Are Leaves Good For Grass?

 If you’re asking yourself “Are leaves good for grass?” chances are, you don’t feel like raking them. The short answer to the question is “Yes.” Leaves are good for your grass, but you probably shouldn’t just ditch clearing them altogether. 

Leaves will decompose, but if you leave them on your lawn and they begin to pile up, they can actually do more harm than good. That’s because when they get wet (from rain or even snow)  wet leaves smother and kill the grass. But there are a number of different ways to approach your leaf harvest. And depending on your particular situation, it doesn’t always involve raking.

So, let’s take a look at why you should avoid raking leaves and talk about a couple of alternatives (composting and mulching) that will help your lawn to thrive.

Why Mulch Or Compost Leaves?

You should compost or mulch your leaf litter to keep them out of landfills. Michigan law requires all yard waste to be composted – it may not be disposed of in a regular landfill.  This started in 1995 because of the many problems caused by yard clippings in landfills. This led to the banning of yard waste from Michigan landfills. leaves good for grass

Why? According to EPA data, yard trimmings, which include leaves, can create as much as 34 million tons of waste each year, which is about 13% of all waste generated. The majority of it comes from composted or mulched in-state programs, but according to the EPA, as much as 11 million tons can still end up in landfills. This accounts for just under 8% of all waste in landfills.

Try Composting

Composting involves scooping leaves into a pile or containing them in a bin and leaving them to naturally decompose. leaves good for grass

It provides rich fertilizer for gardens and landscape plants. You can buy Bins or easily make one out of low-cost materials. You can add veggie scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells, which also helps to cut down on your kitchen waste. Just don’t add items like meat scraps that can smell bad and attract pests. 

You can learn more about composting with this handy info sheet.

Mulching

If a compost pile isn’t ideal—try this. You can also use a lawnmower to shred leaves and compost them in a place where they will fertilize the grass. All you do is roll your mulching mower over the fallen leaves. Dried leaves are easier to mulch than wet ones, but mulching leaves (and your grass) and leaving them to decompose can become an important part of your lawn care regimen.leaves good for grass

Mulched leaves keep the soil warmer in winter and cooler in summer. The nutrients provided by mulching also reduces the amount and expense of fertilizer need to achieve green-up in the spring. You can also mulch perennial flower beds with shredded leaves or till them right into garden soil.

And if that’s not enough, research was done at Michigan State University actually shows that leaving the leaves on your yard in such a manner not only does your lawn no harm, but it can actually suppress weed growth.

Let Lush Lawn & Safari Tree Help

The Lush Lawn Fall Lawn Care and Restoration package will provide your grass with all of the protection it needs to survive the winter and thrive come spring. Contact us today.

Types Of Trees In Michigan: The Paper Birch

The paper birch is a uniquely elegant tree that has a rich and useful history. Long before it became an ornamental tree, Native Americans used its wood to make baskets, canoes, and baby carriers, and the thin, white bark was used as paper to write on and send as messages. 

Today, these lovely trees are one of the most prevalent types of trees in Michigan and they can be found in every county in the state, including the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. 

Let’s discuss how you can identify a paper birch on your property, and how to take care of it so it will thrive.

What is a Paper Birch Tree?

types-of-trees-in-Michigan

The paper birch, otherwise known as the white birch, silver birch, and canoe birch, is a lovely tree with white, papery bark. It’s considered to be a pioneer species.  This means that it’s a hardy tree that often grows in environments that have been disturbed in some way.

Paper birch trees are easy to spot by their smooth, white bark. As the bark ages, it begins to curl up and peel off of the tree, creating a beautiful effect.

In the springtime, paper birch trees produce oval-shaped leaves that come to a tip. The edges are serrated and they alternate on the branches of the tree. When autumn arrives, the leaves turn a radiant shade of yellow before falling off of the tree. Since they lose their leaves each autumn and grow them again in the spring, paper birch trees are classified as deciduous.

Along with new leaves, the paper birch produces pretty yellow flowers, called catkins, each spring, making them a perfect ornamental tree to compliment your home’s landscape.

How to Identify One in Your Yard

types-of-trees-in-MichiganIf you’re curious about identifying the tree species in your yard, the paper birch makes it easy to do. It’s one of the easiest types of trees in Michigan to identify. You can’t miss the telltale white, smooth bark of a paper birch tree. In fact, it’s the white bark that allows them to grow in northern climates like ours.

According to Northern Woodlands Magazine, ecologists believe paper birch trees have white bark to protect their core temperatures during the winter months.  White objects reflect the sun’s rays. You can also identify a paper birch by its oval-shaped leaves and bright yellow flowers in the springtime. Many homes are surrounded by these ornamental trees. You can also find them near rivers and along the side of the road. 

How to Take Care of Paper Birch Trees

If there’s a paper birch tree on your property, you’re in luck. Their elegant, contrasting colors bring vibrancy to your home landscaping, but they’re also very easy to maintain. Paper birch trees aren’t fussy and they don’t need a lot of extra attention. They’re hardy trees that have learned to adapt and thrive in all kinds of conditions. Your paper birch will grow best in soil that is well-drained, sandy loam and they need full to partial sun in order to grow. 

Paper birch trees also grow pretty quickly. If you’ve got a young tree on your property, you can expect it to grow from 13 to 24 inches each year until it reaches a mature height of 30 to 65 feet tall. Regularly prune your paper birch tree and keep an eye out for pests like bronze birch borers or birch leafminers, since they can cause your tree to become weak and more susceptible to disease.

Paper birch trees are a great asset to your property and one of the most prevalent types of trees in Michigan. So it’s important to keep them healthy and strong. Here at Safari Tree, we’re here to help you with all your tree needs. Contact us today for more information.

 

How to Keep Tree Suckers Under Control

Tree suckers are vegetative growths that stem from your tree’s root system. Suckers grow from rootstock and divert nutrients away from the top of your tree and will slow its growth.

Essentially, suckers are a tree’s attempt to grow more branches, often in response to some kind of stress or injury. A tree sucker will sap the energy away from the healthier and more desirable branches on top. 

Here are some ways you can eliminate suckers and/or keep them under control.  

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What is Leaf Spot Fungus?

Leaf spot fungus occurs in warm weather. It typically affects plants, but it also occurs in home lawns and golf courses. It causes spotted-looking leaves and wilted grass.

So, before your yard falls victim to it, let’s find out what causes leaf spot fungus and how you can prevent it. 

Continue reading “What is Leaf Spot Fungus?”

Debunking Common Myths Around Summer Tree Care

When it comes to summer tree care, there are some common misconceptions homeowners have. From watering trees to pruning to how much insecticide to use—the questions can be endless. 

So, let’s take a look at some care tips and debunk a few common myths around summer tree care.

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Scale Insects on Trees: The Impact of an Infestation

Scale insects on trees are not something you want to have to deal with. 

They’re waxy insects that pierce trees with their mouths and suck sap from them. This makes it more difficult for trees to maintain moisture and nutrients in the short term. The honeydew that scale excretes onto trees can provide sustenance for sooty mold that can cause further infestations and damage to trees. 

There are more than 60 varieties that occur in Michigan, and many times they are not noticed or are ignored until tree or shrub branches start to die. So, let’s take a look at some of the negative effects scale infestations can have on tree health and the importance of applying treatments as quickly as possible.

Types of Scale Insects

Soft (Lecanium), kermes, and bark scales produce honeydew. These scales feed directly on plant parts that transport fluid and nutrients. This can reduce plant growth and cause leaf drop or branch dieback. The most common symptom of soft scale infestation is an accumulation of honeydew and sooty mold on or beneath a plant.

Armored scales do not produce honeydew. The armored scale’s straw-like mouth moves like a plumber’s snake to burst plant cells and feed on their contents. This can reduce plant growth and vigor. Common symptoms of infestation include premature leaf drop and branch dieback.  

Pit scales are likely to do the same to the raised plant tissue that surrounds them. If there are large numbers of scale, the pits coalesce, making the twig surface appear dimpled and roughened. Feeding by oak pit scales can kill twigs and the dead leaves remain on infested twigs through the winter. 

The Juniper scale is a very common and sometimes serious pest of juniper. They are light gray or white, very small, and nearly circular. They like to attach themselves to the underside of the needles, rather than the bark. 

One of the first signs of an infestation is when leaves on individual branches begin losing their color and may eventually die.

Lecanium scale and Cottony Maple scale are the most common in Southeast Michigan. They will cover the branches of silver maple, honeylocust, and many other species of hardwood trees in our area.

The biggest problem comes from the droplets of honeydew raining down from infested trees in May and early June. Honeydew is the sugary liquid waste excreted by scale insects. A considerable amount of honeydew is excreted because scale insects need to suck a lot of sap from trees in order to get the amount of protein they need for growth and development.

Another problem that can develop is mold. The honeydew is often mistaken for tree sap as it covers cars and buildings under infested trees. The accumulation of honeydew can lead to the growth of black, sooty mold. Finding sooty mold under a plant is often the first indication that there are scale insects, but it may also indicate aphids and other sucking insects.

Scale infestations rarely kill trees but can damage them and be especially hard on young trees. Even the most mature trees that are infested can become thin and experience branch dieback. And repeated heavy Lecanium scale infestations can kill branches or crown dieback in trees. 

When Do Scale Insects Appear?

There are typically two times of the year that scale insects become active. It’s because there are two generations in Michigan. The first hatching in early to mid-June, and the second in late July or early August. 

How To Control Scale Insects

The good news is that there are ways to control scale populations. These natural predators can be held in check, even after you’ve noticed eggs on your trees and shrubs. A proactive approach is best. 

But keep this in mind, scale insects are not easy to control with traditional contact insecticides because of the covering that protects their bodies.

The most effective control strategy is to spray with insecticides, beginning at egg hatch, when the so-called crawlers first appear. Use insecticides during the hatching period when crawlers are first observed will provide maximum effectiveness.

You don’t have to let scale insects destroy your trees! If you’d like to find out how to get them under control or from ever showing up in the first place, feel free to contact Safari Tree. One of our professional arborists will be happy to give you a rundown of the quick, effective treatment and prevention services we offer.