Yard and Garden: April 14, 2017

Yard & Garden for blog, 2017

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 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.

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Bare lawn in need of overseeding.

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.

Curly Dock, Steve Dewey, Utah State Univ, Bugwood

Photo of Curly Dock from Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org

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.

Yard and Garden: June 10, 2016

Yard & Garden for blogThis is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 10, 2016. 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 5, 2016. 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: Paul Hay, Gage County Extension

1. The first caller of the day has a small Dwarf Alberta Spruce that is turning brown. What would cause this?

A. This would be from spider mites. This particular tree species is very susceptible to spider mites. They can be controlled with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, or a general insecticide such as a permethrin product.

2. This caller wanted to know if it was still ok to apply the second fertilizer application for the lawn?

A. Yes, you can do one around Memorial Day. I would suggest waiting until after this heat wave passes through and make sure the lawn is well-watered when you do fertilize, so you don’t fertilize to a drought-stressed plant which can cause leaf burn.

3. What would cause Clematis leaves to turn yellow, the plants still bloomed fine this year?

A. Clematis has a problem with Iron chlorosis. This could be iron chlorosis which can be treated with an iron fertilizer.

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Squash bugs on zucchini

4. A caller wanted to know what the best control for squash bugs in the garden would be?

A. Squash bugs will become active soon. Look on the underside of the leaves of your cucurbit plants such as cucumber, zucchini, squash, pumpkins, and melons. Squash bugs lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves. If you find the eggs, squash the eggs or remove the leaves. You can also spray for them. Spray on a rotation of every 10-14 days throughout the growing season. Switch between at least 2 of the following: sevin, eight, or bifenthrin.

5. This caller has rocks near the lawn and near some trees. There are weeds growing up through the rocks. Can glyphosate, or Roundup, be used around these trees?

A. If the trees are not close enough to be spraying directly on the trunk or leaves, then it will be fine. Glyphosate is not mobile through the soil like some chemicals.

6. This caller wanted to know what to do about the gnats outside? He cannot go outside right now without being attacked by gnats.

A. There is no longterm cure for gnats, much like mosquitoes. Using bug sprays, especially those containing DEET, will help the most. If you have an outdoor event coming up, you can treat the lawn and surrounding plants with sevin or other general insecticide, but these will not last for more than 2-3 days.

7. Is it too late to plant sweet potatoes? What can you do about grasshoppers in the landscape?

A. No, it is not too late to plant sweet potatoes. This is a warm season crop that really doesn’t like the early spring planting. They will do fine if planted in late May to early June. For grasshoppers in the landscape, they can be sprayed with any general insecticide. If in or nearby the vegetable garden use sevin, eight, or bifenthrin for safety of the produce. Be sure to spray the insecticides in the ditch, roadside, and fence rows where grasshoppers are found in high numbers.

8.  This caller has hemlock in the pasture. Is it poisonous? How can he control it so his cattle don’t eat it?

A. Yes, poison hemlock is poisonous if eaten, not if it is touched. Cattle can be poisoned by it, but they typically don’t eat the poison hemlock if there is an alternate food source. Use 2,4-D or Grazon in the pasture to control poison hemlock or dig it out.

*Don’t use 2,4-D this late in the season around landscape plants and never use Grazon or other products that contain Tordon in a landscape setting.

9. A caller has common mullein in his pasture. How can it be controlled?

A. Common mullein is best controlled with 2,4-D or Grazon. Make sure you spray down into the heart of the plant to get the chemical past the hairy leaves. It is best to spray the smaller plants, it would be too late to spray the larger plants that already have a flower stalk on them. Removal of the flower stalks will help reduce seed production from the full grown plants.

10. This caller has a 16 foot river birch that was planted last fall. Now the leaves have turned yellow and are beginning to fall off of the tree. Can it get too much water? What would cause this problem? She hasn’t been watering the tree much yet since it was planted in the fall.

A. Yes, plants can be overwatered to cause death. Newly planted trees need to be watered because they have no root system developed. A tree that was transplanted at this large of a size is going to have a great deal of transplant shock to overcome. Water was sitting in the hole when the tree was planted, so there may be an issue with water draining from the location. Use a probe or long screwdriver to see if the tree needs water. Push the probe into the soil 12-18 inches, if it goes in easy it doesn’t need water, if it is hard to push the probe in very far, the tree needs to be watered.

11. The final caller of the day wanted to install an electronic timer for watering his garden. What would be the best time to set his timer to water his garden?

A. 4 am-10 am is the best time to water any plants. This helps to water the plants while they are already wet from the dew period. It also helps to water early in the day so that the plants will dry out before night. Plants that are wet and cooler overnight introduce a great environment for diseases to occur. To reduce diseases, it is best to water early in the morning.

Yard and Garden: May 20, 2016

Yard & Garden for blog

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 20, 2016. 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 5, 2016. 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, Dodge County Extension Educator

1. The first caller of the day has a problem getting grass to grow where he removed an asparagus patch. What can he do to get his grass to grow?

A. This is a situation where it could be a few things attributing to the problem. He was keeping the seedbed watered, by watering it 3 times a day for about 10 minutes each time he watered. Watering is important for seedlings, they need to be kept moist, so short, frequent waterings are necessary. This area could be compacted from years of asparagus growth, so it might be beneficial to till the area up prior to planting. The other issue he is facing this year is that it has been quite cool this spring. Mixing the cool temperatures with the moisture, it might be too cold for germination. It is suggested to try again with new seed after tilling the soil up and a soil test may be necessary after that to ensure the soil is ok after so many years with asparagus on it.

2. A caller has a newly planted red maple tree with holes in the leaves. They do have black spots on the leaves as well. The new growth seems to not be affected like the original leaves. What would be the problem? Is this an insect issue?

A. This could be a leaf spot fungus with black spots on the leaves that have died out. When a leaf spot occurs on tree leaves, often the dead area will fall out of the leaf. Leaf spots are not very damaging to our plants. Since the new growth seems ok, it shouldn’t be treated and the tree will grow out of it and be fine.

3. A gentleman has evergreen trees that have brown tips on the branches. Is this being seen in other locations?

A. This is probably just an environmental problem on the branches that should fade in time. It is being seen in other trees, especially in white pines which are facing problems with winterkill, a common issue where the tips of needles on white pines turn brown after strong winter winds. It is not a concerning issue.

4. This caller wants to know how to control weeds growing around her containers that she is growing tomatoes and strawberries in? Can any chemicals be used that close to these crops?

A. Tomato plants are especially sensitive to chemical drift especially from 2,4-D which is a common herbicide used for lawn weeds. To be safest and not have problems from the 2,4-D being that close to the tomatoes and strawberries, mechanical control would be the safest option. mulching around the containers will help to keep the weeds from coming back.

5. A caller has blackberry leaves that are turning orange and then back to green. What would be causing this?

A. This sounds like the plant is having an issue with rust. The rust covered leaves then are falling off and new, uninfected leaves, are reappearing. Remove all infected leaves as soon as you notice the fungal spores. Rust will not kill the plant, it may show up on the berries slightly. Chemical controls are not necessary for a home gardener.

6. A gentleman planted fescue grass seed this spring and it seems to be a thin stand. Should it be overseeded? Will it fill in?

A. Fescue does not tiller out like bluegrass does. So it should be overseeded to help fill in the gaps in the turf.

7. What chemical can you use for tree stumps to help keep them from growing back?

A. 2,4-D is a good option to apply to a newly cut stump or drill into the stump and pour it into the holes. It can be mixed with Roundup to help as well. Do not use Tordon in a landscape setting as this would be a direct violation of the law.

8. This caller transplanted peonies a few years ago and they haven’t bloomed since they were moved. What is wrong with them?

A. If peonies are planted or transplanted too deeply in the soil they will not bloom. Dig the plants up and reposition them higher in the soil profile. It can be done now or in the fall, the fall would be the preferred time of the year.

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*Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended of those not mentioned and no endorsement by University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension is implied for those mentioned.

9. An email listener wanted to know if fertilizer changes composition over time?

A. Yes, it can break down and become less effective. If fertilizers are stored where they freeze and thaw continually or get moisture into them, they will not work as well as they originally did.

10. A caller has a windbreak that is dying. What are some good tree choices to replace the windbreak with?

A. Cedars, black hills spruce, Colorado blue spruce, Douglas fir, concolor fir, white pine, ponderosa pine, or Jack pine would all be good replacements. Make your windbreak out of a diverse selection of these trees. Don’t go with a windbreak of one tree species.

11. This caller has a peace lily that the leaves turn brown and then die back. It continues to go through this process. It has been repotted but is still exhibiting the damage. What is it and how can it be improved?

A. This could be due to overfertilization or too much salt content in the water. Try using distilled water for a while. It will flush out the salt content from previous water over time. Eliminate the use of any fertilization. It is a common problem in peace lily plants and they should be fine.

12. What chemicals can be used for bagworms and when should they be sprayed?

A. Bagworms are typically active in the third week of June and this would be the best time for spraying. The emergence of the bagworms is weather dependent and it can range from the middle of May to late July. Average years it is the third week of June for the timing of sprays. It is best to just watch your tree and spray when the new bags are 1/2-1 inch in length. You can treat them with general insecticides such as Sevin, Eight, Bt, or Tempo.

fern leaf peony, Lee Ruk Flickr

Photo of fern leaf peony from Lee Ruk via Flickr Creative Commons License

13. The last caller of the day wants to find a fern leaf peony. It seems to be hard to find. Where could she find this plant to purchase?

A. It should be fairly easy to find at a local nursery. Many of the box stores probably will not have this unique and interesting plant.

Yard and Garden: April 24, 2015

Yard and Garden Green Logo

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 24, 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: Jeff Culbertson, Assistant Director of UNL Landscape Services

1. This caller wants to know why the water in her rain barrels is turning green and how to fix that problem?

A: The water should be used sooner from the rain barrels and not allowed to sit in it for very long periods of time. There is a great NebGuide on ‘Rainwater Harvesting with Rain Barrels‘. Algae can sometimes appear and can be reduced by:

  • Limit nutrient build-up in the barrel by reducing the amount of sediment and plant debris entering the barrel. These are sources of nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen that promote algae. Clean roof gutters at least annually. If hosing out the roof gutter, remove the rain barrel before cleaning. Consider installing gutter screens along with using screens/filters before the barrel inlet.
  • Clean the barrel at least once a year to remove sediment.
  • Use dark-colored, painted, or opaque barrels to limit light.
  • Place rain barrels in a shady location when possible.

2. This caller had a willow that is leafing out from the bottom without any growth at the top of the tree. Is this normal or what is wrong with the tree?

A: This could be due to dieback from the winter which is being seen throughout the landscape this year. It is still early in the season so the tree could come out of it, so give it time to see if it comes back. Scrape off some of the bark with your fingernail to see if underneath is brown or green. Green is healthy growing tissue, brown is not. If it seems to be dead later in the season, you can prune out some of the dead branches and the tree may still survive.

3. When is the best time to dig cedar trees from the pasture to transplant them into a windbreak?

A: Now would be a good time to do this. Make sure they are small trees and that they are protected from deer and rabbits in their new location. Keep them well watered.

4. What is a good rhubarb fertilizer?

A: 12-12-12 or 10-10-10 would be a good general fertilizer to use or manure in the fall.

5. This caller wanted to know if Ponderosa Pine was still a recommended tree due to the threat from Pine wilt?

A: Ponderosa Pine is only mildly affected by pine wilt. Very few ponderosa pines have been killed due to the disease. It is still on the list of trees from ReTree Nebraska. Watch these trees for tip and needle blight, 2 common needle diseases, that can be easily treated with fungicides.

6. A caller has 2 trees in her windbreak that were planted about 8 years prior to a storm that has caused them to lean now. It has been a couple of years since the storm, but the trees are still leaning. Can this lean be fixed?

A: They will grow straighter over time and eventually straighten up somewhat. If the lean is too much, they will not overcome that.

7. This caller has been gradually replacing a plum hedge with Lilacs. What can he do to prevent disease and insect problems in the lilacs?

A: After about 2-3 years of initial growth, begin annually removing the largest, woodiest stems from the lilac shrubs. This will help keep the shrubs with younger, better producing wood and it will help keep the borers and scale away from the plants. As for disease control, just be sure to space the lilacs properly. Most full sized lilacs will get 3-4 feet wide so space them about 4 feet apart to reduce the overlapping of the branches and leaves which can lead to more disease problems.

8. A caller has a large asparagus bed that wasn’t cleaned up last fall. What care can be done for the asparagus now and in the future?

A: It would be best to clean the asparagus up one time a year, either in the fall or late winter just before spring growth begins. To help reduce weeds after that, spray the weeds while they are green and the asparagus hasn’t emerged for the year yet in the spring. Fertilize the planting bed either in the spring with general purpose fertilizer or in the fall with manure or both times.

9. This caller has a rose bush on an old property and wants to know how to propagate it or transplant some of it to their home?

A: Remove and transplant any suckers on the plant will work on an older rose variety that wouldn’t have been grafted. Anytime now is a great time to transplant a rose bush.

10. This gentleman has French Dwarf Lilacs and he was told not to trim them out. Is this true?

A: These can be cut back or caned out annually to keep them smaller and to help them produce more flowers.

11. A caller had stumps from trees that were cut down last year. The stumps were treated with Tordon. Can he use the mulch they will make from the stumps in his landscape or would the Tordon still be in the wood chips?

A: Wood chips that were treated with Tordon could still have that pesticide residue in the wood chips. It should not be used around plants. Disclaimer: Tordon should NOT be used in a landscape setting, it is against label instructions. Always read and follow pesticide labels. Remember: The label is the Law.

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12. This gentleman had cedars with the tips of the branches turning brown this year. What is causing that and what should be done for it?

A: This could be winter kill as that is showing up in many juniper species this spring. It may also be Kabatina, a disease of junipers. The brown can be cut out of the trees at a branch crotch. The trees should live.

13. This caller was looking for a shade tree for her front yard that is fast growing, stays around 20 feet tall and possibly provides flowers or good color to the landscape.

A: Chanticleer or Cleveland Select Pear would be good for spring color. Crabapples can also grow to 20 feet tall and would provide a great deal of color and scent in the spring. Japanese Tree Lilac is another good choice for a smaller tree.

14. This caller is planting strawberries and raspberries. What kind of care would she need to provide them?

A: Here is a good guide from Sarah Browning on Summer Berries-Raspberry and Blackberry to guide you through the raspberries. Heritage is a good raspberry variety choice. This is a good guide from Lancaster County Extension on strawberry care called Growing Strawberries.

15. This caller has a pin oak tree that has iron deficiency. She has used the iron plugs on the trees but she is curious if there is another choice that will work better and for a longer period of time on the pin oaks?

A: This tree will continue to have problems once it starts to show signs from Iron Deficiency and it will eventually die from this nutrient problem. She can try to have a professional due trunk injections which will last longer each time, but this will have to be continued for the remainder of this trees life.

16. This caller wanted to know how to prepare cut lilac flowers to last longer indoors?

A: Cut the flowers before they have opened on the plant. Make a new cut on the stem and change the water daily. Use a preservative in the water. The preservative can be either a store bought product or make your own mixture by dissolving 4 heaping teaspoons of cane sugar and 2 tablespoons of white distilled vinegar in one quart of warm water.

17. This caller wanted to control the dandelions in his yard and not the clover. Can a chemical be used for this?

A: Using spot sprays of 2,4-D when the weather is calm and the temperatures are below 80 degrees Fahrenheit for the day of application and the 2 days following would help reduce damage to the clover. The other option would be to dig or hand pull the dandelions. The chemicals that would work for dandelion would also work to kill clover.

Happy Arbor Day! Plant a Tree!!

Image Courtesy of Steven Katovich, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Image Courtesy of Steven Katovich, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Yard and Garden: April 17, 2015

Yard and Garden Green Logo

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 17, 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: Dr. Paul Read, Professor of Horticulture, Viticulture Specialist

1. A Caller wanted to know if this was a good time to transplant rhubarb?

A: Now would be a fine time to transplant rhubarb. If you wanted to harvest from it yet this year, it would be best to wait until the fall to transplant it. Rhubarb should not be harvested from within the first 1-2 years after transplanting to allow the plant to build a good root system before harvesting begins. Make sure that rhubarb is planted in a well-drained location to avoid getting crown rot, a disease that will eventually kill the plant.

2. An email listener wanted identification and control strategies on her plant with purple flowers that is blooming now.

A: This is henbit, a winter annual that is flowering to complete its lifecycle. Because henbit is basically done growing for its lifecycle, it is best to leave it alone and let it die naturally in the next few weeks. The seeds are already in the soil for next year. Henbit is best controlled with a 2,4-D product in the fall. Mark the areas where henbit is found in your lawn this year and spray those areas in the fall. Management also can be achieved by overseeding turf into those areas where henbit is found or planting something else to compete with the henbit.

3. This caller wanted to know how to control clover

A: The best time to control clover would be in the fall with a couple of applications of a 2,4-D product. Applications of this product now can be useful, but will not eliminate the problem altogether. Be sure that when you apply 2,4-D to your landscape to not allow it to drift to any other broadleaf plant, including our trees, shrubs, and perennials. Also, only spray when the temperatures are below 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. A gentleman has a lawn that has been neglected for a while that he is struggling to keep turf alive in a full-shade location with poor soil. What can he do to get the turf to live there? Also, in another area of full sun, would dwarf fescue be a good turfgrass choice?

A: Because it is poor soil that had subsoil put on top of the existing soil, it would be best to aerate and add organic matter to try to improve the soil conditions. Full shade is difficult to grow turf in, so it would be best to choose a full shade perennial or groundcover or somehow prune the trees to improve the sunlight for the turf. Dwarf fescue is not a good choice because the root systems are not as deep as the turf-type tall fescues or Kentucky bluegrass.

5. What would be the fruit tree spray schedules for cherry and apple trees?

A: Orchard fruit tree sprays can be applied to both of these types of trees on a 10-14 day interval, while avoiding the blooming period to avoid damage to the pollinators. There are guides to spray schedules from many Universities including one for homeowners from Missouri Extension

6. A caller wanted to know what are some good varieties for pear trees in Nebraska? Does he need multiple species for pollination? How does he mulch these trees?

A: Pear trees are not self-pollinated so you will need to plant 2 different varieties to get fruit. Some good choices for Nebraska would include Luscious, Harrow Delight, Harvest Queen, and Seckel. A mulch ring is necessary to help the tree survive, it should be only 2-3 inches deep.

7. This caller used crabgrass preventer with fertilizer in it a couple of weeks ago and wants to know when he should use his weed and feed? Also, what type of care would he need for shrub roses he just planted this spring?

A: It would be best to just use a 2,4-D product anytime now and wait until the end of May to do another application of straight fertilizer to get through the summer, since he already applied fertilizer with his crabgrass control. The best thing for the roses would be to ensure that they are kept well-watered but not overwatered.

8. A gentleman has Philodendrons and Crotons as houseplants that he has moved outside for the summer. Now the leaves on the Philodendrons are curling up, why is that? Also, what kind of care should be given to the Croton, is misting a good practice for them?

A: These plants are tropical plants that we can grow indoors in our homes. The nights are still too cool for those, which is why the Philodendrons may be having leaf rolling issues. If the weather is predicted to get to the low 40’s to 30’s for the overnight hours, it would be best to bring these plants indoors. The Crotons should be watered properly from the base of the plant to ensure survival. Misting plants leaves the leaves wet which can lead to diseases.

Houseplant

Philodendron picture by Soni Cochran, UNL Extension in Lancaster County

9. What can be done to control ants found in the kitchen?

A: Terro ant baits work the best with the odorous house ant. Also, seal up all cracks and crevices in the foundation and around doors and windows. Clean up plant debris outside the home near where ants are found inside the home to reduce locations where ants may be hiding outdoors.

10. A lady has blackberries that are overgrown. How can she clean them up?

A: Cut out the old stems that are existing and continue to do this at the end of every growing season.

11. This caller has a 30 year-old pear tree that has never produced fruit. She has one pear in her landscape. Why would it not produce fruit?

A: Pears are not self-pollinated. Plant another variety and it should begin to produce fruit.

12. When is the best time to prune a snowball bush?

A: This is a spring blooming shrub, so it is best to prune it immediately after it has finished blooming for the year.

13. This caller wanted to know how to control Dandelions in her yard?

A: 2,4-D products can be used now but will have the best efficacy in the fall. If applied now, ensure that the wind is not blowing and the temperatures are at or below 80 degrees Fahrenheit for the day of application and the 2 days following.

Photo by Nic Colgrove

Photo by Nic Colgrove

14. This caller has started tomatoes and peppers from seed indoors and they are now becoming tall and spindly. What would cause that and when can they be placed outdoors?

A: They will need more light to avoid becoming tall and spindly. Also, be sure to buy clean and sterile soils for seedling production to avoid problems with Damping Off, a disease common to seedlings. Summer crops can be planted outdoors in the beginning of May, typically Mother’s Day is a good date to plant summer vegetable gardens.

Fall Lawncare

fall landscapeAs we draw closer to fall, we can start to prepare our lawns for winter. I wanted to take time, this week, to cover all of those items on your fall lawncare “to do” list.

It is now time to reseed your lawns for the fall. This is best done in the late summer or early fall, anytime between August 15 and September 15 of the year. The rule of thumb is that that for each week grasses are seeded before Labor Day, maturation is speeded by two weeks. If you reseed after September 15 you will probably have some success, but not as much. The seed that you put out on the ground may sprout and some might even overwinter, but much of it may die from winterkill because the root systems will not be fully developed. If you are a homeowner who wants to sod an area of your lawn, you can do that until they can no longer cut it from the fields. Do remember to keep newly seeded or sodded areas watered throughout the fall and in the spring.

Bare lawn in need of overseeding.

Bare lawn in need of overseeding.

Good turfgrass choices for Southeast Nebraska include Turf-type tall fescue or Kentucky Bluegrass.   Using seed that is 100 percent of either of these or a mix of the two types would be great choices for Nebraska. You can buy mixes of turfgrass seed, but avoid mixes that contain annual ryegrass, ‘Linn’ perennial ryegrass, or ‘Kenblue’ Kentucky Bluegrass. Make sure that the grass you buy contains less than 0.3 percent weed seed and no noxious weed seeds. We can also use Buffalograss in our lawns for a warm season grass, but warm season grasses should be plugged in June and July.

As for fertilizer applications, the fall fertilization is the most important fertilizer application for a lawn. Two applications in the fall are recommended for Kentucky bluegrass and only one is recommended for tall fescue, but one application for either species is better than none. The timing for fall fertilizer applications is Labor Day and Halloween if you do two applications and Halloween if you do only one application.

The fall is the best time to control broadleaf perennial weeds such as dandelion and clover. You can add a broadleaf herbicide to your lawn fertilizer to get a two-for-one application. It is often sold in stores as a combined product. The best herbicide choices for homeowners would be anything that contains 2,4-D or a triclopyr product for clover and ground ivy or creeping Charlie.

Photo by Nic Colgrove

Photo by Nic Colgrove

If you need to aerate your lawns, now is a good time to do that. You can still aerate your lawns into November if you don’t get around to it until then. Aeration is best done in the spring or the fall of the year, but it is not necessary to do it every year, if you don’t want to. Aeration is done to break up a heavy thatch layer in the grass and to reduce the compaction of the soil. The thatch layer is the layer of dead organic matter in between the grass blades and the soil line. Leaving the clippings on the lawn does not increase the thatch layer, in fact it can actually give you enough nitrogen to replace one fertilizer treatment for the year. If your thatch layer is more than one half of an inch, you may want to aerate your lawn, if it is less than that, you may decide that it is not necessary to aerate this year.