Yard and Garden: July 5, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 5, 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: Laurie Stepanek, Forest Health Management Specialist from the Nebraska Forest Service

1. The first question of the show was curious about bagworms. He needs to spray the trees in his backyard but he has a coy pond nearby. Will the sprays harm the fish in the pond?

A. It would be best to use Bt on the bagworms here to ensure that if sprays get into the pond it will not harm the fish. Bt is a product that affects only butterflies and moths and won’t harm other insects or wildlife. Bt works best on young, newly emerged bagworms, but there would still be time for that product this year.

Bagworm4
Bagworm

2. A caller has willow trees that are growing on a dam for a pond. How can they be controlled?

A. Rodeo or Garlon 3A are the 2 products listed for managing woody  plants or annual and perennial weeds in or around water in the Weed Management Guide from Nebraska Extension.

3. This caller has garden plants that were chewed off by rabbits. Will these plants regrow or are they dead?

A. If there are still a few leaves left on the plant they might still regrow. However, if there is really only a stem and a tiny leaf or two, they likely won’t regrow. It is getting quite late for replanting, so it might be best to just wait and see how they regrow.

4. A caller has an apple tree that broke off at a split in the tree in a storm. Now there is a hole in the tree. What can be sprayed or put into that hole to prevent further damage?

A. It is not recommended to fill holes in the tree because that can be harmful when the tree does need to be removed. It also will not stop decay that is occurring in the tree. Decay is a fungus and it will proceed through the tree even around a fill agent. If the decay is a problem in the tree, the tree may need to be removed before it becomes a hazard.

This caller also has a maple with dead branches in the top of the canopy. What would cause that?

A. Top dieback could come from a number of factors. It could be from a canker disease that occurs on stressed trees. Canker diseases will kill branches from the point of infection outward on the branch. The only cure for a canker would be to cut out the branch below the canker. Top dieback could also be from borers or a root issue. Borers come into a stressed tree and will cause decreased flow of water and nutrients through the tree causing the top of the branches to die. If more soil is added to roots, causing decreased airflow to the roots, top dieback can occur. Root issues such as damage to the roots or a girdled root can also cause top dieback in the tree. Root issues cannot be fixed. If you notice borer holes, you can use a systemic insecticide containing Imidacloprid, such as Merit.

5. A walk-in listener wants help with identification of a weedy grass species that he is having trouble controlling.

A. This looks to be annual bluegrass, which can be difficult to control. Use pre-emergent herbicides such as Drive or Pendulum in September or use Tenacity as a post-emergent herbicide in the spring or summer. For more information, view this Turf iNfo on Annual Bluegrass Control.

6. This caller has maple trees that have limbs reaching out over his house, some of the limbs are dead. When and how far should these limbs be pruned to ensure they don’t fall on the house and cause problems?

A. It would be best to find a Certified Arborist to do this to ensure it is done correctly and to avoid damage to the house. Remove all dead branches. When shortening branches, cut back to a side branch that is at least 1/2 the size of the limb you are removing. Anytime would be ok, but the best time for a maple is later in the spring, to avoid heavy sap flow if pruned in the early spring or late winter.

7. A caller accidentally spilled hydraulic oil from his tractor onto his lawn. There is now a dead area in the soil. What is a quicker way to get grass growing back there other than to wait?

A. It might help to dig out the soil in that area and replace it with new topsoil. Dig out around the area of dead grass and dig 4-6 inches deep. It would be best to just wait until early September to do this so that it can be reseeded right away.

8. This caller wants to use Roundup around the base of fruit trees to kill grass. Should regular Roundup be used or could Extended Control Roundup be used?

A. Use basic Roundup that only contains glyphosate in this location. The Extended Control Roundup contains Imazapic for longer control and shouldn’t be used around fruits and vegetables. The label for the Extended Control Roundup states ‘Do not use for vegetable garden preparation or in and around fruits and vegetables’. Always read and follow labels of pesticides.

This caller also wanted to know what is wrong with her apricot trees, the fruits seem to be rotting as they fall from the tree?

A. This is likely due to brown rot. Next year, use orchard fruit tree sprays through the growing season. The orchard fruit sprays should be used every 10-14 days through the growing season, except during the bloom period and when ready to harvest.

9. The last caller of the day wants to know if he can eat the fruits off a purple leaf sand cherry? Also, can he shear it or is it too old to start that now that it is 5-6 years old and hasn’t been sheared yet?

A. The berries are not eaten from purple leaf sand cherry, this plant is more for ornamental value. These fruits are scavenged by birds instead. This is also a plant that won’t grow well if sheared. It is best to just selectively remove branches back to side-shoots to reduce the size.

*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.

Safely Using Pesticides

2015-06-25 10.19.56
*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.

Pesticides are a commonly used method of managing pests in our landscapes. However, pesticides are poisons, so they need to be handled carefully. It is at this time of the year that many educators from Nebraska Extension help to educate the public in proper uses of pesticides through private and commercial pesticide education. With spring coming right around the corner, it is a good time to reinforce those safety precautions to everyone who might be using pesticides.

Pesticide is the general term for any insecticide, herbicide, rodenticide, etc. Insecticides are specific to insects, herbicides are specific to weeds, and rodenticides are specific to rodents like mice. They are used to kill organisms that cause diseases and threaten public health. Mainly, in our landscapes, we use them to manage insects, diseases, and weeds that cause problems in our desired plants.

Pesticide recommended gloves, UNL photo
Examples of recommended gloves: nitrile (reusable and disposable), neoprene, and butyl rubber. Photo: University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Because pesticides can be dangerous if handled, stored, or disposed of improperly, always read and follow the label because the label is the law. This includes reading the label to ensure you are using the correct Personal Protective Equipment or PPE as it is often referred to. Most homeowner available chemicals will require gloves, long pants, long-sleeved shirt, and eye protection at most. Some chemicals will require things like a face shield or respirator.

When using pesticides pay close attention to the weather. Do not apply pesticides on windy days, as the spray droplets are easily picked up in the wind and blown to non-target plants. Certain chemicals, such as 2,4-D, can volatilize or turn into a gas to move to non-target plants to cause damage or death. This can happen when the pesticide is applied when the temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher on that day or up to 72 hours later.

Always apply pesticides at the label recommended rates. Pesticides that are applied at incorrect rates can cause resistance to occur in the pest, which would make the pesticide useless to that pest population. Also, make sure that you are applying the pesticide at the correct time for best control of the pest. It is also a good idea to switch between chemicals rather than use the same pesticide each time, which can also lead to resistance. So, if it is an insect pest in your vegetable garden, switch between sevin, eight, and bifenthrin on a rotating basis throughout the growing season, as the insect exists. Be sure to follow the label when applying any pesticide to edible crops, there will be a PHI or Pre Harvest Interval number. This PHI will dictate how many days to wait from when the pesticide is applied to when the crops can be harvested for consumption to ensure they are safe to eat. And finally, it is very important to know what pest you are dealing with before you apply pesticides to ensure you are using the correct chemical for the pest.

pesticides on sidewalk, purdue
Photo from Purdue Extension Turf Tips, http://purdueturftips.blogspot.com/2011/04/spilled-fertilizer-loading-and.html

Pesticides tend to runoff into our water supply. Often, granular pesticides fall onto sidewalks and driveways to be blown or washed into the storm drains. Also, pesticides that are applied shortly before rain events are often washed into the storm drains causing pollution to our water supply. Because of the sensitivity of our environment to pesticides, it is always best to use an Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, approach. IPM is when you use multiple tactics to control pests rather than just utilizing pesticides. Methods of IPM include:

  • Mechanical
    • hand pulling weeds
  • Cultural
    • sanitation by removing infected leaves to reduce diseases
  • Biological
    • protecting beneficial insects
  • Chemical methods to control pest populations

Winterizing Garden Equipment

2014-11-15 10.12.15

With fall here and winter on its way, we need to begin cleaning up our gardens. Fall cleanup does not end in the garden, for longevity of our gardening equipment, we need to clean it up and prepare it for winter months as well. If we take the time to cleanup our equipment and store it in the best locations, our tools can be an investment to help us in the garden for many years.

100_0852The first step is to clean up your vegetable gardens when you are done with them for the year. Remove tomato cages and clean them up for storage in a garage or shed to help them last for multiple years. Remove all plants and compost them or put them in the trash if they had problems with insects or diseases this year. Till up your garden this fall and incorporate manure or compost to help with organic matter next year. After tilling, cover the bare soil with some type of mulch to avoid wind erosion of topsoil, grass clippings or straw will work well for this and it can be tilled into the soil next spring.

When completed with hoses for the year, be sure to drain them of any water. Then coil the hose and hang it on a hook or in a hose reel station for the winter months. You can always get the hoses back out during the winter on warm days to water trees and shrubs if the winter is dry, just be sure to drain them when done watering in the winter months.

Flickr image courtesy of Jennifer C. per CC license
Flickr image courtesy of Jennifer C. per CC license

When finished using any tools, be sure to clean all debris off of them. Scrape off caked on mud with a wire brush or steel wool. Sharpen pruning tools so they are ready to go next spring. Apply a light coat of an oil to prevent any rusting from occurring. These tools are best kept in a garage or a shed and out of the harsh winter elements to help them last longer.

For sprayers used during the season, the best cleanup would be a triple rinse. Rinse out the sprayers three times with water to remove any pesticide residue from the container. It may also be a good idea to clean nozzles and screens with soapy water. If the pesticide sits in those nozzles over the winter it will be difficult to clean them out next spring so that the equipment may be used again.

*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.
*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.

Pesticides and fertilizers can be stored for future use. Store all pesticides in their original containers with the label still attached. Store them in a cool, dry location where they won’t freeze, as this can be harmful for the product and the container. Do not allow granules or other dry pesticides to get wet.

As for power equipment, be sure to follow instruction manuals on care and servicing requirements. As a general rule, clean out grass clippings and other debris from underneath the lawnmower deck and clean all caked on mud from the tiller prior to winter storage. Also, sharpen lawnmower blades and check to see if the air filter needs to be changed at this time so they are ready to start mowing next spring. Be sure to turn off the equipment and disconnect the battery prior to any work done to avoid injury or other accidents. It is best not to store gasoline through the winter as it does not ignite easily making those machines work harder to use it.

Pesticide Safety

*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.
*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.

Pesticide safety is always an important consideration when caring for your landscape plants. If used correctly, pesticides can help improve the health and longevity of our plants. However, if used incorrectly, they can harm and even kill our plants or our neighbor’s plants.

Pesticide is the general term for any type of chemical we apply to our plants. This can include insecticides for controlling insects, herbicides to help us control weeds, and fungicides to help with fungal diseases in our plants.

Always read and follow the pesticide label instructions. Remember, the label is the law. Pesticides can only be used in the location and on the plants that are listed on the label. For instance, Tordon is a common pesticide used along roadsides and in fencerows as a stump treatment for weedy tree species growing where they are not desired. Tordon and many of the other products used on parking lots have varying degrees of solubility and will move with water to non-target areas and can cause damage. These products can move off of the parking lot to nearby greenspace and through the rootzones of trees to nearby plants causing damage and possibly death to your desired plant species. That is why these products are only to be used in the locations listed on the label, and not in your home landscape. Instead of using Tordon, a good alternative would be one of the brush killers that are found in many different formulations that are labeled for use in our landscapes and won’t harm our non-target plants.

Along with following the label instructions, make sure you are applying the pesticide at the correct rate for best control. The company that developed the product went through a great deal of research to ensure that they gave you the correct amount to apply to your weeds or insects. Do not apply more than what is recommended, and remember to be patient, the death of a weed takes around a week for many general use herbicides.

We have been seeing a great deal of weeds in our lawns this year, and with all of the rains, it has been hard to spray chemicals or have effective treatments for those weeds. However, we should now begin putting our 2,4-D products away for the summer months. 2,4-D can volatilize, or turn into a gas, and move to non-target plants in temperatures of 80 degrees or higher for up to 72 hours following application. 2,4-D should not be used in the summer months due to this issue. Also, most of the broadleaf plants we typically use 2,4-D on will be controlled better in the fall. So enjoy the flowers in the lawn until fall comes and mark your calendar for 2-3 applications of a 2,4-D product in September and October when the temperatures are cooler and the plants will take the chemical back into the roots with their winter storage nutrients.

Bee pollinating clover

Another issue with using pesticides, insecticides in particular is the harm to pollinating insects. June 15-21, 2015 was National Pollinator Week. We need to make sure that we are applying chemicals at the right rate, right time, and right location to not harm beneficial insects. If it is a plant that bees or butterflies are common on, use insecticides only as necessary and at dusk when the pollinator insects are not around and avoid spraying the chemical on the flowers. If the pest is a caterpillar, like bagworms, choose Bt instead of general insecticides. Bt is only harmful to caterpillars and won’t harm bees or beetles, but it will harm monarchs so be careful around milkweed plants with Bt. If you are spraying any kind of chemical on your lawn, it is beneficial to bees if you mow the lawn first to cut off any blooms that bees may forage on, reducing the risk of the chemical getting on the bees.