Dr. Dean Krauskopf
“The Gardening Show”
The Gardening Show
MSU Horticulture Garden’s Spring Program 2016 – The Garden Professors Saturday, April 9th 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Plant & Soil Sciences Building.
If you haven’t read The Garden Professors Blog: http://gardenprofessors.com take a look – great information and opinions.
Mark from Metamora asked if it was too late to prune oaks to avoid oak wilt. The sap is flowing and any cuts could attract the sap beetles that spread this devastating disease, so no pruning except for necessary clean up after storm damage.
Larry from Garden City asked about his Dwarf Alberta Spruce.
Don from Troy‘s daughters were giving him two cherry trees. Here’s instructions on how to plant: http://virtualorchard.net/glfgn/tritten.html
Kenneth in Sterling Heights: Vein pocket gall is not a problem for your pink oak. It just looks unsightly so i wouldn’t recommend any treatment for the maggots or adult midge flies
Stephen in Eaton Rapids has moss in his lawn – best control is growing thick turf but you can’t do that in shade.
Amy from Saline‘s Chinese Forget-me-not seedlings had brown spots on the leaf edges. It could be a potassium deficiency which could be alleviated by a light fertilization with a liquid plant food. However, I think it is probably a fungal or bacterial attack that needs to be identified by the MSU Diagnostic Laboratory
A listener called about fire blight on her parents’ pear trees
My guests were Janet Macunovich and Steven Nikkila of Garden A to Z. Take a look at this wonderful gardening source. http://gardenatoz.com/
MSU National Champions in National Collegiate Competition. Next week I’ll be talking to a member of the MSU Student Horticulture Association about their Spring Show and Sale.
Next week i’ll be also be talking to Eric Hofley publisher of the Michigan Gardner.
Zimmerman Pine Moth and White Pine Weevil are out and causing damage.
Heads up on Eastern Tent Caterpillars
Jon in Taylor asked when to apply Crabgrass preventer: Go to Enviorweather, click on Turfgrass (top of the page) and then Pest Management (top left). Then click on GDD tracker and then Crabgrass PRE (right side of the page). Dr. Kevin Frank just wrote a great article on crabgrass.
Kevin from Oak Park asked about increasing Monarch Butterfly populations by growing milkweed: Growing Milkweed for Monarch Butterflies, Choosing Smart Plants to Support Pollinators and www.NativePlants.MSU.edu.
The MSU Student Horticulture Association Spring Show will be help this Saturday and Sunday.
The Michigan Gardener Magazine is celebrating 20 years of great gardening information.
More information on Oak Wilt can be found here.
Lawn a little thin? It may need reseeded.
Gretchen Voyle reminds us our little furry friends are out and about.
Time to control grubs is approaching. Here’s MSU’s 2016 Grub Control Recommendations.
Spruce Phomopis Canker is a major problem in our area.
Brett from Auburn Hills’ backyard is very lumpy. I suspect it is due to the growth of a clump type grass. Here’s a grass identification site from North Carolina State University.
Bob in Detroit needed information on control of Brown Rot in his Cherry.
William from West Bloomfield wanted to know what was growing on his trees. It’s probably Lichens, I wouldn’t suggest trying to remove them. They don’t usually harm the trees but indicate a very shady area – thinning the trees would probably be best.
This is wildfire season and even urban areas can burn due to the drying vegetation and high winds. Here’s how to protect your home.
The best time to control Creeping Charlie is when it is blooming, which is now in some areas of my yard. >>More information.
A caller’s grass wasn’t growing on the sides of his driveway. Probably this is due to soil compaction by using salt to clear ice and snow. Usually tilling up the area and reseeding will correct the problem, however I would suggest using an ice melting material that is less damaging to the soil.
If your crabapple loses it’s leaves each year due to apple scab or you are interested in a new cultivar here’s information.You can see more than 150 cultivars at the Ohio Stat University Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, Ohio.
What’s that weed in my yard and how can I control it? Speaking of weeds, I’ve seen a lot of hairy bittercress this Spring.
Here’s the newest information on protecting pollinators in urban areas.
Keep an eye on your Mugo and other pines for the European Pine Sawfly which will be emerging in a week or two.
A caller wanted to give her friend some apple trees. Here’s great information on growing tree fruit from Oregon State University.
More information on The Ohio State University’s Secrest Arboretum and the Crabapple collection.
Check your white pines for White Pine Blister Rust.
If you’re thinking of putting down plastic film in your garden to warm the soil and discourage weeds here are some hints.
More information on garden weeds from MSU’s Diane Brown.
Denise from St. Clair Shores wanted to know if it was safe to plant Impatiens. The answer is yes if the grower is following this protocol for controlling Impatiens Downy Mildew. Here are some alternatives to Impatiens.
A caller wanted to know how to discourage a bird from nesting in her shrub. First try tying a piece of aluminum foi or an old CD so it can move and flash near the spot where the bird wants to nest. If that doesn’t work spread Tanglefoot on the branches where the bird perches. Finally, a plastic owl should stop nest building. Get the type where the head and/or body moves in the wind.
Jim in Milford called about a special soil/media test. I would suggest contacting MSU’s Soil and Plant Nurtient Laboratory directly.
Nick from Canton wondered how to control Bugleweed
Interior Concolor fir needle drop caused by Phyllosticta spp
Orange spiky, slimy blobs? No alien invaders but rusts
Spiny oak sawfly will start showing up soon.
Black knot disease of Prunus doesn’t have to be black.
Robert, in Brooklyn has a weed grass invading his lawn. It could be bentgrass and this site from North Carolina University will confirm which grass it is. Tenacity herbicide Site 1 and Tenacity Herbicide Site 2 is very effective on controlling bentgrass, however it is expensive, not easy to find and requires very precise measurement; so I would suggest calling a lawn control company and have them treat the area.
Minoo in Farmington Hills had almost complete crop failure last year. I think it is related to low light levels (an the resultant lower temperatures) and a lack of air movement around the plants. Growing in a raised bed restricts the rood zone so you need to water and fertilize more frequently than you would when growing in the soil. Crops requiring higher temperatures such as okra and eggplant should be grown from transplants rather than direct seeding. Here’s a table of frost free dates and planting dates calculator from the Old Farmers’ Almanac.Try Seedsavers to find heirloom or unusual seeds.
Gale in Hemlock wanted information about growing hardy kiwi.
An older lawn and two new puppies; a combination for lawn renewal or replacement. I would suggest using covers or mulch in the shady areas and a turf-type tall fescue in the sunny because it’s tough enough to stand up to dogs and other traffic. You can find varieties that do well in Michigan in the National Turf Evaluation Project evaluations done at MSU. Dr. Keven Frank does a great job explaining how to understand the label on a bag of grass seed. The Lawn Care University is a series of videos about all things turf, including selecting seed and lawn renovation.
Mike in Davison called about using Borax to control Creeping Charlie. It can be done but I don’t recommend it because a little too much will kill everything, including your grass.
Enjoy plants, people, food and fun at the 50th annual Flower Day at the Detroit Eastern Market this Sunday, May 15.
MSU’s Horticulture Gardens Plant Sale is being help Friday, May 20th 4-7 pm for members only (you can become a member on Friday) and Saturday May 21st from 7 am – 2 pm. CLICK HERE for more information.
How to control black knot from MSU’s Mark Longstroth.
Here’s how to correctly change the soil level around a tree.
Cankerworms will be showing up soon.
Jason of White Lake wanted to control Lilly-of-the-Valley which can be quite invasive in shady areas. CLICK HERE for information but I disagree with the optimum time to apply glyphosate. It is translocated to the roots in the fall not the spring.
Donna in Marlette here’s your information on establishing a lawn and controlling Creeping Charlie: You can find a varieties that do well in Michigan in the National Turf Evaluation Project evaluations done at MSU. Dr. Kevin Frank does a great job explaining how to understand the label on a bag of grass seed. The Lawn Care University is a series of videos about all things turf, including selecting seed and lawn renovation. Controlling Creeping Charlie.
Cynthia in Detroit wanted to control lawn violets.
Tom asked a great question off the air about protecting pollinators. Here’s the latest information from Dr. Dave Smitley.
Pat in Wales Township was interested in gardening in straw or hay bales. Here’s information from Washington State University.
Bob in Marlette wanted to control dandelions.
Renae in Allen Park is looking for someone to spray her apple tree using organic materials. If you know of a company or individual that could help her please email me.
Interesting things going on in your lawn, seed heads, slime mold and hawkweed by Dr. Kevin Frank.
Ken in Hillsdale’s Blue Spruce is dropped needles on the lower limbs. Here is Blue Spruce disease information from the Morton Arboretum.
Lance in Dearborn’s Arborvitae are brown in the center. Pruning will allow light to reach the center of the plant and encourage new growth.
Linda in Ida and several others wanted to control pests while protecting pollinators. Here’s the latest guidelines from MSU’s Dr. Dave Smitley.
Information on sharpening lawn mower blades from This Old House.
Daylily leaf streak symptoms are starting to appear.
Efficient watering from Texas A&M. How to tell when to water, how much to apply and irrigation systems – issues with salty water don’t usually apply but can if you have a well. Enviroweather is a great tool to tell when to water.
New Growing Degree Day (GDD) maps on Enviroweather.
Think outside of the pot when making up containers.
Information on backyard ponds
White tipped Canadian thistle – not a new species.
Sycamore anthracnose is appearing.
Groundhogs were the topic of several calls. Here’s information on them from HavaHeart.
Ralph from Grass Lake wondered why his burning bush didn’t turn red in the fall. My guess was not enough sunlight – the most common cause. His bush died over last winter and another caller had the same thing happen – rabbits or field mice girdled the stem.
A caller’s basil leaves in the center of the plant turn black and die. It’s probably Botrytis (grey mold) but it could also be downy mildew.
Robert wondered what to plant on a steep slope. Here’s some ideas from Midwest Living.
Pam in Napoleon’s yard has several terraces leading down to a lake (i’m so jealous!). I suggested she look at the Hidden Lake Garden’s dwarf conifer collection for ideas but ornamental grasses would also be good. Here’s an easy-to-use plant selection database from the Morton Arboretum.
Even though it’s been dry, slugs are attacking. Here’s information from the University of Minnesota.
The Michigan Nature Guy, Donald Drife, writes a very interesting blog about Michigan‘s plants and animals.
Andy in Lapeer wondered if rainwater or well water would be better for his wife’s houseplants. You can send a water sample to the MSU Soil Testing Laboratory. Put the water in a 8 – 12 ounce water bottle, making sure there is no air bubble, and seal the top with tape. This form should be sent with the sample. Refer to these greenhouse water quality standards to tell if the well water is as good quality as rain water. If you live in the Williamston, Howell, Brighton areas, high levels of Boron can occur in well water, so you should request this extra test.
Andy was also finding Mosquito wigglers in his rain water storage barrels.
Flea beetle is attacking a wide range of vegetables and flowers.
Lisa in Royal Oak’s roses didn’t flower well last year and haven’t put out buds this year. They were also much taller than she wanted. It sounds like low light, which reduces flower bud formation and increases shoot length. Roses growing in low light will be much taller than those growing in full sun. Applying high rates of fertilizer will increase the height of plants but not that much. Roses growing in lower light are also much more susceptible to insects and diseases.
May/June beetles have emerged.
A “Weedy” orchid is becoming a problem.
Marcelle in Monroe was battling moles in her yard.
Sherry in Springport had a question about controlling weeds in her long-established asparagus bed Note: this bulletin mentions paraquat which is not available to homeowners.
Lisa in Dearborn wanted to control lawn violets.
Gary in Troy wanted to identify a weed growing in his vegetables.
Cutworms are out
Use this Growing Degree Days chart of insect activity to predict when insects will emerge
Bonita from White Lake’s maple tree had dead limbs: Verticillium wilt in maple
If your tree is damaged this guide can help determine if the tree can be saved
Supporting beneficial insects with flowering plants workshop August 2, Clarksville is a great workshop for both homeowners and farmers.
Colorado Potato Beetle which can attack tomatoes and eggplant as well as potatoes has emerged
Mossy stonecrop in lawns is tough to control
Maple leaf blister and anthracnose are both diseases which disfigure maple leaves
Cowparsnip looks like Giant Hogweed but isn’t.
If you think lions are fierce you haven’t met an antlion
Danielle in Oscoda and several other callers need to contact a certified arborist.
Bob from Rose City’s wisteria wasn’t blooming. Here’s how to prune this vigorous vine
Robert in St. Clair Shores wanted to prune and repot his Christmas Cactus. I suggested he take cuttings before.
Becky in Grand Ledge’s Johnson’s Blue Geranium hardy geranium has white flowers. I’m wondering if you were sold a mismarked plant and what you have is actually Geranium maculatum alba, Wild Geranium, which leaves resemble Johnson’s Blue but has white flowers.
Priscilla from West Bloomfield’s hostas were accidentally exposed to a broad leaf weed killer. As you pointed out, Priscilla, hostas are monocots and shouldn’t be damaged by the herbicide. Any damage should be showing up by now.
The Henry Ford Estate, Fair Lane, is a wonderful place to visit.
Deer flies have been biting me for about a week.
Iris Borer Damage is visible now.
Hot, dry weather is ideal for spider mites.
Fireflies are a beautiful part of summer nights.
Rose Chafers damage other plants than rose.
Gardening Made Easy is the topic for the June 28 Evenings in the Garden class at MSU’s Tollgate Education Center, Novi.
Tom in Warren had a question about propagating Pothos
Chris in Sterling Heights called about a possible pine bark beetle attack.
Judy in Richmond Township called about field bindweed.
Several Bradford pears in Peter’s Southfield condominium community had orange spots on the leaves which sounds like European Pear Rust.
To find an International Society of Arboriculture certified arborist go here.
Contact the MSU Diagnostic Services Labratory to submit samples.
Pack a picnic and go to the Sunset Garden Celebration at MSU’s Tollgate Farm, July 16, 4-7 p.m. More than 20 individual gardens, ponds, musicians, hayrides, volunteers to answer questions and garden-related items for sale. Free admission and complementary drinks and cookies. Sorry no pets, alcohol or grilling.
Cedar-apple rust symptoms are appearing on apple leaves.
Kevin in Oak Park asked about removing tomato suckers.
Japanese beetles are starting to emerge. It is very important to control these first insects because they are “scouts” for later emerging beetles.
Carol from Sterling Heights called about her Snowdrift crabapple’s leaves turning yellow and dropping off which probably is apple scab. Dr. Jim Chatfield is conducting research on scab resistant crabapples at The Ohio State University Agriculture Research and Development Center in Wooster, Ohio.
Bob in Allen Park wanted information on the weed in his lawn, which sounded like a sedge
Paul from Allen Park‘s spruce’s lower limbs were dying
Frank in Northville aptly described the black, cancer-like growths on his Italian plum which are caused by the black knot fungus.
Dolores in West Bloomfield‘s lawn had brown tracks after being mowed.
Potential evapotranspiration is the best way to time water applications. Here’s the data from Commerce Township.
Advice on keeping garden soils moist in a drought from Gretchen Voyle.
Egytian walking onions were my father’s favorite
Tips on having your yard survive the drought from Dr. Kevin Frank.
Kris in Grosse Pointe wanted a new crabapple in her yard.
David in Clay Township wanted to propagate a family heirloom Crown of Thorns.
Harold in St. Clair was wondering about his horse chestnut tree.
Shirley from Farmington Hills pachysandra is dying. The most likely cause is Volutella blight.
Cucumber Downy mildew has been reported in Ohio so we need to start control measures.
Late blight has begun attacking tomatoes and potatoes in Michigan.
Grasshoppers are beginning to appear.
Willow leaf beetle makes willow leaves look ragged but they don’t usually harm the tree.
That blue flower along the roadside is Chicory.
A great article on fertilizing trees and shrubs by Dr. Bert Cregg
Ken from Fraser was concerned about what sounded like scale on his oaks.
Brian in Walled Lake was wondering about watering his shrubs and turf.
Pat in Wales Township wondered about crop rotation in his garden.
Don’t forget the Sunset Garden Celebration at MSU’s Tollgate Farm, July 16, 4-7 pm. More than 20 individual gardens, ponds, musicians, hayrides, volunteers to answer questions and garden-related items for sale. Free admission and complementary drinks and cookies. Sorry no pets, alcohol or grilling.
The July 19th Evenings in the Garden class at MSU’s Tollgate Education Center will be Pollinator Preservation Strategies for the Home Garden: Native Plants and Their Unique Relationships with Beneficial Insects presented by Cheryl English. This is a limited enrollment class so register soon.
Oaks are at risk of Oak Wilt. Prune the damaged areas immediately and apply a tree paint or latex paint to cover the wound and prevent sap beetles from entering.
James from Trenton had questions about ornamental grasses
Richard in Troy wanted to control bentgrass in his yard: First confirm it is bentgrass. Tenacity herbicide and Tenacity is very effective on controlling bentgrass, however it is expensive, not easy to find and requires very precise measurement; so I would suggest calling a lawn control company and have them treat the area.
Donald from Livonia was interested in turf-type tall fescue. You can find varieties that do well in Michigan in the National Turf Evaluation Project evaluations done at MSU. Dr. Kevin Frank does a great job explaining how to understand the label on a bag of grass seed.
Field day on best plants to support beneficial insects registration open until July 23
Eastern tent caterpillar nests are becoming noticeable
Walnut caterpillars are munching on my trees
Dog-day cicadas are sounding off
Tom from Bad Axe called about two of his maple trees that dropped their leaves early last year and this year the crown was noticeably thin. I suggested he contact the MSU plant diagnostic laboratory and a certified arborist. Here’s more information on Maple Decline.
Karen in Croswell want help in controlling Autumn Olive
Michael from Grosse Pointe wondered about Horse Chestnut leaf blotch
The leaves of Sue from St. Clair Shores’ Weeping Cherry were being eaten, probably by Japanese Beetles.
Flea beetles are again attacking my eggplant.
Because of the drought and then heavy rains, blossom end rot of tomatoes and peppers is becoming a problem.
Usually scrubbing veggies with cold water is all that is needed to get rid of dust and other materials on the surface, however is you would like to sanitize your vegetables and fruit here is an excellent article by MSU’s Phil Tocco
Fairy rings in turf can be a major headache.
Beauty in your lawn: Sheetweb and funnel weaver spiders.
Susan in Pontiac’s Crimson King Red Maple had spots on the leaves. The most common problem is tar spot.
Ann from Elyria, OH called about something eating her “snowball bush” Viburnum which sounds like the Viburnum leaf beetle.
Hal in Clinton Township is battling moles.
Mike from Fairhaven called about the lower branches on his Blue Spruce dying.
Cornell’s Lost Ladybug project is a great way to teach kids about nature and generate data about populations across Michigan.
Nancy in Fraser‘s Dappled willow had been dying back and then suddenly the leaves turned brown. The most probable cause is root damage or some type of canker.
Tom in Troy wondered why his trumpet vine wasn’t blooming. Most likely causes are low light and too much nitrogen. Heavy pruning and reducing the fertilizer applied to the nearby turf might help
Mark in Warren converted his lawn and to creeping and wooly thyme (very cool!). I suggested sending samples to MSU to determine what is causing areas to brown. While thyme oil has nematicidal properties, I suggested asking about a nematode test as well as the routine tests.
Jimmy from China Township was interested in preventing red thread and spot disease in his lawn.
Gary in Clarkston described symptoms on his oaks that strongly suggested oak wilt
Frank in Roseville has mushrooms in his newly installed sod
Three great gardens to visit this month
- The MSU Horticulture Gardens are 14 acres of beautiful landscapes highlighting annuals, prennials, and woody plants. Theme gardens including 4H Children’s Garden, annual display and trial gardens, green roof gardens, demonstration vegetable garden, Japanese garden, dwarf conifer, and more. Donwload a list of all the plants on trial before you visit. Hours are 8AM to Dusk everyday.
- Four Star Proven Winners Gardens in Monroe County are open from June 15 through September 30 daily from 9 a.m. to dusk. Call ahead and see if the gardens are closed for any industry events or weddings, 734-654-6420. The garden is 1.5 acres of outdoor beauty with a covered pavilion structure, covered bridge, natural stonework landscape beds, running streams and water features, reflection pool with arched bridge, hundreds of plants, hanging baskets and upright containers. Paved walkways allow for handicap accessibility to many of the gardens features.
- Raker’s Trial Gardens in Hillsdale County are open 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday until August 26. Call 517-542-2316 for additional information and to make reservations. Reservations are not required, but please call with groups larger than 10 people. There are at least 150 fibrous Begonia row trials, 200 new and unique varieties displayed in 14″ hanging baskets, including Begnoia boliviensis, Ipomoea, Scaevola, and Combinations as well as 160 more containing new introductions and top breeder picks. There are over 260 large (20″) patio pots dedicated to new introductions and unique varieties for both sun and shade. The Large Container Trial features 9 tuberous Begonias under shade. The HORT COUTURE™ GARDEN showcases Catalog Garden, New Variety Catwalk, Comparison Container Trials, Hanging Baskets and beautiful FashionScape™ settings featured within the Gardens.
Dr. Robert Schutzki of MSU’s Department of Horticulture has released three new videos as a part of the Think Enviormentally + Plant Responsibility Project. These three videos cover key concepts and how plant choice and their maintenance are critical to preserving the natural ecosystem dynamics of Michigan.
There are a lot of Asiatic Garden Beetles around.
Spider mites are becoming a problem on Hosta
Christine from Grosse Pointe Farms wondered if here over 200-year-old red oak would benefit from fertilization. Here’s information on fertilizing trees and shrubs In very compacted soils, vertical mulching could improve water penetration and oxygen reaching the roots
David from St Clair Shores’s hard maple tree is showing symptoms of canker
Jimmy in Manchester called about growing mushrooms in straw bales. This is way out of my expertise, but I did find this
The Art of Bonsai, Sunday, September 18 at Hidden Lake Gardens is an opportunity to see a great Bonsai collection, enjoy Bonsai inspired art and learn how to grow Bonsai yourself: http://hiddenlakegardens.msu.edu/
Register now for Evenings in the Gardens classes.
MSU Extension is offering an Introduction to Lakes course.
Control spotted and prostrate spurge now.
Larry in Canton and Heidi in Bloomfield Hills called about what sounded like mite problems.
Dave in Livonia’s crab apple trees are being attacked by apple scab
Paul in Macomb Township needed to identify some very aggressive vines so he could control them
Kay in Richmond deserves accolades for successfully caring for a possibly 200-year-old Christmas Cactus for 60 years.
Along with drought and floods our lawns are dealing with turf pests.
Strawberry root weevils are joining us inside.
Crabgrass may be the only thing growing in our yards. Here’s how to control it
Lecanium scale causing sticky situation
Watch out for hairy caterpillars
A threat to Michigan roses? Roses rosette virus
Bob in Garden City wondered what color LED lights he should use for plants in his house this winter (a mixture of red and blue). Here’s information on using LEDs for plant growth.
Pat in Wales wanted advice in getting rid of weeds and pests in his garden.
Mary Anne in Waterford was interested in when the leaves would turn color this year.
Laurie in Brighton’s Ornamental Cherry’s leaves were getting spots and dropping off.
Jim from Lapeer’s oak leaves were curling up which sounds like water stress than oak wilt.
Mike from Brooklyn wondered how to prune his hydrangeas.
Debroah from Detroit wondered where to buy Four O’Clock flowers that come up every year. Four O’Clocks usually don’t withstand our winters, however you can dig up the tubers and replant them in the spring. I wonder if you are thinking of Morning Glory. The flowers open during the day and are prolific reseeders.
Jim in Livonia wondered what to do about Locust seedlings coming up from the roots of a tree that he had removed. The best way to control them is to keep them mowed off, eventually they will run out of food reserves and die. You could apply glyphosate with an applicator (don’t spray before it will kill the grass).
James in Pinckney has an oak tree where two trunks were cabled together over 30 years ago. The cable has broken and the trunks have started to separate. Jim, contact a certified arborist or an arborist that has experience in this kind of work. They will probably replace the cable or because these trunks are so large use a stainless steel rod. However, because of the rish of oak wilt they will not work on the tree until after it begins to freeze.
Madhav in Warren‘s tomatoes have what sounds like blossom end rot. Preventing water stress is much more difficult in containers than in the garden because of how quickly the media dries because of low water holding capacity. You need to water very frequently, especially this year.
Joyce in Warren wonders about applying a herbicide in the aisles between her raised vegetable beds. If the soil in the aisles in clay and there is no chance of the vegetables’ roots penetrating under the edges of the beds, an application of glyphosate should work well. However, I would use an applicator to apply the herbicide instead of spray to reduce the possibility of the herbicide coming into contact with the vegetables or the media in the bed.
Joel from West Bloomfield wondered waht to plant where he has some Concolor Firs removed. Here are excellent articles by MSU’s Dr. Bert Cregg about selecting conifers for Michigan. With the heavy clay soil and being at the bottom of a slope, species that tolerate poor drainage should be your first choice.
Thomas in Livonia‘s peonies have developed a gray mold which sounds like powdery mildew. The good news is that while it’s too late to apply a fungicide, the disease really isn’t harming the plants that much. Just make sure you remove all infected material during fall clean up and put it in the trash, not your compost pile.
Sue from Toledo wanted to get rid of thistles in her yard. To kill perennial weeds such as thistle the herbicide has to move into the roots or the plant will grow again next spring. I would suggest applying glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and other brands, in about a week and then again in three weeks. Use a wipe or applicator so the herbicide doesn’t contact non-target plants. Don’t expect to see the tops die after application, the material is moving down to the roots not the top.
Sharon from Bloomfield Township also asked about controlling weeds in her yard. This is the best time of year to control all weeds, not just perennial weeds. Go here to determine which weeds you have and how to control them.
Sharon, it is too late to treat for grubs using preventative materials, however if you find more than five grubs per square foot or turk (look at the edges of bare spots) you can treat with carbaryl (Sevin). If you have bare spots and you don’t find grubs, consider renovating your lawn.
Kevin in Oak Park was wondering about some patches of grass which haven’t greened up, thinking it might be bent grass. I would use either https://turf.purdue.edu/tool/ or http://turfid.ncsu.edu/ItemID.aspx?orderID=GR&orderDesc=Grass to identify the grass and then follow Dr. Frank’s advice in the previous question to reseed the area.
Pat in Fenton has a very rough lawn where adding topsoil hasn’t helped. I suspect that you are dealing with a grass that has a “bunch type” growth habit. Use the keys listed in the previous question to positively identify the grass and then you can make a decision about reseeding or resodding.
V in Grosse Isle has scale on an Austrian Pine. The first step in control is identifying which scale is causing the problem. Here’s information on conifer scales from Colorado State University. However, I would contact the MSU Diagnostic Laboratory and ask how to submit a sample. You could also contact a certified arborist to inspect the tree.
Wasps are becoming quite aggressive. Here’s information on control
Tree hit by lighting? Here’s more information.
Jim in Farmington Hills wondered if he should stop using fertilizer because of how fast his grass is growing, and just apply weed control. A thick, lush lawn doesn’t allow weeds to become established and is better able to withstand disease and insect attack. The two most important factors in having a healthy lawn are proper watering and fertilization. The most efficient way to fertilize is to use a slow-release fertilizer (winter feed and dormant fertilizer are other common names) in the fall after you’ve stopped mowing and then again in May when the grass becomes lighter green. Use a fertilizer with the highest water insoluble nitrogen (WIN) percentage that you can afford. The grass will green up nicely in the spring but will not have the excessive growth that requires frequent mowing and invites disease.
Dale in Rochester Hills asked when to apply a winter weed and feed. You should apply a fall, slow-release fertilizer one of two weeks after you’ve stopped mowing for the year. However, this is probably too late for optimum weed control if you used a weed and feed formulation. I suggest spraying weeds now (only treat the areas that have a problem not the entire lawn) and then apply the slow-release fertilizer later.