Monthly Archives: February 2018

National Invasive Species Awareness Week February 26 – March 2, 2018

While the term “invasive plants, pests and diseases” may not be familiar to everyone, the effects of invasive species in Henrico County should be of concern to all of us. Once invasive pests become established, they can grow and spread rapidly, often because they have no natural predators in their new environment. Invasive pests cost landowners, industry and the U.S. government millions of dollars to control, so taking steps to prevent their introduction is the most effective method of reducing both the risk of invasive species infestations and the cost to control and mitigate those infestations.

Henrico residents can help reduce the spread of invasive pests and plants into the county and the Commonwealth by following these simple steps:

1. Learn about invasive species, especially those found in our region. Invasive species such as the Asian longhorned beetle, emerald ash borer, gypsy moth and imported fire ant wreak havoc on the environment and also displace or destroy native plants and insects.

2. Clean hiking boots, waders, boats and trailers, off-road vehicles and other gear to stop invasive species from hitching a ride to a new location. Learn more at

  1. Avoid dumping aquariums or live bait into waterways.
  2. Don’t move firewood – instead, buy it where you’ll burn it, or gather on site when permitted.  Gypsy moth egg cases and emerald ash borer larvae can hitch a ride with the firewood and start infestations in new areas. Learn more at
  1. Use  forage, hay, mulch and soil that are certified as “weedfree.”
  2. Consult with your local nursery or master gardener to help you select plants that are not invasive for your landscaping and gardening projects, and remove any known invaders.
  3. Volunteer to help remove invasive species from public lands and natural areas.

Keeping Your Lawn Healthy This Winter, part 2

The fescue and/or bluegrass lawn that is so prevalent in Henrico is reliably winter hardy. However, while well adapted to winter, these cool season turf varieties may be injured in cold weather. There are a number of things that you can do and also not do to minimize the risk of winter turf damage.


Winter Weed Control: Maintaining a vigorous turfgrass stand will protect against weed infestation. However, during the winter months turfgrasses are not actively growing and are, therefore, susceptible to the encroachment of winter annual broadleaf weeds. Winter annuals germinate in the late summer and early fall months, live during the winter and die in the latespring or early summer with the onset of high temperatures. Examples include annual bluegrass, common chickweed, purple deadnettle and henbit.

Controlling winter annual broadleaf weeds before they are able to set seed will not only reduce the likelihood of an outbreak the following year, but improve the aesthetic quality of the turfgrass stand.

Control of winter annuals includes removing plants now by hoeing or hand pulling. Broadleaf herbicides can also be effective if used while the weed is actively growing or before the weed flowers in spring. Realize herbicides are not effective at cold temperatures. Generally postemergence herbicides are used when temperatures are > 50o F. Be sure to read and follow all label directions.

Voles: Voles will make runways under lasting snow cover in lawns as they feed on grass blades and roots and are protected from predators. Damage is frequently mistaken as mole damage, but moles are not active during winter and actually tunnel below the soil surface. Vole damage appears as runways or winding trails of damaged grass. Lawns usually fill-in as conditions warm in spring. A winter without lasting snow is an excellent avenue of free vole control, as vole activity on exposed lawn areas will be greatly reduced without the protection provided by the snow.

Part 1 of this series can be found here.

Keeping Your Lawn Healthy This Winter, part 1

The fescue and/or bluegrass lawn that is so prevalent in Henrico is reliably winter hardy. However, while well adapted to winter, these cool season turf varieties may be injured in cold weather. There are a number of things that you can do and also not do to minimize the risk of winter turf damage.


Proper Fall Fertilizer: Did you fertilize correctly in the fall? In Henrico, the last date to apply fertilizer is the end of November. Fertilization during the winter period leads to higher potential leaching and runoff risk of the nutrients.

Final Cut: The final cut of the season should be on the lower recommendation for height for fescue or bluegrass. That would make your final cut of the year at 3” height. This keeps your grass from getting too tall and having those tall blades that flop over on itself which can promote diseases. After your final mowing, put you lawn mower to rest for the winter by having the blade sharpened and performing a tune-up.

Stay off Frozen Turf: Trafficking on frost or ice-covered turf usually results in extensive physical “breaking” of the leaves. The xylem and phloem tissues that are involved in moving water, nutrients, and carbohydrates around in the plant are usually severed when traffic is applied to ice-covered foliage. The damaged turf leaf blades don’t fall away completely from the stem, but instead slowly turn brown and die. So follow the practice of golf courses and stay off frost covered or frozen turf. It is OK to go on turf covered by snow. The snow will help cushion and protect the blade from damage as well as protect it from extreme cold.

Stay off Overly Saturated Turf: Winter rains or melting snow can make your lawn saturated with water. When this happens, stay off the turf to avoid compaction. Remember that you just aerated the lawn in the fall to improve compaction in the lawn; do not undo that work now by walking over overly saturated turf.

Be Careful with Ice Melt Materials: Standard ice melt compounds are usually some form (or combination of) chloride-based salts. Limited use of any of these products should cause little injury. Problems begin when they are used excessively and there is not adequate rainfall to wash or leach the material from the area. We are often prone to over applying ice melt just to make sure the ice and snow melts. Keep in mind this can damage concrete surfaces as well as the plants and grass growing along the walks and driveways. If problems develop, they are normally latent and do not show up until spring or summer