Monday, August 8, 2022

Want To Kill A Tree?

Horticulture Hotline 08/08/22

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Fall is approaching. With all these super-hot days, maybe some of you are going to plant a tree to cool down your environment. Here are a few things that you do not want to do to have a healthy tree.


Buy a tree on sale that has been starved for water, food, and is pot-bound.  The tree will probably have a weak structure; this is why no one has purchased it.  Get that real tall 3-gallon plant that should be in a 15-gallon pot.  To be sure you are buying a root bound plant; make sure there are big roots coming out of the holes in the bottom of the pot.


Set the tree in the back of a pickup truck or on the roof of your car with no protective covering for the foliage.  Drive 70 mph home with the wind battering the tree (this is good practice for hurricane season), or decide to do other errands while it sits in or on your vehicle all day.  When you get home, the tree will be defoliated and further dried out.


After you have cut away the plastic container, be sure you have nice circling, woody roots.  Dig that million-dollar hole.  Go 5 feet deep and 5 feet wide and amend with fresh cow manure from your friend’s farm and leaves you picked up in plastic bags from around your neighborhood.  Once this organic stuff begins to decompose, it will rob your tree of more nutrients and settle.  Settling is a guarantee that your plant will be planted below existing grade, starving it for oxygen.


Plant your new specimen tree near your house, between the driveway and the sidewalk that leads to your front door so it will be easy to keep an eye on it.  This way when it gets older, it can rub up and damage your roof and the roots can damage your sidewalk, driveway and foundation of your home. 


Planting near a down spot is nice for the free water off of your roof.  During rainy seasons, this will also help the tree drown. 


When you plant the tree, make sure the soil goes over the root ball so the tree looks like a telephone pole or pencil coming straight out of the ground.  Make sure that the flare of the tree is below grade.


Once you have the tree planted, mulch it. Put a huge volcano of mulch around the base. Make sure a good part of the truck is covered, so adventitious roots will grow and insects and disease will have a good entry area.


Now you are ready to stake it.  The old garden hose cut up with wire run through it is still a popular way to kill a tree.  Stake it in three directions tightly so that the tree doesn’t sway in the wind, thus guaranteeing that the tree will not become strong enough to support itself.  Mark your calendar three years from the day you staked it.  If the tree hasn’t already died, the guide wires from the stakes should have girdled it by now.  If you want to make sure you kill the tree, put tree wrap on it as well.  This wrap will constrict trunk growth and hold moisture rotting the bark.  This soft bark makes a good place for insects to enter the tree and fungus to rot the tree. 


On the serious side, it is time for the fall application of preemergent herbicide to the lawn and beds. We have a long growing season here, so it is important to maintain your barrier against weeds. Rain has been sporadic. Try wetting agents this fall and save water and your fungicide bill


Everyone has already done a soil test – right? So, you know what your yard needs to be it’s healthiest this year. The nasty rascal the chinch bug is still doing damage and leaving weeds in its wake.


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



Monday, August 1, 2022

Dog Daze

Horticulture Hotline 08/01/22

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


I have to tell myself again, “it will get cooler, soon.”  The kids are headed back to school. Football season will start on all levels soon. I saw a sasanqua camellia full of buds, ready for its early fall flowering display. Some overworked and maybe under fertilized crepe myrtles are losing their leaves. What a crazy weather year this 2022 has been! Hot, dry, and windy then some good rain and now back to hot and dry. Generally, our soils dry out quickly in the Lowcountry. After a few days without rain, many of our lawns can show stress.


When it gets cooler, the winter weeds, that you see in your otherwise brown grass in about January, will germinate. They can begin to germinate as early as late August, depending on soil temperature and microclimate. The weeds will hide in the canopy of your green grass until all the sudden they show up uninvited and ruin your uniformly dormant grass.  In Hilton Head in a shady, damp area, I have seen annual bluegrass (Poa annua) rearing its ugly head in mid August.


I have heard similar reports from turf professionals though out the state. The manufactures suggest you get the product out two weeks before the weeds germinate. To pull this off to an exact day you would have to have some sort of crystal ball. We have all watched the weather, it is not that easy to predict.


Get your preemergent product out early. Worse case you might catch some late germinating crabgrass. You can fertilize your yard at the same time, giving the grass one last nitrogen feeding before fall. Depending on your grass type and soil test, several good fertilizers and preemergent combination products are available. I know at Possum’s we sell 00-00-07, 15-00-15, 15-00-05, 23-00-08 fertilizers with various types of preemergent active ingredients sprayed on them.


 Be careful where you purchase your preemerge products. I have seen Dimension (a type of preemerge by Dow AgroSciences) loads of active ingredients as low as 0.10% to 0.15%. This low amount of active ingredient will keep the cost of the bag low; however, you have to put out much more to get the desired results from the preemergent. The 0.10% product you have to put out 100% more to get the amount of active ingredient as a 0.20% product and the 0.15% product you would need 33% more product. Are you really saving money?


By pushing your spreader across the yard soon, you will save yourself about six mowing this winter / spring depending on the weather. Your lawn will look better and not have to compete with the weeds when the grass is coming out of dormancy. How about no burweed (low growing weed with a sticker that dogs and kids hate) or Poa annua (the grassy weed with the white seed head.


Putting a preemergent product in your beds is also a good idea right now. For those of you that fight Florida Betony (Rattlesnake weed or Wild Artichoke) every year, now is the time to put out Casaron. Be sure to read the label carefully because it is not labeled for all plants.


Army worms are marching across the Lowcountry, munching on grass as the go. Chinch bugs are still rampant, and these hot high humidity days have many fungi flourishing. Roaches, mice and rats are coming inside out of the heat. Remember the next time a web hits you across the face, spiders are generally good. Mosquitoes anyone? Fall garden?   


The weather will get cooler.


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