Fall Lawn Care to Help Keep Pests Away

How raking keeps pests away

If you’ve been following us, you already know fall is the most active season for pests. Unfortunately, we’re not just talking about indoor pests, either. All kinds of pests become particularly active as winter approaches–including the yard destroyers. A lot of people tend to scale back their yard maintenance as summer ends. Unfortunately, this can have disastrous consequences–and ones that last longer than a season.

Luckily, just like all pest problems, these consequences are preventable. Here are the top four simple lawn maintenance routines you should keep up this fall. If you’ve already stopped doing these things, don’t panic! Just get back on them before winter’s first frost, and you’ll go a long way toward preventing pest infestations.

Keep mowing

For whatever reason, many homeowners think they should stop mowing their lawns once summer’s over. Some stop mowing almost completely as early as September! Grass doesn’t stop growing as early as we tend to think it does. In fact, most yards keep on keeping on until frost. Your yard isn’t the only thing “keeping on,” either. All the pests that love long grass are hanging in there, too. If anything, they’re more active than ever.

Bugs like the Japanese beetle, European chafer, and Chinch bug all feed on long grasses. Japanese beetles also deposit their larvae, so it can feed on overgrown root systems. If you don’t stop pests like this, they’ll return to trouble you next spring and beyond. Grass does grow less quickly in fall, so you won’t have to mow as often. When you mow, make sure you set your mower to the appropriate length. Mowing too low could create its own problems.

rake up and remove leaves

Rake up (and remove!) leaves

Fallen leaves are a pest paradise. All kinds of pests feed on them, and they’re usually a great source of moisture, too. If you let leaves blow across your yard, pests could follow them all the way to your home. They also serve as cover for autumn infiltrators like roaches, boxelders, and even rodents. Beetles, spiders, and even termites–as in, wood-eating termites–are attracted to leaves. Whether they’re wet or soggy, leaves draw in pests from all over.

It’s not enough to simply gather leaves into a pile, either. In fact, if anything piles of leaves just allow pests to congregate in larger numbers. Laying out leaves in bags around the side of the house won’t cut it, either. When stink bugs or boxelders congregate in leaf piles, they give off a pheromone that attracts other bugs nearby. After gathering up leaves, put them in a plastic bag and take it to your local compost. Raking regularly will significantly help keep bugs at bay.

Declutter

Obviously, falling leaves aren’t the only clutter fall tends to bring down on your yard. As trees go dormant and winds pick up, all kinds of natural debris tends to swirl around. Chances are, a lot of it ends up in your yard. It gets stuck to fences, crumples up under decks, or gets hung up on ornamental plants and ornaments. Twigs, seeds, nuts, berries, fruit, bark, and garbage all have a way of… just collecting in your yard in fall.

However it got there and whatever it is, you should remove it from your yard. The more cluttered and messy your yard, the more inviting it is to pests. Rodents, beetles, stink bugs, and all kinds of other fall “favorites” love sneaking around under cover. The problem is, all those pests rarely stay outside. Once things cool down, they’ll be looking for somewhere warm. Somewhere like your home, conveniently located right there. You don’t want that, so you should keep your yard as clean as you can.

Keep weeding

Keep weeding

Yeah, we know this one isn’t fair. Remember how we said grass doesn’t stop growing just because it’s fall? Well, weeds really don’t stop growing in fall. It’s like they were looking for one last chance to make trouble for you. Weeding is arguably more important in fall than ever, because your yard is vulnerable. If you don’t pull out weeds now, they could do some serious damage before frost. Then there’s the pest problem. Always, the pest problem.

Different kinds of weeds attract all kinds of different pests. Everything, from flies to beetles to termites (again, ugh) are attracted to weeds as a food or moisture source. Even bees and wasps may be particularly attracted to pollen-producing weeds as a last-minute snack. You should keep weeding as long as you keep mowing: right up until frost. You’ll help preserve your lawn’s health and fend off pests at the same time.

Yeah, we know this sounds like a lot of work. And we know it’s probably not how you pictured spending your fall. Look at it this way: you worked hard taking care of your yard all summer. You shouldn’t let all that hard work go to waste in a couple short weeks. If you care for your yard now, it won’t just prevent pests this fall–it’ll save winter and spring, too.

If any of those outdoor pests decide to invite themselves inside, give Griffin a call anytime. Our experts will wipe out indoor pests and make sure you have a safe and secure winter and spring.

Protecting Your Lawn From Pests

Protect your lawn from destructive pests

Summer may be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean we get to stop worrying about our lawns just yet. In fact, fall is the most active season for many lawn-destroying pests, like box elder bugs and other beetles. The last thing you want is to have spent all summer meticulously grooming your lawn, only to see it destroyed at the finish line.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to end that way. There are a number of ways you can fight back against lawn-munching insects right up until the ground freezes. Protecting your lawn now will help ensure it comes back stronger than ever the next spring. Just follow these steps:

Mow, Trim, and Manage

mowing your lawn will help prevent fall lawn pests

You should keep mowing your lawn in the fall right up until it turns brown and dies. Long, unkempt grass attracts pests and weeds. Bugs can eat grass and feed their larvae with its root systems. Larvae can permanently damage your lawn and potentially create ugly brown spots. If the damage is extensive enough, large sections of your lawn may not regenerate in spring.

You should mow your lawn about as often as you did in summer, until you notice the grass is no longer growing. Make sure you bag the clippings, and rake up dead grass as needed. Along with mowing, it’s important to trim bushes, ornamental shrubs, and tree branches, too. Pick up any debris that falls onto your lawn, too. Depriving pests of easy food and shelter will make your lawn far less appealing to grass-gnawing opportunists, and much healthier, too.

Pull Out Grubs

look for and pull out grubs beneath sod on your lawn

When larvae feeds on root systems for long enough, the grasses’ ability to absorb nutrients from the soil is diminished. The grass won’t get the sustenance it needs to grow, and it will wither and die. Dead grass looks crunchy and brown. Larvae can eat certain parts of your lawn and leave others untouched, creating brown spots of dead grass in an otherwise healthy yard.

If you have a brown spot, you should cut about 1 foot down into the turf at one of its edges. Roll away the area with the damaged grass and look at the dirt below. Chances are, you’ll find several beetle grubs. If you find more than 5, you’ll need to treat your grub infestation immediately. There are store products available for this task at most hardware stores and nurseries, or we could help you with it. Don’t leave the grubs in your lawn until spring.

Don’t Overwater

Be sure not to overwater your lawn, especially in fall

Pests of all varieties are attracted to moisture, especially if it’s easily accessible. When you water your lawn too much, the dirt and root systems can’t soak up and absorb all the moisture you’re introducing. Instead, excess water sits on the surface.

Remember: even though your lawn will keep growing in fall, it probably won’t need as much water as it did during the summer. As temperatures cool and nights grow longer, dew lasts longer and less moisture evaporates in the sun. Be careful not to overwater your plants, and ensure your lawn has proper drainage in case of heavy rains. If you notice persistent puddling or wet spots in low areas of the lawn, you should consider leveling out that part of the yard.

Weed

pull weeds out of your lawn to help prevent lawn pests this fall

Undesirable plants like weeds, dandelions, moss, ivy, brambles, and crabgrass don’t just choke out your grass and other plants; they attract pests too. Wild, growing weeds attract all kinds of different bugs, from gnats to flies. Wild flowers may attract wasps or bees. Weeds can provide a much-needed food source for pests during the fall. Some weeds may even attract wild animals like deer or raccoons to your yard.

You probably got used to weeding this summer, so don’t stop now! When you’re pulling weeds out of your yard, make sure you pull out the whole root system. This will ensure the weed plant doesn’t regenerate. You could also administer localized herbicide from a spray tool–but be careful not to kill any plants you want alive! Dispose of weeds in your garbage or composting. Never pull out weeds and then leave them in your yard, or you just basically made a garden salad for pests! “Garden salad”, see what we did there?

 

You worked hard this summer making sure your lawn stayed healthy and beautiful. Don’t let all that hard work go to waste thanks to some dumb bug. Follow these yard maintenance tips until the ground freezes, and you’ll get to enjoy a healthy and happy yard next spring.

Even if you do end up with yard pest problems–or any other kind of pest problem for that matter–don’t despair! Just call Griffin and we’ll help make sure the grass is greener on the other side.