Monday, January 24, 2022

A Cold Day In The Lowcountry

 

Horticulture Hotline 01/24/22

  Bill Lamson-Scribner

 

Ravenel Bridge – ice falling – bridge closed – umm.

 

We finally had some freezing weather and more in the forecast. If you haven’t already pruned your plants that turned to a black mush, you can wait and some of the damaged foliage and branches will help insulate the plant for the next freezing event. I know some of you that maintain high end properties aren’t going to be able to get away with this, so prune away or replace. Sometimes it depends where the damaged plant is located. By the front door – one set of rules. In a big bed mixed in with other plants in the backyard, maybe another set of rules.

 

I am not a big fan of Weed and Feed this time of year, especially on Centipede grass. Now is a great time to kill young winter weeds before they begin to flower and seed; however, it is way too early to put nitrogen down on your lawn.   Adding nitrogen at this time of year can set your grass up for winter kill.  Centipede grass is the most susceptible to winter kill.  Centipede should not get any significant nitrogen fertilizer until late April/early May depending on the weather.  The ratio of the most common Weed and Feed product is not very appropriate for Centipede grass either (29-00-10, 34-00-04).  Centipede usually likes a 1:0:1 or 1:0:2 ratio fertilizer (15-00-15), depending on a soil test.  This means that the nitrogen is either equal to the potassium or one half of the potassium.  It is a good time to control winter weeds that are up before they start flowering.  Instead of putting a product across your entire yard, if you can spot spray the weeds with Weed Free Zone; you will be putting less chemicals into the environment.

 

Most Weed and Feed products that you see mountains of at this time of year in certain stores contain the active ingredient:  Atrazine.  Atrazine is what kills the weeds.  Atrazine is a root absorbed chemical and it will go into desirable trees and shrubs via their root system as well as weeds.  If you read the label of the product it will tell you not to put it in the root zone of desirable trees and shrubs.  This is very difficult to do as it is impossible to know exactly where all the roots of trees and shrubs are located.  Remember you could also have roots coming from the neighbor’s yard.  Your trees usually will not die the first time you put out this type of product, but over time it will weaken the tree or shrub until something else (insect or disease) kills your tree.

 

With Valentines Day coming up, why not buy a nice decorative pot, some good potting soil,  some good fertilizer, some nice plants and some wetting agent and have a present that can last forever?

 

It is the time to put preemergent herbicides on your lawn that will stop small seeded annual summer weeds from coming up and terrorizing your lawn.  These products are very safe to use in and around shrub beds and trees.  They will not only keep weeds out of your lawn, but will also keep them out of your beds.  Dimension is a very good product, but there are numerous others based on your needs. 

 

As with any product, read, understand and follow product label when applying. 



Monday, January 17, 2022

Spring Indicators, Secrets, and Getting Old

 

Horticulture Hotline 01/17/22

By Bill Lamson-Scribner

 

Well, I had something happen to me last week that I guess most people have happened to them at some point in their life. I realized I must be getting old. I was with the Director of Grounds of a college and one of the coaches. The coach and I were exchanging phone numbers. I said the same thing that I have said for many, many years, “are you sure you want my last name. I have a long last name that is hyphenated. It is the name I was born with from my dad’s side and it’s not like my mom (although she was a model and could still be a model) hyphenated her name like Farrah Fawcett-Majors.” My reference about Farrah Fawcett-Majors was met with deer in the headlights looks and crickets. I had to try to explain Charlie’s Angels (but of course since I’m old I couldn’t remember the show’s name at first), the hair, and ‘The Poster’!

 

The early signs of spring are here. Saw some cardinals messing around and my favorite indicator the saucer magnolia (tulip magnolia) showing some color.

 

Three “secret” products that have proven to be useful; however, not everyone talks about:

 

3. Dog Rocks – a great product from “Down Under” that neutralizes dog and cat urine, so you do not have dead areas in your grass. It is crazy, but these rocks from Australia work great! Many dogs will urinate in the same area, killing the grass, and opening the area up for weed attack (often times the more salt tolerate Bermuda grass – sometimes called joint grass – that is very hard to control).

 

Your neighbor who is using Dog Rocks might be in your backyard for a few “shrimp on the barbi”, and might comment about the urine spots killing your grass. Then, take a sip of his oil can Foster’s Lager, and never mention the Dog Rocks. Competition between neighbors is alive and well.

 

2. Nitrile disposable gloves – similar to what Doctors use. The people that buy these gloves use them all the time for everything. They are nitrile, so no latex issues and are resistant to most chemicals. Spreading fertilizer, spraying control products, painting, cleaning up after a pet, changing diapers, putting fuel in mower or car, carrying out trash, cleaning the house, changing the oil in a mower or vehicle, and carrying in the Christmas Tree are just a couple of uses for these gloves. The gloves are very inexpensive; however, not many people know about them.

 

The same neighbor that uses the Dog Rocks reaches out to shake your hand that is covered with paint, then pulls back his hand and says, “doing a little painting today, Ol’Sport?”

 

1. Neem oil. Most people have heard of horticultural oils for insect control; however, not everyone has heard of Neem oil. They work very similar on insects, but Neem oil also controls certain fungi as well. Powdery Mildew on Crepe Myrtles, Dogwoods, and Roses can be a big issue in the Lowcountry. Lucky for us, this disease usually only lasts for a short period of time, making it a perfect candidate for this organic product.

 

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


Monday, January 10, 2022

Easy Task / Big Rewards

 

Horticulture Hotline 01/10/22

By Bill Lamson-Scribner

 

This weather is crazy. I can’t decide whether to run the heat or the air conditioner! This type of weather is why our grass can not decide whether to go dormant or continue to grow. The rain continues and so does the Large Patch / Brown Patch / Zoysia Patch. Hopefully, the cooler weather will make the environmental conditions part of the ‘disease triangle’ less of a factor. Of course, the cooler weather will make the rats, mice and roaches come inside out of the elements.

 

With this crazy weather, it is a good time to go through your irrigation (or get the professional over before they get too busy) and make sure it is going to be ready to go for another year. With the on and off rains and with somedays just overcast and humid, be sure to check your irrigation run times. Too much water with the right temperatures can lead to fungus.

 

Knowing the square footage of your grass areas and bed areas are key to applying any fertilizer or control product correctly. Whenever we sell a bag of fertilizer at Possum’s we are going to ask, “how big is your yard?” You have to know if you need one bag or more than one bag. Some of our bags might be able to treat your yard twice. That is nice to know because that cuts the price per application in half, and also lets you know you still have product waiting in the garage for your next application. With the nice weather we are having, now is a great time to get out there and measure the yard.

 

I can remember several times hearing different variations of this same answer to my question while at the counter at Possum’s. “How many square feet is your yard?” Rough answer,” well, last year I put out that bag that covers 5000 square feet and it was perfect for my yard, so I must have 5000 square feet.”  Sorry, wrong answer.

 

Based on a pound of nitrogen, we sell 50 pound bags that cover as much as 23,000 square feet and as little as 1000 square feet. Unfortunately, the bag does not know the size of our yards or how fast we walk.

 

In the old days, yards were mostly square or rectangular, and they were easy to measure. Now most yards have curvy bed lines that sweep across the landscape, making them more difficult to measure. If you can break the yard up into little squares or rectangles, and measure the length and the width then you can get your square footage. Length multiplied by width will give you your square footage. Add up all the squares and rectangles that you measured the square feet of, and you will come up with the square footage of your yard.

 

If this sounds like total “Greek or Geek” to you, ask a landscaper, a realtor,  a landscape architect, someone that works with floors or carpets, an engineer, a construction worker, someone who pours driveways, or anyone else that regularly needs to measure the square footage of something to help you. Your plat map from when you purchased your house might help as well.

 

Now, there are even websites that you can log onto and they will tell you the square footage of your yard. Of course, I like to do it the old fashion way – length times width.

 

I know this measuring seems like a pain, but most of us stay in a house for several years or decades. A little pain spread over several years of having very useful information is worth it.

 

Once you measure the yard, put the measurements in about 5 to 10 locations throughout your house, your car (so you have it with you when you go to buy product) and the garage, so you do not lose them. I have learned over the years that I put information like that in one “special place” so I do not lose the information. I then forget where that “special place” is!