Monday, April 24, 2017

The Unwanted Greening of Spring: Moss

Spring’s first looks, following a long winter season, start with venturing out onto the lawn areas finally uncovered by the last glimpses of snow. Surveying the ground and seeing green is a welcomed sight. Or is it?

Moss is a common occurrence for many areas including lawns, sidewalks, fence lines, rooftops, siding, mulched beds and even bare ground. It grows to form a thick green mat that spreads and establishes itself by producing spores, which are spread by the wind.

Identifying and Understanding Moss Conditions

Moss thrives in many different conditions: The sun may or may not be relevant to where it can grow! Once a homeowner inspects their surroundings, they’ll likely see moss on the surfaces of many areas around the landscape and home. Consider all of the conditions that favor moss in lawn areas, including acidic soil, moist or wet soils, heavily shaded areas, poor drainage and even low soil fertility. Anywhere grass is difficult to grow and maintain is a possible area for moss to establish itself.

pH Matters

Beautiful lawns are the result of common sense, good timing and known science. Consumers may think that it begins and ends with dumping fertilizer on the lawn a few times a year to make it green and the envy of the neighborhood. Truth be told, soil pH is key in determining whether the fertilizer used is being broken down and working with the type of grass in a homeowner’s yard.

Most turf grasses like a pH in the 6.0-6.5 range, unless you live in the South and have centipede grass types, which like a slightly lower pH of 5.5. Correcting low pH in a lawn is done using lime in various types of particle sizes: pulverized, granular and pelletized. Another recommended product is from Jonathan Green, known as MAG-I-CAL, which uses a highly soluble form of calcium that helps raise pH quickly.

Solution Selling for Quick Results

Consumers are short on patience and want instant results. Moss controls are available in both granular and liquid applications from Bonide featuring their best seller, Moss Max Liquid Ready-to-Spray. This product won’t stain walkways or damage desirable plant material. It’s safe to use on decks, patios, driveways, roofs, trees and lawns. It works within hours to kill moss, and even lichens, safely.

Damage Control

Both Bonide and Jonathan Green offer moss-control granules in their lawn care lineup. These are easily applied using a lawn spreader and contain no fertilizers to force excess growth in the lawn.
Typically, lawns containing moss have another common issue: soil compaction. Without deep penetrating root systems of turf grasses, moss can readily establish on top of surfaces and not need much moisture to remain a nuisance all season long. Core aeration is recommended during the fall to break apart soil compaction and allow moisture and nutrients to break the tension in the soil surface. Using a grass seed mixture that contains Kentucky blue grass varieties helps drive additional roots that can fill in bare spots in the lawn.

If you’re treating an area that remains wet and moist with dense shade conditions, one product does an excellent job in growing grass where others fail. Jonathan Green Shady Nooks grass seed contains a variety of grass seed that excels in establishing itself in poor, moist, shady conditions. The type of seed is Poa trivialis, which is easy to grow and maintain. If you don’t have a mixture that contains this varietal type, you should plan to buy it and sell it to your customers. Another seed in the mixture is hard fescue, which grows well in dry, shaded areas.

You can tackle the toughest problems for moss control with just a few great items! Are your store shelves stocked with these solution-based products? Give them a try this season. Your customers will be happy you did!

This Month's Featured Products

Bonide Moss Max 32 oz. RTS
No 80100002

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Bonide Moss Max Lawn Ganules 6 lb. Shaker
No 80100030

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Bonide Moss Max Lawn Granules 20lb. Bag
No 80100125

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Jonathan Green Shady Nooks Grass Seed 1 lb. Bag
No 801430044

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Jonathan Green Shady Nooks Grass Seed 3 lb. Bag
No 81430045

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Jonathan Green MAG-I-CAL Calcium Fertilizer 5M
No 81430010

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Jonathan Green MAG-I-CAL Calcium Fertilizer 10M
No 81430012

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Jonathan Green Lawn Moss Control 5M
No 81430122

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Wind Beneath Our Wings

According to the Ruby-throated Hummingbird migration map, hummingbirds have been spotted along the New England coastline since the first week of April. It’s no surprise: The weather is warming and spring is unfolding before our eyes. The calendar tells us to “think spring” and the birds know when to start breeding, too! If you’ve done some planning in February and March, you’ll soon be rewarded with birds filling up your yard with color and interesting sounds.

Welcome, Travelers!

Bird migration varies by species. Many of us have surely pinned our noses to window panes to catch (and celebrate) a glimpse of spring’s first red robin in the yard. The timing is just about right for flowers, shrubs and bulbs opening in the landscape to provide some food along their journey. For homeowners who’ve placed bird houses around their yards, they’ll likely see activity in them by now.

Birds are resourceful, using a range of materials to construct their nests. Some popular nesting materials include cloth, paper and branches to dryer lint or insulation. Consumers can help provide nesting materials simply by stringing such items onto a fence line, tree or pole. Another way to help: Place materials inside a suet cage and hang away from windows and glass to prevent injury to birds that might mistake glass for open spaces.

Preparing a Banquet

Birds need food, water and protection to live comfortably in any environment. Remind your customers to clean their existing birdfeeders, especially if they haven’t done so during the winter. Bird baths also should be cleaned and rinsed thoroughly before a refill.

Here are two popular and effective cleaning solutions you can share with your customers:

  • Combine 1 part chlorine bleach with 10 parts water, and immerse your feeder into the solution for 2-5 minutes
  • Mix up a 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar, and soak your feeder completely for 2-5 minutes

After soaking, scour or brush the feeder and then let it dry completely before re-filling. Today’s best feeder companies, like Aspects, offer a quick-clean release on the bottom of the feeder to assist in cleaning chores.

Come and Get It

Different types of bird seed work best in different scenarios. Lead each customer to their best bird-seed match with a few simple questions:

  •         Which types of birds are you trying to attract?
  •         Do you need more than one feeder?
  •         How big is your wallet?

Some bird species thrive on specific types of foods. Songbirds and finches, especially goldfinch, enjoy both sunflower and Nyjer seeds best.

Placement of the feeder is also an important key on getting even the most timid of birds to explore dinner options. Many birds feed at different levels and consumers may have some success (and rewards) by positioning more than one feeder in their yards to maximize the fun.

Some bird watchers use combo feeders throughout the year to offer both bird seed in a feeder hopper and suet in a cage on either one or two ends. Recommend an all-season type of suet like suet dough cakes from Pine Tree Farms to keep the suet fresh and ready for consumption.

Vacationing Visitors

As mentioned, hummingbirds return from their winter migration and are looking for nectar-bearing flowers. These beauties dart quickly across the property, but offer a freeze frame of enjoyment when they feed by flapping their wings furiously as they hover.

Some hummingbird species are territorial. To maximize feeding and bird-watching opportunities, but minimize conflict, encourage your customers to put out multiple hummingbird feeders, positioning them on opposite sides of the residence.

One of the unique birds you may want to attract is the bluebird. They love open fields and platform feeders, and to feast on dried mealworms. You can enhance their stay by erecting bluebird houses nearby.

What’s Bugging You?

The purple martin is one of nature’s winged warriors that provide insect control throughout the summer months. These birds love to colonize together in harmony while living in multi-dwelling martin houses that are mounted on posts or poles at least 10 feet off of the ground. Each martin house includes 8-12 (or more!) compartments, in which the residence can breed and expand their families. They’re fun to watch, and can provide amusing torture for resident cats that are within eyesight of their nest.

Make It a Garden Party

Plenty of additional winged guests can add interest and enjoyment to the home and garden. Butterfly houses and butterfly feeders, staked garden fairies, whirly-gigs of birds and colorful insects, even weathervanes can provide movement in or around the garden.

Wind-driven motion is a surefire way to attract eye-catching attention and provide entertainment all season long for both young and old. Consider offering an assortment of wind chimes for those looking to bring some color and sounds to their backyards, too. Just add wind and enjoy!

This Month's Featured Products

Classic Brands Liquid Nectar 64 oz. RTU
No 81210037

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Classic Brands Red Vintage Hummingbird Feeder
No 81210029

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Classic Brands Clear Liquid Nectar 64 oz. RTU
No 81210040

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Aspects Jewel Box Window Hummingbird Feeder
No 80480003

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Bloem Promo Bird Bath White
No 80920788

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Exhart 24 piece Windy Wing Butterflies Shelf Display
No 80870052

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Exhart 24 piece Windy Wings Hummingbird Shelf Display
No 80870939

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Echo Valley Fairy Figurine 6 piece Set Assortment
No 80760144

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