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Q. In the early spring, we get these small sandy mounds appearing all over our backyard. In the middle of the mound there is a small round hole about the size of a pencil. Can you tell me what's causing this?
A. It could be one of several things; however because of the time of year, it sounds like ground bees. These are generally harmless, solitary bees that are simply burrowing in the ground to lay eggs. The process typically ends by March or April and little or no damage is done to the lawn areas. These bees are terrific pollinator's and important to our ecosystem.
Oak Island, NC
Q. I have a St. Augustine lawn. It seems to do fairly well except around the pine trees in the front yard. I am starting to see irregular shaped arcs and half circular dead areas appearing. It seems to be getting worst each year, particularly toward the end of the summer. After rains, we sometimes get large puff balls sprouting up!
A. This sound like a disease called Fairy Ring. There are several different strains of this fungus, some result in mushrooms, some may not. These fungi live off of decaying organic matter in the soil. The trees in your yard likely have dead or decaying roots under the soil. The decomposition of decaying matter releases an ammonium barrier, which actually impedes your grasses from utilizing water and nutrients. The soil can become hydrophobic , thus killing the grass. There are some fungicide materials available that may help minimize the damage from Fairy Ring. A few cultural practices that may help include core aeration, increasing the irrigation to these areas during periods of drought, and if possible, removing any dead wood from the soil.
Q. Someone told me that I have pearl bugs and so do most of my neighbors. I heard they can be harmful to the health of my lawn. What can we do about this?
A. Move! Seriously, I would first have one of our Freedom Lawns Turfgrass specialists examine your lawn and see if it indeed is a ground pearl problem, or perhaps something else. Ground pearls are a member of the scale family. Ground pearls are common along the sandy soils of the southeastern United States. They can adversely effect most warm season turf types but are particularly troublesome on Centipede lawns. We have seen less visible damage on Celebration Bermuda grass, and a few of the newer Zoysia varieties. Presently, there are no effective chemical controls for ground pearls. The damage from Ground Pearl is generally more noticeable during the late summer and fall on lawns that are under stress from lack of water. The best way to cope with ground pearl activity is to keep the lawn out of drought stress, start to establish more tolerant grass types, and call your Freedom lawns professionals for a special fertilization schedule to keep your lawn healthy!
St. James, NC
Q. My Camellia never seems to flower the way it should. It seems to get flower buds, and then they either die or when they do open, the flower is brown. What should I do?
A. It could be one or more different problems. This sounds Camellia petal blight for sure. This is a common fungus that can occur on camellias in the early spring. As the flower opens , brown areas appear . Within a day or two the entire bloom is brown and will fall off the plant. Good sanitation practices are important to prevent this disease from spreading. Collect all spent flowers and discard of them as soon as you can. To help control this disease, a fungicide that is labeled for Camellia petal blight should be applied. Several treatments will be required. Your Freedom Lawns Plant health care specialist can help with this.
Q. I have small piles of dirt all over my lawn. In fact, they are smothering my grass and creating an eyesore. Got any suggestions?
A. What you are seeing is most likely earthworm castings. Earthworms are considered beneficial insects. However, this may be a case of too much of a good thing! Earthworms need oxygen to breathe so when soils become too moist, earthworms will come to the surface to breathe and leave castings of soil. This is why you may see earthworms along your driveway after heavy rains. The earthworm castings can cause an unsightly appearance, particularly when your grasses are dormant and not able to grow up through the castings. High earthworm populations may also encourage moles into your lawn as they are a favourite snack for moles. The best way to cope with the earthworm problem is the lightly rake the dirt casting around the yard. This will prevent smothering of the grass, and will actually benefit your lawn.
Q. I have a 20 year old Pampas Grass at the end of my driveway. It still looks ok, but my wife says either it goes, or I go! After giving that offer some consideration, I tried digging it out, buts it has a deep root system. What can I do?
A. The Some folks get a chain, tie one end to the Pampus grass and the other end to their pickup truck. This may not be healthy for a pickup truck, so here's another suggestion. Your grass is mature and probably has a woody tissue in the center. Tie it as low as you can on the plant with a bungee cord or some rope. Cut the grass as low as you can with a chainsaw. Clean out as much debris from the grass as you can. Apply some Stump killer (most hardware stores carry this), to the center of the grass. Give it a few weeks to work. This should kill or at least weaken the Pampus to a point where it should be easier to dig out and remove.
Q. I enjoy taking care of my own lawn. I have a beautiful Centipede lawn. I mow it weekly, but I'd like to know which analysis of fertilizer would be best to use.
A. The exact analysis would depend upon the results of a soil test. Here are a few things you should consider before fertilizing your centipede grass. Centipede has unique fertilization requirements. Many centipede lawns have had a shorter than normal life span as the result of improper fertilization. Centipede prefers low nitrogen compared to other turf types. Timing is also important. Do not fertilize until the last freeze date which in the Wilmington region, is around the middle of April. Your last fertilizer treatment should be well before fall, around July or Early August. Poor nitrogen/fertilization management can create many long term problems for centipede. Over the years, I have noticed a few fertilizer brands that are available in hardware and garden centers that claim to be for centipede. However, many of these products contain too much fast release nitrogen, or just too high of a percentage of nitrogen. A few other suggestions to keep your centipede lawn healthy is check your soils pH. Centipede performs best in an acidic soil (pH Of 5.0 to around 6.0). Most soils near the coast tend to be a little high for a quality centipede. Proper mowing is also a factor. Centipede can be mowed at 1 inch to 2 inches with 1.5 inches ideal. We tend to see more winter kill on centipede that is mowed higher. I believe that most home owners, who have a centipede lawn, would benefit from leaving the fertilization to a knowledgeable, professional company such as Freedom Lawns.
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Bolivia, NC 28422