Arbor Day is Friday, April 28th, 2017. Arbor Day is always an exciting day for me because I really appreciate trees and understand the real potential that can come from planting a tree. With Pine Wilt and the concerns of Emerald Ash Borer creeping closer it seems there is always a need to plant a tree, if not for you, then for future generations.
There are a lot of good trees to plant when you do plant a tree. The most important thing to remember when planting trees, is Diversity. When you go to purchase your tree, look around your yard and even your neighborhood. Try to avoid planting multiple trees of the same species, genus, or family of plants in the neighborhood and in your own landscape. You may enjoy Maples, but you want to make sure you plant other types of trees in your yard besides just maples to help avoid an issue that may arise should another pest come through like what we saw with Dutch Elm Disease or Chestnut Blight or now Emerald Ash Borer.
Each year, ReTree Nebraska comes out with a new diverse list of trees that grow well in Nebraska and are often under-utilized. That list includes Baldcypress, Catalpa, Kentucky Coffeetree, Elm Hybrids, Hackberry, American Linden, Sugar Maple, Chinkapin Oak, Bur Oak, English Oak, Sycamore, Shantung Maple, Miyabe Maple, Gample Oak, Tree Lilac, Concolor Fir, Black Hills Spruce, and Ponderosa Pine. In 2017, ReTree Nebraska added Turkish Filbert including other nut trees such as Hickory, Chestnut, Pecan, Buckeye, and Walnut to the list of good trees to plant in Nebraska. There are a lot of other great trees to use in your landscape, this is just a short list.
Turkish Filbert is a unique, under-utilized tree in Nebraska. It grows up to 40-50 feet tall and 30-50 feet wide. It has large, bright green leaves that turn yellow in the fall. This tree has catkin flowers, like a cottonwood. It has edible nuts that are produced in a cluster of 3-6 and have a spiny husk that covers the nuts. Often squirrels eat the nuts, but they can be roasted and eaten by humans. This tree is most commonly used as a shade tree or a specimen tree in a landscape.
Another thing to think about with our young trees, is pruning. Eric Berg, a community forester from the Nebraska Forest Service wrote a great article on pruning young trees. We need to start pruning our trees when they are young to minimize tree wounding and cause the trees to grow stronger, mature growth. A tree planted in a landscape setting, rather than being planted in a forested area, will grow out more than up and not develop a strong central leader. Often our trees develop multiple leaders that lead to weak growth that can easily be broken in storms. We saw the damage from weak branch attachments and poor growth in our ice storm this past winter.
We can prune a tree when it is young to help prevent some damage in future storms. If you would like to learn more about pruning young trees, Graham Herbst, from the Nebraska Forest Service, will be in Beatrice to teach us about pruning young trees on Monday, June 19th from 6-8 pm starting at the Gage County Extension Office. He will cover how to set pruning objectives, determining a pruning cycle and dose, strategies for specific trees, and how to execute your plan with proper cuts. There will also be a hands-on pruning demonstration at the end of the classroom portion. If you are interested in this program, please call the Gage County Extension Office at 402-223-1384 to sign up.
This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 14, 2017. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through July 28, 2017. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.
Guest Host: George Pinkerton, Director of Landscape Maintenance at Downtown Lincoln
1. The first question came from a caller wondering what the timing is for crabgrass preventer?
A: Typically we go with mid-to late April for application of crabgrass preventer. Crabgrass germinates when soil temperatures reach 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit. In most of the Southeast Nebraska area, we have just recently hit that. Anytime in the next couple of weeks would be fine to apply your crabgrass preventer. It might be best for control to apply a split application this year. For a split application, apply half of the recommended rate now and the other half of the recommended rate 8-10 weeks later. The split application will give you a longer season of control for crabgrass and other annual grassy weeds.
2. A caller was wondering about their gladiolus bulbs. They have had problems with thrips insects in the past and they had heard they should soak their bulbs in lysol to control them. Is this a good method of control or is there something better?
A: As it turns out, you can soak the corms in a solution of lysol water prior to storage of the corms over the winter months, according to the University of Minnesota Extension. You can also dust the corms with a sevin dust prior to storage in the late fall, store them with mothballs, or store them at colder temperatures such as 35-40 degrees F as well. If you are looking for control at this time, it would be best to spray the plants as you see the streaking damage beginning from the thrips feeding in the spring and summer months. You can use any general insecticide for this.
3. This caller has a sugar maple that was hit with hail 5 years ago and now has a great deal of damage to the trunk of the tree. They have sprayed the trunk with a sealant and used a wrap. Will the tree survive or should it be removed now?
A: At this point, I would observe the tree to watch for signs of death occurring through the tree. The damage that is there cannot be fixed now that it has occurred. If you don’t like the look of the damage you can remove and replace the tree or you can wait until it starts to dieback. It is hard to say how long the tree will live now that the damage has occurred.
4. A caller wants to reseed. What seed should he use?
A: For a new seeding, use a turf-type tall fescue or a Kentucky bluegrass. Use either 100% of either of these types or use a 50% mix of the two. For more information, see this article from the UNL Turfgrass Department on Choosing Grass Seed.
5. A caller has a section in fairly high shade that died out last year. Why and can it be reseeded?
A: In locations of very high shade turf doesn’t always do well. The caller said this had been growing there for 25 years so it could have been a fluke that the lawn died out last year. You can reseed now with regular turf or you can use a shady groundcover such as a carex species.
6. When is the time to transplant coreopsis to a location with more sun?
A: Now would be a great time. Mid April through mid-late May is a great time to transplant perennials.
7. This caller has some large pin oaks that need to be pruned to make it easier to mow underneath the tree. Is it too late now to do that?
A: Yes, it would be better to wait until late fall to prune the oaks now. Oak trees are susceptible to oak wilt which is spread by a beetle in the summer months. It is best to avoid pruning them at this time of the year to reduce the incidence of disease.
8. What kind of tree would be a good choice for shade production in a backyard?
A: Any of the oak species, shagbark hickory, sycamore, Linden, Kentucky coffeetree, Black locust, thornless honeylocust, hackberry, and many others.
9. A caller wants to know what to do for management of curly dock?
A: 2,4-D or Trimec can be used this time of year or use a mixture of 2,4-D and Roundup.
10. What do you do for thistles growing throughout a yard?
A: 2,4-D or Trimec, but these products are best used in the late fall or before flowering. Thistles are a biennial so if you can dig up the plants as a rosette in the first year of growth they will die.
11. This caller has cherry trees that are suckering. Can one of the suckers be dug up now to start another plant?
A: Yes, it can be done now, but fall would be a better time of the year for this. If it needs to be done, it can be done now. However, depending on the type of sucker growth, the new plants may not be the same as the original plant or they may have weak growth.
12. An email from a listener asked what is wrong with his pin oak that has leaves that are curled up like they were hit with a spray? He wondered if they were too close to the windbreak that is 20 feet away? Is there a certain distance you want to stay away from your windbreak when planting other trees?
A: You do need to give your trees space to grow, but pin oaks are often planted as a third, interior row to a windbreak. The spacing between rows would be 15-20 feet, so the proximity to the windbreak would not be a problem in this instance. Most of the time if a tree is lightly hit with spray drift from a pesticide, it will not show in the tree every year unless it is hit every year. In this case, I would ask for a picture or sample to help with further diagnosis.
13. When is the best time to transplant peonies? Why isn’t the rhubarb up yet?
A: Fall is the best time to transplant peonies. If necessary for construction or moving purposes, it can be done yet this spring. Plant them at the same depth at their new location. As for the rhubarb, give it a few more weeks to see if it comes up before giving up on it. If it is in a location that is more exposed to cold winds the soil may have not warmed up enough yet this spring.
14. This caller wants to know what type of fertilizer to use in a garden?
A: A low grade, balanced fertilizer is best for a garden, like a 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 with slow release fertilizer is best.
15. The final caller of the day wanted to know if now was the time to fertilize pecans?
A: Many of the trees in our environment have sufficient nutrients for growth and so fertilization on these pecan trees may not be necessary. If you are concerned with the growth of the tree, take a soil test to see where the fertility levels are. If it is growing fine, don’t fertilize it because our trees and other plants can be over-fertilized which can cause injury or even death.
This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 7, 2017. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through July 28, 2017. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.
Guest Hosts: Jonathan Larson, Extension Entomologist from Douglas-Sarpy Counties & Jody Green, Extension Entomologist from Lancaster County
1. The first question was to see if we could guess the caller’s favorite insect that was described as a moth with large, light green wings and feathery antennae?
A. This is a luna moth
2. A caller has moles in the yard and wants to know how to manage them?
A. A harpoon type of trap can be used, but should be prepped ahead of installation. This trap tends to work best if you stomp on a run to determine if it is an active run. If it gets pushed back up, it is an active run. Stomp on this area a couple of more times and then set the trap to ensure the mole moves through the area. For more information on moles, click here for a publication from UNL on moles.
3. This caller wants to know how to get rid of creeping charlie in a lawn?
A. Triclopyr or a 2,4-D product can be used in the fall. For best control, use the product twice in the fall 2-3 weeks apart. September 30th and October 15th would be good dates for application. This is a tough weed to control, so it will take multiple years of multiple applications. A spring application of either of these products can be used as well to knock the weeds back for this year.
4. When can you transplant daylilies? Can they be planted into an area on the east side of the house with rock mulch?
A. Wait a couple of weeks until mid-late April to transplant them when the temperatures have warmed up more. Also, as long as the area is receiving at least 6 hours of sunlight daylilies will grow fine. This is a tough plant that will grow well in most conditions.
5. A caller has strawberries that had botrytis last year. When should they be sprayed to prevent the disease this year?
7. A caller has started corn, watermelons, and cantaloupe indoors from seed. The seedlings are getting quite large. Can they be transplanted outdoors now?
A. Unfortunately it is still too cold to plant these crops outdoors. These are warm season crops that should not be planted until early May after the frost-free date. These crops could be direct seeded at that time or transplanted but they tend to not do well as a transplant.
8. A caller has 2-year-old rhubarb plants that have come up and have thin, limp stalks. What is wrong with the rhubarb?
A. This could be due to crown rot. Rhubarb is very sensitive to high moisture soils and will often develop a crown rot in these situations. Those plants that have limp stalks should be removed and you can replant in a new location where it has more well-drained soil.
9. When and what should you spray for bagworms?
A. May-June is the time frame for treating bagworms. It is best to spray them when the new bags are 1/2-1 inches long. Longer than that and they won’t catch as much of the pesticide to die as well. For spray choices, any general insecticide will work, but using Bt would be the least damaging to other insects because Bt only affects insects in the Order of Lepidoptera which includes butterflies, moths, and skippers.
10. A caller has Asparagus that has a green moss-like structure growing on top of the ground around it. What is it and what can they do for it?
A. A picture would be helpful in identifying this pest. If it is actually a moss, they may look into the water in the area because it is likely that it is too wet. If it is a weed, pull or hoe the weed and then add a layer of mulch to prevent further weeds from coming in.
11. This caller wanted to know what to do to grow bigger onions and if they should put Epsom salt on their tomatoes to help them grow more?
A. These onions are growing 3 inches apart, they should be spaced out more for larger sized onions. Place plants or sets 1-6″ apart in the rows, and 12-24″ between rows. For bulb production, plant onions in early spring. The number of leaves that form prior to bulbing determine the ultimate onion size. Since bulbing in each cultivar is triggered by a specific daylength, early planting is the most effective method of increasing bulb size, by allowing more time for leaves to form. If the onions do not grow well before bulb induction, the final bulb size may be smaller than desired. Avoid sets more than ¾ inch in diameter because they are likely to produce seed stalks.
As for the Epsom salt on tomatoes, no you should not apply this to your soil when you plant tomatoes. Our soils have a sufficient amount of magnesium and sulfate, which are the 2 ingredients in Epsom salt, so there is no need to apply more. If you need fertilizer, use a general fertilizer from the nursery or garden center.
12. A caller has a Japanese maple that was injured last May when the leaves curled up and fell off. The leaves never regrew through the summer last year. Will it come out of it?
A: If it happened that early in the year last year and didn’t put on new leaves, it may be dead. Give it time this spring to green up. You can check if the tree is still alive by scraping the bark on a branch, if there is green underneath it is still alive, if there is brown it is dead.
13. What can you do to manage windmill grass?
A: Windmill grass is a perennial weed. You can use roundup and overseed or use a product containing mesotrione or Tenacity that will not harm your turf. Use the Tenacity in the late spring.
14. This caller wanted to know what to use for a pre-emergent herbicide in a strawberry patch?
A: Preen that is labeled for use in a vegetable garden would be allowed in a strawberry patch. The best control for weeds in strawberries would be to use mulch.
15. Can you use plants to repel insects?
A: Some plants may deter a few insects for a short time, but no, the plants are not concentrated enough to work against the insect pests.
16. A caller has an arborvitae that turned brown on the North side last fall. Will it be ok?
A: This could be due to bagworms or due to environmental stress. Arborvitae trees don’t like the sudden cool down in the fall and it can cause part or all of the plant to die quickly. Unfortunately, if the tree has turned brown all the way back into the trunk, the tree will not regrow on that section. Removal and replacement may be a better option for this plant.
17. This caller wanted to know when they can reseed their lawn and with what?
A: Mid to late April is the best time to reseed a lawn in Southeast Nebraska. Reseed with 100% Turf-type tall fescue or 100% Kentucky bluegrass or a 50% mix of each.
18. A caller asked what to do about squash bugs in their vegetable garden?
A: Fall sanitation and cleaning up the garden will help a lot to reduce the eggs in the soil around your garden. When they do start coming out in the summer, you can use sevin, eight, or bifenthrin to control them. You will have to spray every 10-14 days through the growing season. Watch the Pre-Harvest Interval to know when you can harvest after spraying a chemical on your plants. You can also smash or remove the eggs you see which are tiny, football-shaped bronze colored eggs on the underside of the leaves typically found in the crotch of the leaf veins.
Spring is coming. And with the onset of warm weather and more spring rains, comes many different lawn weeds. Each year we tend to find new herbicides in the garden center of our favorite stores. However, when dealing with pesticides, it is very important to know what you are purchasing and how to correctly use it so as to not harm the environment, pollinators, and beneficial plants.
One of the things we all need to remember when using pesticides is to use the right product for the job and to know what you are using. To use the trade name Roundup isn’t going to be enough anymore. There are a lot of new Roundup brand products that each have a different combination of chemicals.
Roundup 365 is a new product from Scotts that contains both glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in the general Roundup product, as well as Imazapic. Imazapic is a selective herbicide used to control annual and perennial grasses as well as some broadleaf weeds. It has a trait that allows it to last longer in the soil than a regular glyphosate product which is essentially deactivated when it hits the soil. In accordance with the label, Roundup 365 should only be used in cracks and crevices in sidewalks, driveways, walkways, and tennis courts, amongst patios and paths, along fences, foundations, curbs, retaining walls, and landscape borders, and in gravel areas and parking areas. It is not to be used in areas where planting or seeding will occur for the next year or in the root zone of plants or in any other garden setting where desired plants are. Also, be careful when applying this to fenced areas as it should not be applied where there are desired plants on the other side of the fence that could be damaged with the application of this product.
Roundup for Lawns is another new product made by Scotts that actually contains no glyphosate. Roundup for Lawns contains MCPA, Quinclorac, Dicamba, and Sulfentrazone. MCPA is a herbicide similar to 2,4-D for broadleaf weeds. Quinclorac is a post-emergent crabgrass and annual grass herbicide. Sulfentrazone is the active ingredient found in Sedgehammer that is often used on yellow nutsedge. Dicamba is one of the 3 active ingredients in Trimec that is used for broadleaf weed control in a lawn. This product can be used over an established lawn because it has no ingredients that will kill established turfgrass.
Dicamba is a pesticide that we should be very careful with, as well as any pesticide that contains dicamba which includes Roundup for Lawns and Trimec. Dicamba can turn into a gas and move to non-target plants as a vapor in temperatures of 85 degrees and above. This volatilization can occur for the day and even a couple of days after application. So Dicamba products shouldn’t be used in the summer months. Also, be very careful with Dicamba products in your lawn around trees and shrubs. This product can cause injury to these plants when it moves through the soil and comes into contact with the roots. Limit use of this product to no more than twice per growing season around tree roots to avoid injury.
Each of these Roundup products are labeled for different uses. So, make sure that you always read and follow the label instructions provided with the product to ensure that you are using the product correctly and so that you don’t harm the environment or any non-target plants. Always keep the label and product instructions with the product so you will always know how and where to properly apply it.
*Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by Nebraska Extension or bias against those not mentioned.
This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for March 31, 2017. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through July 28, 2017. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.
Guest Host: Natalia Bjorklund, Nebraska Extension Educator in Dodge County
1. The first question was when can we begin applying crabgrass preventer and fertilizer to our lawns this spring?
A. These are both best applied in late April to early May. Crabgrass will not germinate until the soil temperatures are consistently at 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. A caller wanted to know if he should mulch his asparagus and if he can use ash wood mulch around his asparagus?
A. Yes, mulch is one of the best ways to manage weeds in an asparagus patch. Ash wood chips would be fine. You do want to avoid Walnut wood chips because walnuts produce juglone which is a chemical produced by the tree to act as a weed control for nearby plants. This helps walnut trees with competition in the wild.
3. This caller has a goldenrod that has grown too large and messy for the area where it is planted. How can it be killed and what Goldenrod would be a better choice for a less messy plant?
A. 2,4-D or simple hand removal should kill the plant. When purchasing a Goldenrod plant in the future, any of the varieties would be better than the straight species. Fireworks is a nice, open goldenrod. Wichita Mountains and Baby Blue would be good choices as well.
4. Is it too early to transplant hostas? When should you cut back warm season grasses?
A. Wait a couple of weeks to transplant the hostas until the soil has warmed up a little more. You can cut back the ornamental grasses anytime now. It is better to get the old growth cut off before growth resumes so you don’t cut off the new growth. For ease of cleanup with the ornamental grasses, wrap string or twine around the plant before cutting off the old materials so it stays together when taking to the compost pile.
5. A caller wanted to know how and when to prune roses?
A. Wait until a little later into April to start pruning them. It depends on the type of rose to know how to prune them. This sounds like a climbing rose which can be pruned back about 1/2 to reduce the size. Wait until they start greening up to know which areas of the canes have died back, the dieback should be removed as well. If the canes are long and lean over mowing areas or other things, they can be tied up to a trellis.
6. This caller wanted to know how to get rid of cockleburs?
A. While talking with the caller, it came up that the plant had very small yellow flowers on it and there were spines over the plant except right at the soil surface. This plant is in fact buffalobur, not cocklebur. These are easily pulled up if you pull where there are no spines. A 2,4-D product could also be used if there was a large amount of them in the lawn.
7. A caller wanted to know if they should water in their crabgrass control?
A. The label will explain to you how a product should be applied for best efficacy. Always read and follow the label instructions to apply correctly. For many of the crabgrass preventers, they would need to be watered in, but again, check the label to be sure.
8. When should asparagus be fertilized?
A. Apply a general fertilizer or a composted manure to the bed after the last harvest or sometime in the fall.
9. This caller has mulberries growing in the windbreak. After they are cut down, what kind of stump treatment should be done to keep them from regrowing?
A. 2,4-D concentrate should be used as a stump treatment. This will take multiple applications and will be more effective if done in the fall. Each time the 2,4-D is reapplied it should be applied into newly drilled holes or to a freshly cut area of the stump.
10. A caller has cedars growing in their landscape. Under the cedars there is bare ground. What can they plant in that area to avoid weeds coming in?
A. The cedars are going to keep that area quite dark and the cedars will take the majority of the water in the soil so mulch would be a good alternative. If plants are desired, use a shade tolerant groundcover such as wintercreeper or vinca vine or perennial plants such as bleeding hearts, hostas, coral bells, jacob’s ladder, and others.
11. This caller has tiny cedar trees coming up throughout the lawn. How can they be controlled?
A. Cut them off at ground level. If a cedar is cut below any lateral growth it will not regrow. Mowing over them wouldn’t be low enough.
12. When is the best time to prune a maple tree that had a branch break in a storm?
A. As soon as the storm has passed and it is safe to do so, you should remove a branch that broke in the storm. If the damage occurred in a winter storm, let the ice and snow melt off first. Then, hire a certified arborist to come out and make a good pruning cut so that the tree can seal off the wound quickly and fully.
13. A caller has a hibiscus tree that is turning yellow and many of those yellow leaves are falling off the tree. It was moved indoors during the winter months in an area of the house with low sunlight. What is wrong with it and will it survive?
A. Hibiscus plants would need more sunlight than what it has received through the winter. It should be fine once it gets more sunlight. As the days get warmer, you can move it outdoors for more intense sunlight. It should be fine once it gets moved to better growing conditions.
14. This caller has a weeping willow tree that they would like to prune up a little. When can they prune it?
A. The weeping branches shouldn’t be pruned up too much or they could lose their weeping habit. Willows tend to have a heavy sap flow in the spring if they are pruned then, so it would be best to wait until later fall to prune a willow.
15. This caller has grasses that are coming up among the gravel paths around his daylily patch. What can he use to prevent those plants from coming up?
A. Preen is a great way to stop the germination of annual weeds, such as many of our weedy grass species. If they come up before the preen gets put down or if they grow as a perennial weed, you can use a post-emergent herbicide. If it is a grass that is growing out of place among daylilies, you can use Grass-B-Gon or a similar product to kill grasses.
16. What can be done to manage henbit?
A. At this time of the year, there is nothing very effective at controlling henbit. Henbit is a winter annual plant, meaning that it germinates in the fall and flowers and produces seed in the spring. It dies with the summer heat. As we are now seeing the purple flowers from henbit, there is no need to control what you are seeing. The seed is already present in the lawn for next year and what you would be spraying will die soon. You can hand pull it now and spray with a 2,4-D product late in the fall.
17. This caller has moon flowers that had a lot of hornworms on them last summer. What can be done this year to reduce the number of hornworms?
A. Just because there were hornworms there last year doesn’t necessarily mean you will have a lot this year. Hornworms are sporadic pests. They are easily controlled by hand removal. You can also use sevin or eight or any other general insecticide. Use Bt to protect other pollinators as Bt is only harmful to insects in the order Lepidoptera which includes butterflies and moths.
18. What do you do for bindweed in a vegetable garden?
A. If you haven’t planted yet this spring, you can roundup the plants before you prepare the soil for the summer vegetables. The plants will probably still be a problem later in the year as this is a difficult pest to control. When it comes back in the summer, you can carefully use roundup through the growing season. You can paint the glyphosate product onto the leaves of the bindweed avoiding spraying the desired plants.