Monday, October 7, 2019

Green Grass in the Winter?

Horticulture Hotline 10/07/19
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

The last few months have been crazy dry. I saw a mole in my neighbor’s yard drinking a Perrier (for you IPA drinkers that is a carbonated mineral water). The soil is dust in many areas. I saw one yard that was so dry that the army worms moved in on it after the storm and retreated out of the yard instead of marching across it.

One big question to answer this time of year is do I want to grow ryegrass in my lawn, paint my lawn green, or let it go dormant? The football fields, baseball fields, and golf courses look so nice this time of year. Green grass all winter would be nice. If you are a little apprehensive, instead of doing the front yard where the whole world can see, try the back yard or a side yard. If you have active children or dogs (the other children), ryegrass can lessen the damage from traffic. Ryegrass does very good under the canopy of oak trees – just ride by White Point Gardens (AKA The Battery) during the winter.

While driving through neighborhoods, I see a lot of houses for sale. Ryegrass or green paint could separate your house from the multitude of other houses that are on the market.
For the very low cost of seed and fertilizer or paint, if you could sell your house one month earlier saving you a monthly payment, wouldn’t it be worth it? What about a year earlier?

Ryegrass gets a bad reputation because people misapply it. I often get asked, “doesn’t rye kill my centipede ( or St. Augustine)?” If you manage the rye correctly, you should have no problems. The ryegrass question is like buying a dog. If you base your decision on the few untrained pit bull stories and never purchased or adopted a dog of any type because of these stories, it would be too bad.

The 3 biggest mistakes I see with rye grass that give it a bad reputation are:
  1. Put out at too high of a rate, so it chokes permanent grass.
  2. Use cheap rye with lots of weed seeds and poor color.
  3. No fertility program. Light green grass and no additional fertilizer so dog urine spots (dark green grass) become your fertilizer program.
  4. Not managed in the spring chemically or culturally, so it competes with permanent grass.

If you decide you want to put out ryegrass, now is the time to check your trusty application chart. Have you put out preemergent herbicide this fall? If so, when and at what rate? If you have recently applied preemergent products, you may want to try the paint or wait until next year. You could put out something to deactivate the preemergent so you could rye, but that will just add to your cost.

If you are painting or not using rye, you can attack some of the nasty winter weeds that will compete with your turf grass next spring without having to worry about the rye grass. Painting will also capture heat that will help your grass “green up” sooner in the spring. Who wants to be “mowing weeds” late winter / early spring? Florida Betony and other winter weeds are visible now. Remember it is easier to kill them now when they are young and actively growing than to wait until they are flowering.

3 Possum’s Stores hot topic reports – vicious late season mosquitoes, winterizing fertilizers (stay away from winter fertilizers for fescue and blue grass), brown patch / large patch, moles (of course), and mole crickets.

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

Bill Lamson-Scribner can be reached during the week at Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply. Possum’s has three locations 481 Long Point Rd in Mt. Pleasant (971-9601), 3325 Business Circle in North Charleston (760-2600), or 606 Dupont Rd, in Charleston (766-1511). Bring your questions to a Possum’s location, or visit us at You can also call in your questions to “The Garden Clinic”, Saturdays from noon to 1:00, on 1250 WTMA  (The Big Talker). If you miss “The Garden Clinic” on Saturday, listen Sunday from 11:00 – Noon.

Monday, September 23, 2019

A Little Taste of Fall

Horticulture Hotline 09/23/19

For the new readers of the Horticulture Hotline, my “To Do Lists” are designed to help you target a few activities in your yard and in your home that will benefit you in the future.  These lists are not designed to interfere with high school, college, or professional football games, sunset boating, shrimping, hunting, golfing, eating chicken wings at a local sports bar, oyster roasts, collecting oysters or clams from the local waters, or watching NASCAR on the couch with closed eyes! Shopping the sales (saving money), getting a foot massage, and going to the movies should not be interfered with.  This is not designed to be a “honey do” list.

Hurricane Dorian came by the Charleston area about three weeks ago. Now is the perfect time to look up into your trees (and your neighbors if their trees hang over into your yard) and look for broken off limbs that are hanging over your yard. The broken off limb’s leaves should have turned brown by now and be very visible against the green leaves of the tree.

The reason why this is the perfect time is because if your trees are deciduous (leaves fall off in winter) you won’t have the brown versus green contrast. Rain has been spotty since the storm. Be sure to water. Watch for worm damage and mole crickets.

Many of you will be changing out annual color in the next few weeks. While the beds are empty, you have to chance to amend your soil for better flower production and address any drainage problems. If the bed stays wet, this is a good time to raise it with the addition of soil or amendments. You can also crown the bed so it drains off to the sides.

Back To Natures’ Flower Bed Amendment has proven to do a superb job in our Lowcountry soils. The special blend of composted cotton burrs, composted cattle manure, feather meal, cottonseed meal, and alfalfa meal has the best of gardeners coming back for more. Alfalfa contains Triacantanol, a natural growth enhancer, and is high in organic Nitrogen to get your plants growing. Flower Bed amendment may also help in the suppression and control of certain fungal diseases.

Here is what Dr. Herman Daniell had to say about his experience with the product, “The cotton burr flower bed mulch with amendments has been a superior product for my rose garden. I have had healthier bushes with more blooms since I began using this product.”

Many of you will also be changing out containers, hanging baskets and potted plants. If your plants are in an exposed place requiring daily watering, consider adding soil moist or other water holding gels to your soil. These gels and the use of a wetting agent like Aqueduct can make your life much easier. If you go away for the weekend, your plants will hardly miss you.

If you applied preemergent herbicides in August, put your follow up application out eight to ten weeks later. We have a very long season for weed seeds to germinate here, so you must keep that protective barrier in place. Up North the soil gets too cold for the winter weeds to germinate after a short window of time; however, here the window of opportunity for those pesky winter weeds stays open much longer.

Monday, September 16, 2019

A Few Things To Look For...

Horticulture Hotline 09/16/19
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

During Dorian many limbs were blown off tearing the bark of the tree as they fell. Clean up those cuts either yourself or hire a professional. Bark peeled down the side of a tree or shrub is an open invitation for insects and disease. Also the large opening creates a bigger area to heal.

If you are planning on transplanting a tree this fall, now is the time to root prune.  For root pruning trees, a good rule of thumb is for every inch in diameter of tree, you want twelve inches of root ball.  Sometimes this is not practical because you are usually transplanting an over-crowded tree or a tree located too close to a house or sidewalk.  At this point outline the biggest ball you can possibly move and just dig straight down severing the roots without actually removing the soil. Treat this ball area with DieHard Transplant and SeaHume to encourage young white root growth and beneficial fungi in this area.  

Come back in a month and dig away from the area that you severed leaving your tree in a little moat.  Spray the tree with Transfilm (anti-transparent) and wait another month then remove the tree. Use DieHard Transplant in the new hole.

When you plant the tree in its new home, be sure it is planted at the same grade that it was growing before you moved it or a little higher. I like to plant higher than existing grade because the soil seems to settle. Many tree problems are associated with being planted too deep.

Brown Patch Fungus is in the ready attack mode. The shorter days, moisture and finally the cooler weather on the way will give this fungus all the conditions it likes to destroy the yard you worked hard on all summer. Apply fungicides before you have an active fungus for best results – like humans and the flu shot!

Scout your yard for sod webworms and army worms. It is amazing with 3 stores (Possum’s) the stories you hear from lawn care people and homeowners about these worms. They can eat so much so fast it is amazing. Whether it is the professional or the DIY homeowner that has worked hard all summer to grow a uniform stand of turf, the sod webworm just doesn’t seem to care.

To scout for this varmint, look for scalped grass that has bite marks on the leaf blade. Moths flying around in a zigzag pattern in and out of the turf at dust is also a dead giveaway.

Scale, aphids, mealy bugs and lace bugs are still out there sucking the life out of your plants. Evergreens you could use a drench product like Dominion. If your plant or tree is losing leaves for the winter, horticultural oil might be a better choice, depending on the infestation. Lantana, Valley Forge Elm, Sweet Grass, Azalea, Camellia, and Hollies are under attack.

Winterizing your turf and shrubs should also be considered. No one likes to go to sleep hungry! Possum Minors, 00-00-25 Sulfate of Potash + minors, SeaHume, Cotton Burr Compost and / or Excell are a few excellent options. Watch out for the national marketing campaigns that promote products that were not designed to be used in this area.

I’m sure you have put out one round of preemergent herbicide by now for winter weed control in your beds and turf. If not, better late than never. Weed seeds germinate pretty much all year here.

If you are changing out flowers in containers or hanging baskets, consider incorporating HydroStretch or Hort-a-Sorb. These products help manage water and your plants will not dry out so fast.

Roaches, moles, fleas, mice, rats, mole crickets, fire ants?

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