Yard and Garden: March 31, 2017

Yard & Garden for blog, 2017

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.

buffalobur, Howard F Schwartz, Colorado State Univ, Bugwood

Buffalobur plant from Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

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.

3-step pruning cut

Proper pruning cut, University of Missouri Extension

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.

henbit, steve dewey, Utah State Univ, Bugwood

Photo of henbit is from Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org

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.

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.