11 tips for a better yard this summer

  • Sunday, July 6, 2014

Here are a few helpful tips on how to have a better yard this summer:

1. The nasty rascal, the chinch bug in St. Augustine grass, has been killing large areas of turf in the Lowcountry. Remember, the products that control chinch bugs generally have a short residual. If you are going out of town for any length of time, be sure you treat the lawn before you leave. If you prefer to treat less often, Aloft is the way to go. Aloft is more expensive; however, depending on the rates you apply the product, the cost evens out because you have to apply it less often and you only have to keep the pets inside once instead of multiple times.

2. Fleas have been a close second to chinch bugs this spring. Any pet owner, especially one that has his or her pet sleep in the same room as themselves, cannot stand to be kept up half the night by the sound of their pet scratching fleas. Fleas are hard to control. Plan to treat the animal, the house and the yard. The use of growth regulators will make a near impossible task much easier. Expect about two weeks to get this pest managed.

3. Japanese beetles have been chowing down. Bifen or Cyonara will take care of them.

4. Hurry up and do any pruning you want to do to azaleas and camellias.

5. While driving through neighborhoods, localized dry spots are very evident. These are areas in the yard that turn that bluish-gray color from lack of water. New neighborhoods with young grass and poor soils seem to be most susceptible to these dry areas. Exposed areas with lots of wind and areas at the beaches also are good candidates for these localized dry spots. Adding organic matter to the soil (Cotton Burr Composts or SeaHume), wetting agents or adjusting sprinkler heads will help with these dry areas. Remember to water in the early a.m. before the wind picks up, so the grass will dry by nightfall.

6. Moles seem to be particularly active this spring. They just had their young in April and now they are tunneling up a storm. The young moles are hungry! Manage the food source in your yard (grubs and mole crickets) with Lebanon Insect Control and go after the mole with Mole Patrol.

7. Be sure to change that dull mower blade from last year. This will give your grass a cleaner cut and will allow less entry points for disease. Inspect your blade for nicks and damage if you are going to continue to use the same blade. Since a mower blade spins at very high speeds, any nicks or bends can lead to the blade being out of balance. When a blade is out of balance, the mower will vibrate (like when your tire is out of balance on your car) and you could damage the spindle and other parts of your mower that cost far more than a new blade.

8. Look up at your trees. If you have any tree work that needs to be done, I would get it done as soon as possible. Look for trees that have cavities at the base and look at the tops for broken limbs and weak crotch angles. Have a tree-care professional inspect your trees for safety. Most tree companies will inspect for free. Try to get this done before the Lowcountry is in that cone for a direct hit from a hurricane! The tree companies are usually very busy by then.

9. As with all products, you should read and follow product labels. More is not better when dealing with control products. Measure your yard so you know your square footage and watch overlapping when applying your products. You also need to watch the weather forecast to insure the products have a proper amount of time on your lawn prior to any rain. If the product needs to be watered into the ground, a slow watering by a sprinkler is better than a gully washer from the sky. A very hard rain can wash products into the storm-water drains which are bad for the environment and you have wasted a lot of money.

Also sweep or blow fertilizers or control products off of hard surfaces when you are finished applying them. In the case of fertilizer, this may prevent staining, and most importantly it will keep products from washing through storm drains to the marshes.

10. With the dry weather we had earlier this year, spider mites have come out in full force. Be sure to use a product labeled for mites when trying to control these plant-juice suckers. Mites are not insects, so all insecticides do not control them. Malathion and oil should work until the temperatures get too hot.

11. Another plant-juice sucker that is out in full force is the lace bug on azaleas. If the leaves look mottled, flip the leaf over and look very closely for the pest. The lace bug is small and well camouflaged, so you might need a magnifying glass. Dominion Tree and Shrub or Merit will give you long-term control of this pest.

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a federal law.

Bill Lamson-Scribner can be reached during the week at Possum's Landscape and Pest Control Supply. Possum's has three locations: 481 Long Point Road in Mount Pleasant (843-971-9601), 3325 Business Circle in North Charleston (843-760-2600), or 606 Dupont Road, in Charleston (843-766-1511). Bring your questions to a Possum's location, or visit us at www.possumsupply.com. You can also call in your questions to “The Garden Clinic,” Saturdays at noon.

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