Thursday, September 12, 2013

Having a better Lawn starts now!

Wow what a grass growing season we have just been through.  I am, at this point, so tired of being on my mower that first frost can't come fast enough.  Though this has been a good growing season for turf, weeds have seen their glory day as well.  During this post I will outline some of the steps you should take this fall to ensure a quality lawn come next spring.

  • Keep mowing until the turf quits growing.  This not only keeps crabgrass from going to seed and adding to that problem but also continues to promote tillering (branching at the crown) in the turf clumps.
  • If you need to reseed now is the time to do so.  Just remember that to be successful there needs to be good soil to seed contact.  This means roughing up the soil, adding the seed and then rolling or raking the seed into the soil.  You may also use one of the one pass pieces of equipment that is designed to do all steps in one pass. For more in depth information on reseeding see:  Improving Turf through Renovation
  • After the first frost you can begin looking at weed control.  If you have seeded the lawn in September then you will need to put some time between the seeding and the weed control.  The label of your product will guide you on the waiting period.  Oct. and November are good times to control many broadleaved weeds.  Weeds like dandelion, henbit, chickweed, and many other broadleaved weeds germinate in the fall and develop through the winter.  Therefore, fall is the best time to nip the problem in the bud before they become a problem in the spring.  For more information on what to use for control methods see:  Weed Control for Kentucky Home Lawns
  • Finally fertilization will be crucial for great turf next spring.  Fall again is the best time of year to deliver fertility to your turf.  The best way to decide on what to apply is to begin with a soil test.  This will ensure there is no waste of fertilize and that the plants get what they need.  Take a look at: How to take a good soil test.    

Monday, September 02, 2013

Nandina berries are toxic to birds, by Tom Barnes

How many books, articles, and other materials have you read that says to plant Nandina, Heavenly Bamboo, or Sacred Bamboo (Nandina domestica) to attract and feed birds in the late winter?  This plant is classified as a noxious weed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and many states list it as a noxious-invasive weed because it escapes readily from the home landscape.  It is used as an ornamental because of the dark glossy green leaves and bright red berries that persist throughout the winter. It is still used, in large numbers by the horticultural industry and landscapers and is a recommended landscape plant by University Extension programs across the country.   Unfortunately this species, which has escaped from cultivation, is highly toxic to birds. The bright red berries contain cyanide and other alkaloids that produce highly toxic hydrogen cyanide (HCN) which is extremely poisonous to all animals. Sudden death may be the only sign of cyanide poisoning and death usually comes in minutes to an hour.  The deaths of cedar waxwings in Georgia that were necropsied at the Vet. school showed hemorrhaging in the heart, lungs, trachea, abdominal cavity and other organs.  This is a horribly painful method of death for a bird or any other animal.  Bird deaths in the Houston, TX area and other parts of the country have also documented the death of songbirds as a result of eating these berries.