Voles in lawns

If you’ve ever encountered what appeared to be “miniature trails” within your lawn, you may have stumbled upon the territory of a vole.
Voles are small native mammals, weighing 1-2.5 ounces, which feed on grasses, small trees, and shrubs. Though they typically make their home in the wild, they sometimes establish within lawns and ornamental landscapes.
The picture below is that of a zoysia lawn that I was recently on, and it shows paths that were created by “meadow voles”. The damage to the lawn is insignificant, as damaged areas will regenerate.

2014-02-02 12.32.06

Vole trails are typically not as clear as those pictured, which is why I couldn’t resist taking the photo.
On occasion, the damage that voles can impart on shrubs when feeding can be significant. However, their numbers are typically kept in check by predators, keeping damage levels low.


Newsletter 1st Quarter 2014

Lawn Care ∙ Tree Care ∙ Invasive Plant Control
1st quarter 2014
SongBird News
Dear Customer,
I hope that you are well! We really appreciate your business and hope that you remain a customer for years to come.
Having been encouraged by folks I’ve known a long time, I’ve decided to publish a quarterly newsletter regarding landscape topics. This is the inaugural edition.
Years ago I published a quarterly newsletter, about two or three times a year. It was nothing fancy, just both sides of an 8.5 x 11 sheet of copy paper – same as here.
I hope you’ll find the newsletter enlightening and worthy of your time.
Plants damaged due to extreme cold
If you have dead tissue that has appeared on landscape ornamentals during the last month or so, it’s likely that the single digit temperatures and extended periods of freezing weather is the cause. Evidence has been most noticeable on plants that are “marginally” cold hardy in this part of the state, including wax myrtle, Indian hawthorn, Asiatic jasmine and gardenia. But there are several others.
Though damage is already widespread and evident at a significant level, cold damage will often not manifest until late spring and summer, as the increased metabolic demands of a given plant are unmet by cold damaged plant tissue. Due to the delay in manifestation, many landscape owners assume that no cold injury has occurred. Remember this if stems decline visually this summer, as it is instinctive to just assume that a fungus or insect problem is the cause.
Often a cold damaged plant will survive, simply needing to rejuvenate tissue. In these cases, dead stems can be pruned away to improve appearance and rid of material which may otherwise harbor pests. Realize however, some stems may not “die” for several weeks as mentioned above.
Before it’s all said and done, I expect the cold will be the cause for significant plant loss, requiring replacement. If you’re faced with this, consider using a species not included on list of invasive plants in Georgia, found at http://www.gaeppc.org. You’ll also find a list of alternatives on the site.
The first mowing
I’m often asked if it’s a good idea to mow Bermuda and zoysia lawns low at the beginning of the growing season. Though it’s by no means essential, doing so can help sunlight reach the base of the grass and thereby encourage a uniform green-up. If this is done, bag or rake up excess clippings.
Lawn Aeration
Over the course of time, soil becomes compacted. As soil compacts, oxygen and water are restricted, leading to a poor root environment for your lawn.
Core Aeration alleviates soil compaction, and increases oxygen and water penetration into the soil. By doing so, a denser and deeper root mass is encouraged – leading to a denser lawn. Also, a well aerated lawn is better able to withstand drought stress and resist disease.
Core aeration is important if striving for the best lawn possible. Just let us know if you’d like more information, or to schedule the service.
Why I named the business “SongBird LandCare”
I’m frequently asked “how did you come up with a name like “SongBird LandCare”?
The “lions share” of the answer is centered upon an issue that I learned of eight years ago and have since become involved with; habitat loss due to the rapid spread of “non-native invasive plants”.
These non-native plants, introduced to an area via landscaping or other means, subsequently “escape” into natural areas and displace the native vegetation, causing economic harm, environmental harm, or even harm to human health. Non-native invasive plants often have perilous effects on the habitat of native songbirds and are a leading cause for the loss of local species populations, as well as species extinction. That’s serious business for songbirds and other wildlife.
Being a nature boy, I wanted to combat the problem. So I got involved with the Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council (GA-EPPC), eventually serving as president. At the writing of this, I serve as president of the Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council (SE-EPPC), which is an umbrella organization for eight southern states. In addition to leading the organization, I help “spread the message” by speaking to groups and helping organize workshops and conferences.
Due to my particular cadre of education and life experiences, I realized that I could incorporate an invasive plant control service into my business and in so doing, help the native songbird population. And I like songbirds, so “SongBird LandCare” came to be.
In closing
I hope that I shared something useful to you, as that’s my aim. I also created a SongBird LandCare website, http://www.songbirdlc.com, on which I occasionally post a blog. I sometimes hope that no one looks at it because in doing so, they may conclude I went out of business. For I’m not that great at posting fresh material, even though I probably think about it daily. That said, there are some “deep thoughts” material on it, that I think you’ll find interesting and helpful. It’ll also give you some insight regarding my general approach to landscape care. So I hope you’ll take a look when you have the time, and maybe even let me know your opinion of it.
A sincere thanks for being a customer!!