Sunday, August 2, 2009

It's Time To Get Rid Of Lawn Weeds

By Kent Higgins

May is when the grass starts growing and so do their buddies the weeds. Spraying of broad-leaved lawn weeds such as dandelion and plantain with a herbicide can begin as soon as the air temperature can be depended upon to stay 70 for several hours.

Creeping Charley (Nepeta hederacea) is called by so many names (such as gill-over-the-ground and ground ivy) that a description might be in order. This weed creeps along the ground, its thin wiry stems rooting as they lengthen. Its leaves are scalloped and round; its flowers are tiny spikes of typical catnip form. Creeping Charley thrives in shade. It can be killed with sprays containing material developed for it's control. This material, marketed under several trade names, is widely available. Begin an insect-control program for your rose bushes as soon as the leaves on the canes are full-size. Remember that black spot, the most serious rose disease in the Middle West, can never be cured; it can only be prevented. Keep the leaves covered at all times with a combination dust. My pet combination is malathion and captan. This "combo" has worked well for me over the years.

Questions for The May Landscape

Question: I don't seem to be able to grow pansies successfully. They are fine in spring but by late June they stop flowering.

Answer: Pansies are cool-weather bedding plants; they grow satisfactorily in the Midwest only in the spring, Instead of trying to grow pansies, plant some of the magnificent super, large-flowered Scotch violas. They will continue to bloom during hot days. Also they are fairly reliable perennials, living over winter with only light protection.

Question: Every year our lawn burns out badly about July 10. We fertilize regularly with a proprietary brand of sewage sludge and reseed bare spots each spring. What might be wrong?

Answer:Just like caring for lady palms. I would suspect, since the lawn burns in early July, that it is being injured by an overdose of nitrogen. Sewage sludge does not begin to decompose until mid-June and then it releases nitrogen so rapidly that the grass cannot use it fast enough. If you continue to use sewage sludge, cut the application in half and supplement with a good mixed fertilizer applied before growth begins in spring. Just what i am doing with my lady palm. This will force heavier, earlier growth, enabling the plants to utilize the nitrogen from the sludge later when it does become available. Too, it balances the plant food elements supplied by the two materials.

Question: We want to plant our property with shrubs but don't know which varieties to buy. How can we final out what is best?

Answer: First, visit your local park or a good nursery. If it is possible to make a trip to the Chicago area, by all means visit the Morton Arboretum at Lisle. Their collection of hedge materials (there are examples of formal and informal hedge plantings) alone is worth the trip. At the Arboretum you will find all the plants labeled. After seeing a variety of shrubs and trees, you will have a much better idea of the materials you want to include in your planting. Your nurseryman will be glad to tell you if the shrubs you have selected will thrive in your locality.

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