Saturday, November 25, 2023

Growing Grass in the Lowcountry


                                                     Large Patch Explosion

                                             Large Patch Fungus


                                                      Increase Microorganism Biodiversity
                                            Bio-stimulant, Carbon, Food Source for Microbes ...

Horticulture Hotline 11/25/23

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


We finally got some much-needed rain and here comes the disease that attacks the turf while it is going into dormancy (fall) or coming of dormancy (spring). While walking and driving around, it seems that brown patch/ large patch/ Zoysia patch (I will use these names interchangeable) has invaded the Lowcountry in a big way. As the cooler weather comes and the grass growth rate slows down, large patch / brown patch / zoysia patch fungus began to show up in our lawns. Proving once again, the Lowcountry is the hardest place in the world to grow grass and why it is so important to have a program for your lawn. Do you see areas of your grass that are brown when other parts are green? Be sure the areas that are brown are your turfgrass and not summer annual weeds (crabgrass...) that have died (doubtfully if a reader of the Horticulture Hotline).


Large patch disease is always present in the lawn, it just manifests itself when the environmental conditions are right and your grass cannot outgrow the damage. Without any sustained cold temperatures, this disease is slowly spreading across lawns as the temperatures that favor its growth keep coming into play. This prolonged fall is great for outdoor activities like visiting local plantations, fishing, boating, golfing, shopping, and working in the yard; however, the temperatures are also perfect for these diseases to develop. The grass is not fully actively growing (not mowing as much) and it is not fully dormant (brown), so these are perfect conditions for the disease to attack.


Large patch usually likes wet, heavy thatch, improper nutrition, and/or compacted soils.  Culturally you need to manage your irrigation system, raise any low areas, and correct drainage problems.  Reducing thatch (at Possum’s we have a great organic granular product for controlling thatch), maintaining proper fertility levels, and aerating to alleviate compaction, will also help control large patch. A healthy turf (following soil test derived feeding schedule) with a soil with a lot of bio-diversity (use of cotton burr compost, SeaHume and other organics) has shown to help manage this disease.


As your grass is going into dormancy and the temperatures begin to cool at night, large patch is ready to attack your grass. Large patch will go inactive when the temperatures get very cold; however, it will become active again when the temperatures favor the disease. If you have discolored areas in your yard that appear to be a disease, check with someone that knows. Even if it is during a cold phase and the disease does not appear to be active, you can still put out a systemic fungicide for protection if you see that the weather is warming. Our soils do not get so cold that the plant will not absorb the fungicide with its roots. Remember treating a fungus with a systemic fungicide is like getting a flu shot – you do it preventatively before you have the disease. If it is too late to use it preventively, when you want the disease to stop spreading, you can use the fungicide curatively. Treating preventatively requires less product and less frequent applications of fungicides.



A good granular one-two punch control strategy is T-Methyl and Strobe Pro G (both systemic fungicides that get into the plant).  Use these products in areas where you have had Large Patch previously at the preventive rates and intervals recommended on the labels. Be sure to use T-Methyl with Strobe Pro G, so you are switching chemistry classes and modes of action. Good control early on can help avoid flare ups in the spring also. If you do not manage the disease, the grass will thin and weeds will take over.


What an awesome Lowcountry Fall! James Island County Park’s Holiday Festival of Lights? Soil Test and Fertility Program from Possum’s? Rats? Roaches? Fleas? Tree pruning and trimming? Transplant shrubs or trees? Edge bed lines and sidewalks for the last time for a while? Rake or blow leaves? Clean out beds that have an accumulation of mulch, leaves, or pine straw?


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


Friday, November 17, 2023

Christmas Tree Shopping

                                             Ol'Boy (RIP) Enjoying Holiday Festival of Lights


Horticulture Hotline 11/17/23

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Another year has almost gone by. What a year! Covid ((still? really?), lots of high tides, mosquitoes, strange rain (or lack of rain) patterns, and moles. With the dry spring very little brown patch – a nice change!


This week I started seeing tents going up in parking lots, so I figured it was time for the yearly Christmas tree article.  


I was talking with a friend this week and he had already taken a trip through the Festival of Lights at James Island County Park. He said he had to pry his two-year-old off of the merry-go-round! I was extremely jealous. The light show is definitely a tradition with my family. The lights, the train, hot chocolate, smores (if you listen to “The Garden Clinic” , you know I’m not a fan of smores, but everyone else seems to be), the walking trails with lights, the big sand feature, music, gift shop, and oh yeah, Santa. If you are a kid, does Christmas still seems like it takes forever to get here? It sure comes up quick to me! 


I wanted to get this yearly Christmas Tree article out, so you could make plans to go to a local Christmas Tree Farm, find a local source for a cut tree, or use a live tree that you could use in your landscape after the holidays, if you were so inclined.


After Thanksgiving, many of you will be searching for a Christmas tree.  If you are going to buy a cut tree, consider buying it from a local business that is here year-round like an independently owned garden center.  If you buy it from a tent, or a temporary site, look for one that is run by the Exchange Club, Optimist Club, Rotary Club, a local church, a local school club, a local landscaper, or another local organization.  Many local organizations that sell trees give a portion of the profits to local charities such as Camp Happy Days.


There are some people from out of state that set up tents in grocery store parking lots. Many of them bring their employees with them. They take their profits out of state when they leave. If you support our local businesses, then you keep our money in our local economy and maybe save a local job. Very important to always keep profits local, especially these days.


Many of the local garden centers offer great Christmas gifts along with trees this time of year.  They have purchased many seasonal items that would be a great present for anyone. Gift certificates are usually available for the hard to shop for gardener. Shopping at a garden center is a great way to avoid long lines.  The parking is free and plentiful this time of year. A nice pot, potting soil, wetting agent, and fertilizer would make a great gift.


Have you ever considered a live tree? Different Hollies (right now you can tell the females with beautiful berries), Eastern Red Cedar, Little Gem Magnolias, Osmanthus, Deodara Cedar and many more make great trees and after the holidays you can plant them in your yard instead of throwing them to the curb. Leyland Cypress have been removed from this list due to their disease issues.


Local tree farms are also an option. A ride in the country is always a good family event (young children, “how much longer will it take to get there?”).  Lebanon Christmas Tree Farm in Ridgeville and Toogoodoo Tree Farm on the way to Edisto are some local tree farms.  Picking out your own tree is fun for the whole family and usually involves hot chocolate and hay rides. You know you are getting a fresh tree when you cut it yourself. 


If you go with a traditional cut tree, make sure it is in water at the place you buy it (unless it is coming fresh off the truck), and make sure it stays in water until you take it to the curb after the holidays.  Once you bring the tree home, cut an inch off the bottom of the tree, and place the tree in a five-gallon bucket of water.  While the tree is still outside, consider spraying the tree with Transfilm, Cloud Cover or Wilt Proof to keep the water loss through the needles at a minimum. If you notice any insects on the tree, blast it with a strong stream of water or consider an insecticidal soap. Let the tree dry before bringing it into the house. 


Locate your tree within your house away from heating ducts and the fireplace.  A stand that can hold a lot of water is a big plus because a fresh cut Christmas tree can drink 1-2 gallons of water per day.  Have one responsible adult in charge of watering the Christmas tree daily to avoid ruining the carpet or floors.  If you can, fill (2) one-gallon milk jugs each day and let them sit for 24 hours, this will allow the chlorine to evaporate out of the water.  Letting the chlorine evaporate from the water you water your plants is a practice you should use when watering all house plants.  


There are many secrets to keeping a tree fresh.  Having a fresh cut and keeping water above this cut always is the most important thing you can do for the tree.  The water conducting vessels quickly close if the tree does not have constant water.  Using a drop of Super Thrive in each gallon of water will help the tree stay fresh. Many people use 7-up and an aspirin in the water. You might want to save the aspirin if you drink Uncle Joe’s egg nogg, bourbon soaked cherries or Holiday Punch.  


Thank you for shopping at Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply and for all your letters, questions, comments when I meet you, and for reading “The Horticulture Hotline”! Make it a Great and Safe Holiday Season!


Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Nice Weather / Need Rain


                                                     Chickweed - Kill it while it is young!

                                                     Ahh. The Lowcountry!
                                           Splash of Color - Looks like good bed prep!

Horticulture Hotline 11/07/23

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


The weather has been as nice as I can ever remember it the Lowcountry the past few weeks. We need some rain badly; however, it is nice not having any. Visiting the State, County, City, and Town Parks is a must this time of year. Walking through the peninsula of Charleston or other Lowcountry cities can be most enjoyable with the weather we have been having. The Plantations are another great place to spend a morning or afternoon. While walking, always keep an eye out for a cool plant, fountain, bird feeder, or other landscape item to bring into your yard or just enjoy in your neighbor’s yard. The sweet tea olive fragrance has been off the charts. Oyster roasts are happening and are often for great causes.


Chickweed and other winter annual weeds are popping up in the landscape. Try to control them now while they are young and you will have better results. If you have not used a preemergent product, you can kill the weeds that are up and apply the preemergent to keep any new weeds from appearing.   


As the leaves fall off the Crepe Myrtles and other trees, it is a good time to identify rubbing and crossing limbs. Any damaged limbs should be more visible.  Pruning now can save you some work during the busy spring.


If you had aphids, white flies or other insect problems on Crepe Myrtles or other plants, now is a great time to get ahead of those critters with Neem oil and Dominion Tree and Shrub drench. Dominion will be absorbed systemically into the plant and be ready to protect the new leaves in the spring.


Try to keep up with the leaves as they fall. Leaves on your turf can lead to disease by holding moisture on the grass blades. If you (or a lawn care company) are applying products, the leaves will prevent an even application. If you can, try to compost or mulch the leaves on site. Your soil will thank you and you will enjoy the money saved on fertilizer and water.


Since the grass has slowed down, now is the perfect time to re-establish your bed lines and edge along your sidewalks and driveway. A little work now could be enjoyed for several months.


November and December are great months for planting bulbs, corms, rhizomes, and tubers. If you have had trouble with squirrels in the past, try Squirrel Stopper. Get those winter annuals planted so you can get them to grow thick before the cold slows them down.


The great weather has brought on Large Patch disease in many yards. With any luck an application of a good systemic fungicide (T-Methyl or Strobe) should get you through these favorable environmental conditions.


Soil testing in the fall allows you to amend the soil over the winter and be ready for spring. The better soil testing facilities and the people who need to interrupt the results of the test (that would be me if you soil test with Possum’s) have a little more time in the fall to get your information back to you.


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