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New Answers to HOA Landscape Problems
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Minnesota Community Living May/June 2011

New Answers to HOA Landscape Problems

By Steve Hoogenakker, Concierge Landscape Environments

If you’ve ever had 
1. Mosquitos ruin an outing (and who in Minnesota hasn’t?)
2. Weeds take over a lawn and been concerned about the safety of pesticides.
3. Aggressive geese or goose droppings on your property, then this article is for you.

Mosquito Controls
Mosquitos have ruined their fair share of outdoor get togethers. Worries over Encephalitis and West Nile carried by mosquitos makes the problem more than just a nuisance.

Mosquito control is being used by associations and homeowners for events like graduations and homeowner get togethers like National Night Out.

The area is sprayed 2-5 days before the event with a product called pyrethrin. Results vary and aren’t as good close to swamps, but in general, you may reduce the mosquito bites by 60-90%. This allows homeowners to take back the outdoors. The benefits can last one to two weeks. The spray can be done by a professional licensed applicator. There is a specific license for mosquito control. Check to make sure your professional has this license before allowing them to treat the property. You can also purchase the product directly from garden centers. Look for a hose-end garden sprayer with the product pyrethrin. Always follow label directions. Always take care when considering using insecticides. We have to consider how their use might affect bees and birds.

Weed Control
There’s a new weed control called Imprelis. Imagine your association being weed free and instead of smelling the application for two days, there’s no smell whatsoever. Imagine that it’s safer than table salt. Well it’s all true. It’s safer than almost any other weed control, has no odor and it controls broadleaf weeds like dandelions and creeping Charlie for 60 days. This might be something you’ll want to discuss with your contractor before next summer’s contract. This isn’t available to homeowners yet, but is expected to be fast tracked for approval because of the relative safety of the product compared to older herbicides. Imprelis is very new and makes a barrel of oil look like a bargain, since a 30 gallon barrel of Imprelis would sell for over $20,000!

Goose Repellents
Geese are a problem with most associations with a pond or on lakeshore. There have been a number of dubious methods in the past of keeping geese off of an HOA lawn. The list is too long to mention here. Methods that sometimes work are hiring of border collies to patrol the grounds at different times of days, loud horns and even lasers shot from a house to blind or annoy the geese. Using coyote decoys can work in small areas if they are moved regularly. Remember the plane ditching on the Hudson in 2009? That was from geese sucked up in plane engines. To stop the destruction of millions of dollars in planes, the air force developed a product called Flight Control. Geese have a lower range of eyesight than humans do. Flight Control makes the grass look mottled to geese. To geese, it looks something like changing colors on the grass blades that the geese can’t quite focus on. This makes them very uneasy in that area and makes them want to move away. The other action of Flight Control is its Anti-Feedant properties. It causes "an intestinal reaction” when they feed on the turf. Geese have the mind of a two-year-old. Combine the two actions and the geese are conditioned to stay away. The product is expensive. It’s available to the public. The cost is around $300 per gallon. It can be applied with a backpack sprayer. A couple of companies provide this as a service. There is no odor, it is completely safe for humans and pets and the only thing you would notice is a slight beige color to the grass that you can only really see within a few inches of the grass. The action works as long as the grass has the product on the blades. It’s rainfast, but each time the lawn gets mowed, the effectiveness goes down, so about two to four weeks per application. One application may be enough to condition the geese to go elsewhere for the season. I have had excellent success with Flight Control. 
One thing in common to these solutions is the relative safety of these new answers. Scientists use a term called ld50 as a safety guideline so we can compare relative safety.

For mosquito control, pyrethrin has an ld50 of 370mg/kg. This ld50 is about the same as acetaminophen and three times safer than caffeine.

Imprelis weed control and the Goose Control products have an ld50 of over 5000mg/kg. That makes these products considerably less toxic than acetaminophen and no more toxic than table salt.

It’s nice to know that there are new answers to old problems and that homeowners can enjoy their landscape again!

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