Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane - Not

What a difference a week makes! The hurricane went north of us and hardly did any damage to the Lowcountry trees in the process. Erosion along the beaches might be another situation, depending on where you live.

If the storm threat or the aftermath of the storm got you to look up into your trees for broken limbs, then the storm did some good. If your trees need some professional help, call a tree service now and get on their list. Once a storm is coming our way, most tree companies are too busy to work you into their schedule.

The wood in trees is very heavy. Gravity is always pulling the weight of the tree down towards the ground. Over the years insurance companies have revised the way they look at tree damage. If you have a big dead limb or a tree that is half rotten at the base hanging over your house, and you do not have an expert look at the situation and correct it, then the insurance company may not pay for the damages if it falls. Basically, they would rather you pay say 2000 dollars for the tree work than them pay 150,000 in damage to the house. Call your agent for the details of your policy.

Although it is still 90 degrees, the daylight hours and the start of football are making the weather feel like fall is not too far away. The recent rains did get some large patch started in several yards I noticed and the white flowers of Virginia Button Weed are visible peeking through the foliage of the turf grass.

Disarm G is a somewhat new fungicide on the market that can be used at very low rates for the prevention of brown patch. When conditions are favorable for disease development, you only need to apply 1.2 pounds of product per thousand square feet. So a 5000 square foot yard only needs 6 pounds every 14 to 28 days.

Any last fertilizing of turf with a nitrogen fertilizer should be done soon. Preemergent herbicides for the lawn and beds now will make your spring landscape much nicer. Treating your lawn and beds with Cyonora will keep mosquitoes, fleas, roaches, and other pests from bothering your pets, your shrubs, or yourself.

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

Monday, August 22, 2011


The “H” word is being mentioned again and again on the news this morning. 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…

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.

Preparing your yard for a hurricane is a must. Any loose item can become a projectile. Bird feeders, lawn furniture, trash cans, recycle bends, hanging baskets, potted plants, grills and other items should be secured or brought indoors. Even category 1 storms can have microburst or small tornadoes associated with them, increasing damage a bunch.

The new ethanol gas really takes its toll on small engines. Check your chain saw, generator, and other gas powered tools to be sure they are going to work if you need them. Depending on your situation, be sure you have plenty of gas, oil to mix with your gas, bar oil, a spare chain, and a file for your 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.

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 can also cause an explosion of fungus. It is always best to treat fungus preventively with a good systemic product like Disarm, Cleary’s 3336, or Prophesy.

Calling a tree company to trim trees now is probably too late; however, you should still call and get on their list for the next time we are “in the cone”. Good luck!

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

Monday, August 15, 2011

Transition time

Preseason pro football and deer hunting season have arrived. Fall is coming! The light hours are getting shorter, so hopefully, we are going to cool off a bit. The fall / winter transition is upon us.

Winter annual weeds are going to begin to germinate. Control them with a preemergent herbicide now in your turf and beds before it is too late. Annual bluegrass, henbit, chickweed, Carolina geranium and other winter annual weeds do not have to be part of your spring landscape.

Any nitrogen containing fertilizers for your lawn, trees, and shrubs should be applied now. Look for a fertilizer that is at least 50% slow release for better utilization by the plants (grass, trees, or shrubs). If your turf is diseased (gray leaf spot, large patch), lay off the fertilizer until you control the disease. 17-00-09 would be great for your acid-loving plants right now.

Army worms and sod web worms are munching on grass throughout the Lowcountry. These worms can damage an area very quickly. If you are going out of town or just do not spend much time in your yard, it is a very good idea to treat these guys preventively.

EcoEXEMPT G, EcoPCO WP X, and Bt containing products are good organic options. Tirade, Bug Blaster, and Sevin granular will also do a good job controlling these worms.

If your lawn is getting thick with thatch, reducing the thatch will be easiest if done before the grass goes dormant. Aerating before your August preemergent application should work good for you. Applying Bio Grounds Keeper will provide microorganisms that will eat thatch. Topdressing with Cotton Burr Compost while the grass is actively growing, will help reduce the thatch. SeaHume G is another product that helps control thatch. Controlling thatch is very important in lowering damage caused by winter kill, disease, and insects.

With the rain and super high tides we have had, the mosquitoes are out in full force. My fig tree is in a bed that had so many mosquitoes that in years past I did not even pick my figs. This year I used this organic product called Mosquito Repelling Granulars, and I got my share of figs, of course the birds and squirrels got some. I had used this product in the past with great results around my grill and fire pit and heard many success stories from customers that had used it camping, for parties, and even for funerals; however, until this year, I never thought about putting it around the fig tree.

Ryegrass? Fleas?

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

Monday, August 8, 2011

Believe it or not, Time to Prepare for Winter

Have you driven around and noticed all the damage from “The Nasty Rascal”, the chinch bug? Mixed yards are the best! The St. Augustine Grass is nailed and whatever grass or grasses it shares the lawn with are not affected.

One more application of Sevin, Bug Blaster, or Tirade should hopefully get you through this summer’s battle with chinch bugs, and also help you with sod webworms and armyworms. Any of these three products should help with fire ants, fleas, ticks, and mole crickets as a bonus. If you prefer an organic type product more EcoEXEMPT G or WP should work for you.

Any major pruning of azaleas should have already taken place. If you have a long branch that is out of place, you could still remove it. Just remember any pruning on azaleas you do now could result in a reduction of flowers for next spring. The Encore and other repeat blooming azaleas would be the exception.

Despite the heat, can you believe it is already time to put out a preemerge product for winter weeds? Doing a live call in radio show in the spring since 1989, Paul and I always get a tremendous amount of calls on controlling Poa annua (annual bluegrass). This is the green clumpy grass with the white seed head that you begin to see in March.

The best time to control this weed and many other winter weeds (henbit, chickweed, bittercress, parsly-piert, and many more) is right now before the ever become an issue. When your dormant yard is greening up and in a vulnerable state, this weed can provide much unwanted competition.

During the late winter / early spring it also takes time to “mow the weeds”. Spreading a granular now and again in 8 weeks is easy and will save you the time spent “mowing the weeds in the future”. With the fertilizer / preemerge combination products you can save more time by adding some food while you control the weeds.

Now is also the time to preemerge your landscape beds and provide them with a fall feeding of fertilizer. You can either use a combination fertilizer and preemergent product, or fertilize and preemerge separately. Feed your shrubs and trees, so they can sleep through the winter with a full belly.

If you have a bad problem with Florida betony in your turf or beds and missed last week’s article, you can check it out at under the Horticulture Hotline tab.


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

Monday, August 1, 2011

Florida Betony - Control it Now

Although it is still 100 degrees in the Lowcountry, it is already time to begin to think about your fall / winter plans around the yard. In just a couple of weeks, The Sertoma Classic kicks off high school football with college and pro to follow. Volleyball season starts. Deer season, oyster eating, shrimp baiting will begin indicating another fall in the Lowcountry and those cooler temperatures we have been hoping for. Also the daylight hours are getting shorter.

The rainfall this year has been really crazy. It seems like it was no rain at all or 4 inches at once. These heavy rains tend to flush out the fertilizer that you might have spread on the yard. While driving around, I’m seeing a lot of hungry trees, shrubs and turf.

If you have had a history of Florida Betony in your beds or turf, this would be a great year to try using Dimension in your yard. Although not labeled for Florida Betony (and you know I’m a big believer in reading and following product label), many landscapers, homeowners, and myself have witnessed a huge reduction in the Florida Betony population when using this product.

If you have Florida Betony, it is definitely worth a try. I have worked with the manufacturer of the product, Dow AgroSciences, to get Florida Betony added to the label; however, with the costs testing a product and of adding a weed to a label with the EPA, I do not see them adding it in the near future. Some of the formulations of Dimension have already gone generic, so I doubt they will be investing much money into labeling of new weed species when they could spend that money on developing new products.

Since the trees, shrubs, and turf are all hungry, this would be a great time to try 15-00-15, or 23-00-08 with Dimension on your yard whether you have Florida Betony or not. This product is labeled to control many weeds including the popular weeds (annual bluegrass, henbit, bittercress, chickweed, Carolina geranium, and many more). If Florida Betony is not an issue, 16-00-08 with Pendulum or 25-00-12 with TeamPro are some other good choices. Follow up with a 00-00-07 in 8 to 10 weeks.

If you are going to apply ryegrass to your turf, you can add a preemergent product now and wait until the label says you can apply the rye. Having a good level of preemerge in your beds should prevent the rye from taking over your shrubs.

Rates and timing are critical with these applications, so always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.