Yard & Garden: July 31, 2020

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 31, 2020. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am, this is the last summer episode of the year. 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.

* New this year: Join us on September 11 & 18 for fall episodes!

I will put the Q&A from these shows here on the blog as well.

Guest Host: Katie Kreuser, Extension Educator in Cass County

1. The first question of the show was a listener who was wondering if Hops will grow well in Kansas?

A. It should do fine in northern to central Kansas, Katie isn’t sure about the southern part of the state. She said it grows well in the Kansas City area but too far south will not have enough sunlight for it to grow well. Katie also mentioned that to grow hops commercially, you should line up a buyer first because it needs to be used to make beer soon after harvest for best success.

2. How can you control crabgrass now?

A. Now is not the time for crabgrass control, it is too late. At this time of the year, any crabgrass that is growing in the yard will be large and mature. Crabgrass is an annual, weedy grass so it will die with the first frost. In the spring, around late April, use a crabgrass pre-emergence herbicide on the lawn. This could be reapplied in mid June to get season-long control against crabgrass. There are post-emergence herbicides for crabgrass, but will not be very effective on mature plants in August.

3. This caller has roses that are covered with green beetles. What are they and how can they be controlled?

A. These are likely Japanese beetles. You can use sevin or other insecticides. They will likely not kill the roses, but will make it look bad. Most of the damage for this year is likely already done. Look at the tree for more green beetles with copper-colored wings or elytra. If you don’t see many beetles, forego the spraying for this year. You can also use a bucket of soapy water and knock many of the beetles into the bucket to kill them. Go out in the evening when they are grouped up and you can get many at once.

4. A caller who is new to gardening was curious what types of plants can be added to a garden this time of the year? Can he plant tomatoes or cucumbers?

A. A fall garden would be great this time of year. Planting of a fall garden can be done until the middle of August. You can plant the spring, cool-season crops again in the fall and often be more successful than you were in the spring. Things like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, carrots, radish, lettuce, and spinach. It is too late in the year for the warm season crops like tomatoes, peppers, or cucumbers. These plants are more sensitive to colder temperatures and wouldn’t have enough time to mature prior to the first frost.

5. This caller has crabgrass in his lawn. He will use a pre-emergence herbicide in the spring to control that. He is wondering, though, when he should overseed the lawn to fill in the bare spots?

A. Late August through mid-September is best. If you are having troubles with weeds in the lawn, you can use a mesotrione product, such as Tenacity, at seeding. This will help reduce the crabgrass and other weeds when trying to get the new turf established.

6. A caller has something that is digging 4-5 inch holes in the yard with no tunnels. What is causing that?

A. This could be from a number of different wildlife animals. It would be best to send pictures to know for sure. I would have to contact a wildlife expert for diagnosis.

7. The final question of the show was from a caller who has a vine coming up in her yard, it is not bindweed. The plant has heart-shaped leaves with dark green leaves and white colored veins. What is it?

A. This is honeyvine milkweed. It can easily be pulled from the garden. Pull it when it is small, before it vines up on other plants. You could also use the ‘Glove of Death’ method. This is when you wear a chemical-resistant glove and then put a cloth glove over that. Then, dip a few fingers of the gloved hand into Glyphosate and rub those fingers along the stem and leaves of the vine to kill it.

*Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by Nebraska Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

Yard & Garden: April 17, 2020

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 17, 2020. 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, 2020. 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: No guest host due to COVID-19 and social distancing

1. The first caller of the day wants to know when he can transplant the zucchini, eggplant, and peppers that he started in his home this year. With the snow, should he wait a little longer?

A. Yes, these are all warm season crops and they need soil temperatures in the 60’s before they will do much at all in the garden. They also will not live through temperatures below 31 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm season crops should wait to be planted after the last frost of the spring, which averages in late April for southeast Nebraska. It is a good rule of thumb to go with early May for planting to ensure you are past the last frost of the year, I like to use Mother’s Day for a general planting date. With crops started indoors at home, remember to harden them off for a week or two ahead of planting outside. Hardening off can be completed by gradually moving the plants into more sunlight and more wind exposure each day and bringing them indoors overnight.

2. A caller wanted to know where the best location is to plant rhubarb?

A. Rhubarb should be planted in full sun, in well-drained soil. Make sure that it is a location that isn’t low in the landscape or a location where water tends to sit. Rhubarb is very prone to crown rot if not in a high, dry location.

3. This caller has peonies. They had emerged and were about a foot tall. Now, after the snow, they are leaning over. Will they be ok?

A. If they were hit hard by the snow, they may lose a few leaves, but the plant will be fine. Peonies are early season plants and therefore should be just fine through late spring snows and cold weather. Give them time to recover before jumping to cut them off. If the leaves remain discolored or limp, they should be removed in a couple of weeks. The blooms were not set on these plants so they should still bloom.

4. A caller didn’t get his potatoes in yet, when should they be planted? He thought you were to plant potatoes on Good Friday or St. Patrick’s Day.

A. Potatoes are more of a cool season plant, and it is an old saying to plant them on Good Friday or St. Patrick’s Day (depending on who you talk to for your timing). However, this was a rare, high amount of snow and unusually cold weather. They can take down to freezing, but lower than that they might need to be covered to get through. So, if they aren’t planted yet, plant them once the snow has melted now. The weather is supposed to warm up now.

5. This caller is going to be planting strawberries in a raised bed. What materials should he use for building the sides of the bed?

A. Landscape timbers work well for raised beds or old railroad ties that are no longer oozing any creosote. Also, bricks or other hardscaping types of bricks can be used.

6. A caller wants to know who to call to remove an evergreen hedge from her landscape?

A. It would be best to call a professional tree trimmer or tree removal service. A Certified Arborist would be best, but just make sure the company is licensed and insured.

7. This caller has pine trees that have a lot of brown branches throughout the tree. What is causing it?

A. Unfortunately, it is hard to tell from the description. The trees need to first be properly identified to know what type of tree it is and I would need to see what the brown areas look like to know for sure what it is. The caller was going to send photos, but hasn’t yet.

8. A caller has asparagus that came up and was growing but they didn’t cover the plants for the cold weather and snow. Now the spears that were up are soft to the touch. What is wrong and will the plants survive?

A. The freezing temperatures and snow caused this damage. Asparagus is a very cold hardy plant, this is just damage to those spears. Those soft spears should be removed and discarded, but the plant will regrow just fine.

9. This caller has a succulent in the house that was growing well but she repotted it recently because it was getting rootbound. Now part of the plant is leaning over and the leaves aren’t as shiny. It also looks like it has white hairs on it. What is wrong with it and can it be fixed?

A. After looking at a photo and seeing that the plant tag showed this was a kalanchoe, I could determine more about the plant. The white hairs are aerial roots, they aren’t harmful. The plant looks to be leaning for more sunlight. This plant has been in an east window, but needs full sunlight. I suggested moving it to a south or west facing window for more intense, afternoon sunlight.

10. A caller had a vine like plant that looked like cucumber vine last year that took over his windbreak trees. What can be done for it now?

A. This was burcucumber and it was very bad last year. It is an annual weed, so it germinates from seed every year. It does pull very easily, so as you see it start growing up the trees this summer, you can hand pull it. In large shelterbelts, if needed, Simazine (Princep 4L) is labeled for preemergent control in shelterbelts to kill weed seeds as they germinate. Do not apply more than 4 qt. Princep 4L per acre (4 lb. a.i./A) per calendar year. Do not apply more than twice per calendar year.

11. Can you transplant a lilac bush?

A. Yes, they can be transplanted. The fall would be the best time for this.

12. This caller has spruce trees that have mulberries and other scrub trees growing up through the spruces. What can be done to kill these scrub trees and not harm the spruce trees?

A. You can go through and cut off the mulberries and follow that up with a stump treatment using either 2,4-D or a glyphosate product, such as Roundup. Use the concentrate and just paint it on to the freshly cut stump for best control. Do NOT use Tordon, that will likely kill the spruce trees, and it is against label directions.

13. When should purple flowering clematis be transplanted?

A. Clematis are best moved in the early spring or fall.

14. This caller wondered about growing vegetable plants in cattle lick tubs. What things are important to know when using these as a container gardens?

A. Make sure there is a few holes for water drainage so they don’t end up soaked after storms go through. Also, the lighter colored tubs will be better than black or dark colored containers. The lick tubs that are black are going to get very hot in the sun, which can be detrimental to the roots of the plants. If you have black or dark colored tubs, you might put some hay or hay bales around the container to help keep it a little cooler. Use potting soil purchased from a store to ensure nutrients and good moisture holding capacity. Don’t use fresh manure at planting around any vegetable plants due to the bacterial issues, manure needs to be applied composted in the spring or fresh in the fall. However, when working with potting soil, no manure would be necessary. Because these plants are growing in containers, they will likely need to be watered more often than a traditional garden. Check the soil every day, if it is dry, water the plants. If the soil is still wet, wait to water. Lick tubs can make very good containers for gardening and could help those who can’t get down on the ground for traditional gardens.

15. A caller has lilies, daylilies, and iris in her flower bed. It got away from her last year and now has a lot of bromegrass growing in it. What can be done to kill the grass and not the flowers?

A. Grass-B-Gon can be sprayed on the garden space. It will kill the grass but not harm the flowers. This would be the only product. It does take time to fully kill the grass, so be patient.

16. This caller has young saplings growing around his garden. Will 2,4-D or roundup work and not harm the garden plants.

A. Yes, either of these products can be used on the saplings and if not oversprayed on the garden, those plants will be fine. Roundup would be the better option when it gets warmer because it doesn’t volatilize like the 2,4-D does. The best way to do this would be to cut the saplings off then paint the herbicide on the freshly cut stump.

17. Is it a good time to apply crabgrass control to the lawn?

A. The snow did push our soil temperatures back down, but they should rebound fairly quickly. I would say in the next week or so we should be back up to the 55-60 degree level to apply the controls. So, go ahead and start using your crabgrass preemergence herbicides.

18. The final caller of the day wants to know when to spray 2,4-D for lawn weeds this spring?

A. That could be done anytime now or in the next couple of weeks. Make sure you apply it on a day that temperatures are below 80 degrees for 72 hours so it doesn’t volatilize and move to non-target plants. Broadleaf weeds 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. Spraying these weeds in the spring will knock them down, but likely not kill them outright.

He also wanted to know how to store onions?

A. Home gardeners should cure onions after harvest. When the tops are dry, they should be trimmed to 1 inch lengths. Leave the onion‘s dry outer skins on; they help reduce bruising, shrinking and act as an insect barrier. Store onions in shallow boxes, mesh bags or hang them in old nylons in a cold, dry, well- ventilated room. Or braid the leaves of onions for hanging and storage. Temperatures close to 32°F will give the longest storage. Products prone to absorb odors or flavors should not be stored close to onions. For more information, view this NebGuide

*Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by Nebraska Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

Managing Lawn Weeds in Spring

With spring coming soon, we will begin to get outdoors to improve our lawns, and just be outside. Make sure you know what weed you are dealing with in your landscape and know the best way to control it. There are times for controlling weeds, it may not be the best in spring for all. Spraying at the wrong time is a waste of money and can be harmful to our environment.

Crabgrass

Crabgrass is one of the most problematic weeds in lawns. It is a summer annual weed. Summer annuals germinate in the spring, grow and produce seed throughout the summer and die with the first frost in the fall. Crabgrass germinates when the soil temperatures average 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit. So, crabgrass preventer should be applied when the soils reach that temperature. Typical preemergence herbicides include dithiopyr, prodiamine, or pendimethalin as the active ingredient. A second application should be made in late May to June for season-long control.

If you miss the window for preemergence products, you still have options. There are some great post-emergence products. Dithiopyr and mesotrione have pre- and postemergence activity on crabgrass. Quinclorac is a great postemergence herbicide that is often found in the product Drive. So any of these can be used if you miss the spring window for control.

Annual Broadleaf Weeds

Henbit is a winter annual. A winter annual is a plant that germinates in the fall and grows a bit before basically becoming dormant for the winter months. Very early in the spring, henbit will start to grow again, produce flowers and seed for the next year then it will die when the temperatures warm up. This is different from a summer annual which germinates in the spring and goes through its lifecycle through the summer months and dies with our fall frosts.

The problem with henbit is that by the time we see it, or rather see the purple flowers, it is too late to treat for the year. Once the flowers begin to show up, it is already producing seed for next year, so killing blooming henbit is unnecessary because it will die naturally and the chemicals won’t reduce production for next year. However, pulling the plant would be a fine management practice after blooming has begun. It can be sprayed with a 2,4-D product very early in the spring once it has greened up but before it blooms. If you know where it is you can spray it before it blooms. Otherwise, wait until this fall to spray those areas with a preemergence herbicide before it germinates in the fall.

Perennial Weeds

We have a lot of perennial weeds in our lawn as well. Plants like dandelions, creeping Charlie, and clover are perennial broadleaf weeds. Perennial weeds 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. Spraying these weeds in the spring will knock them down, but likely not kill them outright.

Nimblewill is a perennial grassy weed. It is controlled through one of two methods. You can spray it with a product containing mesotrione that won’t harm the surrounding grass. Or you can spray it with a glyphosate product, such as Roundup, then overseed the area. The glyphosate will only be effective if sprayed on the nimblewill when it greens up, and this is a warm season grass so it will be later in the summer. It is best to do this in August then you can overseed 2-3 weeks later.

*Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by Nebraska Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

Yard and Garden: April 26, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 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: Roch Gaussoin, Extension Specialist for UNL Agronomy and Turf

1. The first caller of the show recently applied a Weed-B-Gon product that contained crabgrass control. Now he wants to fertilize, but it is a fertilizer and crabgrass control together. Will it be harmful to put the crabgrass control on twice this spring?

A. That should be fine and you won’t see any injury from applying the crabgrass control twice this spring. You won’t need to apply any additional pesticides for the lawn this year. Next year, it would be better to do a little more planning ahead so you don’t apply the chemical twice so close together. This is just additional pesticides in the environment that are not necessary, so be careful with that in the future.

2. A caller is bringing in topsoil on a new build site. He needs to overseed, but is it getting too late to do that yet this spring?

A. Seeding the lawn will have the best results if done in the fall, but spring can get a good start on a new lawn. The weather will be the problem to lawns seeded too late this year. With the weather as it has been this year, there is likely still a 2-3 week window for overseeding the lawn with fairly good success. It might be a good idea to overseed now and then do another overseeding in the fall to thicken it up. Also, for weed control, it would help to use mesotrione (tenacity) at seeding. There is a starter fertilizer that contains the tenacity to help with start-up of the turf and to keep the weeds down while establishment occurs. It would just help to get some type of cover crop or turf down to reduce the amount of bare soil that weeds can grow into.

3. This caller has henbit. Would it be controlled well with the Tenacity? If so, should he use a stronger dose of the Tenacity because he has tried it with limited success?

A. It is Never a good practice to use pesticides at a higher rate than what is listed on the label. A lot of research went into finding the correct rate for best control of a pest. Henbit is hard to control this time of year, it is best controlled in the fall. It will die as soon as the heat of the summer comes on because it is a winter annual and doesn’t live well in hot weather. Treat in the later fall, October, with a 2,4-D product for best control.

That caller also has a peach tree that just flowered for the first time. It has two 2-inch long cracks on the tree trunk, each on opposite sides. What can be done with this?

A. Unfortunately this tree is not going to live long. There is nothing to do to fix the tree once cracks like this happen. This large of an opening is very damaging to the tree and will not allow the tree to live long. If it is out in the open where it won’t damage anything if it falls, leave it until it dies.

4. A caller has been trying to get a native grass prairie started for a few years now with limited success. He has a mix with Blue Grama, buffalograss, and little bluestem. What can he do to get it to grow better?

A. Don’t give up yet. Be sure to control the weeds with herbicides, 2,4-D won’t harm the grasses but will manage the weeds. After some photos, it shows that there is still some grass in there, but it is very early for these warm-season grasses. Keep mowing to keep the seed heads down for the weeds.

5. Can potatoes still be planted yet this spring?

A. Yes, get the potatoes in soon, and they should be fine yet this year.

What do you do for Pampas grass with a dead center?

A. Dig it up and divide it and replant it. This can still be done this spring.

She has a crabapple that has dead branches in it, can those be cut off now or should they be removed in the fruit tree pruning window of February-March?

A. Remove dead branches anytime of the year that they appear.

6. A caller wants to know when to spray for bagworms?

A. It is weather dependent. Starting in late May, check weekly for the small bags to begin to show up on the trees. When the small bags show up and until they are up to 1/2 inch in length you can spray.

He also wondered when and how to fertilize trees?

A. It really isn’t necessary to fertilize trees in Nebraska. They can get the nutrients they need from the soil naturally.

tree irrigationHow do you water trees that were recently planted?

A. water them one time per week with a slow trickle from the hose for about 20 minutes each time they are watered.

When is the best time to prune cedar trees to shape them?

A. Most anytime would be fine with a cedar tree, but the best time is in the late winter to early spring.

7. This caller has Austrian pines that are turning brown on the tips of the branches with short needles. What is causing this and how can it be controlled?

A. This sounds like tip blight. It can be treated now with a copper fungicide. A second application should be made 7-14 days after the first application.

8. What is the best thing to mulch asparagus with?

A. Grass clippings, straw, hay, or wood chip mulch can all be used to mulch asparagus. It would be best to hand pull weeds and then use preen that is labeled for use in asparagus before applying the mulch. If there is a problem with brome grass, use roundup carefully around the asparagus first as well. To carefully get the glyphosate on the brome and not on the asparagus either paint it on with a foam paint brush or use the “glove of death” which is when you wear a chemical-resistant glove and then put a cloth glove over that. Then, dip a few fingers of the gloved hand into Glyphosate and rub those fingers along the stem and leaves of the bindweed to kill it.

9. A caller has been trying to start seedlings of spruce and fir trees for a few years with limited success. He thinks it may be due to root rot because when he pulls them up the roots look rotten. How can he get the trees to grow?

A. After discussion, it seems that he doesn’t overwater the trees and may in fact not be watering them enough. He also said that he can get the trees to grow in another, more neglected, location. It was suggested that he do a soil test to see what is going on with the soil in this desired location. It might be that there is a hard pan underneath these trees that is impeding water movement through the soil causing the roots to rot.

10. This caller has been trying to get grass started and is having difficulties. He has used an aerator, seeder, lawn roller, and then waters the seed well and it is not coming in very good.

A. It seems his practices are good, so he may try a soil sample to see what the nutrient and pH levels are in his soil.

11. The last caller of the day wanted to know what the difference is between a Sycamore and a London Plane tree?

A. These trees are 2 different species of very similar trees.

 

Spring Yard Clean Up

lawnmower-pixabay
Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

Now that spring is officially here, we can really start to think about outdoor activities. Don’t get ahead of the weather though, that could cause more harm than good or cause us to have to do more work later. But now that spring is here, I thought I would help you with your to do list and when to do those things.

Lawncare

This is the time of the year when we start to see green in our lawns again. We begin to think it is time to fertilize, overseed, and use crabgrass control. Don’t get started on your lawn too early. It has been quite cold this winter and even this spring. If you get too ahead of the weather it can cause some plants to develop freeze damage or die. Overseeding can be done in April, but anytime by the end of April to the early part of May is still fine for overseeding. I would suggest waiting until at least the middle of April this year. According to Purdue University, the optimum air temperature for germination of Kentucky bluegrass seed is 59-86 degrees, for Tall fescue it is 68-86 degrees. So we can wait until it warms up more consistently before overseeding the lawn.

Fertilizer also can be left until later in the spring before it is applied. You can apply a fertilizer application as needed in mid to late April. Wait to see how the lawn greens up to determine if a spring application is necessary. If a lawn has a medium green hue in late April, skip the typical Arbor Day application in favor of one in late May to early June.

It’s also a good time to clean the lawn from winter debris. Branches and leaves may have fallen during the winter, now’s the time to rake these up and remove them before mowing begins. It’s also be a good idea to clean pet waste from your lawns. Pet waste tends to build up over winter and can become a pollutant in water when it runs off your lawn and into storm drains.

Crabgrass Control

fertilizer spreaderDon’t get started with crabgrass control too soon this spring. The soil temperatures are still in the low 40 degree range. Crabgrass preventer should not be applied until the soil temperature is consistently at 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit. Even if a few early warm days cause crabgrass to germinate, if these days are followed by freezing temperatures, any crabgrass that germinated will die from cold temperatures. If you apply crabgrass preventer too early in the spring, it will break down too early causing more crabgrass to germinate later in the year.

Spring vegetable gardens

Vegetable gardens can be worked in the spring as soon as the ground is dry and workable. Cool season crops such as peas, potatoes, carrots, raddish, kohlrabi, lettuce, and spinach can be planted now. Asparagus beds can be cleaned up now and new asparagus patches can be started. Make sure that the soil is dry before you work the garden or plant any vegetables. Planting into mud can compact the soil and disrupt the growth of plants.

Wait to plant warm season crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, and beans until Mother’s Day, or until after our average frost free date, which is the end of April for the Beatrice area.

Cleaning up perennials

If you didn’t clean your perennial beds last fall, wait until mid-April before you begin cleaning them this spring. Those plants have been protected from the plant debris from last year’s growth, removing that now would expose the crowns and could kill the plant if cold temperatures return. You can begin to refresh your mulch anytime now. Apply 2-3 inches of mulch around your flower beds to protect them from weed competition and to keep the roots at a uniform temperature with added moisture.

 

 

 

 

Crabgrass

crabgrass, Joseph Berger, Bugwood
Crabgrass photo, courtesy of Joseph Berger, Bugwood.org

This time of the year is always full of activities to do outside. It is a great time to get outside in the comfortable weather. Lawncare is always at the top of our spring outdoor ‘to do’ list, and crabgrass is number one on the concerns.

Crabgrass Basics

Crabgrass is a summer annual grassy weed that takes advantage of thin areas in our lawns to become established. As a summer annual weed, crabgrass germinates in the spring and, if not controlled, new plants continue to germinate throughout the summer. Each plant grows for one summer, then dies with the first hard frost in the fall. New crabgrass that you see in your lawn each year is from seed that was set the previous year by the crabgrass growing before.

Crabgrass is a problem in our lawns. Each plant will compete with our desirable grass species. Once crabgrass gets into a lawn, it will compete with our grass for water, sunlight and growing space. Plants produce a large amount of seed that will germinate the following year, creating an ongoing problem on your lawn.

Prevention

Crabgrass is difficult to eradicate once it becomes established, so it is better to prevent this weed from becoming established in the first place. Crabgrass preemergent herbicides are used to inhibit the growth of young seedlings, destroying them before they can emerge from the soil. Which is why many people prefer to use a preemergent herbicide to control the crabgrass in their lawn.

Preemergent herbicides should be applied before crabgrass has started to germinate, which happens when soil temperature has reached 55-60 degrees F, measured at 4-inch soil depth, for at least four days. This is not based on a date range, because soil temperatures differ from year to year. It is based on the weather conditions for that year. We have reached that point now this year.

It is not beneficial to apply the preemergent too early in the year. Once applied products begin to degrade and breakdown. If your application is made too early, before crabgrass germination has started, you are wasting your product and monty because you will have a shortened period of control once crabgrass does start germination.

Plan on making two applications of preemergent to give season-long crabgrass control. Purchase enough product in spring for two applications; garden centers often run out of preemergent products by the end of spring so it could be hard to find later in summer. Each product has a slightly different length of residual action, so follow the product’s label directions on when the second application should be made.

Controlling Existing Plants

Post-emergent herbicides can be used to control crabgrass that has emerged in your lawn. Products containing Mesotrione, commonly found in the product called Tenacity, works as both a pre- and post- emergent herbicide on grasses and broadleaf weeds. It can also be used at seeding if you have a history of crabgrass problems and need to overseed.

The other commonly used post-emergent herbicide for controlling crabgrass would be products that contain Quinclorac, commonly found in the product called Drive.

If crabgrass does appear in your lawn, you can reduce future problems by keeping plants mowed short enough that they don’t produce seedheads. Then at least there won’t be additional seed in the soil to increase your problem next year.

What to do in the Spring?

Spring Things Blog Post

Spring is here. That is wonderful for the weather and the desired plants and flowers, but it also means the insects and weeds are coming back. If you know what you are dealing with, management is achievable.  

Henbit

Henbit is one of those not so desirable weeds that shows up in our lawns in the spring. We don’t really notice it until it begins to bloom and at that point, it is too late for control. Henbit is the early spring weed that blooms purple along the edges of our sidewalks and driveways.

henbit, steve dewey, Utah State Univ, Bugwood
Photo of Henbit from Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org

Henbit is a winter annual. This means that henbit only lives for one growing season, but it’s development is different from something like crabgrass which is a summer annual. A winter annual is a plant that germinates in the fall and grows a bit before basically becoming dormant for the winter months. Very early in the spring, henbit will start to grow again, produce flowers and seed for the next year then it will die when the temperatures warm up. This is different from a summer annual which germinates in the spring and goes through its lifecycle through the summer months and dies with our fall frosts.

The problem with henbit is that by the time we see it, or rather see the purple flowers, it is too late to treat for the year. Once the flowers begin to show up, it is already producing seed for next year, so killing blooming henbit is unnecessary because it will die naturally and the chemicals won’t reduce production for next year. However, pulling the plant would be a fine management practice after blooming has begun. It can be sprayed with a 2,4-D product very early in the spring once it has greened up but before it blooms. If you know where it is you can spray it before it blooms. Otherwise, wait until this fall to spray those areas with a pre-emergent herbicide before it germinates in the fall.

Lawncare

This is the time of the year when we want to start seeing color in our lawns. We begin to think we need to fertilize, overseed, and use crabgrass control. Don’t get ahead of the weather with these things. It is still fairly early for overseeding, it can be done in April, but anytime by the end of April to the early part of May is still fine for overseeding. Overseeding too early could cause the seed to germinate in warmer weather. If that warm weather is followed by freezing temperatures, it could damage the newly emerged grass. Fertilization should not be applied until mid to late April when temperatures warm up more consistently.

Crabgrass preventer should not be applied too early in the year either or it will break down before the crabgrass begins to emerge. Crabgrass preventer should be applied when the soils are consistently at 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit. A split application, applying more 6-8 weeks after the first application will ensure crabgrass control through the season.

Asparagus

green-asparagus-pixabayAsparagus is a great vegetable that many people enjoy growing and eating. Now is the time to clean up your asparagus beds if you haven’t done so already. It is a good practice to allow asparagus fronds to stand through the winter to help trap snow during the winter months, providing moisture for the crown of the plant as the snow melts.

If you are planting a new asparagus bed, dig a trench 6-8 inches deep and plant the crowns in that, only covering with a couple of inches of soil. As the plants grow up through the soil, continue to add a couple of inches of soil at a time until the soil in the trench is level with the surrounding soil. Wait for 3 years before you begin harvesting to allow the roots to get fully established.

Salt is not a recommended weed control for asparagus. Asparagus is a salt tolerant plant, but it doesn’t thrive in salty soil environments. Also, the salt in the soil can begin to break down the surrounding soil, leaving you with bad soil for the asparagus and other plants growing nearby. For weed control, it is best to use mulch throughout the season.