As I wrote about two weeks ago, it is time to pre-emerge for small seeded winter annual weeds in both your turf and bed areas.
By putting out this product now, you will save much agony in the spring battling weeds and mowing weeds instead of grass in the early spring. One time over the lawn with a spreader now will prevent about six cuttings of weeds in the spring. Also, your grass will come out of dormancy without competing with the weeds.
I used corn gluten in my yard for the first time this spring (late February) and again the other day. It did a great job of controlling weeds and proved to be an awesome fertilizer. I never had to treat for gray leaf spot (I have "Palmetto" St. Augustine) or Large Patch. There is always been negative press about corn gluten's ability to control weeds; however, they are usually talking about areas that have never been treated with a pre-emergent product, like a vacant field. Since my yard has been treated with chemical products in the past, the corn gluten worked great. No crabgrass at all on my yard or on the yards of some other people that I know used this product.
Since corn gluten contains nitrogen, many people asked about the late February application. Corn gluten has an organic nitrogen component that is made available to plants after microorganisms break it down in the soil. The microorganisms that make the nitrogen available are not that active in February. This nitrogen releasing system is the same as it is in the middle of the woods when microbes in the soil make fertilizer available to the trees, and the trees are not putting on unwanted growth in the middle of the winter.
If Florida betony (artichoke weed and rattlesnake weed) has been a problem in your beds in the past, this is the time to put out Casaron in the beds only to prevent it from coming up. Be sure to check the label to see that the plants you are growing can tolerate the use of Casaron around them. In the early '80s, I used so much Casaron, the guys I worked with called me "Casaron Bill." Always read, understand and follow product labels.
Watch out for worms in the lawn. Sod webworm and army worms are attacking turf at this time. The yard will appear like it has been mowed when really worms have just been eating it. They will munch down on a lot of grass quickly, so be ready for them. Carbaryl or Bug Blasters will kill them quickly and easily. A good organic product would contain Bt. If you use Carbaryl you might kill some of those June beetle grubs that attacked our landscape this past June.
As the weather cools and the nighttime temperatures drop, watch out for fall Large Patch (Brown Patch). With daylight hours getting less, the grass will begin to slow down, making it more susceptible to this fungus. Large Patch is a soil-borne fungus that usually appears in the same areas every fall and spring. With a good systemic fungicide like T-Methyl along with PCNB, you can make your control of Large Patch easy.
Rhapsody or Serenade are two organic fungicides that work well against this disease. Applying Neptune Harvest's crab shell product will increase the chitin-eating bacteria in the soil. Fungi's outer shell and nematode eggs contain chitin, so this product is good to put out in areas of known for disease or nematodes. Eliminating any wet, poorly drained, compacted or thatchy areas will aid in the control of Large Patch.
Hurricane season is definitely upon us. Look up. Are your trees safe, healthy, and pruned in a way that will lessen storm damage?
When trying to control weeds, worms, tree damage or fungus you are much better off putting out product preventively. Get these products out now before you return from a football game weekend and realize your lawn has been killed by worms or fungus.
Bill Lamson-Scribner can be reached during the week at Possum's Landscape and Pest Control Supply, 481 Long Point Road in Mount Pleasant (971-9601), 3325 Business Circle in North Charleston (760-2600), or 606 Dupont Road in Charleston (766-1511). Fax questions to 406-2700 or e-mail them to your newspaper's editors. You can also call the Garden Clinic, noon-1 p.m. Saturdays on WTMA, 1250 AM.