Crabgrass Best Managed in February

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Crabgrass Best Managed in February

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According to this LSU AGcenter post, which can be found here…

http://www.lsuagcenter.com/articles/page1517323246000

the best way to deal with crabgrass is to start now. You have to get out in front of it in order to have any meaningful control. In a nutshell using a pre-emergent herbicide labeled for crabgrass control should do the trick. But you have to apply the product according to instructions. Just be advised that if following the prescribed rate gives you good control applying more or more often does not give you better control. Also, rarely are herbicides one shot applications, very often you will have to reapply. So follow the directions and you should get reasonable control. If you read the post you can get a good of idea as how to start your crabgrass control program.

 

After reading the LSU post I dug up a little info on crabgrass. I bet you didn’t know, I sure didn’t, that crabgrass was introduced in 1894 into the U.S. by the U.S. patent office as a forage crop. Thank you U.S. government. Crabgrass is also a native to Europe or Eurasia but now is found worldwide and in virtually every crop and crop situation. The reason that it is best to start you crabgrass control now is because the seeds need 4 to 5 consecutive days of soil surface temps to be at 55 or above. We start to see favorable conditions in south Louisiana around mid February. Unfortunately crabgrass is a very prolific seed producer and can take several seasons to get under control. As with most turfgrass weeds, cultural control is the best method for controlling and preventing a re-infestation. So keep your grass cut the the appropriate length. Cut it on a regular basis, according the season. Water when it needs it and maintain an appropriate nutritional program. A good healthy lawn best herbicide.

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Virginia Button Weed is a Pretty Tough Customer

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Virginia Button Weed is a Pretty Tough Customer

Virginia buttonweed is a perennial weed native to the U.S. and is very common in our area. According the LSU Agcenter, "Virginia buttonweed is widely considered the most invasive weed infesting turf grass in the South." If you have Virginia buttonweed in your yard it is pretty easy to identify by it's white flowers and lance shaped leaves. It will also be noticeable because it spreads rather aggressively and squeezes out the desirable turf. This will be quite evident later in the growing season. Unfortunately, control of Virginia buttonweed can be problematic and there is not a one shot solution.

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One of the reasons for the difficulty in control is the proficiency at which the Virginia buttonweed can reproduce. Aside from being a prolific seed producer Virginia buttonweed can also reproduce from stem fragments caused by mowing or pulling the plant out of the ground. If any little pieces are left behind, those pieces could root and further spread the problem. Also if the all the roots are not removed (good luck doing that) the plant will come right back, just as strong as ever.

Fortunately there are chemical control solutions available to the DIY homeowner, but timing is the key. Once you notice you have a problem it is probably to late to have effective control. According to the LSU Agcenter, "A program approach works best to control buttonweed." You have to start a control program early in the growing season before the plant has time to harden off. This will give you the best chance to have reasonable control. LSU recommends starting your control program in early April when the seeds start to germinate. The young plants are much more "tender" and easier to kill with chemicals that won't damage the desirable turf grass. For more specific info on control, surf on over to the the LSU Agcenter and read Virginia Buttonweed: No. 1 Weed Problem of Southern Lawns

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Care for freeze-damaged plants

  Herbaceous plants - like gingers - can be cut back a few days after a killing freeze. Photo by Dan Gill

Herbaceous plants - like gingers - can be cut back a few days after a killing freeze. Photo by Dan Gill

By Dan Gill

 

LSU AgCenter Horticulturist

 

(01/06/17) Although winter temperatures in Louisiana are generally relatively mild, they are punctuated by periods of moderate to severe freezes. Freezing weather is often followed by extended periods when temperatures stay above freezing.

Prior to a major freeze, most gardeners will make an effort to protect tender tropical plants in their landscape. So what should be done for the landscape after a freezing episode is over? Here’s some general information on what to do and not do.

Plants in pots

Any container plants that were brought inside for protection may be moved back to their location outside unless you intend to keep them inside all winter. If you will keep them inside, make sure they are close to windows and receive plenty of light. You cannot keep plants inside dark garages or storage sheds for extended periods of time. Plants must have light to create the food they need to live, and they will slowly starve if not provided enough light.

Covered plants

Many gardeners use a variety of covers to protect plants from freezing temperatures. Remove or vent clear plastic covers on plants to prevent excessive heat buildup if the next day is sunny and mild. The plastic will let in light and trap the heat, just like your car with the windows rolled up. You do not need to completely remove the cover if a freeze is expected again the next night. Plants covered with blankets, tarps, opaque plastic or fabric sheets may be left covered for several days without harming them, but eventually the cover will need to be removed so they can get light.

Pruning damaged plants

Even though you may see damage immediately, do not prune anything for a few days to a week after a freeze. It often takes several days for all damage to be apparent.

Damaged growth on herbaceous or non-woody plants, such as cannas, elephant ears, agapanthus, amaryllis, birds-of-paradise, begonias, impatiens, philodendron and gingers, may be pruned back to living tissue. This pruning is optional but does help keep the winter garden looking neat. Damaged tissue that is oozy, mushy, slimy and foul smelling should be removed. This decaying tissue is unhealthy for the plant.

  Damaged herbaceous tissue that gets mushy and leaks liquid should be removed. Photo by Dan Gill

Damaged herbaceous tissue that gets mushy and leaks liquid should be removed. Photo by Dan Gill

Remove the damaged foliage from banana trees, but do not cut back the trunk unless you are sure it has been killed. It will look brown, feel mushy, be loose in the soil and bleed if punctured. If it’s alive, allowing the trunk to remain increases the chances of fruit production next summer.

Dead leaves on woody tropical plants, such as hibiscus, croton, ixora, cassia, bougainvillea and copper plant, can be picked off to make things look neater. If you can clearly determine which branches are dead, you may prune them back. Try scratching the bark with your thumbnail. If the tissue underneath is green, it’s still alive. If the tissue is tan or brown, the branch is dead. Start at the top and work your way down to see how far back the plant was killed.

This pruning is optional and will not help the plant deal with the damage. Generally, it’s a better idea to delay hard pruning of woody plants until new growth begins in the spring. Then you can more accurately determine which parts have survived the winter and what is dead. Living parts will send out new growth.

 Green tissue under the bark indicates the plant is still alive. Photo by Dan Gill

Green tissue under the bark indicates the plant is still alive. Photo by Dan Gill

Another group of plants that are generally severely damaged or killed by freezes are tender perennial bedding plants such as impatiens, wax begonias, pentas, blue daze, scaevola, periwinkle and coleus. Although it’s nice when they make it through mild winters and provide another year of flowers in our landscape, we must remember these plants are not intended to be permanent.

If, or when, plants have been killed by sub-freezing temperatures, remove the dead plants from the bed and mulch the area to keep it looking neat. You could also prepare the bed and plant hardy cool-season bedding plants, such as pansies, dianthus, alyssum, snapdragons or many others, anytime now through early March for an outstanding display this spring.

Remember, there is still plenty of time to see additional – and possibly more severe – freezes before it’s all over. Protect what you can when needed. Don’t be too quick to dig up and remove tropical plants that have been severely damaged and appear to be dead. Sometimes, they may eventually resprout from the base of the plant or the roots in April or May. Despite what comes, remember that our climate encourages rapid growth and recovery.

If worse comes to worse and you do lose some of the tender plants and tropicals in your garden, don’t think of it as a tragedy but as an opportunity. How many of us have filled every square inch of planting space in our gardens, reducing our chances to purchase and plant new types of plants we want to try? When the dead plants are removed, we will have open areas available. Think about that, and the loss might not seem so bad.

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WHY GARDENS & GROUNDS DOESN'T USE CYPRESS MULCH AND NIETHER SHOULD YOU

Over the years I have installed many many cubic yards of top dress mulch. I have been asked on numerous occasions to recommend a mulch and I always recommend a pine product. I also have always recommended to NOT use cypress even if the client hasn't inquired about. Why might you ask? Sustainability and good stewardship of our environment particularly of our wetlands, that's why. Generally maintaining your landscape is a good thing. But when it causes harm to another part of the environment, that's not so good especially when it is unnecessary. You see, in order to get cypress mulch you need cypress trees and those trees have to be felled in order to make mulch. Unlike Eucalyptus mulch, you can't strip the cypress bark from the tree, you have to cut the tree down. "Don't you have to cut down a pine tree to get the bark?" Yep, but pine trees are cropped and managed just like corn, or azaleas, or grass. After they harvest the tree a new one is planted and the cycle starts over. Cypress trees just take too long to make a tree mature enough to produce good mulch. A cypress tree is doing a whole lot more alive in the swamp than ground up in your yard. So the next time you mulch your beds, forget about using cypress and go for the pine.

I just happened to stumble upon this paper, which is linked to this post(source at bottom of page), today and thought wow I have always said this. In the paper it answers questions that clients have had about pine vs cypress. It also supports what I have been saying to clients for years, "we use mulches derived from pine".

 I also said to myself, self this is a great topic to make your first blog post about. So there ya go, I am officially a blogger.

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