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Our Rhododendron Secret

A couple of years ago our Rhododendrons looked sick because of a Lace Bug attack.  Lace Bugs also love to attack Azaleas.  We also had scale insect problems on other shrubs.  I do not like the hassle of repeat sprays and trying to get the timing exactly right and the difficulty of having to spray the undersides of the leaves to stop Lace Bug damage.  My solution:  A good systemic insect control to protect the plant from the inside/out with just one treatment to the soil.  (A systemic insect control is absorbed by the plant roots to get inside the plant to protect it.)  I had great success with Ortho Tree & Shrub Insect Control Ready to Use Granules.  One spring application did the trick for all the whole year.   I also feed our shrubs one time in spring with Osmocote Outdoor & Indoor Plant Food.  One more thing, our soil is naturally on the acidic side so we do not need to do anything to help lower the soil pH like you need to do in some areas of the country to grow Rhododendron and Azaleas.

As you can see our Rhododendrons look great!

Our Rhododendrons are thriving now that they are not being attacked by Lace Bugs!

Our Rhododendrons are thriving now that they are not being attacked by Lace Bugs!  (Click photo to enlarge)

My Top 4 Lawn Grub Questions

1.  When is the best time to put down GrubEx?

The number 1 question I get in spring is when is the best time to apply GrubEx since the package says to apply spring to late summer? You will also note a direction on the package to not apply to waterlogged soils and to water after application. Since the soils tend to be very wet this time of year and since the grubs will not be laying their eggs until summer, I asked our researchers when they apply GrubEx to their lawns. Their answer: Early May. (If you are reading this and May is in your rearview mirror and you have not put your GrubEx down yet this year, apply as soon as you can up until late summer.) A single application of GrubEx will then prevent the next generation of grubs, that will hatch this summer, from attacking your lawn.  (Click here to learn more about GrubEx.)

2.  When do grubs do the most lawn damage?

Most grub damage is done in fall, however some folks do not notice they have a problem until sections of their lawn look dead in spring because the roots are gone. Sometimes the lawn can be peeled back like a carpet. In extreme cases you may see raccoons or crows tear up the lawn looking for grubs to eat.

Grubs are the white larva of common beetles, including those pesky Japanese Beetles.  They feed on your lawn’s roots, eating away where you can’t see them – until one day your lawn turns brown and you can roll up sections of it like a carpet.

Grubs are the white larva of common beetles, including those pesky Japanese Beetles. They feed on your lawn’s roots, eating away where you can’t see them – until one day your lawn turns brown and you can roll up sections of it like a carpet.

Here is the grub life cycle:

(Click image to enlarge)

(Click image to enlarge)

In early spring mature grubs awaken from hibernation and begin to work their way up from deep in the soil to just below the grass surface. In late spring, these grubs change into a pupae stage before turning into beetles that later feed on roses and other shrubs and trees in your landscape.

In summer, beetles burrow into the lawn and lay eggs that will hatch into grubs.

In late summer and early fall, newly hatched grubs feed heavily on your grass roots before hibernating for winter. It is during this time that young grubs do the most lawn damage as they gorge themselves prior to hibernation.

3.  I treated for grubs, why do I still have moles?

GrubEx doesn’t harm earthworms, which are so beneficial to your soil. Even though you rid your lawn of grubs, you may still get the occasional mole in your lawn feasting on your earthworms.

Click here to get info covering how to rid your lawn of moles.

4.  Should spring grubs be treated?

If you find grubs when digging in your soil during spring the first thought is to rush to get a treatment on your lawn. There are two reasons that you may not need to worry about spring grubs. First, they do not feed in late spring when they are making the shift from the grub stage to the pupae stage prior to becoming beetles. And second, if your lawn looks healthy in spring it can tolerate a few grubs without sustaining damage, especially if there are less than five grubs present per square foot.

For lawn questions, click here to see how to contact the Scotts Help Center.

New: My Lawn App from Scotts

Now you can turn your smart phone into your personal yard guru.

The My Lawn app is centered on creating a lawn care plan – the result of telling the app a little bit about your lawn.

The app walks you through five simple steps and then compiles a yard care plan with relevant recommendations throughout the year to help you get the lawn you want.  Once created, “My Lawn Care Plan” takes the guess work out of the equation – just tell the app if you “apply” or “skip” any of the recommended activities, and the plan adjusts itself accordingly.

Anytime you open the app and review the “Water” section, it lets you know whether or not to break out your sprinkler based on the past weeks rainfall totals.

For any seeding projects, the app walks you through all the results you should expect from seeding in images specific to the product you’re using – from early germination, all the way to seed success.

The app also has helpful tools like a chat feature to talk with Scotts experts, a Mulch Calculator, and even the ability to snap a shot of a pesky weed for identification and removal assistance.

Click here to get more info!

Early Spring Lawn Checklist

This early spring checklist is for folks who live in northern states.  First thing is to pick up fallen tree limbs and rake any lawn areas that have a fungus called snow mold. These patches will be white or tan and will have grass blades stuck together in a mat. When you use a leaf rake on these patches, you help to expose the grass plants underneath the matted grass blades to sunlight and air so they can grow. You can also rake any matted tree leaves so your grass will fill in thin areas faster.

Mow your lawn as soon as you start seeing the first sign of green growth. Some folks like to drop their mower height down a notch for the first mowing to remove the brown, dormant grass blades that remind them of the kind of winter we had this year.  Just remember to raise it back up so your grass height after you cut is around 2-1/2 to 3 inches.

The next step is to figure out what to feed your lawn. You make your choice based on whether you had annual weeds, like crabgrass or foxtail, last summer. If you had these weeds, go with Turf Builder Halts Crabgrass Preventer with Lawn Food to do two jobs at one time: feeding and preventing new weeds from seed. Be sure to water your lawn after you spread this product. The alternative for those lawns with no annual weeds last summer is to feed with Turf Builder Lawn Food.

This is a crabgrass seed head in summer when seeds are being spread over your lawn.  Notice the three fingers.

This is a crabgrass seed head in summer when seeds are being spread over your lawn. Notice the three fingers.

You should apply your crabgrass Preventer by the time forsythia bushes in your neighborhood have stopped blooming and lost their flowers, or if you do not have forsythia, by the time you see lilacs in bloom, or before you start seeing dandelion puffballs.

You should apply your crabgrass Preventer by the time forsythia bushes in your neighborhood have stopped blooming and lost their flowers, or if you do not have forsythia, by the time you see lilacs in bloom, or before you start seeing dandelion puffballs.

If your lawn has bare spots, spread Scotts EZ Seed. Remember to NOT spread Turf Builder Halts in areas you plan on seeding. If you have large areas to seed and you need to prevent crabgrass, you should use Scotts Turf Builder Starter Lawn Food for New Grass Plus Weed Preventer to stop crabgrass without stopping your new grass seed from growing.

This first feeding will help your lawn recover and fill in after our tough winter. Your lawn will now be all set until you do your next feeding in about 6 weeks.

For answers to your lawn questions, my friends at the Scotts Help Center  can help.

Four Ideas for Flower Containers

Rita and I just planted our front porch containers.  Thought you would like to see how this year’s container compares to those we have planted in previous years.

We planted a "Fireworks" Fountain Grass in the center, 2 each of three different Coleus and 3 yellow Creeping Jenny

We planted a “Fireworks” Fountain Grass in the center, 2 each of three different Coleus and 3 yellow Creeping Jenny around the edges.  (click on photo to enlarge)

Last year we planted a Mexican Feather Grass in the center, surrounded by 3 'Strawberry Punch' Superbells, and 3 'Diamond Frost' Euphorbias. (Click on photo to enlarge)

Last year we planted a Mexican Feather Grass in the center, surrounded by 3 ‘Strawberry Punch’ Superbells, and 3 ‘Diamond Frost’ Euphorbias. (Click on photo to enlarge)

One year we planted a single Croton Zanzibar in the center, surrounded by 2 ‘Goldi’ Lysimachia (Creeping Jenny), 2 ‘Bonfire’ Begonia and 2 ‘Black Dragon’ Coleus.

One year we planted a single Croton Zanzibar in the center, surrounded by 2 ‘Goldi’ Lysimachia (Creeping Jenny), 2 ‘Bonfire’ Begonia and 2 ‘Black Dragon’ Coleus.  (Click photo to enlarge)

One year we planted a single Mexican Feather Grass in the center.  We then surrounded it with 3 ‘Golden Ingot’ Ivy plants, 3 ‘Golden Globe’ Lysimachia (Creeping Jenny) and 3 ‘Charmed Wine’ Oxalis plants.

One year we planted a single Mexican Feather Grass in the center. We then surrounded it with 3 ‘Golden Ingot’ Ivy plants, 3 ‘Golden Globe’ Lysimachia (Creeping Jenny) and 3 ‘Charmed Wine’ Oxalis plants.  (Click photo to enlarge)

Our friends and neighbors are always saying: “Your containers look better than mine… what is your secret?”  We tell them we have three secrets to growing great looking containers.

Our first secret is to combine plants with interesting texture, color and growth habit.  They can be annuals, perennials, small shrubs, grasses or most any plant you like.  Sometimes it is easier to work with odd numbers of plants for each plant you select (1, 3 or 5), however this is not a hard fast rule if you can achieve balance with an even number.

Our second secret is to use great soil.  Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix (click here to learn more) works well because moisture is supplied to the plants as they need it.  This soil is less likely to pull away from the inside of the container when it dries between watering, which means your water does not bypass the soil to drain out of the bottom holes like you can experience with other potting soils.  Rita and I are big believers in this soil!  And before I forget, we start with fresh soil each time we plant.  We learned this lesson one year when we took a short cut to save a little money by reusing our soil the second year.  The containers were not as good that year.  We now mix the old soil into our garden.

And our third secret is to not let our plants starve.  We fed these containers with Osmocote (click here to learn more) a few weeks after we planted. The Miracle-Gro plant food that came in the soil gets the new plants off to a great start.  The Osmocote then takes over and provides continuous feeding throughout the summer.

 

Groundcover Ideas for Sunny Areas

Sedums are a great ground cover choice for sunny areas that tend to be on the dry side.  Rita and I love how the various colors and textures work well together.  They are relatively problem free.  We feed them once in early spring with Osmocote Outdoor & Indoor Plant Food.  It is easy to drop in a new plant in a blank space.  Hope these photos give you some ideas.

Click on picture to enlarge

Click on picture to enlarge

Click on picture to enlarge

Click on picture to enlarge

Click on picture to enlarge

Click on picture to enlarge

Click on picture to enlarge

Click on picture to enlarge

My How-To Video – Using a Lawn Spreader

Scotts Lawn spreaders are so much easier to use now than they used to be.  This short 4 minute video will show you just how fast and easy it is to feed your lawn.

 

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