Monday, September 28, 2015

The Fall? Part 1

I do not know when fall officially starts, but for me when I pulled in my driveway the other day and I was met with the wonderful smell of the sweet tea olive, fall had started. Nothing is like the smell of the sweet tea olive in the Lowcountry in the fall, except maybe shrimp bait balls. Football is taking up most of the week, NASCAR is going full speed, the three Possum stores are filling up with ryegrass, deer season is underway, the Charleston Battery are in the playoffs, and the cool mornings. The cooler temperatures make yard work much easier; however, mosquitoes are trying to ruin the fun.

Your fall applications of preemergent weed control should be in the ground and protecting your lawn and beds against weeds. If you have not applied a preemergent product, go ahead and use one now. You might have missed a few weeds, but many more will germinate before the winter is over.

Thirty days after you have applied any fertilizer product is a good time to take soil test and prepare for 2016. Usually your beds are cared for differently than your turf grass areas, so consider taking a sample in both areas. If you call Possum’s (to find a store near you look at, they can walk you through the proper steps to take a proper soil test for your lawn and beds.

Okay, I waited until the fourth paragraph. I didn’t walk my dog for two days because of rain, and when I did, I noticed most of my neighbors either had army worms or Large patch / Brown patch. I then took some side streets through other areas throughout the Lowcountry and realized that these two pest – one a fungus and one an insect have us under siege.

Brown Patch  / Large patch fungus is very active right now. As your grass goes to sleep, this fungus attacks the crown of the plant. The crown of the plant is where the roots go one way and the leaf blades go the other way. Hold off on watering as much as you can.

Brown Patch  / Large Patch is a soil bourne fungus; therefore, usually shows up in the same areas in the spring and fall. These areas are usually wet, thatch, or poorly drained areas.

Using a fungicide is always best if you can apply it preventatively (before the disease is active). There are many good systemic fungicides available on the market today, just be sure to rotate chemistries. Disarm, Cleary’s 3336 and Prophesy are a few of the better ones to rotate. Plan on more than one application.

With army worms and sod webworms also plan on more than one application. Cyonara, Bug Blasters, and for a change of chemical class, Sevin are good products to rotate. I have had to treat my yard one time this year, and I have treated my mother’s yard three times and it looks like it needs a fourth treatment. I get about 10 to 14 days control at her house.

With Halloween approaching, remember to control fire ants in your yard. Fire ants can be deadly, and you would not want to ruin a little ghost or witches night. Do kids still dress up as ghosts and witches? Also clean up any other potential hazards and control the mosquitoes.

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

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Fall Transition

Brown Patch Fungus is in the attack mode. The shorter days, moisture and finally the cooler weather has given this fungus all the conditions it likes to destroy the yard you worked hard on all summer. Disarm the fungus with Disarm fungicide!

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, and lace bugs are still out there sucking the life out of you 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.

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 year round 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.

Fire Ants are out in big numbers after all the rain we had earlier this year. One bait product that works very good and is very reasonably price is Extinguish Plus. This product has a growth regulator in it and usually keeps ants out of an area for 6 months. Bait products or contact killers usually work best if spread over the whole yard.

I was working on an order of rat and mice control products last week and I mean to tell you, people of the Lowcountry, we have rodents! Rodents like to come inside this time of year.

Roaches, moles, fleas?

Always read, understand and follow product label. 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). The Horticulture Hotline is available 24 / 7 at 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Large Patch / Worms

With all of the heavy rains, Large Patch/Brown Patch is really giving our Lowcountry grasses a hard time!  The cooler nights, lower daylight hours, and these rains have created an environment favorable for the spread of this disease.  Hopefully, you are all saving some money and have turned off your irrigation because we have had at least an inch of rain for each of the last three weeks.
If you have discolored grass this time of year, it could be Large Patch, or I am still seeing plenty of worm (fall army worm, sod web worm) activity.  You must identify what pest you have because worms are an insect which needs insecticides and Large Patch is a fungus which requires a fungicide to eradicate.
Where you have Large Patch, there is a dead area in the center that is outlined by yellow grass.  If you pull on the dead grass or the yellow grass, it will come up very easily from the runner.  At the bottom of the leaf blade you just pulled up, you will see a dark discolored area.  Large Patch is a soil borne fungus that attacks the grass at the crown of the plant.  The crown of the plant is the areas where the leaf blades go up and the roots go down.  In the dead area, you can rake up the dead blades of grass with your fingers. 
If worms are munching on your turf, the discolored areas will have half eaten leaf blades.  If you see an area in your lawn that looks like it has been mowed, but you haven’t mowed in awhile, that could be an area where worms have been feeding.  You can also see the worms or their fecal pellets in the bad grass that borders the good grass.
Moths are very evident in lawns that have worms. If you walk around your yard at dusk and see moths fly up out of your lawn, there is a very good chance you have worms on the way. Moths lay eggs. The eggs turn into the worm that eats your grass. The worms then turn into moths and the cycle continues. Moths will also hang out in flower beds. They especially seem to like Liriope (monkey grass).
Large Patch reappears in the same place every year which makes it easy to control.    Large Patch likes compacted, thatchy, wet and poorly drained areas.  Large Patch also likes yards where people run irrigation all the time regardless of rain.  If you can manage these cultural issues through aeration, de-thatching and correcting drainage, you should notice a decrease of the fungus in your yard.
Serenade is an organic fungicide that you can use to control Large Patch.  Applying Natures Blend, Crab Shell and SeaHume in these areas will increase the bio-diversity and relieve compaction.  Many of our customers have noticed a great reduction in Large Patch in the areas where they applied Natures Blend, Crab Shell and SeaHume.  Cleary’s and Disarm products systemically move into the plants and protect them from disease. 
For fungi it is best to treat before your grass gets the disease. Like the way people get a flu shot, before they get the flu. Fungicides will help afterwards to prevent further damage; however, the dead grass will not come back to life.
Sevin is a great product to control worms.  Not only will it kill the worms, but it will also kill other things in the soil that moles feed on. Bifen or Bug Blaster will work too. If you would rather go organic, Thuricide is a Bt product that will help kill the worms.  Applications every 2 weeks is not uncommon.
Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.