Cheryl Gross, Advanced Master Gardener, Vice President MGANM, President Plant It Wild
Begin May with a soil test! Test your lawn soil OR your vegetable soil OR your flower garden soil. Know what your soil needs and treat to address those needs. Locally, McGough’s accepts soil samples and has results available in 7-10 days for $20. MSU also conducts soil tests. Go on-line and check it out. www.msusoiltest.com
Vow to avoid synthetic fertilizers in your yard this year!Go organic.Feed the soil to support the plants.Stay away from chemicals and drugs that degrade the soil and boosts plant growth.
Plant native.Add one or more Michigan native plants to your yard.Begin with a Serviceberry, Amalachier leavis, or a Butterfly Weed.Each will increase the food sources for insects and critters available in your yard.The more, the healthier!
by Lillian Ruiz, Cornell Lab of Ornithology NestWatch guest student writer
Aromatic herbs such as lavender, sage, and mint are all commonly found in kitchens, gardens, and in soaps and lotions. The plants’ perfumes are intended to attract pollinators and repel herbivores. It is well-documented that aromatic herbs have medicinal properties. However, humans are not the only creatures to utilize medicinal plants; some birds are known to incorporate pungent plants into their nests.
Corsican Blue Tits use up to five different aromatic herbs in their nests. The herbs are strategically placed within the nest, with the average number of herbs increasing as the nesting cycle progresses. Researchers Lambrechts and Dos Santos (2000) experimentally removed herbs from nests. Within days, the birds had replaced them. And for good reason! The study went on to suggest that the “potpourri” of herbs can potentially kill or repel certain parasites and fleas, which in turn results in high body and feather growth rates in developing chicks.
Not only are herbs beneficial for young, according to Gwinner (2012), female European Starlings prefer nests with herbs. Males display plants such as yarrow, hogweed, elder, and cow parsley to females prior to incorporating them into the nest. Starling nests with herbs have high incubation temperatures, providing an energy-savings to the female. Fledglings from nests with herbs also had a greater body mass and were overall healthier with fewer mites.
While we aren’t suggesting that you add fresh herbs to your nest boxes, it is fascinating to know that birds “self-medicate.” Perhaps this spring, consider planting aromatic herbs in your yard, such as yarrow. Sit back and observe your feathered friends. Are they intrigued by your herbaceous offering? If not, you can always use the plants in your kitchen or for aromatherapy!
Gwinner, H. 2012. Male European starlings use odorous herbs as nest material to attract females and benefit nestlings in Chemical Signals in Vertebrates 12, 353-362, Springer Publishing, New York.
Lambrechts, M. M. and A. D. Santos. 2000. Aromatic herbs in Corsican blue tit nests: The potpourri hypothesis. Acta Oecologica 21(3): 175-178.
Trees For Wildlife
Dead trees are best for wildlife! Photo by Advanced MG Cheryl Gross, MGANM Vice President
by Cheryl Gross, Advanced Master Gardener, Vice President MGANM
The question of what trees are best for wildlife came up recently. A snappy answer? A dead one.
A dead tree is to be valued in the landscape. It hosts bugs, A LOT of bugs, cavities for nesting birds and mammals, and fungus as it decomposes. A real win-win. Therefore, should you find yourself with a dead tree, first protect the buildings on your property. If they are not threatened, leave the tree. Wildlife will thank you. However, to get a dead tree… one must begin by planting a tree.
Trees play an important role in our environment. They form both the canopy and understory in a plant community. Trees cool the air in summer and break the wind in winter. Plant communities provide both food and shelter to wildlife. Shelter is provided by evergreens, tree cavities, and leaves. Food comes from nuts, berries, and the insects hosted by the trees.
Shelter provides protection from weather as well as protection from predators. Shelter includes nesting sites and nesting materials. Trees are optimal for birds and small mammals. Eastern hemlock does best in partial shade and is a valuable tree in a wooded area. White spruce, white pine, jack pine, and balsam fir, as well as red and white cedars provide valuable cover in sun/partial sun. In the landscape, these evergreens provide privacy on our property as well and can be planted to provide green fencing. The cones and seeds provided by these trees provide nutritious food for birds and small mammals, too.
Deciduous trees offer tremendous benefits to wildlife as well. Branch crotches offer platforms for nesting. Nuts and seeds provide nutrition and the best of all… native trees provide bug hosting for the insect cafeteria needed by wildlife. Douglass W. Tallamy, in Bringing Nature Home, ranks native trees in their ability to host insects, the primary diet for baby birds. Oaks, as a species, host the highest number and variety of insects. Further, he orders trees by their ability to support Lepidoptera, an order of insects that includes moths and butterflies. After oak, the list includes willow, cherry, birch, poplar, maple, elm, pine, and hickory.
Understory and small trees play an important role in plant communities and landscape design. A serviceberry, Amelanchier laevis, is the number one small tree for birds. Their early spring flower leads to a ripe berry in June which is gobbled up by birds. Highbush cranberry (viburnum family) produces a berry that is valued for winter interest and becomes available to birds after it thaws. North American small trees and shrubs in the dogwood family, Cornus florida, have a very high value to birds according to Marietta Nowak’s Birdscaping in the Midwest.
Choose your tree species carefully. Purchase only those native to Michigan, or the Great Lakes Region. Think food and habitat value as well as including diversity. Plant canopy trees, small trees and shrubs to work together to provide beauty year round and to create habitat for the wildlife in your yard.
Native plant gardens at the Boardman River Nature Center. Photo courtesy of Grand Traverse Conservation District
Gardening Resolutions for 2017
by Bethany Thies, Master Gardener in Training
The end of one year and the start of a new one.A time for new beginnings and fresh resolutions.And gardeners are no exception.In fact, some might say that by the very nature of the passing seasons and plant cycles, gardeners as a group are even more attune to the hope of fresh starts and new resolutions.
The Real Dirt team is no different.Here they share their New Year’s gardening resolutions and some links for additional info in case your goals for 2017 are similar.
“My gardening resolution is to document on paper and in pictures the seasonal changes on my Michigan native plant landscaped beds. This will be their third year since that space grew only lawn and I hope to note bloom time, pollinators, bloom length, color palette, bird species, insects and such. This documentation will allow for rearranging for color and space, and for educational purposes when I speak on gardening with Michigan natives! It is an ambitious resolution for sure, but should allow, and encourage me, to stop and smell the roses!“
Michele Worden, Real Dirt contributor, MGANM President, Advanced Master Gardener:
“To water my plants in the garage under the grow lights twice a week so I don’t lose any to over dryness.Also, to start my seeds on time.”
Many websites have calendars on when it’s best to start vegetable seeds in your zone.A great one can be found at can be found at the Burpee website (https://www.burpee.com/growingcalendar).Simply type in your zip code and up pops the indoor sow, direct sow and transplant dates for scores of fruits, vegetables, perennials, flowers and herbs.
Lillian Mahaney, Real Dirt contributor, Advanced Master Gardener:
“My resolutions for 2017 are working towards having more time to enjoy my gardens and adding more native plants.”
You can find out more about Michigan native plants at Michigan State University Extension website.The section titled Native Plants and Ecosystem Services, http://nativeplants.msu.edu/, is a great place to start.
Michelle Ferrarese, Real Dirt contributor, MSUE Leelanau County Master Gardener Coordinator:
“My resolution is to leave as many volunteer milkweeds as possible to maximize habitat for monarchs.”
The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation has launched what it calls Project Milkweed.At the webpage for the project (http://www.xerces.org/milkweed/), you can download regional guides developed in cooperation with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service on the different native milkweeds of North America, as well as link to other milkweed growing resources.
Jamie Guenther, Real Dirt contributor, Master Gardener:
“My resolution is to choose at least two native plants to incorporate into my yard this year.”
Judy Reich, Real Dirt contributor, MGANM Secretary, Master Gardener:
“Plan and prepare before buying the plant, shrub, or tree and then plant it as soon as it comes home!”
Nancy Denison, Real Dirt contributor, Advanced Master Gardener:
“I’d like to say my resolution is to just leave my gardens alone for a year and just maintain but chances are I will succumb and dig out something. After our big garden remodel, I’m ready to just enjoy.”
Photo courtesy of Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network (ISN)
Grow a Bird Feeder
by Cheryl Gross, Advanced Master Gardener, Vice President MGANM
Kay Charter of Saving Birds Thru Habitat in Omena, MI and the National Wildlife Federation both publish and promote information on bird food and habitat to support our resident and migrating birds.Growing a bird feeder should be a very popular practice given the popularity of backyard bird feeding and bird watching!Growing plants to feed birds is not difficult… but first begin by understanding a bird’s diet.
Typical backyard birds need insects and seeds in their diets.As most feeders are designed to hold mixed or specialized seeds and nuts such as sunflower seeds, thistle, and peanuts, humans may overlook the importance of insects in a bird diet.Baby birds eat insects almost exclusively.NO SEEDS.For adult birds to successfully raise a family of hatchlings, they need access to an abundance of insects, especially meaty caterpillars.
Gardeners, especially vegetable gardeners, are not all that fond of caterpillars as they feed on the leaves of valuable plants.Many gardeners use pesticide chemicals to reduce the caterpillar populations.These chemicals are harmful to birds.Gardeners and non-gardeners alike need to rethink the ‘bugs-in-the-garden’ issue.Our birds desperately need bugs for survival.Managed thoughtfully, a gardener should be able to tolerate some insect damage while building an ecosystem balance where the birds manage the insect population.A win-win for the gardener and the birds!
Insects are extremely picky eaters.Therefore, a homeowner should include mostly those plants which host insects.Those plants are native plants.Michigan native plants host insects native to the region.Plants from Europe, Asia, Australia, etc., host no insects.This is why in our backyard landscaping, alien plants have no ecological value.
While insects are invaluable for our birds, provide a variety of berry producing trees and shrubs and seed producing perennials and grasses for growing a bird feeder.
-Oak trees are known to host the largest number of caterpillar species.If there is room for a deciduous tree, plant an oak.Other native trees are also beneficial so hang on to those maples, birches, and all other Michigan natives.
-A Serviceberry, Amelanchier, is an understory tree that provides spring fruit for nesting adults.A Highbush Cranberry, viburnum trilobum, produces a fruit that is ready AFTER the winter freeze and thaw so is important to the early migratory birds before insects emerge.
-Lupine and Butterfly Weed are known to host larval insects, as do most native perennials.
-Purple Cone Flower produces fabulous seed heads that finches eat all through the fall.Seeds should be left on stems to be available for the birds through the fall and winter.Aggressive fall cleanup can actually be detrimental to bird food availability!
-Several Michigan clump forming grasses, such as Indian Grass, Side Oats Gramma, Prairie Dropseed, and Little Bluestem produce tasty seeds in the fall.
The keys to growing a bird feeder are:
1. Promote insects in your yard by planting native plants to host the caterpillars.Do not use pesticides.
3. Plant a variety of species to host insects, produce berries and seeds.
4. Leave flower bed clean-up till spring to allow snacking on remaining seeds and insects in the garden.
Enjoy watching the birds at your home-grown feeders through the year!
Annual Report from Mary Wilson
How many Extension Master Gardener Volunteers are in Michigan? What is the economic value of their volunteer hours? Read the statewide report here: 2015-statewide-summary-report-oct-16
Just as we prepare ourselves for the upcoming winter by searching for mittens, hats, boots and heavier jackets, it is also a good idea to prepare our garden soil for the upcoming change in weather. Doing so will make the soil healthier which will help ensure that future gardens will be given the support and nourishment that they will need. There are 16 nutrient elements that plants need for growth and reproduction. Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen are the three most abundant nutrients, and they are obtained through water and the air. The remaining 13 are divided into three categories:
The first step is to take a soil test to determine what sorts of amendments are necessary. This may seem like a bother but it is important to be sure that the correct amendments are added and unnecessary ones are not. This will help save both the environment and your pocketbook by only adding what is necessary. The soil test through Michigan State Extension will tell you your soil pH, type of soil, organic matter content, potassium, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, nitrogen and lime recommendations as needed. Once you’ve done that, keep in mind that there are a few items to consider when choosing amendments.
There are two forms of fertilizer to consider:organic and inorganic (chemical). Organic fertilizers are derived from a living plant or animal source while inorganic fertilizers are manufactured. Inorganic fertilizers typically consist of mainly nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus which are clearly displayed on the label. Organic fertilizers are more likely to contain micronutrients as well but a little more research is necessary to be sure of the nutrient content. Some good sources of organic fertilizers are:
Cottonseed meal. A byproduct of cotton manufacturing used frequently on acid-loving plants like rhododendrons. Generally, the nutrient content is 7% nitrogen, 3% phosphorus and 2% potash.
Blood meal. A dried, powdered blood collected from slaughterhouses. A rich source of nitrogen with the addition of some micronutrients including iron.
Fish emulsion. Partially decomposed blend of pulverized fish. This is a well-rounded fertilizer.
Bone meal. Ground animal bones collected from slaughterhouses. Good source of nitrogen and phosphorus.
Wood ash. Byproduct of burning wood in wood stove or fireplace. Source of lime, potassium and other trace elements and is very alkaline.
Dried, crushed eggshells. Good source of calcium.
Alfalfa meal. Made from fermented alfalfa plants. Good source of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus.
Epsom salts. Good source of magnesium.
Calcitic or dolomitic lime. Good source of lime and calcium in both but if magnesium is also needed, use dolomitic lime.
Some of the above recommendations will attract wildlife into the garden, so be sure to lightly work them into the soil as a way to cover the odors.
It is also a good idea to add organic matter to the soil as a way to improve soil structure, add pore space for increased ability to hold water and nutrients, and provide a food source for beneficial microorganisms. Some good sources of organic matter are animal manure, compost, cover crops and perennial grasses and legumes.
Even though getting the soil ready for the upcoming winter includes a number of considerations it is definitely worth the effort to ensure a healthier soil and greater productivity in the upcoming spring.
Michigan State Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program Training Manual.
MGANM Meeting update: September
by Nancy Denison, Master Gardener
September’s meeting was hosted by Kay Charter, founder of Saving Birds Thru Habitat and The Charter Sanctuary, on beautiful wooded property in Leelanau County.Kay shared her expertise with us concerning beneficial habitats for native nesting birds, of which there are 22 species on her property.Areas that provide arboreal and deciduous forests, grasslands and wetlands abundant with native plants will encourage our Indigo Buntings, Eastern Meadowlark, Rose Breasted Grosbeak among many other species.
Our birds cannot live without the insects, so the use of insecticides and neonicotinoids are extremely harmful. Cats kill about one billion birds a year and window crashes also cause many deaths and injuries.Using window screens/blinds can help birds’ confusion.
A brief walk along Kay’s path in her sanctuary finished off the night. We appreciate Kay’s vast knowledge of our native birds and hard work to educate us about the interconnectedness of our natural areas. For more information: www.savingbirds.org or Facebook.
MGANM Meeting update: October
by Nancy Denison, Master Gardener
“Permaculture” was the topic of the October meeting and Penny Krebiehl our guide.Penny is an artist, Permaculture Designer and founder of Little Artshram in TC, among many other talents.Permaculture evolved from the term “Permanent Agriculture” meaning to mimic nature’s designs with vision, common sense and strategic thinking.
There are three ethics of permaculture:care for the Earth, care for people and return the surplus. Also helpful are the principles for functional design, principles for living and energy systems and attitudes. Learning to observe your planting area, creating and optimizing zones for growing while respecting the natural design of the space, can provide optimum success in your gardens. And of course, there is constant evaluation of your success or failures!
Thank you so much, Penny, for sharing your experiences and knowledge with us.
Association President, Michele Worden, reminded all to make sure they have voted, through the email sent previously, to join the Michigan Master Gardener Association.The Volunteer Recognition Luncheon is planned for Sunday, Nov. 6. Invitations will be going out soon and volunteers are needed for set up, clean up and the silent auction. Please contact Michelle Ferrarese- email@example.com or Michele Wordenfirstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to get your volunteer hours registered before the end of October to help in preparation for the luncheon.
Plants Toxic to Pets
by Whitney Miller, Advanced Master Gardener, MGANM “Techie Chick”
As the holiday season approaches, many people wonder about poisonous plants and their pets. We asked local veterinarian Whitney Jencka from Bay Area Pet Hospital a few questions regarding the subject, and here are her answers.
1. In your experience, what are the top three poisonous plants pets get into during the holiday season?
2. Is it the entire plant that is poisonous or just certain parts?
3. How much of these plants do they actually have to ingest before it can harm them?
4. What are the signs and symptoms of poisoning from these plants?
5. How long does it take for symptoms to show?
6. Do you have any recommendations to keep pets away from these plants?
Most of the calls we get are regarding chocolate, nuts, etc… However, Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) come up a lot! Historically, people have believed these to be very toxic to pets. In actuality, they are not life threatening. If a pet ingests a mild to moderate amount they may end up with GI upset, such as vomiting and/or diarrhea.
The second is Christmas tree water. It is also fairly benign if ingested unless there are fertilizers, nutrient additives. In that case it would depend on the product used. Holly (Ilex aquifolium) and mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum) are other common holiday time plants but luckily, they too are pretty harmless. If enough is ingested they can cause GI upset. The only exception would be very large ingestion of the American variety. It contains lectins which in high volume could cause cardiac effects.
I would expect the clinical signs of vomiting to begin pretty quickly. Most toxins that cause GI upset are irritating to the lining of the stomach. The diarrhea would probably occur within 12-48 hours.
Pets are pets and if they are interested in something they are going to get to it. So, if you are at all worried about the animals ingesting these plants I would recommend keeping them elevated at all times beyond their reach or not having them in the house.
You can always call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Hotline for help if there is concern that a pet ingested a toxin.
Mycelium of the fungus Polyporous radula; date: 1886; Source: Popular Science Monthly Volume 29
Mutualistic Mushrooms and the Magical Webs That They Weave
Jamie Guenther, Master Gardener
The magnificent and wondrous world of mushrooms seems to be gaining a bit of popularity in the United States recently. And while mycology has been around for quite some time (its Greek origin being myco = fungus and ology = study of), defining a mycophile is not so straightforward.
According to Merriam-Webster, a mycophile is “a devotee of mushrooms; especially: one whose hobby is hunting wild edible mushrooms.”The draw here seems to be mainly which mushrooms are edible and which ones are toxic.But even the information that is known in that arena is extremely limited. There are a projected 1.5 million species of fungus out there in the world but only about 5 percent have been identified!We still have so much to learn.
So, how can the information that we do know about mushrooms turn our attention from simply eating them to understanding how this mysterious growth can be beneficial for gardeners? It turns out that mycologists have organized fungi into three categories based upon the relationships that fungi have with the environment in which they are found, which is also their food source. Those categories are mutualists (mycorrhizal fungi), saprophytes (endophytic fungi) and parasites (saprophytic fungi).
Each category of mushroom plays a crucial role in the environment and the USDA has started to recommend that no-till agriculture be adopted as a way to preserve mycorrhizal fungi.Conventional plowing and tilling breaks apart and damages the soil fungi whereas no-till agricultural practices keeps the fungi intact and has been determined to be beneficial to crop management.
Mycorrhizal fungi forms a sort of web called mycelium that branches to the different neighboring plant roots and breaks down nutrients into a readily assimilative form so that the plant can easily absorb those nutrients. In return, the plant provides sugar to the fungi which it needs for energy.A win-win for both plant and fungi.
The largest mycelium system was discovered in 1998 in the Malheur National Forest in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon. This system spans 2,200 acres and is at least 2,400 years old. Scientists know that this system is an individual unit because of chromosome testing.As an example of how this works, imagine a fairy ring of fungus. Each mushroom above ground is coming from a branch of mycelium running underground with the center of the circle being the food point of origin. The branches extend out forming a circle pattern which allows the mycelium a better chance at finding food. As it does, it will continue to extend farther in search of more food sources.
Fungi can grow in a wide range of conditions. They are found in locations where temperatures ranges are from below freezing to over 150 degrees Fahrenheit; they can grow in dark and light, in water, in the desert and even on human beings (dandruff).The possibility of finding fungi is endless and fascinating.But this article is focusing on fungi that are beneficial to gardening, so I digress.
Back to soil health and mycorrhizal fungi applications in food production.Along with the USDA recommendation for no-till agriculture, the Natural Resources Conservation Service promotes mycorrhizal inoculants on tree plantings. The process is simple and uses a commercially produced mycorrhizal fungi mix added to water in which the tree seedlings are dipped into prior to planting. Plants that have this treatment need less fertilizer, withstand pollutants better, have more resistance to disease and can withstand saltier, drier and more acidic or alkaline soils. The process works so well that the state of New York has begun to adopt the practice.Anyone can start promoting this mutualistic relationship in their gardens now that the fungi mix can easily be ordered on-line.
Yes, mushrooms are wonderful to cook and eat.But, given the benefits that the mutualistic relationships between fungi and plant have been shown to promote in the agricultural realm, now might be the time for “mycology” to mean more than just mushroom hunting.We in the gardening world might want to turn our focus underground to help support the environment so that it, in turn, can help support us.
Bone, Eugenia. “Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms.”
2011. New York, NY.
Photo from Pixabay
Clean Up for Gardening Tools
Shared by Judy Reich, Master Gardener; From Real Simple
Spades, trowels, and hoes end up marred by dirt, rust, or sap.
Season kickoff: Spray each tool with lubricating oil (such as WD-40). Dip each tool in and out of a bucket full of sand until the grime is gone. Brush off the sand and let air-dry.
After every use: Rinse off the tools with a hose. Dry fully with a cloth and store them in a bucket of sand, handles facing up. The sand will absorb moisture and work away the remaining gunk as the tools are pushed through.
Season wrap-up: Rinse the tools and store in the sand bucket.
Timing is EVERYTHING
Cheryl Gross, Advanced Master Gardener
Early fall is the best time to restore your turf grass.And, yes, timing is everything in in lawn care.As you may be aware, lawns are not native in Michigan, or the USA for that matter.It is a European import and prefers cool, wet weather.In northern Michigan our hot and dry summer weather stresses the cool-season grass plant due to its shallow root system.
Douglas Tallamy, PhD and author of Bringing Nature Home, reports that the United States has 45 million acres of lawn.To support and maintain that lawn in a perpetual green state we use 2 billion gallons of gasoline for lawn equipment, emit 41 billion pounds of CO2 and 13 billion pounds of air pollutants from mowers and leaf blowers, apply 100 million pounds of lawn chemicals and sprinkle with 9 billion gallons of clean water.
Unfortunately, most of these lawn care efforts are wasted due to poor timing.
Lindsey Lampton of Mc Gough’s in Traverse City shared her expert advice on doing things the right way and at the right time to get the most out of your lawn maintenance for this article.
To grow any plant successfully, a gardener first needs to know what soil conditions are available to that plant and the specific soil needs of the plant and whether the two items will allow successful propagation.That means getting a soil sample and having it tested.MSU Extension offers soil testing. Click here to order your soil sample kit for $25.Mc Gough’s in Traverse City offers soil testing for $20. Click here for instructions.
To take a soil sample you will need soil from approximately 10 sites in your yard growing the same plant, such as lawn. (Note: if you which to test for growing vegetables, test that area of your garden separately.) Following a zig-zag pattern, dig about a 4-5 inch deep hole in your turf.With a trowel, slice about 1 inch wide x 3-4 inches deep sample. Do not include roots in your sample. Place it in a clean bucket.Repeat taking slices from all around your lawn where you mow and where you plan to treat with fertilizer.With all of the samples in the bucket, stir to blend all soil together.Scoop out 1 – 2 cups of soil to be tested.
It is September 1.Send your soil for testing today!
Then, if your lawn needs re-seeding or over seeding, do it NOW.Mow low and scratch the surface of thin areas to allow seed to contact the soil.Spread grass seed and KEEP MOIST.Germination will ONLY take place if the seed is continually moist.
By mid-September you should have your soil test results in hand.Apply ONLY the nutrients deficit in your soil needed for grass.Generally speaking, germinating grass may need phosphorus, while many of our soils have an adequate supply.Therefore, most of the fertilizers sold in Michigan do not include phosphorus.(Over-feeding phosphorus allows run-off to contaminate our surface and ground water.)Fall feeding is the best growing time for the grass plant.Cool season grasses return to vigorous growing after the heat of summer and will absorb the nutrients.When the grass plant is not actively growing, the fertilizer is wasted as the plant is not ready for absorption.In September, it can be a good time to fight broad leaf weeds as well.Consider hand spraying rather than broad spectrum application to save on the use of herbicides.
Lindsay says that a common misconception is that “lawns in northern Michigan need lime.”They most likely do not.Therefore, do not treat your lawn with lime, unless a soil test has indicated an insufficiency.
Further, additional lawn treatments monthly, or even four times per season, are likely not needed.Fall is the ideal time to support the turf lawn for weed suppression and vigorous growth.Over seed in late August/early September and keep evenly moist followed by fertilizer and weed suppression chemicals by late September/early October.
In the spring, apply crabgrass preventer, if needed.It will block seed germination of crabgrass and other grass seeds.Note: Do not try to over seed or reseed a lawn after applying a crabgrass preventer.A crabgrass preventer works by blocking seed germination.
Other tips for maintaining a healthy turf lawn include:
Mow less often.A longer blade of grass shades the roots and maintains soil moisture.
Keep your grass long.Cut your grass between 3-4 inches tall.
Water to support rainfall up to an inch a week.Longer, deeper waterings are preferred over 15 minute ‘sprinkles’, unless germinating new seed.
Grass growing in sandy, less organic soils will require more water than grass growing in clay.
Hotter temperatures require more frequent watering than cooler temperatures.Therefore, should you have a programmable irrigation system, be sure to adjust length of watering time and frequency of days watered as weather conditions dictate.
Timing in watering is important too.Water very early in the morning for most effective use of you water.
Maintaining a healthy, green lawn is all about the timing… of water, of nutrients and of weed suppression.Ignore the element of timing and you will waste money on ineffective chemical applications and risk polluting our surface and ground water.
Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan members make our world more beautiful by participating in gardening projects, educational programs, activities and CONNECTING A COMMUNITY OF GARDENERS THROUGH LEARNING!
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