Monday, October 10, 2016

After Hurricane Matthew

Horticulture Hotline 10/10/16
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

The “H” word is being mentioned again and again on the news this week. We have been lucky the past few years. The storms have gone the other way. You never like to wish bad upon your neighbor, but with a hurricane, you kind of have to… Well, Hurricane Matthew seemed to be headed our way from the first “cone” predictions and never really gave us any hope that it was going to veer away.  

In the old days, I would enjoy a hurricane. I can remember in the early 1980’s when Hurricane Bob hit the Lowcountry. At the last minute it was downgraded to a tropical storm; however, it still packed some good winds. I remember hurrying to get out to Wild Dunes before they closed the Ben Sawyer Bridge (back then that was the only bridge to Isle of Palms or Sullivan’s Island). Everyone was trying to leave the beaches; I was trying to get to the beach.

A group of us would enjoy watching the palms bend, the ocean churn, the trees dance in the high winds, transformers blowing up provided fireworks and the feel of the strength of the wind holding us up as we leaned into it.

Between the devastation of Hurricane Hugo in 1989, having 3 stores full of inventory and a house surrounded by pine trees, I have a much different view of hurricanes now.

Now that the hurricane has past there are several things to consider from the landscape and pest control part of your property. Remember most injuries occur during cleanup.

Look for any downed power lines. Electrocution can happen after these storms.

Inspect your trees closely for “widow makers”. Gravity will pull these limbs that are hanging in the trees down to the ground, and hopefully, you or your loved ones are not between the ground and the tree that they are hanging out of. Getting a tree care professional out to your house is always a good idea.

Use local tree people to work on your trees. After Hugo, I saw many safe trees that were removed that could have been left to grow. Some could have been straightened and braced. Trees take a long time to grow, so you do not necessarily have to remove them if they have a little lean. The topping of trees after Hugo was also ridiculous. Again a reputable, local, tree care professional should come inspect your trees for dangerous situations.  

The new ethanol gas really takes its toll on small engines. Use ethanol free gas for your generator (have outside), blowers and chain saw. Safety glasses, gloves and ear protection are also good ideas. Remember more people get injured cleaning up from a hurricane than from the hurricane itself. I have Wolf Garten hand saw that is super sharp that I use for most of my clean up including large limbs (much safer and no chain or engine maintenance).

Usually after a few days of overcast rainy weather associated with hurricanes and tropical storms during this time of year, we see an explosion of sod webworms. The dark overcast days give them a chance to feed without birds or other predators eating them. Sod webworms can devour a yard that you have worked on all summer in a very short period of time.

The heavy rains this time of year and the drop in temperature can also cause an explosion of fungus. It is always best to treat fungus preventively with a good systemic product like Fame, Cleary’s 3336, or Prophesy. Fungus was getting started before the storm and now conditions are even more favorable.

I have to mention the beloved rats, snakes, mosquitoes, and fire ants. Unfortunately, you are probably going to be in the yard a little more this fall (cleaning up, repairing, and inspecting), so it would be a great time to spray Cyonara or EcoVia (organic) or spread Mosquito Beater (organic) or Sevin. The Sevin and the Cyonara will help with fire ants, sod webworms, and mosquitoes. Not a Do It Yourselfer – call a professional. Watch out for the Ol’Possum that might have slipped into your house for higher ground.

With all the rain, a soil test would be a good idea since most of the nutrients were flushed out of the soil profile. Potassium leaches very fast, so a Possum’s 00-00-25 and SeaHume would help your whole landscape (lawn, shrubs, trees) right now. Pull a soil test first and bring it to us while you are picking up the 00-00-25 and the SeaHume.

If you feel like Matthew spared you, calling a tree company to trim trees now is probably good idea. Call and get on their list so the next time we are “in the cone” your trees will be ready and recently inspected. Good luck!

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