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Late Summer Gardening Tips for North and Central Florida

One of the great things about living in North and Central Florida is being able to garden almost all year round. While people in northern states are already worrying about frost as fall approaches, Florida gardeners still have plenty of growing season left. To help you make the most of late summer in the garden, follow these tips from the Orlando lawn care experts at Apex.

Add Color to Your Garden

Late summer is a great time to add some new colors to your garden. For a pop of lavender, you can plant ageratum. For a splash of pink, plant zinnia or begonia. If yellow is more your style, plant some goldenrod.

Attract Hummingbirds

In late summer, hummingbirds are on the move. You can attract these fascinating birds by planting the right flowers in your garden. Hummingbirds are most attracted to red, orange, or pink flowers. Try planting trumpet vine, cardinal flower, or scarlet morning glory.

Plant Fruits and Vegetables

Now that fall is approaching, you can start your fall veggie garden. You can plant cool-season vegetables like broccoli, Chinese cabbage, parsley, or potatoes. Other good options include beets, English peas, and lettuce. It’s also a great time to plant strawberries.

Divide Perennials

The cooler weather gives you the opportunity to divide your perennials. Dividing perennials can be stressful for the plants, and they recover better in cooler weather. Dig up each clump of perennials, and gently remove them from your garden. Carefully cut apart the individual crowns. Then, you can either replant the divided perennials in your own garden or give them to friends. You can also add shade-loving perennials to your garden at this time.

Remove Weeds

When you’re working in your late summer garden, keep an eye out for weeds. Pluck weeds as soon as you find them when they still have weak root systems. As weeds grow larger, they get harder to remove. Plucking weeds quickly means that you can minimize your weeding chores.

Continue Monitoring Your Lawn

Plenty of pests are still active at this time of year, so continue monitoring your lawn for signs of trouble. Bugs like fall armyworms, sod webworms, and mole crickets are active in the late summer. If you see signs of insect damage, get your lawn treated before it gets worse. This is also a good time to have pre-emergence herbicides applied to your lawn to fend off winter weeds.

By following these tips, you can make the most out of your late summer garden. If you notice any unwanted pests in your garden or lawn, don’t hesitate to contact Apex, the Orlando lawn care experts. if you need more tips and tricks, check out our blog!

6 Pests You’ll Want This Gardening Season

Some pests are bad news for gardeners. They nibble on precious flower and vegetable gardens and even sting gardeners. However, that doesn’t mean you should kill every bug you see in your garden. Some pests are good to have around. Tampa pest control experts recommend leaving these six useful garden pests alone.

  1. Braconid Wasps

These parasitic wasps lay their eggs in insects like caterpillars, moths, beetle larvae, and aphids. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on their hosts. The hosts die, so braconid wasps are great for gardeners. You can attract these helpful pests by planting dill, parsley, or wild carrot.

  1. Damsel Bugs

Damsel bugs feed on many plant-damaging pests such as aphids, leafhoppers, and thrips. You can find damsel bugs in crop fields, like soybean or alfalfa. They’re not sold commercially, but can be collected with a sweep net and then released in gardens.

  1. Ground Beetles

Ground beetles are big, black beetles, and they’re great for gardens. These nocturnal pests feed on more than 50 types of pests, including slugs, snails, and cutworms. Gardeners can attract ground beetles with perennials and mulch.

  1. Lacewings

These flying insects are voracious predators. They feed on garden pests like aphids, thrips, and caterpillars. Angelica, cosmos, and sweet alyssum will help gardeners attract lacewings. Lacewing larvae can also be purchased online or from some nurseries.

  1. Ladybugs

Ladybugs, also called lady beetles, are a well-known beneficial insect. The adults feed on aphids, mealybugs, and mites. Ladybug larvae are even more beneficial; aphids or mites are no match for their voracious appetites. Plants in the parsley family, like carrots and dill, will help you attract ladybugs.

  1. Minute Pirate Bugs

These tiny black-and-white bugs attack and eat many of the pests that bother gardeners. Whiteflies, thrips, and mites are meals for these pests. Minute pirate bugs also feed on insect eggs and help keep pest populations under control. To encourage them to live in your garden, plant goldenrods, daisies, and alfalfa.

Some pests are bad news for your garden, but your pest control experts at Apex know some bugs are very useful. If you see any of these six helpful bugs in your garden, leave them alone. If you’re looking to get rid of other unwanted pests, check out our blog or contact us for a free quote today!

A Lawn in Tip-Top Shape is Your Defense Against Summer Bugs

lawn-mowerWhen your body is healthy, it’s able to fight off diseases and illnesses. The same is true for lawns. When lawns are in tip-top shape, they can keep the bugs at bay. To keep your grass healthy and lush, follow these helpful tips from the Tampa lawn care experts at Apex.

Avoid Overwatering Your Lawn

Water is essential for a healthy, green lawn, but it’s possible to overdo it. If you water your lawn too frequently, you could end up drowning your lawn. It’s best to thoroughly water your lawn once or twice a week.

To make sure you’re not overwatering your lawn, use a rain gauge. Lawns need between one and two inches of water a week. That includes the water they get from the rain. During rainy periods, you may not need to do much watering.

If you have an irrigation system, check to make sure it’s functioning properly. The lawn should be watered evenly to stay healthy. If some areas are getting overwatered, your lawn could suffer.

Watch Out for Lawn Pests

Southern chinch bugs are one of the lawn pests we have here in Florida. They’re mainly found in St. Augustine grass. They feed on your grass by sucking out its juices. If your lawn is being taken over by these pests, the grass will look like it’s under stress.

Grubs are other lawn pests Floridians need to watch out for. Grubs are beetle larvae, and they feed on the roots of your grass. When this happens, large, irregular patches of your grass will turn brown. If you can easily pull up dead sections of your grass, you probably have grubs. If the populations of these lawn pests are getting out of control, insecticides can help.

Watch Out for Fungal Diseases

Excess moisture provides a great environment for fungi, and fungal diseases like brown patch can show up on your lawn. Circular areas of brown, dead grass are a sign of this disease. To stop the disease from spreading, you can apply fungicides to the lawn. Improved air flow and soil drainage will also help.

Fertilize and Aerate Your Lawn

Lawns need nutrients to stay healthy. Have your soil tested first, and then choose an appropriate fertilizer for your soil’s needs. Aerating the lawn also helps nutrients reach the roots of the grass. Healthy lawns are able to combat drought and survive hot, dry weather.

By following these tips, you can keep your lawn healthy and green. To learn more, contact the Tampa lawn care professionals at Apex.

Grass Looking a Little Brown? The Sod Webworm Could Be Your Culprit

lawnHave you heard of tropical sod webworms before? These pests aren’t well-known, but they’re actually quite common in lawns in the Southeast. They’re responsible for the ugly browning Floridians see on their lawns in the middle of summer. The Orlando lawn care professionals at Apex want to help you protect your lawn from these pests.

Identifying Sod Webworm Problems

If you see moths scattering as you walk across your grass, sod webworms could be present. The larvae and caterpillars of the species are bad news for your lawn. They feast on the tops of your grass blades. This makes your grass look like it’s been cut unevenly. The lighter, shorter patches of grass will stand out when you look at your lawn.

As the larvae grow, they start eating more and more grass. This makes the damage more noticeable. Severe infestations can result in unsightly yellow and brown patches on your lawn. This also gives weeds the opportunity to move into your lawn.

Causes of Sod Webworm Problems

The main cause of sod webworm infestations is using too much fertilizer on your lawn. While you might think more is better when it comes to fertilizer, you can have too much of a good thing. Proper fertilization can make your lawn healthier and less susceptible to sod webworms.

To discourage sod webworms from thriving, follow proper lawncare practices. Water your lawn infrequently and deeply, and mow your lawn regularly. These habits help keep your lawn healthy and strong.

Managing Sod Webworms

Prevention tips don’t do much good if you already have a sod webworm problem. Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to get rid of these pests. Lawn care professionals can apply chemical insecticides to the lawn to control the larval stages of the sod webworms.

With good lawn care practices, damaged lawns usually recover quickly. Keep your grass watered, and mow it regularly, and your lawn will be the envy of the neighborhood in no time.

Sod webworms can cause big problems for Florida lawns. If you need help preventing or treating them, the Orlando lawn care professionals at Apex can help. Contact us today to learn how we can help you keep your lawn in tip-top shape!

Summer is the Season of Crabgrass

rush-348481_1920(2)After spending hours making sure your lawn is green and beautiful, there’s nothing worse than seeing crabgrass take over. Crabgrass is an opportunistic lawn weed, and it’s a real eyesore. It grows very well in hot, dry conditions, which makes it a big problem for us in Florida. Orlando lawn care experts are well acquainted with this weed.

Crabgrass Basics

Crabgrass sprouts in the late spring. It only needs bare soil, water, and sunlight to grow. Once it sprouts, it spreads quickly, which is bad news for lawns. Each crabgrass plant can distribute thousands of seeds before the next spring, so in no time, our lawns can be taken over by weeds.

If your lawn is infested with crabgrass, you’ll know it. This unattractive weed sprawls low across the ground from a central root. It’s also a lighter shade of green than the rest of your lawn. When you look out at your lawn, you’ll see the patches of crabgrass. Fortunately, there are many ways you can prevent or treat crabgrass.

Prevention

Keeping your lawn healthy is the best way to prevent a crabgrass infestation. To keep your lawn in tip-top shape, make sure to mow it at the proper height. Usually, this means mowing at one of the top two settings on your mower. When your grass is taller, the soil underneath gets more shade. The shade can help prevent crabgrass seeds from germinating.

Another part of keeping your lawn healthy is watering it carefully. To strengthen your lawn’s roots, it’s best to water deeply and less frequently. Thoroughly watering your lawn once a week is better than turning on your sprinklers for a short time every day. When you wet the soil to a depth of four to six inches, you encourage your lawn’s roots to go deeper into the soil. This makes your lawn hardier and more resistant to weeds. Shallow watering makes the grass roots weaker and more susceptible to weeds. Crabgrass needs bare soil to grow, so it’s important to keep your lawn thick and healthy. If you have any bare patches on your lawn, reseed them. The best time to do this is in the fall.

Treatment

By summer, it may be too late to prevent crabgrass from invading. That’s because it thrives in the hot, dry conditions. If you’ve already got crabgrass, don’t panic. Specially-formulated treatments can be used to manage the crabgrass. This helps maintain your lawn’s density and color.

If you’re worried about crabgrass, get help from an Orlando lawn care company. Take the guesswork out of lawncare and crabgrass management by hiring the experts at Apex Pest Control. Contact us today to take back control of your lawn.

Mole Crickets: Destroyer of Lawns

mole-cricket-1260755_1920The work of keeping your Florida lawn in pristine shape is never ending. We live in the subtropics, and because of that fact, our nicely manicured green spaces are under constant attack. The most common type of Central Florida turf, St. Augustine grass, is very tough and durable. Between extreme heat and rabid pests, a lesser type of grass would not last long on Tampa lawns. One creature that consistently comes to the attention of the Tampa lawn care experts at Apex is the relentless mole cricket.

What They Are & How They Operate

These powerfully built insects are generally about two inches long, and they can eat grass at a voracious rate. Mole crickets lay eggs in May, hatch by June ,and are full-grown, lawn-destroying adults by the fall. So, in Florida, the time to get them under control is clearly now. Even if you’ve never seen a mole cricket (and you may have, but simply not identified it), the damage to your lawn can make their presence well known.

Here is how they operate:

  • Mole crickets dig underground tunnels, making them difficult to spot and equally difficult to get rid of.
  • The tunnels they live in destroy roots, killing grass from the ground up. These tunnels can also create knots of soil in your backyard.
  • They are well named; mole crickets have a behavior very similar to moles, but can operate in giant numbers.

A Deeper Problem

If mole crickets take residence on your Central Florida lawn, that becomes only part of the problem. Mole crickets are delicious for a myriad of other animals. The list of Florida wildlife that finds them as a main course is long and potentially dire for the well-being of your front yard.

Raccoons and armadillos both love the taste of mole crickets, and they are willing to go to some lengths to get hold of them. That includes digging up your yard to gain access to those troublesome tunnels the mole crickets run through, causing obvious damage of its own. Once exposed from their tunnels via a larger animal like an armadillo, the mole crickets attract all manner of creatures to your front lawn for a buffet: from birds to bats and even other pests.

Prevention is Key

From the brown patches they create from simply burrowing their tunnels and killing grass at the root, to the damage that can be inflicted if they are discovered by an ingenious omnivore, the threat to your Florida lawn is clear. Once you see dead grass or dug up holes, the problem has probably already begun. At Apex, the leaders in Tampa lawn care, we preach prevention when dealing with the relatively common mole cricket. Call us today for a simple, no-obligation lawn inspection and quote.

6 Pests You Don’t Want in Your Garden

flower-110692_1920The creatures that live in your garden and lawn are a balancing act. Some are actually very beneficial; insects such as ladybugs and praying mantis are voracious eaters of bugs themselves. In Tampa, even invasive species like our ever-present lizards (brown anole are originally from Latin America, the rarer green anole is a native species) offer a benefit in the incredible amount of insects they consume around your home. But, some pests can be downright destructive to your garden and lawn. Identifying these species in your garden is key to quality Tampa lawn care.

By identifying these pests, you can get on with the process of treating them. Most often this will need to involve the help of professionals. Below is a list of 6 common unwanted pests the gurus at Apex see and deal with in the Tampa area.

  • Aphids: These tiny green insects are easier to spot in numbers than individually. And it’s the numbers you have to worry about; adult aphids feed on a wide variety of plants and grasses. They do so by slowly sucking the nutrients from the core of the plant, which weakens crops and causes consistent long-term damage.
  • Stink Bug: They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but commonly look like a small shield from above. They will be unmistakable if mashed (the name stinkbug is given for a reason). This pest damages crops in a similar way to aphids, but has a more vegetable-based taste.
  • Wireworms: These are often also called click beetles due to the distinctive clicking noise they create. They are brown in color and a voracious eater of veggies and soy plants.
  • Corn Earworms: Corn earworms are easiest to identify by the very distinctive spots and markings on their wings. They are light brown in color, and although they will not completely destroy the plants in your garden, they heavily damage everything from cucumbers to tomatoes, and of course, corn, making the vegetables unpleasant to eat.
  • Chinch Bugs: Chinch bugs are not a problem for your garden, but they are for your fantastic Florida lawn. A relentless eater of many types of local grass, they are identifiable by the unmistakable circular patches they leave in your backyard.
  • Leafhoppers: Tiny and peculiarly shaped, these can be best described visually as a colorful moth. They jump and fly in a similar fashion as well. What separates them from moths is their ability to damage plants. They leave an easily-identifiable yellow patch on the leaves of plants they are feasting on.

Each of these garden pests will require a different approach in Tampa lawn care. This is a job best left for the experts at Apex Pest Control. Contact us anytime for a no-obligation inspection and quote, and secure your garden and lawn year round.

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Preparing Your Lawn for Spring

rush-348481_1920(1)There’s no better time in the Central Florida area to prepare your lawn for summer and spring then these last few cool weeks before they arrive. A properly done spring cleaning should always include your lawn; as the welcome mat to your home, and the nexus point for a wide variety of Florida pests, it’s a good thought to tidy it up. By incorporating some tips from your friendly Orlando lawn care specialists at Apex, you can go a long way to keep pests at a minimum this upcoming spring and summer.

Our tips are all simple ideas: things that can be done on a Sunday afternoon without much of a sweat broken. For the more complex pest solutions, always think of the local authority on all crawling creatures at Apex. But before giving us a call, prepare your lawn with these three tips.

  • Debris & Clutter

Over the winter months, even our completely mild ones, many areas of the lawn will go unused and unnoticed. This can lead to a buildup of debris and clutter which act as natural habitats for pests once we enter the active spring and summer months. It’s wise to clear out any type of clutter around your lawn, but particularly areas close to your home. A clear yard is a much less inviting one for everything from fleas to roaches, both of which require cover from predators.

  • Dethatch Lawns

Lawn thatch is simply a layer of non-decomposed plant matter that can get between your lawn and the soil/sand itself. This area can be a great habitat in the upcoming months for pests like subterranean termites and sod webworms. With our tough and sturdy St. Augustine grass, thatch will generally form on the edges of your lawn as compared to directly under it (as it can in the north latitudes). Simply lightly raking areas of dirt around your primary lawn can act as a dethatching mechanism.

  • Keeping the Grass Low

With the incoming heat of the summer in Orlando, there is a fine line at play here: cut low and you can damage and weaken your lawn, but leaving grass high can invite a wide-variety of common Florida lawn pests. Spring is a good time to get a handle on what length your individual lawn can handle with our climate; it offers a good combination of warm days and a fluid insect situation. One other factor to always consider is grass growing outside of your general lawn area (such as those on the other side of a fence).

For a more thorough inspection of your lawn, and to prepare it even further for the spring, contact the Orlando lawn care experts at Apex at (866) 675-4070.

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Why Does the Grass Seem Greener Across the Street?

prettylawnandtreesThe adage “The grass is always greener in someone else’s yard” seems inevitable. Sometimes, it is as simple as realizing you are more particular about your own lawn, and any signs of weeds in your grass are a disaster for the entire lawn, while you are more forgiving of your neighbor’s turf. Other times, it may seem the care your neighbor is giving his lawn is identical to yours, but his grass is thriving while yours struggles. Apex Pest Control knows lawn care in Orlando. They can help you recognize the reasons your lawn is not meeting its full potential and assist in rectifying the situation with the correct maintenance throughout the year. But, here are three possible reasons why your lawn may be suffering.

  • The Way You Cut Your Lawn: Many homeowners do not have an abundance of time to mow the lawn and opt to cut it as short as possible to lengthen the amount of time between trimmings. This common error actually causes you to mow more frequently, and the grass barely has time to recover from trauma in between mowings. Set your mower’s blades at 3”-4” above ground level to trim just the ends of the blades, not the plant itself. Conscientious trimming allows the plants to soak up sun, and by keeping the plant and roots intact, the grass plants can extract more nutrients from the ground.
  • Your Soil is Poor Quality: Soil can make or break a lawn. Even if you lay an entire yard with new sod, if the soil is poor, the sod will not thrive. Dig a few inches into your lawn and remove a soil sample, placing it in a bag and labeling it with the general area of your lawn (east corner near the driveway, for instance). Repeat in three to four different locations if possible, noting if the sample is in full sun, partial shade, etc. Also, add the type of grass growing in the area. Take the sample to your local extension office for analysis. They can let you know the nutrients you are lacking and help your lawn recover.
  • Time to Aerate: Sometimes the best solution is simply to aerate your lawn. Ensure no debris are covering the blades of grass and rake thoroughly with a lawn rake. By aerating a few times a year, water is able to seep into the roots, and sun reaches the plants.

Apex Pest Control understands lawn care in Orlando. They can keep your lawn beautiful throughout the year and have your neighbors asking themselves why your yard looks so much better than theirs. Give Apex a call at (866) 675-4070, and read our blogs for more information concerning Florida lawn care and maintenance.

3 Signs Your Lawn Needs Apex

lawn-care-643561_1280When most people look at their lawns, they see grass, the occasional tree, and possibly some shrubbery. Your lawn is much more than grass, though. It is its own ecosystem, teeming with plant and animal life. Sometimes, when its requirements vary too widely, such as too much rain, not enough full sun, or an overabundance of fungus, your lawn may turn from a lush, verdant green to a lawn riddled with brown patches, weeds, or yellow circles of dying grass. These signs of lawn problems are often preventable with the professional help of your Orlando lawn care team at Apex Pest Control.

 

  • Sign of Lawn Disease: As summer approaches and your turf reaches its full capacity, conditions become ideal for lawn diseases. In Florida, there are two prevalent diseases: brown patch fungus and grey leaf spot disease. Brown patch fungus is caused by the Rhizoctonia fungus. At its onset, the blades of St. Augustine, Bermuda, Bahia, and centipede grasses yellow and are generally easy to pull from the plant. As it spreads, the virus affects a larger, circular area, and new blades at the center of the circle recover sufficiently to grow, giving a “bull’s eye” appearance. The second disease is grey leaf spot disease caused by Pyricularia grisesa, and it appears as a patch of grass with olive green or brown, moist spots on the blades of grass, predominantly St. Augustine. In time, the spots tarnish to a velvety grey.
  • Plagued by Weeds: Weed maintenance fluctuates with the changes of the season; weeds that dominate cooler spring weather may completely disappear in summer, only to be replaced with another variety that thrives in full sun and warmer temperatures. Understanding the cycle of the weeds helps to combat them. The application of an herbicide specific to the season and the weeds most common to your area and turf is essential to hinder the emergence of weeds, then follow-up treatments throughout the growing season prevent weeds from both recurring and new varieties from appearing.
  • Your Lawn is Dry: Plants need water, but how much? For most Florida lawns, the recommendation is 1-1.5” of water per week. To determine if your lawn is receiving the proper amount of water, place a shallow pie pan or pet bowl-sized container on your lawn and turn on the sprinkler system. If you can measure 1/2”-3/4” of water, your lawn is being watered sufficiently if you irrigate your yard three times a week. Any amount greater than that may cause undue stress to you lawn, or may simply be wasted since the grass is saturated. Remember to turn off your irrigation system if rain is in the forecast.

 

With good practice, your lawn can look beautiful throughout the year. Call (866) 675-4070 to speak with the Orlando lawn care experts at Apex Pest Control concerning a lawn maintenance program that will keep your turf healthy and happy in every season. Read our past blogs for information pertaining to turf pests and diseases, maintenance, and tips for a greener, lusher lawn.

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I have used Apex for about five years and my lawn is beautiful.
Carolyn G, Orlando