Monday, March 28, 2022

Have You Done It?


Horticulture Hotline 03/28/22

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


This time of year, I always like to have a moment of silence for the only North American marsupial, the possum, that has failed to make it across the road in time. I include the Irish version, the O’Possum as well.


Last fall I showed you a picture of a damaged yard. During the winter, with a little Cotton Burr Compost and SeaHume, the yard has completely recovered. Amazing what those products do over the winter while the grass is dormant. (?). Just think how SeaHume and Cotton Burr Compost could perform in your yard during the growing season!


Today’s article is not as much of a “to do list” as a have you done it list.


I have been asked some form of this question a lot recently. “Should I mow down lower than I usually mow (scalp) and or bag my clippings on the first cut of the year?”


Congratulations, you must be using a preemerge product for winter weeds or you would be mowing weeds! A lot of people will mow lower and collect the clippings to get rid of the "brown" in the grass. Not needed for good grass, just appearance. By mowing lower, you remove the brown grass (your green grass from last fall), and your lawn will appear greener – basically you are removing the brown leaves from your grass like raking up leaves from your trees. If you did nothing different, the new leaf blades would come through and the brown leaves would decompose.


If you have a whole lot of leaves or brown grass that does not look like it is going to decompose in a reasonable amount of time, using a bagging mower may be a good option for the first cut. Get back to your mulching mower as soon as possible, so your grass benefits from the returned organic matter and nutrients.


If you have been waiting for the weather to warm up, here is a brief checklist of things that should have been completed around the yard:

·         Test soil. You might be wasting your money. Over fertilizing or under fertilizing could affect your landscape. Soil test provide valuable information for accurate fertilizing!

·         Have you applied SeaHume G to lawn and beds for a healthy start?

·         Have you fertilized your trees and shrubs?

·         Have you applied a preemergent to lawn and beds (this late use Dimension if it is your first application)? Remember it is never too late to start a preemerge program. It is never too late to preemerge, with our mild climate weeds germinate almost every day of the year. It is never too late to start a preemergent program.

·         Have you drench Dominion around plants with a history of insect problems?

·         Have you applied a preventive fungicide to turf if you have a history of fungus (T-Methyl, Strobe G)?

·         Mole Crickets overwinter as adults and do their mating flights right now. Have you killed them now before they can make babies? Be sure your lawn and beds are free of fire ants, and if you have pets, fleas and ticks should be controlled. If you live near the woods, chiggers may be an issue. (Granular Sevin will work on these pests. If you prefer organic, check with a Possum’s near you to find a product or products that will work in your situation.)

·         Have you gone through your irrigation system to be sure everything is operating correctly? In my travels through the Lowcountry, I have noticed many broken heads (geysers) and heads that are spraying into the street. Although they have been calling for rain, where I live, we have had very little. These low humidity days will dry out your grass and plants quickly. Plants and grass are putting out new leaves and need water! Wetting Agents will help get the water into the soil.

·         The little fury terrorist of the yard is having babies now. Have you killed a mole recently or at least repelled one out of your yard?

·         Is your lawn mower ready for another season? New Blade? New Air Filter? New Spark Plug?

·         Have you measured your turf and bed areas so you know how much product you need to buy and apply to your yard? Getting the right amount of product on your lawn will determine the success of your efforts.


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

Monday, March 21, 2022

Lowcountry Gardening


Horticulture Hotline 03/21/22

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


While walking my dog this weekend, yes, Ol’Boy the pound hound is still going (strong?) at 19.5 years old. He still takes his walks and comes into the office 7 days a week! I noticed someone getting ready to mow down the Liriope and realized I haven’t mentioned that this year.  Hedge shears or a lawn mower with a sharp blade is great for doing this. 


Holly fern and cast-iron plant will also benefit from cutting back to remove old discolored foliage. I do not know why, but I can convince people to cut back their Liriope; however, trying to get them to cut back holly fern and cast-iron plant is not as easy. I see more people pruning individual leaves than just cutting the whole plant back to the crown. The completely new growth from the cast iron plant and the holly fern will look as spectacular as the new growth from the Liriope. Get rid of all that tattered old foliage! 


Very important to manage your winter weeds now. Henbit, chickweed and the dreaded Poa (annual blue grass) are a few of the more prevalent winter weeds. Although winter weeds will die when the temperatures warm, they will be producing thousands of seed for next year’s crop until they die. These seeds add seeds to the “seed bank”. A manufacturer of preemergent products once told me that they like a minimum of 85% of control of weeds with their product before turning it over to the EPA for testing and labeling. If your seed bank is 100, you would have 15 weeds. If your seed bank is 100,000, you would have 15,000 weeds! The seed bank is a good bank to have overdrawn.


Control small seeded annual summer weeds now with a preemergent product. Enough said!


Before the trees completely leaf out, inspect them for damaged limbs. We have had some windy weather!


If mulching, 2 – 3 inches is the latest recommendation. Keep the mulch off of the trunk of the tree. Cotton Burr Compost as a mulch can add a lot of nutrition.


Soil Test? Bring them to Possum’s for accurate testing and an easy-to-follow interpretation of the results.


We are about ready to be able to prune back our cold damaged plants. Wait about another week or two and see if you can see any new growth emerging. We should be passed the last frost date (no crystal ball here), and your plants should (hopefully) have some visible new growth. The Sago’s can be pruned now. Be sure to fertilize with 07-00-09, so the new growth looks it’s best. Or better yet take a soil test and see exactly what your plant needs for nutrition.


After you have done some ‘Spring Cleaning’, SeaHume and Cotton Burr Compost with their loaded micronutrients and biostimulants should help your plants and turf come out of dormancy healthy.


Re-cut and redefine your bed lines. Bed lines are a basic element of landscape design.  They define your landscape. Well defined bed lines with just mulch can be very attractive even without plants. Bed lines can be defined by a clean trench with a shovel, wood, brick or steel edging. Plants grow, so bed lines need to re-defined periodically. If you have brick or steel edging, this may require that you remove plants instead of just redefining the bed line. 


Do not prune any spring flowering plants unless you want to sacrifice the flowers.


As temperatures allow spray your trees and shrubs with dormant oil sprays. These products will kill over-wintering insects and keep them from munching on your new spring foliage. Neem oil works great on some diseases as well.


If you have plants like Camellias (scale), Gardenias (white flies), Crepe Myrtles (aphids), Lantana (lace bugs) or any other plant that you know regularly turns black from sooty mold, consider drenching with Dominion Tree and Shrub for season long control of sucking insects. This systemic product is awesome!


Any plants infested with scale, consider using Safari and following it up with Dominion. Safari is a drench product that moves up through the plant very rapidly for a quick knock down of scale and other insects. I have seen it remove scale off of plants that have been treated with oils for over twenty years. Then treat with Dominion for long term preventive systemic control.


The spring walking tours throughout the Lowcountry will begin over the next month. These tours are a great way to get ideas for your own landscape projects, and a good way to enjoy a day looking at hidden treasures in the Lowcountry. Beaufort, Savannah, and many other areas have these tours if you want to add a little drive time through the Lowcountry to your tour. I would also highly recommend Georgetown’s Plantation Tours to anyone who has not been to that tour. I have had the privilege to work with many of these properties, and they are something to see. Of course, support our local tours first!


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


Monday, March 14, 2022

Seeding Centipede or Zoysia

Horticulture Hotline  03/14/22

  Bill Lamson-Scribner


A mix of several conversations I have had in Possum’s this year. Between moles and other unknown causes, my lawn took a beating this season.  I have a lot of patchy, bare areas.  I was thinking of aerating and planting centipede seeds, rather than sodding.  Is this advisable?  What is the best time of year to plant the seed?


The size of your patchy, bare areas will determine your course of action.  One thing that you must consider if you are going to use seed is that you will not be able to use preemergent herbicides in their regular cycle.  If you do not use preemergent herbicides, weeds will move into these patchy areas.  If the areas are small enough, just add a little extra fertilizer, SeaHume and Cotton Burr Compost and grow the patchy areas in from the sides.  Centipede is a grass that grows on runners, so it will fill in quickly from the sides. 


Aerating is a good cultural practice that should be done in April once the grass is actively growing.  If you were to seed the centipede you would wait a month after aerating. Centipede seeds are small, so you wouldn’t want them to fall into the aeration holes or they would be planted too deep (they have fallen and can’t get up). 


Generally, you do not seed centipede until late April or early May depending on the soil temperatures and when the night time temperatures are staying above 65 degrees consistently.  Centipede seed takes a while to germinate (10-28 days), so I always like to “push” the grass with a little extra fertilizer, SeaHume and Cotton Burr Compost.  Waiting for centipede seed to germinate takes some patience.  Without preemergents on your lawn, weed seeds will be germinating while you are trying to get the centipede to come up and will compete with your new centipede seedlings. You will want to manage these weeds as they appear.


When you were a kid did you germinated a lima bean or some other seed between layers of moist paper towels? While you are germinating centipede, you want to create the same environment without burying the seed too deep. A light layer of Nature’s Blend (contains a natural growth hormone), Hydro Mulch (the blue / green product you see sprayed out on roads or pond banks) or even shredded newspaper) will help keep the seed moist. The seed needs to stay moist for 10-28 days, so these products will help keep the seed moist by buffering the wind and sun.


When I hear “moles and other unknown causes” that you were having problems with, try to determine what the unknown causes are so you don’t fall into this same situation next year as well.  Is there shade, irrigation and/or drainage issues?  A soil test and program would be most advisable.  This will help determine any needs of your soil so your grass can grow at its best.  Centipede grass is very particular about the soil pH range it grows in. This is a great time to take a soil test and get on a program so all systems will be “grow” come springtime. 


Centipede grass has the reputation of being a low fertility grass.  In fact, Clemson was doing research at their Pee Dee station and was trying to kill the grass with excessive fertilizer.  They went into the research thinking that the grass would die over the winter from use of high rates of nitrogen; however, after several years, this never happened.  If your grass is full and thick, you would not want to over-fertilize it with nitrogen.  Since your grass is thin and patchy, a little extra fertilizer won’t hurt it any.   


Centipede seeds are very small.  Unlike Fescue or Rye grasses, you don’t just aerate it and then seed.  If your areas are big enough that you decide that they are too big to run the grass in from the sides, you could buy some squares of centipede and plug them in to fill the gaps.  This way you are starting out with something green and you are able to watch it grow.  Seeding can be very successful and inexpensive. One pound of centipede seed is recommended to cover 2,000 square feet.


Zoysia grass seed is another warm season grass seed that would be very similar to establish as centipede. There are a lot of varieties of Zoysia grass, so there might not be a seed that matches your type.


If you decide to seed with Zoysia, wait until night time temperatures are above 65 degrees consistently. Be patient because it takes about 21 – 28 days to germinate. Use 2 to 3 pounds of seed per thousand square feet.


Good luck!