Market on Main back on; tackling lawn problems

Brian Maddy, County Extension Agent

June 13, 2014

We’ve been receiving lots of phone calls about various problems in the yard and garden.

Before we get to those, we have good news. The Market on Main is back in business located in the downtown movie theater parking lot just south of the building.

If you haven’t sampled any of the locally grown and produced vegetables and fruits, you’re in for a treat. It’s open Saturday mornings from 8 to 10 a.m. If you’re interested in having a booth, please call Barbie Watts, the director of the Downtown Development Authority at 706-298-4534 or call the extension office.

We’ve had numerous calls about damage to lawns in the area, mostly centipede and St. Augustine grasses. It was almost a perfect storm for those grasses. We had a very wet summer and late fall which promoted brown/large patch diseases. These diseases started to manifest themselves in the late fall.

Combine this with a very cold winter that affected the above-ground stolons. Stolons are runners – think strawberries – that root and extend the plant above ground. Since these were above ground they were affected severely by the extreme low temperatures, in many cases they were killed.

Remember that these are warm season grasses. We are at the top of the range in the temperature zone for both centipede and St. Augustine grasses. This range indicates where they will grow best.

We had a winter that was a one-year out of 10 for temperature extremes. Some parts of the lawn will have to be reseeded or re-sodded.

Another caution for warm season grasses is not to apply fertilizer during their dormant season, fall and winter. The nutrients, mostly nitrogen, will not be utilized when the grass is actively growing.

Their roots will not be able to absorb the nutrients. You are actually fertilizing the weeds that will grow faster and become more numerous. Fertilizing at the wrong time may also encourage late growth in the fall or early growth in the early spring that may make the warm season grasses subject to winter kill.

The weed and feed formulations have complicated matters with regard to lawns. The weed and feed combined products are designed for cool season grasses such as tall fescue and are timed to kill the annual weeds before they germinate in the fall and spring.

Timing is critical for pre-emergent herbicides and they must be watered in. For warm season grasses, use a pre-emergent only for weed control and fertilize separately at the correct time, late spring and summer.

Always fertilize according to soil test recommendations. You can bring in a soil sample to the extension office and we will send the sample to the UGA soil test lab.

Some of you may have seen damage to your azaleas already, namely leaves that become thickened, curled, fleshy and pale green to white in color. It looks worse that it is.

The name of this condition is called Azalea Leaf Gall. A fungus called Exobasidium vaccinii causes it. This fungus may stay dormant in the developing buds from one year to the next. The pathogen renews activity in the spring when the bud growth begins and one or more leaves on the shoot may develop symptoms.

The development is completed when a spore-bearing hymenium, a surface containing a spore bearing structure, is produced on the leaf surfaces. Spores can also be blown about.

You can control it by hand-picking, or prune out the galls or spray with recommended fungicides, Daconil 2787 or Mancozeb. Make sure to follow the label directions.

If you would like to learn more about gardening, the Troup County Extension Service is hosting Master Gardener Extension Volunteer classes this August. The program begins Aug. 5 and will meet Tuesday and Thursday afternoons through Oct. 16. It will give you an opportunity to become up-to-date on the most current information and research on horticulture from the UGA. Call the extension office for more information.

Brian Maddy is the ANR Agent for Troup Cooperative Extension. The Troup County Extension office is located at 114 Church St. in LaGrange and may be reached at 706-883-1675, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.