Categories
Pests and Natural Prevention

Wooly Aphid Fairy Bug

Do fairies exist? We’ll leave that up to you and your children. So what are these small fuzzy white flying things that occasionally resemble floating pollen or cotton? Fairy Bugs or fairy flies also called Wooly Aphids.

Tiny Fairy Bug

 

 

 

 

 

Eriosomantinae is the Greek name for this aphid subspecies. It translates to wooly body.

There are many species in the world of the wooly aphid but only one is common in the U.S.This one hosts in Hawthorn and Apple trees. They have a waxy white filament that helps them camouflage from predators. While the fuzzy white fluff allows them to catch wind currents and drift to new locations.

Hawthorn Tree

 

 

 

 

Wooly aphids are unique and fun to watch, often gaining the rapt attention of children. But they have a slightly darker side when it comes to plant health. These white fluff balls drink plant sap also called honeydew leaving a tiny hole behind in the tree. Then they float around landing where the wind takes them spreading things like sooty mold in the process.

 

Fairy Bug or Wooly Aphid

Signs of Wooly Aphid Damage

  • Yellowed leaves
  • Curled leaves
  • Dark soot or mold-like substance on plants
  • White powdery mildew on plants
Sooty Mold on plant

Fairy Bug Good Deeds

While they can spread bad things between plants they do have a redeeming quality. They are very anti-social and do not hang around together. The female lays her eggs among those of other insects and when the new clutch hatches they eat the eggs around them. Often flies, leaf-hoppers, and weevil eggs.

Not much is know about these little guys on average their small size and anti-social behavior make them hard to study apparently. But different variations can be found all over the world.

Apple Tree

 

 

 

 

This year we have noticed several and had a chance to take pictures. I don’t think I have seen this many in Northwest Arkansas in at least 20 years. The last time was the late 90’s I noticed them while sitting outside with an older lady who has lived in the area her whole life she originally thought they where pollen falling from the tree we were sitting under. After catching one she had no idea what it was and did not recall seeing them before.

Wooly Aphid Fairy Bugs some good and bad traits all in a pretty little package that keeps kids guessing and maybe outdoors just a little longer.

Aphids: Control and Prevention

Categories
Pests and Natural Prevention

How to Prevent Black Sooty Mold on Plants

Sooty Mold is a gardener’s nightmare if it goes unnoticed for too long. It is a fungus that can even move off the plant and spread to mulch and gravel around plants. Insects both pest and pollinator can inadvertently spread it to other plants.

Sooty Mold Description

As the name Sooty Mold implies it appears dark brown or black in spots often resembling a powder on plant leaves and stems. The fungus can be gently scraped off to show the healthy plant underneath if caught in the early stages.

Sooty Mold on plant

 

Commonly Affected Plants

Healthy plants are less likely to be infected. However, stress caused by replanting, drought, to much rain, or poor soil conditions may leave a plant vulnerable. Certain plants are more likely to get Sooty Mold.

  • Crape Myrtle

    rose blooming

  • Azaleas
  • Roses
  • Gardenias

If Left Untreated

If the fungus is not caught in time and allowed to grow it will block out sunlight and prevent the plant from properly photosynthesizing. This stunts plant growth.

Tips For Preventing Sooty Mildew and Other Fungus

Insects are the leading cause of plant fungus. Checking plants for Pests is the best place to start when fungus or other plant illness occurs.

pests beginning to form webs and damage plant

 

 

 

 

 

Many pest insects suck the sap the undigested sap left over is called honeydew. The pest also leaves behind a small hole and like when people get a cut the wound is open to infection. The honeydew that is left in the open wound attracts sooty mold, other fungus and disease. Pollinators and other insects then inadvertently carry the fungus from one plant to another. Cross-contamination.

If Pests Are The Culprit

If you find that aphids or other pests are responsible they need to be removed or treated as soon as possible.

  • Pruning if the pest is only on a few leaves or a branch
  • Introduce nature predators such as lacewings or ladybugs
  • Horticulture or Neem Oil may be sprayed on the plants
  • A mixture of 1 part Hydrogen peroxide to 10 part water in a spray bottle
  • Dish soap and water in a spray bottle

Companion gardening is another great way to prevent unwanted pests. Garlic, onions, and mint added to a garden help deter many pests.

Other plants that have a higher tolerance to aphids and other sap-sucking pests can also be planted in another area of the landscape to attract unwanted guests from prized plants.

  • Cosmos

    Cosmo

  • Zinnias
  • Dahlias
  • Aster

Are great attractors to keep Crape Myrtle, Roses, and other plants safe. There are also many widely available products on the market including copper fungicide to deter and kill unwanted plant pests. Be sure to always read the label carefully and apply as directed. Don’t forget that anytime you spray a plant with oil or even a soap mixture to make sure it is not in direct sunlight so the plant does not get burnt.

Periodically recheck plants for fungus and pests, they both always come back when you least expect it and think you’re in the all-clear. Be sure to check the area surrounding the plant too sooty mold loves to hang out in the gravel and mulch around plants.

Categories
Blog

Earth Day 2020

Earth Day is Every Day

Planting native and using eco-friendly homeade pesticides and herbicides are a great way to help protect the Earth, habitats, and pollinators. Check out some of our friendly pest recipes more to come on fungicides later this year.

Aphids: Control and Prevention 

Carpenter Bee Deterrents 

Why Plant Native

Categories
Chimney and Dryer Vent Cleaning

Chimney Sweeps and Fireplace Maintenance

Wood burning fireplaces are becoming a less common feature in many homes. In some cases the homes that have them use them more for decor than actual function. Then the weather gets bad or the electricity goes out, and occasionally the heating bill is just too much. During these times the forgotten fireplace is remembered and put back into operation.

fire in a freestanding stove

If the unit has been properly maintained there is no issue and the warm heat is very welcome. If the fireplace has not been maintained or was not properly installed serious issues may occur. Home fires being the worst-case scenario, chimney fires may not always cause serious home damage but could cause more structural problems later. Regular fireplace and chimney maintenance will cost less when done routinely, instead of waiting until there is a major problem or a home has no heat.

Annual Chimney Sweep

Having a chimney sweep performed annual is one of the most important things to maintain it. At this time the person performing the sweep should also do an inspection. Following the sweep and inspection, the technician can point out any other problems or give suggestions on better burning practices. In some cases, a chimney may need to be cleaned more than once per year.

The codes and regulations that surround fireplaces change frequently. In many cases units that were very popular last year can not be sold this year due to these changes. This just occurred again this spring of 2020. That does not necessarily make the unit unsafe for use but it should be inspected and discussed. Often times other building codes affect the way a unit was installed and have nothing to do with the fireplace itself. In the many centuries that humans have been using fireplaces, we are still learning how to best build, install, and reduce emissions for them.

These are all important reasons to have a technician you trust and can communicate with come out to take a look on a regular basis.

chimney cap after
chimney cap before cleaning

What Causes  Chimney Problems

Creosote build-up. Creosote is formed when wood smoke rises and meets cold air and forms into a sticky tar-like substance. Well pretty much we won’t get all scientific here but it’s a byproduct of wood combustion. For the purpose of burning a wood fireplace, we will focus more on how to keep it to a minimum and optimize unit and heat performance.

creosote
  • Burn hardwood such as oak or walnut
  • Never burn softwoods like pine
  • Always season wood properly before burning. Stacking wood a little more loosely allows airflow into the stack and allows it to season faster. Splitting the wood is also recommended. Keeping the woodpile dry is important. Some wood may take up to 3 years to properly season.
loosely stacked firewood
  • Do not burn a lot of paper, cardboard or other items that cause a lot of smoke.
  • Try not to burn small fires that smoke a lot. Fireplaces and freestanding stoves are meant to be burnt hot.
this pipe is a fire hazard
  • We highly recommend a stovepipe thermometer that tells you how hot the pipe is. The best operating temperature is generally between 500 and 800 degrees. Remember this temperature is for the stove pipe, not the unit.
stovepipe thermometer

So that is woodburning fireplace 101 we also service natural gas and propane units. If you have any questions or need your unit looked at give us a call 417-772-4181.

Categories
Blog

2020 COVID-19 And Us

We are all aware of the pandemic currently unfolding. Some are taking it more seriously than others. No matter your personal stance on the current events we want to let you know that we are taking it all into consideration.

Our Personal Lives (skip this if you like)

2 J’s & Sons is not a company that set out to make it big or just do it for money.   We do lawn care and landscaping because it is what we like to do. We do it because a company closed their doors without telling their customers and sideling their employees. We do it for our family, it just works for us. At this time 2 J’s has more of our family members working for it than ever before. It is a wonderful thing, and we have always gone out of our way for all of our employees. Covid-19 brings a new level to our care. At this moment 2 J’s & Sons is also responsible for six (6) children that we are related to. School is out of session until April 6th and we take that seriously. Mothers and children are remaining at home as much as possible. This is an easy thing for us to do, we do not consider it a hassle. Currently, our only unrelated employee is also the caregiver for his aging mother I can promise he is not taking any chances. This was all a little personal but as a small business that is part of our culture.

How The Lawn and Landscape Industry is Different

To break it down a little we spent a lot of Saturday and Sunday discussing our options and the pros and cons ( while watching the news and making phone calls). In the end or at least for the moment, we have decided to keep working as usual for as long as possible. If any of our employees or their families get sick or run a fever we will stop immediately.

So here it is our industry is very different we really do not ever have to get in very close physical contact with our customers. Most of our existing customers can communicate with us by phone, text or email. The majority of new customers can as well if we have to do a walk around there is no reason for us to be near the customer as long as we can hear each other.

  • Please do not try to shake hands. We know it’s an impulse and Jeff falls for it every time. Checks can be left outside for us.
  • All of our invoices and estimates are digital;
  • We are washing our hands as much as possible. As well as sanitizing our homes and vehicles every few hours.
  • Our industry is collaborating and researching all the things we should be and can do to make it more healthy and safe. 2 J’s is implementing and following all of their recommendations
  • Keeping lawns and other green spaces clean and maintained is good for mental health and overall well being. It is even more important for physical health if these areas grow out of control and are not kept clean, pests will reign out of control and cause more health problems. Mosquitos, ticks, fleas, etc. can be more than just a nuisance and cause serious health issues. 
  • As of March 17, 2020, The National Association of Landscapers (NALP) was petitioning and holding meetings with government officials for the above reasons as well as trash and pollution reasons if lawns and green spaces are not maintained properly and in a timely manner.

Our Customers

We have several customers that we love to sit and talk with before we leave. You know who you are, we also know that a lot of you have health conditions that make this more dangerous for you. We would rather stay outside and pick up your check off the door. Your health matters to us. But we do love talking to you and you may always call us to chat we keep crazy hours and will most likely answer or call you back to just chat.

Categories
Lawn Care

Why Mulch Is Important

Why is Mulch Important?

It looks good, end of the story that’s all. No, but it does provide a lot of curb appeal. Especially with all the color choices, we have today. Black, chocolate, red, natural and don’t forget pine bark. So what does mulch do besides curb appeal?

 

Weed Control

Mulch helps prevent weeds from growing up out of the ground. Particularly early spring weeds that need a lot of light. Unfortunately, seeds that drop from trees, birds or get blown by the wind will still grow on top of the mulch.  So it will still need to be attended to on occasion.

Help Maintain Moisture

black mulch

 

 

 

 

One of the best things about mulch is that it helps soil maintain moisture throughout the day. We tell our customers to water in the early morning. The Ozarks and NWA are prone to drought and high afternoon temperatures in the summer. Mulch helps keep plant roots moist all day long as well as conserving rainwater.

Pine Bark Mulch

Soil Amendment

Our favorite aspect of mulch is that it helps add nutrients back into the soil as it decays. This gives plants surrounded by mulch a good steady supply of nutrients throughout the year. Some types of mulch such as pine needles and bark can help correct problems like soil acidity or PH. Certain plants like hydrangeas need this to help maintain their color.

As it decays or weathers mulch will need to be replaced or added to. Certain colors are more prone to sunlight and will fade with time. Others like pine bark will maintain their natural color longer and will need to be touched up less.

Pine Bark Mulch
Categories
Lawn Care

Spring Lawn Clean Up

With the spring season less than a month away it’s time to begin thinking about lawn clean up. With nice weather starting to occur intermittently now is a good time to get the lawn in shape so we can make the most of the really nice days outdoors.

 

What Is Spring Lawn Clean-Up?

General debris removal and clean up is the first thing that comes to mind. With some of the storms, we have had or if a lot of the general lawn clean up was overlooked in the fall.

  • Trash clean up
  • Removing fallen limbs and sticks
  • Mulching or removing excess leaves and debris
  • Repairing garden beds
  • cleaning gutters and drains

Lawn Preparation For Spring

This is also the perfect time to add nutrients to the lawn and garden. As well as starting to plan for planting and gardening.

  • overseeding the lawn, to prevent bare spots
  • topdressing the lawn, to add nutrients back into the soil and level out holes and/or divets.
  • correcting erosion problems
  • aerating to provide proper air, water, and nutrition to root-bound grass.
  • pruning to promote new growth or remove dead branches, as well as keeping plants where they are supposed to be and from overshadowing smaller plants.
  • tilling garden beds
  • fertilize the lawn
  • amend the soil in garden beds

Pest and Weed Control Before Spring

Weeds and pests are something that often gets overlooked until they have become a noticeable problem. With today’s busy lifestyle things like preemergent weed control is something we don’t always think about, between work and shuffling the kids around and just noticing that the siding needs power washed.

  • treat the lawn for ticks and fleas
  • treat for grubs if moles have been a problem
  • preemergent weed control
  • begin looking for poison ivy and oak to spray
ruby-throated hummingbird

Spring brings a lot of work around the lawn and garden. The benefits of this kind of labor are always worth it. In the end when we get to sit back and enjoy our wonderful lawns and gardens. The work seems far away when the hummingbirds are buzzing around and all of the flowers are in bloom.

Spring is the time for new life and regeneration. Everyone is always “ready” for spring and the nicer weather. There begins a change in the air and when you see some of the springs first arrivals. My favorite things are Hyacinth and Morrales.

Categories
Lawn Care

Shrub Pruning How To

Shrub Pruning

With autumn here (kind of in the Ozarks), occasional dips in the temperature are encouraging us to go outside again a lot of us are noticing how out of control our yards have become. Then we start thinking about getting ready for winter or just enjoying the nice weather again. We aren’t afraid to admit that our own yard needs some….a lot of TLC. We’ve been super busy and our yard has paid the price.

So what seems to be on people’s minds as far as their yards right now? Out of control shrubs, bushes and trees.

When to Prune

As a general rule of thumb most trees and shrubs can be pruned in late winter or early spring. This is the time that most trees are dormant and will therefore be less stressed by  heavy pruning. Tree or shrub type does have some affect on when the best time is to do heavy pruning. Pruning during the right season for certain trees helps insure  the best production of flowers and foliage. Dead heading is always a good idea and can be done anytime. 

  • Late winter and early spring is the best time to trim back summer flowering shrubs.
  • Late spring and early summer are the best times to prune spring flowering bushes, just after the flowers have all died out.
  • Mid-summer is the best time to prune bleeding trees or those with a very heavy sap flow.

Some  pruning can be done at any time of the year, if it will help the plants health. Say a big storm comes through breaks several branches off of your gorgeous crape myrtle. In this situation the season isn’t as important as removing the broken branches. The plant will most likely recovery faster if the broken branches aren’t taking nutrients, leaving a large wound for pests and disease, or affecting the overall growth of the plant.

When is it Always Ok to Prune?

It is ok to prune anytime if there are:

  • Dead branches
  • Damaged branches
  • Weak branches
  • Branches that are crossing, or touching the house
hedge trimming

Types of Pruning

  • Regular maintenance helps keep a tree or shrub from outgrowing its surroundings.
  • Renewal pruning is consists of removing the oldest branches, and cutting all the branches back to the same length.
  • Pinching is removing the new green growth at the tips of branches back to the woody stalk.

How to Prune

When pruning it is important to consider water, pest and disease. This is why most major pruning is  best done when the tree is dormant or just after flowering.

  • All cuts should be made at a 45 degree angle to prevent water from collecting on the cut. Any water that the cut collects is an open invitation for  mold and disease.
  • Cuts should be made ¼ inch above the bud that you want to remain on the tree.
  • Remember that the new shoots will grow in the direction the bud is facing.
  • It is also important to keep all cuts parallel to the parent branch or main stalk of the tree.
  • When dealing with diseased plants always remember to clean your tools so you prevent spreading it to other plants

If you are ever in doubt on when to trim or prune you can always ask a local landscape professional or consult your local extension office. To get the most out of your plants prune when needed, and not all at once when things get out of hand.

If your shrubs have gotten out of hand and live in Northwest Arkansas give 2 J’s & Sons a call to tidy them up and remove the extra weight.

Best grass to grow in the Ozarks

Categories
Holiday Lighting Service

Christmas Light Installation


Christmas Light Installation

Yes, we know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. But honestly holiday lights help spread cheer and joy, even to the Scrooge’s who don’t want to admit it. Plus the kids love them and every year it seems like there are less and less homes decorated and light up for the holidays.

We have started hanging Christmas lights the beginning of November for the past several years. If you don’t have the time, equipment or even just don’t want the headache give us a call. We will come back and take them down after the New Year.

2 J’s checks to make sure all the bulbs are working properly and can set them up on a timer if you prefer. We can hang your personal lights (we wrap them back up neatly in January), purchase lights for you so you don’t have to go shopping for them, or you may rent some that we already have on hand.

No contracts. Plus great customer service if a bulb goes out or timer gets changed.

Let’s all make Holiday Spirits a Little Brighter this season.

Christmas Lights
Christmas Light Installation along driveway

 

 

 

Call 2 J’s for all your Christmas Light Service Needs

Fall cleanup and leaf removal 

Categories
Portfolio

Photos Drainage

Drainage

Proper water drainage is important to every home and piece of property. Excess water from poor landscaping, or even just roof and gutter run off can cause a lot of property damage.  

open faced drainage ditch
Local Stone open faced drainage ditch. This large ditch has saved the customers foundation and prevented a lot of erosion. The open face also makes it easy to clean out all of the leaves and debris.
open faced drain

Drainage Problems from Gutter Run Off

 

This drain goes from the gutter and under the parking area to help with erosion.
Before the drain cap