If you have every visited with me and we have talked about watering lawns, or trees you know I have a philosophy of not wasting water and watering when plants need it not when it’s Tuesday.
Well here we are in winter, no snow has fallen or any moisture for that matter for some time. As of this column I have not seen any predicted rainfall or precipitation in the near future. While we don’t often think about watering plants in the winter during dry spells it may be necessary.
Be sure to thoroughly soak the soil around established trees and shrubs before the ground freezes in the fall. And, in the case of a dry winter, water during a mid-winter thaw when the ground isn’t frozen and a few days of mild weather are predicted (especially evergreens). Evergreens like pine and cedar have much smaller root systems compared to deciduous trees like oak and maple.
Be sure to disconnect and drain the hose when done watering to prevent freeze and cracking of lines. This may mean dragging out garden hoses in the cold and this is an inconvenience to you. However, hydrated trees will survive winter better and come out of winter undamaged from dry winter conditions if they have periodic irrigation in a dry winter.
Everywhere I go I see leaves on the ground or in bags. The good thing is we don’t have to send all of our fallen leaves to the landfill but instead we can compost them at home and use in the garden later. Compost is a great addition to any garden! How is the composting process accomplished?
Microorganisms and small invertebrates account for most of the decomposition that takes place within the compost pile. With the required oxygen and water, these organisms break down yard and food wastes, producing carbon dioxide, heat, water, and soil-enriching compost in the process.
One way to determine success is to monitor pile temperature. During composting, the pile warms to 150° to 160° F. and gradually returns to ambient temperatures after organic materials decompose. Warm temperatures increase water evaporation. A decrease in the pile’s weight and volume is another way to measure composting effectiveness. Decomposing organisms include naturally occuring bacteria, fungi, and molds, and small invertebrate animals such as mites, millipedes, insects, and earthworms. With a wide range of organisms, there is a better chance that composted materials will be broken down completely. Aerobic bacteria, which require oxygen, are the most important decomposers in the compost pile. Continue reading “Composting Leaves”
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.
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”
Fall is a great time to plant, over seed, core-aerate, power rake and fertilize tall fescue so to continue on the topic of lawns, what are the benefits of grass? Continue reading “Turfgrass Benefits”
If you have weeds in your lawn there are many reasons why! The following list are common problems lawn owners can have in Kansas:
Mowing too low and too infrequently thins the turf, allowing weeds to get started. Continue reading “Weeds in Lawn?”
Oh the chores of owning a lawn! Most homeowners in Harvey County have tall fescue lawns. Fescue differs from buffalograss or Bermundagrass in that is grows best in the cool season of the year, thus it is known as a cool-season grass (along with perennial ryegrass and Kentucky Bluegrass) and stays greener for a longer period of time. Culturing it otherwise invites weed, disease and insect issues. The following is a calendar for turf-type tall fescue. Continue reading “Chores of Owning a Lawn”