Archive for the ‘Lawn Care’ Category

Can You Get Rid Of Midges From Your Garden?

February 11, 2013 4:04 pm
posted by Martin Boyle

Lizzie asks…

 Rid  midges from your garden?

We’ve moved into a new house, and lo and behold, there seems to be a permanent midge mist over our lawn. Is there anyway to dispel this annoying nimbus of biting insect pain? I thought for a while that an ultra violet style electric zap-trap might do the job, but having bought a cheap version, they don’t seem to care about the light.

Martin Boyle answers:Eliminating midges from your garden area!

Knowing why type midges would help. If the lawn is the culprit, could be a robust thatch layer (dead grass parts on the soil surface) could be providing a breeding or at least resting spot. Cleaning out the thatch might help.

Also try insecticidal soap. It is harmless to people and plants unless misapplied (read label) but rather nasty on soft bodied insects.

Here’s a site from Australia that might help:


The Midge Fact File

Biting Midges are not sand flies;
They are present on all continents except Antarctica;
The adults are about 1 – 2 mm long, much smaller than the related mosquito;
Generation time – ie life cycle from egg to adult, is probably not less than eight weeks;
Estuarine Midges do not breed in the grass, trees or in soil or sand in the garden. They only harbour in these areas;
They are not known to be vectors of any human disease in Australia;
In overcast humid weather, they are known to bite all day and night.
Only the female bites: She needs a blood meal to fertilise her eggs. They are known as pool feeders because they use their proboscis like a saw to create a tiny hole in the skin into which a pool of blood can flow. Saliva is injected into the pool to help the flow of blood. It is this saliva that causes the allergic reaction and itching.
You should remember that Biting Midge numbers increase around the time of the full and new moons. It is advisable not to plan outdoor functions that coincide with these times.
Biting Midges can penetrate ordinary fly screens.

Useful Tips

Personal reaction to bites varies from a slight redness which disappears in half an hour or less, to severe inflammation. If you react rapidly and the swellings are small, you are reasonably immune so treatment may not be needed. Swilling and itch will soon go away.

For these less severe cases, the following tips may help reduce the effects of bites:

A hot bath may provide temporary relief;
Anti itching creams or lotions from the chemist are quite effective. Do not apply them when the skin is broken;
Some insect repellents also give relief to the bite, providing the individual’s skin is not sensitive to the repellent.
It has been observed that Vitamin B1 (Thiamine Hydrochloride) taken over a period of more than 30 days before exposure to midges, can reduce the severity of some people’s reaction to bites. (This is not true of everyone and consult your doctor before taking any vitamins)
However, if you react hours or days later to a bite, whether you felt it or not, your immunity is poor and you are likely to be more severely affected. If your reaction is very severe, see your doctor.

How you can protect yourself?

Anything you can do to reduce humidity, increase light and air movement will make your house and garden less attractive to midges.

Closely mown lawns, sparse vegetation around your house and minimal surface water in the garden will decrease humidity, increase air movement so as to minimise the resting places for midges.
Avoid gardening or watering in the afternoon and early morning.
Increase air movement in the house by using electric fans can effectively create an area unsuitable for Biting Midges as their activity reduces in wind speeds over 6-8km/hr.
Spraying residual (surface) insecticide on your flyscreens will help deter midges from entering your home.
Burning mosquito coils inside can also reduce numbers.
Most insect repellents are effective against midges and should be used whenever you are outside the house, alternatively an equal part mixture of baby oil, Dettol and Eucalyptus oil is useful.
Long sleeve shorts and long trousers made of closely woven materials give good protection. When gardening, a hat and gloves are also a big help.
Reducing Midge Activity in your Yard

To avoid the heat of the day, midges hide underneath the leaves of the plants and shrubs in your garden. These areas can be treated by applying a fine mist of insecticide on the leaves.

Reminder: Re-apply the insecticide after heavy rain or when midge activity increases.

Chemical Control Tips:

Natural Insecticides (ie. Pyrethrum) are available from most plant nurseries and hardware stores. Pyrethrum has little residual capacity, so applications may be needed on a regular (weekly) basis during problem periods.
Chemical Insecticides (Common garden sprays- Diazinon, Fenthion and, for a longer lasting effect, Permethrin) are effective.
Organic InsecticidesIf you are reluctant to use chemicals in your garden, organic insecticides can be made up and applied. These will be capable of killing the adult midges, however repeated applications may be necessary.

Some Useful organic insecticide formulations are:

Garlic Spray

85g unpeeled garlic
2 tablespoons mineral oil
600ml water and 7g of soap dissolved in solution
mix solution and place in trigger sprayer.

Derris Spray

120g soap in 4.5 litres of water solution
mix in 60g of derris powder (from garden suppliers) mix additional 4.5 litres of water
dilute entire mixture in 12 litres of water and place in trigger sprayer.

Out Door Repellents

Gardening or hosting a barbecue?- Parrafin oil or perfumed lamp oil can be mixed with either Citronella or Lavender oil and burned in ‘Polynesian’ bamboo lamp burners placed upwind of your activity.

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Lawn Care Business Tips

November 14, 2012 2:14 pm
posted by Martin Boyle

Joseph asks…

lawn Care Business! I need tips on how to start ?

I’m looking for tips on how to start a lawn care business, prices, and how often i should cut there lawns

Martin Boyle :Lawn Care Business Tips

Start here –
It’s a forum site for people in the Lawn Care Business.
You’ll find the forum “Starting A Lawn Care & Landscaping Business” helpful.

Questions about prices and how often to cut are very dependent on your area and the types of properties you are working on. In all reality the price you charge should be the highest your market will bear. There are many expenses in this business that most people miss, like operating supplies (trimmer line, extra mower blades and belts, 2-cycle oil), repairs, gas, gas and more gas for every piece of equipment you use. Just make sure your costs are covered FIRST. You’ll be a little off on your first estimates, but that will fix itself with experience.

Here’s just a few tips I learned over 20yrs. In the business.

Buy the best equipment you can afford for your lawn care business. Used commercial equipment is still way better than homeowner gear any day.

Word of mouth is the best and cheapest advertising as long as you quality work.

Listen to your customers. They usually know what they want, but can’t always figure it out. It’s your job to guide them. If you can keep them happy, they’ll stay with you for good.

Don’t overbook your jobs. The fastest way to loose a customer is not to show up. Expect bad weather to back you up sometimes, and allow for this possibility.

Don’t go around under-cutting the competition just to get work. You may need help someday. There’s plenty of grass to mow.

You will never please every customer, all the time. You are your own “customer service rep”. Be polite, but don’t cave in to unreasonable demands. Your  lawn care business will go broke.

Be fast, but make sure you maintain high quality. At this point, most of my customers are paying almost $1 per minute I am on their property. I could be faster and make more money, but the unhappy customers and call-backs wouldn’t be worth it.

Hope this helps you out.
Good luck on your business.

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Bermuda Grass, Lawn Care

October 18, 2012 6:35 pm
posted by Martin Boyle

Laura asks…

Bermuda Grass Lawn Care Schedule?

I have Bermuda grass on my new home in Dallas. it was planted in December of 2006. For the most part the grass is doing good, there are some dead spots that  i am trying to fill up with Bermuda seeds.

my problem is that i have alot of crab grass on my lawn that grows super fast and makes my lawn look really bad, is there something i can do about that?

Also what is the best fertilization, weed control, watering schedule for this type of grass? Next year when should i apply the crabgrass and other weed control?

Please advise..

Martin Boyle answers:

Memphis, TN where all of the beautifully kept lawns are Bermuda grass or Zoysia grass. As for the Bermuda grass, we always had great luck with ours. What I would suggest for the dead spots is to plug the area with a piece of your Bermuda grass sod. Just dig up a small piece about the size of a softball and plug it into the middle of the dead spot. Fertilize with Ammonia Nitrate and water, water, water and the Bermuda grass will spread so fast. We did an entire acre of yard this way, so it can be done. As for the weeds, there used to be a product out there called ANSAR that was wonderful for killing the crabgrass and other weeds but it has been outlawed in its original strength. It has been released for sale in a weaker solution and been outlawed and released again, etc so that isn’t an option any more but you could go to your local CO OP and ask for advice on killing the weeds. You don’t want to fertilize the weeds so I wouldn’t recommend fertilizing the Bermuda grass right now, even though you could. You can also pull weeds (been there, done that) and that is really the most efficient way to get rid of them but if your yard is large or you have too many weeds, I understand that that is not an option. Just get your CO OP to recommend something for the weeds and hopefully you can spray the lawn when there is going to be an extended dry period and when the weeds are crispy brown, then pour the Ammonia Nitrate and water to the lawn and your yard will be the envy of the neighborhood. It will look like a golf course!

EasySeed 1-2-3 Steps To Planting Bermuda Grass Lawns

Hope this helps!!

For more help click here!

Here’s an excellent video on

How To Grow Bermuda grass

Sit back and enjoy.

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Lawn Care Tips For Getting Rid Of “Crab Grass”

October 17, 2012 2:17 pm
posted by Martin Boyle

James asks…

I have crab grass and mixed grass, what are some good lawn care tips?

It looks like i mostly have fusia? or what ever it is called, the thin blade grass. But I have some crab grass and it looks like a mix of other thick blade grass.
I want to
1. Fix the dead/bare spots
2. Get rid of the crab grass and other types of grass
3. Have a healthy green lawn
4. Know of some good products to use

Is it to late in the summer to fix this or do I have to wait till next season?

Martin Boyle answers:

I would suggest that you use a good post emergent crabgrass killer. Something containing MSMA or fenoxaprop. If you can’t find that use quinclorac, but it doesn’t work nearly as well. Then in the fall when it cools down, aerate your lawn and seed the bald areas with a good tall or fine fescue. Use a starter fertilizer on the whole lawn and then overseed the other areas with fescue seed as well. Cover the bald areas with straw or use patchmaster in those areas. Then next spring apply a good preemergent crabgrass material before the next set germinates. This might be tricky as you need to give the other grass a chance to germinate but need to beat the crabgrass before it comes up.

Good Luck!

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Lawn Care

2:04 pm
posted by Martin Boyle

Paul asks…

Lawn care…?

Our lawn has a lot of weeds, so much that once I kill them, I’ll need to put seed down to grow new grass just to keep up the green color. What would be the best way to attack this situation? (Our dog isn’t allowed in the front yard where the problem is, and we have no kids)

Martin Boyle answers:

For several years I kept buying weed and feed thinking it would kill the weeds and make the lawn flourish. NOT!!!

All it did was fertilize the weeds. Then I tried hiring one of the Lawn Maintenance companies. They’d come and spray, and spray, and spray… And the weeds continued to flourish. They told me I wasn’t watering the lawn correctly. I have a sprinkler system….HELLO!!! It was set to their recommendations.

I quit the company…

What I did, was I got some 10-10-10 fertilizer, and pelleted lime (I live in the south). Per the recommended spread for my broadcast spreader…

Guess what…I’ve had two landscape companies stop while I was out in the front yard and ask me who is taking care of my lawn! They wanted to know what I was doing to make it so thick and GREEN!

The 10-10-10 will not burn anything. It’s okay if it gets in the flower beds. My trees are growing like crazy. Even their leaves are bigger, fuller and healthier than any ones on the block!

The lime just balances out the pH in the soil because of the pine trees.

The weeds…..they didn’t have a chance once the grass was properly fertilized!!!

Good Luck!

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AJM Dream Gardens,
Martin Boyle
Leadgate,Consett,County Durham,
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