Pest of the Month: Drought Stress on Landscape Plants

As we have mentioned before, the second basic need for a lawn is water. But what about your plants? Each plant has different watering needs.Some factors to consider include the species and age of the plant, the type of soil in which it is planted, and its exposure to the sun.

The symptoms of drought stress may be similar to the symptoms of over watering or even to some pest and disease problems.  It is important to identify the causes of the problem in order to take corrective steps.

Under drought stress, many plants shut down their specialized leaf tissue openings to minimize the dehydration loss. However continuous drought conditions can lead to internal head load and limit the plant's vital gas and nutrient exchange causing partial or complete collapse of the plant. Drought stressed plants are highly vulnerable to pest (insect and...

Pest of the Month: Armyworms

The armyworm is the most common cause of damaged turfgrass on golf courses, athletic fields, and home landscapes.

The larva of armyworms can cause rapid, significant loss of leaf tissue in turfgrass. They feed primarily on Bermuda and Ryegrasses in our area, but can also move to Zoysia and St. Augustine grass in years like 2021 where they swarm.

The name ‘armyworm’ originates from agriculture, where infestations sometimes resemble an army as they move across large agriculture fields. The same behavior can sometimes occur in turf, where areas as large as a football field can be consumed in the course of 2-3 days!

If armyworms are present in turfgrasses in large numbers, it is important to treat them as soon as possible to avoid further injury. There are several active ingredients that are effective in controlling fall armyworms, but many variations exist in formulation, use site, applicator requirements, etc.  As always, be sure to follow...

Pest of the Month: Asian Cycad (Sago Palm) Scale

When hearing the word “scale,” someone might think of scales on reptiles. It is not that far off for comparison. Cycad scales grow under a wax covering resembling reptilian scales.

There are many species of plant-scale insects. Asian cycad is one of the most common scale insects that infect the Sago Palms by feeding on the bottom of the fronds. These insects are flat and oval and are commonly tan, white, or brown. Scale insects are tiny, as tiny as a pinhead.

Over time Cycad scale will cover the entire plant stems, trunks, and foliage.
The eggs hatch under these scales and become larva or crawlers.

How does the scale cause damage?
Scale insects, specifically the crawlers, suck sap from the Sago Palm. As the crawlers feed on the sap of the plant,  it excretes a sticky substance called honeydew.
This honeydew attracts ants,...

The Importance of Soil Testing to North Florida Lawn Care

This article was written for our industry association, the National Association of Landscape Professionals

When you take on a new lawn care client, you may think you know what products should be applied based on what you’re seeing in the turf. However, there is a lot more going on than meets the eye and this is where the importance of soil tests come in.

“It’s like going to the doctor,” says Mike Hall, COO of Spectrum Analytic, Inc. based in Washington Court House, Ohio. “They’re going order a battery of tests if you’ve never been to that doctor before to find out what’s going on inside your body. A soil test does the same thing. It finds out what’s going on in the soil so you can amend it properly and not just guess.”

Hall guarantees that if you pulled a soil sample from each house in a cul-de-sac the results would be different for each lawn, so it’s important not to assume the soil is the same as the other properties you care for in the area.


Pest of the Month: Melting Out / Zoysia Fungus

The fungal disease known as melting out is seen most commonly in cool-season Zoysia grass, but it can also be a killer in warm-seasons as well.
Symptoms of melting-out resemble leaf spot symptoms and these two diseases are often grouped together. Melting out however is a cool-weather disease where leaf spot is a warm-weather disease. Symptoms first appear as black to purple spots on the leaf blades. Spots eventually move to the leaf sheaths, and the fungus invades the crowns and roots of the grass. The grass will appear yellow or blackish brown from a distance depending on the nitrogen level of the turf during infection.
Melting-out has two stages of disease development; one being in the early spring in cool, wet weather, which brings about spotting on the leaves of the turf. As cool, wet conditions persist, the crown and root rot stage of the disease follows, and infected turfgrass begins to thin and die.

How to manage Melting Out:


Gainesville Lawn Pest of the Month: Chickweed

Chickweeds form low, spreading mats that can take over vast swaths of land in no time at all. Though they thrive in cool, moist areas with shade, they have the capability to spread despite sun exposure. This annual weed creates small, star-like flowers that look pretty but can cover your lawn in no time—so don’t let these beauties fool you!

These and other winter annual weeds germinate from seeds during fall as the soil temperature cools and the day length shortens. The seedlings usually go unnoticed but continue to slowly grow through the colder winter months. 

Timing is critical when it comes to Gainesville lawn weed control. The mistake most homeowners make is to wait too late to treat winter weeds.

There are  two ways to get rid of chickweed:

1. A good ole fashion pulling session. These have pretty shallow roots, so hoeing the ground and pulling up the weeds are fine strategies for this type of nuisance.

2. Treating them with a...

Pest of the Month: Holly Scale

For the most part, hollies are extremely hardy, suffering from few pests or diseases. In fact, most problems that do occur are usually associated with other factors, such as environmental conditions. However, pests damaging holly bushes can happen so it’s important to become familiar with this common one for help in prevention as well as treatment.

Holly Scale insects can be found feeding on the back sides of the leaves of hollies. These sucking insects use a needle-like mouth-part to pierce leaves and drink the sugary sap inside. Scale insect droppings are sugary and drip onto the upper surfaces of leaves below. A black fungus called sooty mold grows on the droppings. It is the secretion from a pest known as scale that releases a sticky substance that dirt sticks to, causing the black fungus-like appearance. The scale pest can be treated with a contact or systemic insecticide as well as organic treatments.

To reduce insecticide use, our lawn pest team at...

Gainesville Lawn Pest of the Month: Nutsedge Grass

Nutsedge, also called nutgrass, is an aggressive weed that often plagues lawns in the wet seasons like we have been in. There are several different varieties of nutsedge, and they're all perennial weeds in the sedge family that regrow each year and reproduce in a manner that makes them difficult to manage.

Nutsedge outbreaks often start in moist, poorly drained lawn areas, where they quickly develop into large colonies. Their extensive root systems may reach up to 4 feet deep. Once established, these weeds can tolerate drought, but grow best in the damp areas of the lawn.

Identifying Nutsedge:
Shape- Nutsedge weeds, like all sedges (grasslike plants), have a triangular stem that can be felt in your hands. The stem of the sedge feels like it has 3 sides or 3 points, much like a triangle.

"Sandspurs" - Many Floridians mistake these weeds for sandspurs, because of their green spiky flowers that resemble sandspurs....

Pest of the Month: Black Sooty Mold on Crapes (Crapemyrtle Aphids)

If you don’t have time to read this whole article, check out this youtube video that explains this yard pest!

Powdery, black residue on your crape myrtle trees probably isn't doing them any harm, but the same can't be said for the pests that cause it. The black coating is called sooty mold, and it's a sign your trees are under attack!

Insects, such as aphids and scales, are attracted to crape myrtles and will suck the leaves for plant juices. As they digest the plant nutrients, they excrete a very sugary...

How can I control mosquitoes in my North Florida yard?

Mosquitoes are an unfortunate fact of life in Florida. Nothing is worse than being in a backyard full of mosquitoes, especially since mosquitoes aren’t just annoyingly painful, they also carry many life-threatening diseases. To prevent your yard from being overrun with mosquitoes, try these five tips.

1. Remove Standing Water
Female mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. The eggs hatch into larvae about three days later, and about 12 days after that, adults emerge and fly away. Considering that each female can lay up to 400 eggs and the life cycle is complete in about two weeks, you can see why mosquito populations can increase so quickly. Reducing the amount of standing water around your home will minimize breeding sites and reduce the number of mosquitoes. Some places to look include children's toys in the yard, clogged rain gutters, tree holes, old tires, discarded cans, and the saucers of your outdoor flower pots.