Yard and Garden: March 24, 2017

Yard & Garden for blog, 2017

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for March 24, 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: Cole Thompson, Assistant Professor of Integrated Turfgrass Management at UNL

1. The first question of the year was a caller who had 2 peach trees that were three years old when they died last year. He cut the trees off and now there is suckers coming up from the ground where those trees were. Will these trees grow and produce peaches?

A. These trees will grow and will most likely produce fruit. However, they will not be a strong growth and the peaches produced may not be the variety that he originally planted. Many of our fruit trees are grafted to a hardier rootstock. If they die back or produce suckers, that growth will be the type of tree that the roots are not the type that the scion, or top part of the graft union, was. Also, because it is from a sucker, it is not going to grow as strong and upright as the main tree. He can try to keep them going but it would be best to plant new trees as well, if he has the space for both, he can keep both the suckers and new trees. If he only had room for a couple of trees, I would suggest starting the trees over from new trees.

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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.

2. This caller wanted to know what the difference is between Roundup and Roundup 365?

A. Roundup 365 contains a chemical called imazapic which gives the traditional glyphosate product more of a soil residual. The Roundup 365 is labeled only for use on and around hardscape areas such as patios, gravel paths, and driveways. The label claims that it lasts in the soil for up to 12 months, so it should not be used around trees, shrubs, or areas you plan to reseed. Regular Roundup can be used in an area around plants and where you plan to seed after the recommended wait time. You would need to be much more careful with the Roundup 365 because of the soil residual around other plants.

3. A caller has pussy willow branches that were brought indoors and placed in water to begin rooting. They have now developed roots. Can they be planted outdoors now?

A. Yes, as long as the roots have begun to form and the ground can be worked, it would be fine to plant them outdoors now.

4. When is the best time to reseed a Fescue lawn in Southeast Nebraska?

A. Fall is the best time to reseed a lawn, but it can also be done fairly effectively in the spring. It is harder in the spring due to the weeds that compete with the grass seedlings. If you plan to reseed in the spring, it is best to wait until late April to early May for that. If you seed earlier in April, increase the seeding rate to compensate for the loss due to the colder temperatures. When you seed, you can apply tenacity or a mesotrione product to the seedbed to help with weeds. Tenacity is safe for use at seeding. It is also a good idea to seed with a starter fertilizer to help get your seed started strong.

5. This caller has a birch that was cut down last fall. The remaining stump is oozing a lot of liquid right now. How do they kill the birch entirely to stop the liquid from oozing out of the stump.

A. Birch trees are one of the species of trees that tend to “Bleed” heavily in the spring if they are pruned. They have a high sap flow in the spring which will lead to the oozing of large amounts of sap through any open wounds. On a normal pruning cut to a tree with high sap flow, it is not harmful to the tree. This tree still has living roots and the wound from cutting it off is exposed so the sap still will flow through. This tree either needs to be treated with chemicals to kill it or the stump needs to be ground out to stop this sap flow and to be able to plant new plants in the area. You can drill new holes into the tree and apply 2,4-D to those holes to start to kill the tree. With chemicals, it will take a few years to fully kill the stump.

6. Can raspberries be transplanted now?

A. Yes, raspberries should be planted as early as the ground can be worked in the spring, so now would be fine. It is best if the soil was prepared last year by spraying all the weeds and incorporating organic matter. This will help to ensure you have a raspberry planting to last many years.

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7. A caller planted grass last fall and held the seed to the seedbed with a biodegradable plastic barrier designed for seeding turf. However, now the plastic is not breaking down and it is getting stuck in the lawnmower. Is there anything they can do to break it down quicker? It will disturb the lawn too much to try to pull it out now.

A. Pulling it out without disturbing the lawn would be the quickest, but if that is not safe to do without tearing up the lawn, that isn’t the best option. Try to water it down or hope for rain, the moisture may help to break it down faster than it sitting dry. This winter was quite dry which may have delayed the breaking down process.

8. This caller had a giant tree fall in his yard. He has removed most of the tree but about 5 feet of the trunk is still standing in the yard. What can he do with the stump?

A. It would be best to cut that trunk off at the ground level and grind the stump out so that you can replant either with turf or with a new tree. If you don’t want to grind it out now or replant, you can cut it down to the ground level and place soil over it to allow it to naturally break down under the soil.

9. A caller has been growing watermelons but they tend to wither and die early in the year. What is wrong and how can he improve his crop?

A. It sounds like this caller has squash vine borers that get into his vines in the summer months. Squash vine borer is a type of moth larvae that gets into the stem of the vines and blocks the movement of water and nutrients through the plant. They are very common in melons, squash, cucumbers, and pumpkins. To avoid the damage from this insect, use a spray or dust formulation of sevin or eight on the base of the plant regularly through the growing season starting in June. You can also use aluminum foil or a toilet paper tube around the base of the plant to act as a barrier between the plant and the female squash vine borer adult who is trying to lay her eggs on the plant.

10. This caller has 25 bur oak trees that were planted 4 feet apart with the idea that some would die to space them out further. Most did not die and are still planted too closely. Will they grow that close together or should some be removed?

A. Bur oaks grow quite large, but in a forested area they will grow fairly close together. They will grow this closely together, however it will shade out many of the branches and it will cause conditions that are conducive to diseases when trees don’t have the space to have good airflow. It would be best to remove some of the trees so that the trees left behind are given 20 feet or more between them. They are only 10-12 feet tall at this time so they would still be fine to be spaded out and transplanted to another location if you can find someone to spade them and someone to plant them somewhere else.

11. Is it too early to plant onions? Is it time to cut back mums that are left from last fall?

A. Late March to early April is the best time to plant onions. Wait to cut back perennials from last fall. The dead plant material will protect them from freezing temperatures for another week or two. The plant material can be removed in the beginning to the middle of April.

12. This caller has a yard with high dog traffic. What type of grass would be best to stay growing through the dog traffic?

A. High traffic lawns will decline. Increasing the fertility will improve growth in this area. Also, if you could limit the traffic patterns from time to time through the lawn, this would help as well. Kentucky Bluegrass will recover better in high traffic areas.

13. A caller has a bean field area that he is trying to turn back to a grass area. What type of grass would do good in this area for an non-irrigated recreational area on an acreage?

A. Buffalograss would be great for an acreage area. Once it becomes established it wouldn’t have to be irrigated much or mowed at all. It is a very low maintenance grass species that is native and you can choose many different newer varieties. UNL has good seed selections. Because this was a bean field it might be over-tilled so a roller may be necessary to firm the soil up before planting. Buffalograss is a warm season grass so it should be seeded May 1st.

14. The final caller of the day has an established cedar windbreak. Some of the trees were removed recently and there is a bare area in the nearby trees where they were shaded out from the removed trees. This area is only 7 feet from the house. What can be planted in place of these trees to help block the bare area in the windbreak?

A. Because this is so close to the house, don’t go with anything too big. A larger shrub may be a good choice such as a viburnum, serviceberry, some dogwoods or even some lilacs may help fill in. Some slender growing trees may also work, but full size trees may grow into the house.

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Yard and Garden: April 15, 2016

Yard & Garden for blogThis is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 15, 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: Jeff Culbertson, UNL Landscape Services

1. The first caller of the day has asparagus that she planted last Spring. What needs to be done with the plant now?

A. Light harvest can be done the second growing season and then full harvesting can begin the third season. Mulch it now to keep weeds down, herbicide sprays are not able to be safely used too close to growing asparagus. Cut the plants back in the fall after they have grown well all season. Fertilizer can be applied now or in the fall.

2. How do you control moles in the lawn? How do you control grubs in the lawn?

A. For mole control, see this guide from the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management: http://icwdm.org/handbook/mammals/mam_d51.pdf Make sure that you have found an active run area before implementing any traps by stomping the mounds down for a couple of days prior to setting the trap. For grub control, the best option is to apply a product containing Imidacloprid around the third week of June.

3. This caller from the Southern part of the United States said that it is difficult to grow asparagus in the south. Is this due to the lack of dormancy in the south compared to what we have in Nebraska?

A. Yes, asparagus would need to have a rest period that occurs during our winter in Nebraska. However, the roots are also prone to root rot problems, so it might be that your soil could be too high of clay that isn’t allowing the asparagus roots to dry out enough.

4. Another caller has Iris that they have sprayed with Sevin for iris borers that are always a problem. Is this the best product and when should she be applying it? Also, she applied lime to the plants and now they are a lime green color instead of the deep green they are supposed to be. What is causing this discoloration?

A. Lime is used for acidic soils to raise the pH. In Nebraska, most of our soils are heavy clay and therefore already have a high pH. The addition of the lime to the soils in this case is causing chlorosis on these iris plants. It will work through over time, but for a couple of years the iris may look a little tired. The Iris borers have not shown up yet, but a treatment with an imidacloprid, permethrin, or bifenthrin soon or just as the larvae come out would be ideal for control.

5. This caller is wondering what the timing is for fertilizer with crabgrass pre-emergent herbicide? He is also wondering how to control bindweed in bromegrass?

A. Anytime in the next week or 2 would be ideal for fertilizer and crabgrass pre-emergent use this year. The soil temperatures are at 54.9 degrees Fahrenheit for the 7 day average. Crabgrass will germinate at temperatures between 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can begin applying your control methods anytime now until the end of the month for best control. The bindweed can be controlled with trimec  if used 2-3 times per summer. Keep the bindweed mowed to prevent flowering from occurring to reduce the amount of seed left in the grass.

6. A caller has cedar trees that were recently pruned from the bottom up. What would be a good grass to grow under these trees?

A. A fescue grass would grow well in this shady environment. Also, a nice groundcover such as purple leaf wintercreeper would be a good alternative to grass to reduce mowing under the tree and to grow better in the shade of the tree.

7. This caller from Hickman has a cherry tree. Every year they mow off many “little trees” that grow up and around the cherry tree. Is there anything else to do to reduce the occurrence of these trees?

A. Suckering occurs with many different tree species. These suckers may be growing off of the roots of the main tree so chemicals should not be used or else you may end up killing the desired tree as well. Cutting them off or mowing over them before they grow too large would be the best options for control.

8. This caller has fruit trees. He is wondering if a product called “fruit tree drench” for insects would be ok?

A. Not knowing the active ingredients in this product makes it hard to answer the question. Systemic insecticides are not usually safe for use in plants that are edible because a systemic insecticide will move throughout the entire plant, including into the edible parts. It is suggested to do more research on the safety of the product or to move to a spray type of insecticide that is not systemic to reduce the health hazards that may be a problem with systemic insecticides.

9. Another caller has an apple tree that is 7-8 years old. The last 3 years it has produced nice apples but they are rotten inside. Now there are not many apples that are not rotten on the inside. What can be done for this?

A. Sanitation is going to be key for controlling this disease, known as black rot of apples. A orchard fruit tree spray program can be used to minimize the damage as well. Pruning may need to be done to remove any branches that are dead or diseased.

10. A caller wanted to start a new strawberry patch. How far should the plants be spaced in the garden and what should be done to the soil for improvements?

A. Till in compost and topsoil for increased organic matter and reducing compaction in the soil. Space the plants 1 foot apart.

11. This caller has a maple tree that is not budding out and has not yet lost the leaves from last spring. Will it survive?

A. Some maples, such as the sugar maples, have not yet leafed out for this spring. Use the fingernail test to scratch the bark lightly on smaller branches to see if there is green underneath the bark. Green under the bark means the tree is still alive and waiting to come out of winter dormancy, brown under the bark means it died over the winter.

12. A caller wants to know about the “spray on grass”. Will it work for overseeding?

A. Should work ok, but check with the types of grass seed included in these cans. Many of these mixes have perennial rye which doesn’t last long in Nebraska environments. Also, check for the amount of weed seed found in the mixture.

13. Is it too late to thin Iris plants?

A. The best time to transplant and divide iris plants is in the fall. Use a garden fork to lift them from the ground. Look for borer holes, and then replant them making sure to not plant them too deeply.

14. What is the best advice for improving soils for growing watermelons?

A. Lighter soils are best for growing watermelons. Add compost to improve the fertility.

15. A gentleman has cherry trees, apricot trees, and peach trees. What type of mulch should be applied to help keep the trees watered?

A. Organic mulches should be used, such as the wood chips. They need to be applied at a uniform depth of 2-3 inches in a ring around the trees that is at least 2-3 feet wide around the tree. Water the trees for about 45 minutes every 10-14 days, more may be necessary during the hot, dry periods of the summer. Use a soil probe or long screwdriver to see if the trees need water. Push the probe into the soil up to 12-18 inches deep, if there is resistance any time while pushing into the ground, the trees need water.

grape hyacinth, ricky layson photography, bugwood

Grape Hyacinth photo from Ricky Layson, Ricky Layson Photography, Bugwood.org via Creative Commons License.

16. A caller has grape hyacinth growing in her lawn. What can be done for management?

A. Mow it off. This is a short lived annual plant that is close to the end of its lifetime for this year. There is no need to use chemicals to control this plant.