2017-03-15 / Gardening Tips

Gardening Tips

Your questions

I sometimes get questions from readers via email and when several good ones arrive at once, I think it is worthy of a column since other readers very likely have similar questions!


 When is the best time to apply mole treatment for the lawn and when do I repeat it? Moles do not eat turf grass, but they tunnel though the lawn area in search of grubs, earthworms or other insects. One type of mole, the star nosed mole, deposits piles of soil on the surface of the lawn that almost appear to have fallen from the sky. This is soil that has been excavated from the mole tunnels. Dead areas of grass associated with the mole tunnels are often caused by grubs, which do eat the roots of the grasses. Before applying any soil poisons, dig up a square foot of sod and examine the root zone for white colored, “C” shaped grubs. If you find 10 or more grubs, a soil treatment is warranted and there are a number of over the counter grub killers, such as “Grub X” that will do the job. Usually the best time to do this is in September, but some forms of grub killers may be applied in the spring as well. Read and follow the label directions before applying pesticides! One or two annual treatments are usually all that is required. The moles will generally disappear as soon as their food source is eliminated. You can also purchase mole traps, which are “harpoon” type devices positioned over active mole tunnels that impale moles when the underground trigger is tripped. Not all mole tunnels are active; you can stomp on the raised ridges of the tunnels and see which ones are repaired. Position the mole “harpoon” over the active tunnels. These devices are available on many good garden centers or online.

When is the best time to fertilize the grass? The best time is early September, provided soil moisture is adequate. The second best time is around Memorial Day. Despite the TV and radio advertisements, early spring applications are not necessary to “green up” the grass. Grass “greens up” all by itself every spring, or it is dead.

I fertilized my maple trees last fall, should I repeat it this spring? No, once a year is adequate for mature trees and shrubs. Late fall is the best time for this.

I am pruning off the dead branches, do I need to “paint” the stubs? No, applying “wound dressing” is not necessary and may do more harm than good!

Can you recommend a few nice shrubs (not too big, around 6 x 6) that like wet soil and get at least a half-day of sun? There are a number of shrubby dogwoods that have colorful stems and provide berries for wildlife that can tolerate wet soil. These shrubs are pretty easily maintained at six foot or less as they are pruned back hard every four or five years. There are also some shrubby willows that can take the wet soil. A few shrubs that I really like are winterberry holly, spicebush, swamp azalea, summer sweet and ninebark. All of these can be kept around six-feet tall.

I planted “everbearing” raspberries last spring that grew to about three-feet tall. How do I prune them now? Everbearing raspberries are usually pruned back to ground level in early spring to allow them to re- grow all season and produce a fall crop in September. New canes that arise are thinned to three or four per liner foot as they emerge. The canes that grew last year may also be thinned to three canes per linear foot now and then “topped” at about three feet to produce a summer crop of berries. Most folks prefer the easy technique to get a larger fall crop, which is easy to maintain by cutting them back to ground level each spring

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