Late Fall Lawncare

The fall is a great time to improve our lawns. We have now passed the correct timing for overseeding lawns, but there are other improvements we can still make. Controlling perennial broadleaf weeds and winter annual weeds can be done in October and fertilizers may be applied if necessary.

Broadleaf weeds

perennial lawn weed collage
Perennial Broadleaf Weeds

Perennial broadleaf weeds including dandelions, creeping Charlie or ground ivy, and clover are best controlled in the fall once the weeds have begun their preparations for winter. In the fall, these perennial weeds will move sugars that they use for energy from the above ground portions of the plant down into the roots to store them for next spring. If they are sprayed during this phase of their lifecycle, they are more likely to take that herbicide down into the roots to be more effective than if done in the spring. Spray these weeds with a 2,4-D product 2 or 3 times from late September through the end of October. Wait to spray after temperatures consistently drop to below 80 degrees so the herbicide doesn’t volatilize in hot, humid weather.

Weedy grasses

2018-04-20 12.52.00
Henbit in bloom in the spring

The fall is not the time to worry about or treat for summer annual weeds such as crabgrass. Those plants that are still alive will die with the first frost and the seed will not germinate until next spring when the weather warms back up again. However, you can treat now for winter annual weeds such as henbit and speedwell. Once they have germinated this fall you can use a 2,4-D product, which can be applied as a late October application both for the winter annual weeds and for perennial broadleaf weeds.

Using pesticides correctly

Remember, when using pesticides always be careful and apply pesticides according to the label. Any material used to maintain a landscape, including fertilizer, sand, or pesticides, can end up in the storm sewer and lead to pollution of lakes, rivers, and streams. In the same manner, even our grass clippings and leaves can pollute our water supply. There are ways to manage our landscapes while reducing water pollution.

The following will help when managing our lawns this fall:

  1. Any fertilizers, pesticides, and grass clippings should be swept back onto the landscape. Using a leaf blower will work as well. The idea is to keep these items on plant material rather than on the hardscape that leads easily to the storm sewer.
  2. Raking up leaves in the fall will also help reduce the amount of leaf debris that ends up in water.
  3. Check your sprayers before using to ensure they are properly calibrated and the nozzles are not clogged.
  4. Thatch layers in the lawn can become a natural barrier to prevent infiltration. Aerate the lawn to reduce the thatch layer to allow lawn products to infiltrate their intended areas.

Fertilizer

As for fertilizer applications, the fall fertilization is the most important fertilizer application for a lawn. However, fall fertilization recommendations have changed over the past couple of years. For a lawn, a Labor Day to mid-September application of slow release fertilizer is still recommended. Apply a granule with 50% slow release nitrogen or less. If additional nitrogen fertilizer is required later in the fall, use a product with a quick release nitrogen in mid-October. We used to recommend Halloween or later for the second fertilizer application and we thought two applications were necessary. New research is showing us that a second application of nitrogen fertilizer may not even be necessary, but if it is, we should move the timing up to more like Columbus Day rather than the typical Halloween time frame. This information is from Bill Kreuser, Assistant Professor and Turfgrass Extension Specialist from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Yard and Garden: July 26, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 26, 2019. 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 August 2, 2019. 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: Bob Henrickson, Horticulture Program Coordinator for the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum

1. The first question of the show was about catalpa trees. They were pruned in the past, but now they have a bunch of smaller branches growing out of the location where the branch was removed from the tree.

A. The branch that was removed was likely not correctly done. If the cut wounded into the trunk of the tree or left a stump, it would cause the tree to push a lot of new growth like suckering. Make sure that proper pruning cuts are followed and that you don’t leave a stump. Follow these steps when pruning a tree to ensure it is removed correctly with minimal damage and avoid the branch-bark collar to avoid a flush cut which will not heal correctly.

3-step pruning cut
Proper pruning cut, University of Missouri Extension

2. How do you control clover in the lawn?

A. Clover can be found in an under-fertilized lawn. It may be a good practice to fertilize at least one time a year to help the lawn compete with the clover. If treating with chemicals, the fall is the best time of year to treat for broadleaf perennials such as clover, dandelions, and creeping Charlie. Apply a 2,4-D product or one containing triclopyr twice in the fall. Mid-September and again in mid-October is best. Other IPM strategies for controlling clover include mowing high and aeration if necessary.

Co Potato Beetle Pupa 2
Colorado Potato Beetle Pupa

3. A question came in via email about orange things on potatoes. There are tiny orange bugs found on potato plants in her garden. What are they and how can they be controlled?

A. These are Colorado potato beetle larvae. Pull any off that are found and smash them or spray with sevin to control them as they emerge as beetles.

4. A caller has creeping Charlie in their yard. When is the best time to spray for that?

A. When using chemicals, the fall is the best time of year to treat for broadleaf perennials such as clover, dandelions, and creeping Charlie. Apply a 2,4-D product or a product containing triclopyr twice in the fall. Mid-September and again in mid-October is best. Other IPM strategies for controlling creeping Charlie include mowing high and aeration if necessary.

5. This caller has cucumber plants with a lot of flowers but no fruits. Why are these plants not producing fruits?

A. You should check the flowers to see if they are all male flowers or if there are female flowers as well. Male flowers just have a skinny stalk behind the flower. Female flowers have a tiny cucumber behind the flower. If male flowers are all that are present, give it time for the plant to produce female flowers. If both male and female flowers are present, there could be a problem with pollinators. Avoid spraying while bees are active, attract bees with other pollinator plants, put up a bee house to bring bees in. If you are using row covers, be sure to uncover the plants for a while during the day so bees can pollinate the plants.

6. A caller called in with a good suggestion to help with cucumber plants. He grows his on a trellis so they can get better airflow and less diseases. It also makes it easier to harvest the plants this way.

7. This caller has a small hackberry that is 12-14 feet tall with 3 trunks growing together. There are small splits all along the trunk like some type of injury, what caused this and will his tree be ok?

A. These could be spots from hail injury, even from a few years ago. There is nothing to do for hail damage. Most trees will come through just fine. If the damage is intense, the tree could have more problems.

8. Is it too late to trim lilac bushes?

A. Yes, it is too late for general pruning of lilacs. They should be pruned within the first couple of weeks following the flowering period. If a rejuvenation pruning is desired, the fall would be a good time to do that, wait until late September to mid-October for that.

9. A caller who manages a golf course has a couple of Linden trees that were under water for about 2 months this year. They sat in a flooded area of the golf course for this time in the spring. They originally did leaf out but since then the leaves have turned brown. Will the tree be ok?

A. There is likely no life left in these trees. Lindens are not adapted to have their roots that wet for that long. The trees probably had enough energy left in the roots to push out leaves but now have ran out of energy. It would be best to remove those trees and replace them with something more adapted to sitting in water from time-to-time, such as bald cypress trees.

10. The final question of the day was sent via email. This listener has a gravel driveway that is partially sloped. How can they keep the weeds out of this driveway and not harm the grass at the end of the slope?

A. Roundup 365 would be the best option for this. It contains glyphosate as well as imazapic which lasts longer than the glyphosate alone. On the label it states to only apply once a year and to “spray until THOROUGHLY WET”, so for best results spray to this extent. Soil sterilants aren’t recommended because they often run off into adjacent plant material such as grass and kills it. Always read and follow the label when using pesticides.

*Disclaimer ­- Reference to any specific brand named product does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, favoring or implied criticism if similar products are not mentioned by Nebraska Extension in Gage County.  Identifying specific pesticides are for the convenience of the reader and are generally most commonly available.  Always read and follow the pesticide label.

 

Yard and Garden: May 8, 2015

Yard and Garden Green Logo

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 8, 2015. 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 31, 2015. 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: Graham Herbst, Community Forester with the Nebraska Forest Service

1. This caller has pampas grass growing in her yard that last winter had problems with winterkill. What would be a good alternative ornamental grass she could plant?

A: Pampas grass had a lot of problems with winterkill last spring due to the dry, cold, windy winter conditions we faced in the winter of 2013-2014. Pampas grass is on the edge of its hardiness zone in Nebraska, but there are many other options for native grasses here. Maidenhair grass, or Miscanthus, is a great choice for a large native grass and it has many varieties to choose many different qualities. Big Bluestem and Little bluestem are great native choices, as well as switchgrass, sideoats grama, and many more. Ornamental grasses give us winter interest and habitat and food for wildlife during the winter months.

2. A caller had a sewer that was dug out and filled with soil. She then seeded new turfgrass on the area that has come up and is growing well. This spring the area sunk back down 6 inches. What can she do to level this area out?

A: You can remove the grass from that area, gathering 4-6 inches of soil and roots with it. Add soil to bring that back up to level with the surrounding lawn, and replace the grass piece back on top. Keep this grass well-watered until it becomes established, it will act like a piece of sod. The other option would be to back fill the location with soil and reseed the area with turf seed.

3. A caller has orange odd-looking structures hanging off of her cedar trees. What is this? Will it harm the tree?

Winter gall of Cedar-apple rust.
Winter gall of Cedar-apple rust.

A: These would be the galls from a disease called cedar-apple rust. This disease requires 2 hosts to complete its lifecycle, a cedar and an apple or something else in the Malus family such as a pear or crabapple. This disease overwinters on cedar trees as a hard, brown, odd-shaped structure on the branches and with spring rains they open up to look like orange, gelatinous, galls that are reminiscent of an orange octopus. This is when the spores are spreading to the apple trees. This disease causes no real damage to cedar trees, but on apple trees it causes lesions on the apples and leaf spots. Here is a NebGuide on Cedar-Apple Rust.

4. This caller has 3 apple trees and this winter one of them has not bloomed nor leafed out. Is the tree dead?

A: Check the tree for living tissue by scraping the bark off to expose green or brown tissue underneath. If it is green, it is still alive, if it is brown it is dead. Also check the branches for flexibility, if they bend they are still alive if the break they are dead. Give the tree a few more weeks to see if it comes out of it later this spring.

5. This caller has moles in their yard. How can they be controlled?

A: Moles can be controlled with traps. These traps will euthanize the mole in the hole to be left behind after control has been achieved. These have the best effect if the mound is pushed down 2-3 times prior to placing the trap in the hole, this will show if the tunnel is an active one before the trap is placed in it. Here is a guide from the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management on Mole Control.

6. This caller has voles in their yard. How can they be controlled?

A: Voles are controlled with snap traps that we typically use for mice. Place 2 traps in the run from the voles, or the area where the grass is damaged. Place the traps perpendicular to the runs and place them facing in different directions in the run. So, for a vole run that goes North to South, place one trap facing east and one facing west. Here is a guide from the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management on Vole Control.

7. This gentleman had used Scotts liquid turf builder on his lawn and it is not working to green up the lawn or to reduce the weeds found in his lawn. He also has a zoysiagrass lawn that is not growing as well in some portions of his lawn as it has in the past. What would be causing these problems and how can he improve these?

A: Broadleaf weeds are best controlled in the fall so it is best to apply a broadleaf weed killer, such as 2,4-D, 2 times in the fall, such as September 30 and October 15. Even in the spring, some control can be achieved, but they will require more than one application as they are tough weeds to kill. The zoysiagrass may have experienced some winterkill so it might be wise to take plugs from the area of the lawn where it is growing well and move them into areas of the lawn where it is not growing so well.

8. This caller has ash trees that are getting oval-shaped holes in them and ants on the trunk of the tree. Did the ants do this to the tree? How can it be managed?

A: These ants are probably carpenter ants. Carpenter ants do not harm your trees, they will just burrow into wood that has already begun to decay for some other reason. Carpenter ants on a tree do not require treatment. The holes are most likely due to native borers of the ash tree, such as red-headed ash tree borers or ash-lilac borer. These borers can be controlled with a trunk spray with chemicals such as sevin or eight or apply a soil drench with an imidacloprid product around the base of the trunk. This doesn’t sound like it is Emerald Ash Borer because the holes from EAB are D-shaped, not rounded or oval.

9. This caller has an ash tree and wants to know when he should treat it? He has heard that it takes up to 5 years for the systemic insecticides to move throughout the tree into the canopy, if this is true should he treat now.

A: Systemic insecticides take only a couple of weeks to move throughout the entire tree and they only last for 1 or 2 years depending on which chemical is used. It is best to wait until Emerald Ash Borer gets within 15 miles of the tree before treatment begins because treatments are costly, damaging to the tree, and not necessary until the borer gets closer. Trunk injections wound the tree and after repeated years of treatments it causes a great deal of stress to the tree, so there is no need to treat and harm the tree prior to when it is necessary.