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Garden Questions Answered by Ron Wilson


No need to introduce my Yard Boy, Garden Guru and Colleague, Ron Wilson of Natorp’s. But I do need to let you know what garden questions are being asked this week:

Garden Questions

“We want to get the lawn off to a good start this year and keep building on getting it fuller.  It’s a 1 year old TLC Fescue lawn.  We had some crabgrass issues last summer spotted throughout, but otherwise not too bad.  What should we be doing this spring?”


First let me say you have the right focus for your lawn.  Do what needs to be done to get it fuller / thicker / healthier…that type of lawn has fewer weeds, disease and insect issues!  The TLC Turf Type Tall Fescue was your first best step!  Great lawn!  And as it matures, it will get thicker and you’ll naturally see the crabgrass and other weeds get less and less. But it does take a couple years or so for the new lawn to actually become ‘mature’.  So here’s what we would suggest doing:

-Go ahead and apply a pre-emergent herbicide to the lawn now, to help stop crabgrass from growing in the thinner areas.  If you want to feed, use Fertliome’s All Season Lawn Food Plus Crabgrass and Weed Preventer.  If you’d like to pre emerge and feed mid spring, use Hi Yield Turf and Ornamental Weed Stopper (no fertilizer), and feed later with Fertilome’s Lawn Food Plus Iron (which you will also use for your 2 fall feedings).  If you prefer to go more natural with the products, try Milorganite for the fertilizer and Corn Gluten Meal for the pre emergent.

-Spot treat weeds thru the season with Bonide’s Weed Beater Ultra or Fertilome’s Weed Free Zone (don’t use a weed and feed), and again, if wanting to go more natural, Bonide’s Weed Beater Fe for spot treating lawn weeds.

-Then use good cultural practices:  Mow between 2.5 and 3.5 inches / Never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade each time you mow / Throw those grass clippings back into the turf / Change directions each time you mow / Water only if needed and make sure it’s a deep soaking – don’t be a water tease / Make sure you keep the mower blade sharpened all season.

-Evaluate the lawn in August.  Determine if any seeding is needed for thinner areas and whether you’d like to core-aerate the lawn.  And don’t forget your two fall feedings – September and early November.


“I haven’t cut my ornamental grasses back yet!  Too late?”  

Nope, but try to get the old foliage removed before the new foliage starts to grow.  Same with sedges, liriope, etc.

“I want to stop the apple scab from defoliating my crabapples this year.  What and when do I spray?”

-You need to begin the fungicidal applications at leaf bud break and continue on thru the spring season as directed.  Captan, Mancozeb, Fungonil are three fungicides that can help protect those new leaves.  Remember, when dealing with leaf diseases on any plant, prevention is the best and in some cases the only way to go after leaf diseases.  Many are not curable once on the plant.  Again, check with us and we’ll help you with any disease or insect issues this season!

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  1. Janet

    Our sugar maple tree leaves never devolved this year. The hellicopters never fell off either.
    Leaves are brown and falling already. There are greenish white spots on the beaches. Any ideas???

    1. Rita Heikenfeld

      Hi, Janet,
      Here’s what garden expert Ron Wilson has to say:
      Sugar maple leaves have been known to stay on the tree into the fall season and drop by early spring. The seeds on sugar maples usually drop in late summer, so this years should still be there. If leaves are browning now, we are seeing anthracnose on the leaves and at this stage nothing to do about it. Tress should be fine. The greenish white could be lichens…which is not harmful to the tree, but can be an indicator (if its showing up more and more) that something may be wrong with the tree and it is declining.

      Yes, sometimes not dropping last years leaves / seeds could be an indicator of health issues with the tree. Look to see if the tree has actually put out new growth the past couple years. If not, could be something wrong. Take pictures and leaf smaples to a local garden store, or have a certified arborist come look at the tree.

      Hope this helps!

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