Harvey County

Category: Horticulture

Water Landscape Plants

We all know how unpredictable the weather is in Kansas. This week it’s hot, last week it was wet, next week is supposed to be dry, so it goes on. What happens if it gets too dry? Even in the winter moisture is important!  It is important that perennial plants go into the winter with moist soil. Watering now is important if soils are dry to help alleviate moisture stress and lessen the likelihood of winter damage.

Although all perennial plants benefit from moist soils before winter, it is especially important for newly planted trees and shrubs due to limited root systems. Even trees and shrubs planted within the last 2 to 3 years are more sensitive to drought than a well-established plant. Evergreens are also more at risk because moisture is lost from the foliage. Continue reading “Water Landscape Plants”

Tilling Your Garden


Well the leaves are starting to fall and what a site it is!  As is every year there is the question of what to do with the leaves after falling.  Hopefully you have plans such as adding them to you compost pile or mowing them into your lawn.  However, there is another use for leaves!  Autumn is an excellent time to add organic materials and till garden soils.

Winter can still be a good time to take care of this chore as long as the soil isn’t frozen. It is far wiser to till now than to wait until spring when cold, wet conditions can limit your ability to work soils easily. Working soil when it is wet destroys soil structure and results in hard clods that are very slow to break down. On the other hand, dry soil may need to be watered so it can be more easily tilled. Be sure to wait several days after watering to let soil moisture levels moderate. You want the soil moist, not wet or dry, when tilling. There is a limit to how much organic material such as leaves can be added in one application. Normally, a layer 2 inches deep is adequate with 5 to 6 inches being the maximum that can be added at one time. Shredding the material before application encourages faster and more complete decomposition due to increased surface area. Remember, soil preparation is an important key to a successful garden.

When to Prune Shrubs

 When do I prune my shrubs?  Great question! Though light pruning and removal of dead wood are fine this time of year, severe pruning should be left until spring. Keep in mind that even light pruning of spring-blooming shrubs such as lilac and forsythia will reduce flowers for next year. We normally recommend that spring-bloomers be pruned after flowering. Shrubs differ in how severely they can be cut back. Junipers do not break bud from within the plant and therefore should be trimmed lightly if you wish to keep the full shape. Overgrown junipers should be removed. 

 On the other hand, there are certain shrubs that can be pruned back severely during the spring. Rejuvenation is the most severe type of pruning and may be used on multi-stem shrubs that have become too large with too many old branches to justify saving the younger canes. All stems are cut back to 3- to 5-inch stubs. This works well for spirea, forsythia, pyracantha, ninebark, Russian almond, little leaf mock orange, shrub roses, and flowering quince. Just remember that spring is the correct time to do this, not now.

Cool Season Lawn Nitrogen

October is flying by!  Leaves are beginning to fall and it is just about time to give our cool season lawns some nitrogen.  November is the time to give cool-season lawns the last nitrogen application of the season. Why November? Because while top growth slows in response to cool temperatures, grass plants are still making food (carbohydrates) by photosynthesis. A November nitrogen application helps boost the photosynthesis rate. Carbohydrates that are not used in growth are stored in the crown and other storage tissues in the plant. These carbohydrate reserves help the turf grass green up earlier in the spring and sustain growth into May without the need for early-spring (March or April) nitrogen. Those early-spring nitrogen applications are less desirable because they can lead to excessive shoot growth and reduced root growth.

Other benefits of November-applied nitrogen for cool-season grasses include improved winter hardiness, root growth and shoot density. How much should you apply? One to 1 to 1 ½ pounds actual nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. of lawn area is sufficient. Following the recommended spreader setting on the fertilizer bag should apply the correct amount of fertilizer. In order for this application to be effective, the nitrogen must be readily available to the plant, because the growing season is nearly over. Therefore, for a November application, use a soluble (quickly-available) nitrogen carrier such as urea or ammonium sulfate. Many turf grass fertilizers sold in garden centers and other retail outlets also contain soluble nitrogen. Avoid products that contain water-insoluble nitrogen (slow-release) for this application. As always, sweep up any fertilizer that gets on driveways, sidewalks, or streets and reapply it to the lawn.

Leaves on Your Lawn

The best thing about Fall is the nice cool temperatures!

The second best thing is leaf color changes to reds, oranges, purples and yellows.  Then soon leaves begin to fall.  When they start falling from deciduous trees so it’s a good time to stop and think about options for handling the litter.

Although a scattering of leaves won’t harm the lawn, excessive cover prevents sunlight from reaching turfgrass plants. Turf left in this state for an extended period will be unable to make the carbohydrates needed to carry it through the winter. There are options for dealing with the fallen leaves other than bagging them up and putting them out for the trash collector.

Continue reading “Leaves on Your Lawn”

Rose Disease

Roses can be the most noticeable and beautiful plant in the landscape!  There are some issues roses can have though.  Rose rosette is a more destructive disease than rose mosaic virus. It is a serious problem in Kansas on wild roses (Rosa multiflora) in pastures and hedges. It is also found in domestic rose plantings. Infection is thought to start with rapid elongation of a new shoot. The rapid shoot growth may continue for several weeks to a length of two to three feet. Following shoot elongation, a witches’ broom or clustering of small branches occurs. The stems develop excessive thorniness and produce small, deformed leaves with a reddish-purple pigmentation. Stems and petioles of Rosa multiflora plants may have reddish blotches or streaks.

Continue reading “Rose Disease”

Dandelion Control

A weed is a plant out of place!  Dandelion sure fits that definition!  Dandelion is a perennial herb that forms a rosette in lawns and gardens. Inflorescence composed of yellow ray florets that give rise to a “puffball” head. New plants germinate primarily in the fall (late September).  Mid-October and November is the most effective time to control broadleaf weeds, including dandelions in lawns. Dandelion usually produces a flush of new plants in late September. These young plants are small and easily controlled with herbicides such as 2,4-D or combination products (Trimec, Weed-B-Gon, Weed-Out) that contain 2,4-D, MCPP and Dicamba. Even established dandelions are more easily controlled in the fall rather than in the spring because they are actively moving materials from the top portion of the plant to the roots. Herbicides will translocate to the roots as well and will kill the plant from the roots up. Be sure to choose a day that is 50 degrees or higher. The better the weed is growing, the more weed killer will be moved from the leaves to the roots. Cold temperatures will slow or stop this process. Weed Free Zone (also sold under the name of Speed Zone) contains the three active ingredients mentioned above plus carfentrazone. It gives a quicker response than the other products mentioned and will work better when temperatures drop below 50 degrees.


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