Monday, October 22, 2018

Winterize Your Landscape Now!

Horticulture Hotline 10/22/18
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Several years have gone by since we have had a major winter kill event in the low country. Many people have moved to this area that are not use to dealing with centipede and other warm-season grasses. Where you lived, you had cool-season grasses like Fescue, Rye, and Blue grass. If our temperatures are warm then drop below freezing very rapidly, our lawns, especially centipede (however can affect all lawns depending on the conditions) can suffer winter kill.

Yes, it is time to winterize your landscape especially this year with all the rain and wind trauma. SeaHume should be used alone or with the 00-00-25 or Possum Minors, depending on the results from your soil test. Look for a product with a 00 for the first number (nitrogen). A 00-00-25 with sulfate of potash and minors would be great. If you do not need the potash, consider Possum Minors and the SeaHume, a wonderful combination of seaweed and humic acid. Possum’s Minors is also a great winterizer. Depending on a soil test 00-00-25 or Possum Minors along with SeaHume is your best option.

If you want to get the most out of your winterizer, apply it now while the grass is still green. These three products will help the plant produce chlorophyll, and the plants will be able to capture sunlight and produce carbohydrates. These carbohydrates will develop roots and make the plant come out of dormancy stronger in the spring as well as protect the plant from winter kill. Keeping the landscape fed and hydrated helps fend off the cold weather damage – just like if the landscape was a mountain climber climbing Everest.

SeaHume will help grass, trees, shrubs, and flowers throughout the winter. SeaHume will help mitigate salt damage. The seaweed part of SeaHume has over 60 minor nutrients, carbohydrates, amino acids, gibberellins, auxins, cytokynins, anti-oxidants and other bio stimulants. The humic acid is also full of bio stimulants that help make nutrients that are in the soil available to the plant, help with soil structure, grow roots, and feed the microorganisms in the soil.

Trees grow most of their feeder roots over the winter. With the movement of the root ball during the winds and the flooding, many of these roots were lost. SeaHume will help re-establish these feeder roots over the winter.

Beware of the national ad campaigns talking about winterizing fertilizers for turf. These products are usually formulated for cool season grasses (rye, fescue). I saw one over the weekend that was a 22-00-14. Not exactly what we want to put on our yard in mid-October in the Lowcountry. Just ask Clemson University.

Have you ever had winter kill? Now is the time to prepare your grass for the wide variations in temperatures we have. If you had winter kill in the past, you need to be sure to correct low and poorly drained areas, reduce thatch in the yard, increase air movement in low areas, keep your lawn hydrated and feed (with the right food for the winter).

Mow your grass lower than normal (centipede 1.0 to 1.5 inches, St. Augustine 2.5 to 3.0 inches). By mowing your grass lower, you will increase the air movement around the crown of the plant, so cold air will not settle at the crown of the plant and damage the grass. In Florida helicopters fly low over citrus groves that are in valleys to get the cold air out. Tall grass or thatch will insulate the crown of the plant like a goose down jacket, keeping the cold air near the crown where it can cause winter kill. Centipede lawns usually get winter kill the worst if temperatures plummet quickly.

Fine blade Zoysia grass can grow very dense and get thatch. De-thatching, verticutting, using Bio Grounds Keeper, and regular topdressing should be part of your maintenance schedule.  


Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Shade / Grass Like Oil / Vinegar

Horticulture Hotline 10/15/18
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

October is here! Cooler temperatures, grass slowing down, and the living is easy. This is the time to reflect and think about winter projects that will make 2019 an excellent gardening year. A Possum’s Custom Program from a soil test – now is the time before the lab gets busy? Do you have some weeds to control that you couldn’t control during the summer because it was too hot?

The question I have been asked the most this year revolves around dying grass (other than moles – moles always top the list). The answer has always involved too much shade. Trees generally grew a bunch and put on a lot of leaves this year, and as a result, grass suffered due to lack of sunlight.

For the most part all the grasses around here like full sun – yes, even St. Augustine (or Charleston grass) prefers full sun. St. Augustine (or Charleston grass) prefers full sun; however, can tolerate shade better than some of the grasses. Most PHD doctors agree that even St. Augustine requires six hours of direct sunlight to provide a healthy stand of grass.

The statement I hear the most is something like this, “I just replaced this grass in the Spring.” This scenario is very common because you replaced the grass because it died due to shade and now the new grass is dying because of shade issues. The trees in this area have grown like gangbusters this year and the grass has been unable to capture the sunlight with its chlorophyll and produce the needed carbohydrates to establish a healthy stand of turf. 

On side yards, trees grown between houses and the houses themselves block a lot of the sunlight. Side yards are often very narrow, so all the foot traffic is concentrated into a small area. Water from the houses is often directed to flow between the houses. A combination of traffic, extra water and shade is deadly to most grass. Mulch, blue stone, oyster shell, or some other footpath and a drainage system might be a good winter project for this area.

Some solutions to these situations could be to grow heat tolerate ryegrass. Ryegrass grows very good here especially in shady areas.

Redesign beds that were put in years ago while the trees were small, making more beds and less grass. Healthy green grass bordered by mulch is a nice look.

Remove shrubs and trees that are shading your turf, if zoning allows. If your landscape has become over mature, maybe you can transplant some shrubs or small trees.

Grow grass in these areas and plan to replace it as needed and not feel bad about it. Regularly trim your trees in this area and not feel bad about it. Sometimes we are kind of stuck with the landscape we have. Growing grass as an annual that you change out yearly is all you can do in some situations if you like grass. I know several properties that grass is replaced every year because of oak trees.

Brown Patch / Large Patch is attacking the grass as it slows down for the season. Army worms are out and it seems like fire ants and mole crickets exploded in numbers. Have you winterized your grass?

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

More Insects - What?

Horticulture Hotline 10/07/18
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

I can’t believe it is October and I’m still seeing cold damage death showing up in plants. If you have ornamentals that have split bark, beware of potential death of limbs.

Digger wasps are continuing to multiply in numbers in the Lowcountry. At Possum’s we use to get a few complaints in localized areas, now the numbers seem to be on the rise. One faithful reader of the ‘Horticulture Hotline’ sent me a 14 page letter describing the progression of damage to her yard. I saw an old friend in the grocery store and a conversation that would have dominated by fishing stories or stories about old times was dominated by ground bees. The presence of wasps is intimidating and unsafe.

Digger wasps start out as just a few holes in the yard. The holes are where the adults lay their eggs. In the spring, the young emerge. In the fall these wasps are now adults and they dig new holes and lay eggs for the following spring. In a very short time period, you can go from having a few digger wasps to thousands. All these holes can ruin your turf areas and the wasps make it less enjoyable to be in the yard.

Most of these wasps are predatory feeders. They eat grubs (should manage for moles and potential turf damage), small flying insects and ground dwelling insects (mole crickets, etc). The wasps sting the prey to death, then bring the dead prey back to the wasp’s hole (nest), then lay an egg on it so the young has an instant food supply when it hatches.

All control should be done at dust or at night when the wasps are in their hole. You need to plan on several applications of products to manage this pest. Since the wasps eat insects in your yard that you should be managing to certain thresholds, going after the wasp as well as their food source should benefit you greatly. Since the wasps like subsurface insects, Sevin would be a good product to start your management program. Who knows you might kill an army worm or the nasty rascal the chinch bug as a bonus.

If you just have a few holes, Delta Dust is a great product. At night treat in and around the hole. Some people will also “plug” the hole. At Possum’s we sell the plugs, but you could possibly use something from around the house. Be sure to turn off the irrigation and check for rain.

If you have many of these uninvited guests, DeltaGard G or Turf Ranger could be used across the whole area. Remember they fly, so getting your neighbors involved is crucial. These products need to be watered in to get to the target. Turf Ranger recommends ½ inch of water. Water the product in slowly so the product soaks into the ground, and does not run off into a non-target area. Apply these products when you first see the wasps and until they are gone, waiting at least one week between applications.

EcoVia is a National Organics Program compliant product that is labeled for wasps and other small flying insects (mosquitoes – yeah). EcoVia is safe to use around water, kids, and pets. Consider using EcoVia in your product rotation.

When treating always wear dark clothes and have a can of wasp freeze on your person. Digger wasps did not get there overnight, and they are not going to go away overnight.

Ants seem to be coming to the surface despite the dry weather, and I’m seeing mounds everywhere. Treat your yard before a Halloween guest gets a fatal trick. Army worms and sod web worms are also still being reported daily. With this warm dry weather chinch bugs are still sucking the life out of St. Augustine Grass. Mole Crickets are also very active, and can do a bunch of damage in the fall and winter when the grass is dormant because they go undetected. Most of the mole cricket damage is done by the mole cricket tunneling around separating the soil from the roots and the grass plant drying out. Many people quit watering during the winter and the grass is brown instead of green so they don’t notice it dying which makes matters worse.

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.