for the holidays some lawns still need attention.

It is cold outside but we are still working hard. If you have Christmas lights or other out side decor that need taken down give us a call. Yes, even if we did not put it up for you.

We are still doing yard clean ups, gutter cleaning and well everything else that we do. Including working on a front yard make over with a lot of brick and block work and some pavers. We will have pictures of that soon, and some of the in progress pictures on Instagram  


Holiday Lighting

We begin installing holiday lights every year in November.Several of our long time customers like to turn them on for Thanksgiving dinner or the day  after. We start taking them down again after New Years. This allows customers to get the most time and enjoyment out of their holiday displays.

We can hang the lights that you already own or rent some that we keep on hand, as long as the supply lasts. Here is a job we rented the lights on for two years, Wishing for a white Christmas  

Save the time and hassle of strings,extension cords, timers and ladders with 2 J’s & Sons. We have been putting up lights for customers since 2015 and do most of them while our customers are at work.

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn 2018 Has Arrived

The Autumn Equinox will officially arrive at 8:54 tonight. Lets get ready for hopefully cooler weather finally. Nights by the fire roasting s’mores and changing leaves.

Here is our fall check list to get ready for winter, not that we need to hurry and complete it to soon here in NWA. A few tips on how to care for Mums for those of you who want to start on Autumn and Halloween decor early.

 

Don’t forget to call and schedule your leaf clean up service for this year. Or any other lawn maintenance that may be needed before the end of the year including a new gas or wood fire pit to sit by.