Monday, March 2, 2015

A Little Fun Today : How To Kill A Tree

A Few Ways To Kill A Tree

Buy a tree on sale that has been starved for water, food, and is pot-bound.  The tree will probably have a weak structure; this is why no one has purchased it.  Get that real tall 3-gallon plant that should be in a 15 gallon pot.  To be sure you are buying a root bound plant; make sure there are big roots coming out of the holes in the bottom of the pot.

Set the tree in the back of a pickup truck or on the roof of your car with no protective covering for the foliage.  Drive 70 mph home with the wind battering the tree (this is good practice for hurricane season), or decide to do other errands while it sits in your truck all day.  When you get home, the tree will be defoliated and further dried out.

After you have cut away the plastic container, be sure you have nice circling, woody roots.  Dig that million dollar hole.  Go 5 feet deep and 5 feet wide and amend with fresh cow manure from your friend’s farm and leaves you picked up in plastic bags from around your neighborhood.  Once this organic stuff begins to decompose, it will rob your tree of more nutrients and settle.  This is a guarantee that your plant will be planted below existing grade, starving it for oxygen.

Plant your new specimen tree near your house, between the driveway and the sidewalk that leads to your front door so it will be easy to keep an eye on it.  This way when it gets older, it can rub up and damage your roof and the roots can damage your sidewalk, driveway and foundation of your home. 

Planting near a down spot is nice for the free water off of your roof.  During rainy seasons, this will also help the tree drown. 

When you plant the tree, make sure the soil goes over the root ball so the tree looks like a telephone pole or pencil coming straight out of the ground.  Make sure that the flare of the tree is below grade.

When you get the tree in the hole, you need to stake it.  The old garden hose cut up with wire run through it is still a popular way to kill a tree.  Stake it in three directions tightly so that the tree doesn’t sway in the wind, thus guaranteeing that the tree will not become strong enough to support itself.  Mark your calendar three years from the day you staked it.  If the tree hasn’t already died, the guide wires from the stakes should have girdled it by now.  If you want to make sure you kill the tree, put tree wrap on it as well.  This wrap will constrict trunk growth and hold moisture rotting the bark.  This soft bark makes a good place for insects to enter the tree and fungus to rot the tree. 

On the serious side, it is time to preemerge your lawn and beds.  This is a great time to fertilize with organic fertilizers around your trees and shrubs.  Everyone has already done a soil test – right?, So you know what your yard needs to be it’s healthiest this year.  Using horticultural oil or Neem oil to smother over-wintering insects is an environmentally friendly way to control these pests.  For trees or shrubs with a history of aphid, scale or white fly problems, a soil applied systemic insecticide like Dominion would be good to put out now to protect the new foliage as it leafs out.  Rose enthusiasts, get your pruners ready!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Getting Ready For Spring

Here are a few things you can do now to make your yard activities go much easier this year and a few things to help you around the house if you are a DIY (do it yourselfer).

Get your mower ready for another season. There are only so many small engine shops and mechanics, so get your mower in early to beat the rush. New blade, air filter, spark plug, and be sure your pull start rope is in good shape. Ask them to set the height of cut for you, so you are mowing at the right height. Finding a source of ethanol free gas should help with all your small engines.

Put out preemergent control products now and control weeds before they ever come up in the lawn or beds. Pushing a spreader now will save you a lot of work later. Imagine not battling the small seeded annual weeds – no crabgrass, yeah!

Measure your lawn and bed areas. After seeing Shelton’s (Big Bang Theory) commercial, maybe there is an ap for this. Just like buying medicine for my dog, the veterinarian needs to know how much he weighs to give him the correct amount. The different fertilizers and control products all have rates associated with them (5 pounds per thousand square feet, 3 pounds per thousand square feet, etc), so you have to know how big your yard is so you know how much product to purchase.

Measure your bed areas and turf areas in small defined spaces. Side yard by Smith’s, front yard to the right of sidewalk, front yard to left of sidewalk, back yard, side yard by Jones’s, bed along front of house, big bed by Jones’s...

Once you have these measurements you have a big key to having a better landscape. I’m “old school “, so after measuring my yard, I immediately made 5 copies of the paper I was recording the information on so I wouldn’t lose it. I have one posted in the garage, 3 taped to and under magnets on file cabinets in my home office and one in a file. After writing this I realize, I could be a little “new school” and scan the information into a file in my computer (if I could figure out how to work the scanner…).  

With the rain we have had this winter, fleas are going crazy. Prefurred One and Prefurred Plus are two products that contain Fipronil and will provide long term control of fleas on dogs and cats. I know at Possum’s we are selling way more flea products this time of year than usual. Alpine Flea Insecticide with Growth Regulator and Precor 2000 with growth regulator are two popular aerosol products that are very effective especially if you put them out before the problem and the growth regulator keeps them in check.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Kill Summer Weeds Now!!

This cool weather really has our local oysters tasting good, and the soil temperature indicates that it is just about time to apply preemergent products to your beds and turf. Valentine’s Day (applying preemerge for your wife is a great present by the way if you like living with the dog in the dog house) has come and gone and the running of the Daytona 500 is this week. So now is the time to apply the magical weed preventer, and this year is shaping up to be no different.

Depending on which Phd doctor you believe, crabgrass germinates when the soil temperature (3 inches deep) stays above 55 degrees (some people say 57 degrees), for 3 straight days provided adequate moisture in the soil. Now some doctors say remains 57 degrees or above for 24 hours at a depth of 3 inches with adequate moisture.  If you are not in to monitoring the soil temperature, Valentine’s Day or the running of the Daytona 500 should work for you.

The turf areas as well as the landscape bed areas will greatly benefit from the use of preemerge products. Not only will the yard look better, but your plants will not have to compete with the weeds for sun, nutrients, and water. If you are controlling weeds with preemergent products, there are less weeds there for you to spray or pull, saving you time. There is also less stress on you trying to find time to control the weeds in your yard (example “Honey, [Johnny or Jane] and I are going [turkey hunting, spot tail fishing, golfing, to watch March Madness and eat chicken wings {Jane shopping, going to the movies, getting my hair done}].” Spouse reply, “ok sweetie, have you sprayed the weeds in the front yard like you said you were going to do last week?”) Kill them now with a preemergent control product!

For those new readers of the Horticulture Hotline (with the record setting snowfall in the Northeast, I expect many new readers as soon as they can sell their house and get down here), preemergent control products kill weeds as they germinate.  The weeds never come up and you never have to worry about them.  Crabgrass, goosegrass, barnyardgrass, crowfootgrass, dallisgrass (seedling), foxtail, annual bluegrass, smutgrass, barley, kikuyugrass, wild oats, bittercress, carpetweed, chickweed, Carolina geranium, henbit, knotweed, lespedeza, marestail, black medic, mustard, oxalis, pineappleweed, pigweed, redroot, parsley-piert, purslane, rocket, shephardspurse, speedwell, spurge, and woodsorrel are examples of weeds controlled by preemergent products.  Small seeded annual weeds are controlled by preemergent products.

Read the label of the specific product that you are using to get an exact list of weeds that the manufacturer has tested and shown to control. Preemergent products applied now do not control winter annual weeds that are already up like annual blue grass. To control annual bluegrass, you would have used a preemergent in August.

Clover, Florida Betony, Nutsedge and Dollar weed are not controlled by preemergent control products.  These are perennial weeds. Weed Free Zone is a liquid that will do a good job on controlling many of your broadleaf weeds. The Nutsedge will require a different product and is most likely not visible right now.  It is important to control these weeds now before they go into their reproductive stage.  A weed in its reproductive stage is harder to control than a weed in its vegetative stage. By killing the weed now you avoid having to deal with more weed seeds next year.

It is very noticeable when you ride through the Lowcountry which homeowners and which businesses used preemergent products last fall at the correct time. One business or home lawn will be nice and brown and dormant with-out a spec of green in sight. Right next to it will be brown turf mixed with green weeds. Again, it is very important to control those weeds now before they begin to flower.