May - The Time Of Lawn Weeds Problem

By: Thomas Fryd..


May is the month when garden pests in the east start to raise their ugly heads. A lot of them are easily seen but the two that do the most damage around my place unless I constantly combat them are slugs (these are snails without shells and sowbugs. or pill bugs as some people call them.
Although liberal spraying or dusting with chemical controls will keep sowbugs in check, they are not very efficient against slugs. Here you either have to use one of the prepared baits containing metaldehyde. I try to apply it about every two weeks during the spring, particularly in shaded areas where there is a heavy mulch or around those plants that I find most likely to be damaged.
Slugs love plaintain lilies. I also now have a superior strain of slugs that developed a tremendous appetite for the tough evergreen leaves of my Lenten roses. Ants are easy to control now by dusting or spraying the surface of the ground with chlordane.
Lawn weeds are in their prime this month; they are really spreading. If you will use a specialized weed killer bought under one of the many named brands, you won't have to worry too much about the name of each weed since it will control most of those with broad leaves. However, if you have some that are resistant to it then you will want to check and find out what they are. Send a specimen to your agricultural experiment station or extension service for identification. For their sake, dry the specimen between newspapers for two or three days so that it wont be all shriveled and shattered by the time they see it.
A few weeds require specific methods of control. The experiment station will identify the weed for you and tell you if any control is available. Some of us feel that we could get along without chemical weed killers in the average size lawn by checking the area once a week and pulling up any little weed thats trying to get a start in life. It is amazing how little time this takes and how efficient it is. Get in the habit of walking back and forth across the lawn or keeping your eyes open as you mow it. Many states have excellent weed and lawn bulletins available. Ask your local county agricultural agent for a copy.
All Purpose Mixtures
Many different all purpose chemical controls on the market are supposed to be good for any and everything that you encounter in your garden. Most of them are specially mentioned in many lawn care guide. Some of these are excellent, a few are not all they might be. Check with your local nursery of what is recommended for your area. Here is one of my personal tips on applying fertilizer - I try to avoid days when temperatures are over 85 degrees to prevent the danger of burning. This goes for any dust or spray. Roses should get sprayed or dusted once a week, phlox once a month, and all other plants as soon as you see any indications of insect pests or plant diseases.
There is still a lot of truth in the old recommendation to put a 50 cent plant in a dollar hole. The later in the season that you plant (and May is getting late), the better the soil should be prepared. Make sure you have at least ten per cent organic matter in the soil that you are preparing. If you can afford it, 20 per cent will usually give better results.
Make sure that the soil is prepared at least a foot deep, and for plants such as roses, 18 inches is even better. Do you prepare a place at least a foot in diameter (and preferably two feet) for every plant you put in? Do you always mix complete fertilizer with the soil when preparing it so that the roots will find adequate nutrients? Until you have learned the joy and satisfaction of planting in well prepared soil you really dont know the fun of gardening. One of the best ways to stunt plants, and keep them from growing, is to put them in a tiny hole with all the roots wadded in the hard soil that exists in most yards.

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