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.

2012-05-25 12.04.38

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: 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.