D.Ear Neil: Does this tree have to be felled? Note the oval black spot in the trunk in my photo. It’s about 8 inches tall and there is a leak of fluid. What should I do?
Reply: This could be damage from the February cold spell. We have seen all of the measures taken to damage oak and many other tree species across Texas. You will soon need to hire a certified local arborist to inspect the tree. His canopy still looks pretty strong, so he can recover very well. Let the specialist take a close look at it.
Dear Neil: We have this huge oak tree (I think) towering over both our house and our neighbor’s. It has quite a bit of growth on its lower limbs, but nothing in height. Can it be saved?
Reply: That’s exactly what I just wrote. We have seen all kinds of damage to all kinds of trees. This dead wood will soon have to be cut out before one of these branches falls on one of the houses. The fact that it is growing vigorously below indicates that the apical dominance from the growing tips of these branches has been lost. You no longer have the growth hormones that determine the tree’s performance. This process has shifted to the lower branches. You need a highly skilled, certified, and contracted arborist to do this job of protecting your property and that of your neighbor’s property.
Dear Neil: In winter, the cold and snow killed a five-meter high spot on my lawn. I have transplanted branches with St. Augustine and they are growing well, as are some Bermuda shorts. But the small thorny weeds also thrive. It has a very long root. A weed eater won’t kill it. What can I do?
Reply: I’m having trouble seeing details in your photo, but it looks like you have a delicate thorn bush, Mimosa pudica. I would suggest that you apply the weed control directly to the weeds with a broad-leaved weed killer (with 2,4-D) when it has as much foliage as possible. Use a trigger squeeze bottle to apply it. That should take care of it.
Dear Neil: I have two 5×5 and one 5×10 foot raised gardens that I use for vegetables. They are now ready for the season, although I’ll be using one of the smaller ones for the fall harvest soon. What’s the best cover for the other two to keep weed growth out through January?
Reply: I would use heavy black polyethylene plastic (like a pond liner) to solarize the beds by soaking in the sun’s rays for the rest of this summer and fall. Secure it tightly by the edges to keep it neat and tidy.
Dear Neil: We have white flies all over our fenced yard. I sprayed them with detergent / water solution using a garden hose to get rid of all the eggs and that seemed to get the job done, but now they’re in two large yaupons and I can’t get ahead of them. I tried to spray down from the patio roof. What would you suggest?
Reply: It definitely wouldn’t be climbing a roof with a detergent / water mixture. Ouch! What a great way to have a terrible fall. White flies are not fought with detergent sprays anyway. They are some of our most difficult insect pests to get rid of. You will need to use a combination of labeled insecticides that are commonly used to catch the rapidly evolving generations. Also try yellow sticky traps from an organic gardening supplier. The only problem with the yellow sticky traps is that they also catch “good” bugs, which are also attracted to the yellow color.
Dear Neil: What causes pecans to fall early (August and September) and be eaten by a black fungus? We used to gain 75 pounds of pecans from each of our two trees, but for the past two years the fungus has ruined them.
Reply: That’s pecan scab, and the fungus actually starts in the spring. You must include a labeled insect control fungicide with every spray you make in May and June. It is too late to hope for an inspection by this time in late summer.
Dear Neil: Crabgrass is out of control on my lawn. I use heavy doses of pre-emergence in the spring and fall, but I still have it. Should I spray with a grass killer and start over? I want to have a nice Bermuda lawn.
Reply: Don’t use a grass killer and start over! That is an exaggeration. Mow your lawn frequently to keep the crab grass at bay until it dies from the first freeze in a few months. (That assumes you’ve identified it correctly.) Then apply your pre-emergence granules in the recommended amount at the right times in the spring. That would be two weeks before the average date of your last kill stop, with a refresher application 90 days later. That should keep it from sprouting next year, and you should be able to have the perfect lawn you wanted without the hard work of starting over. If you started with new Bermuda made from seed, you would still have crab grass anyway.
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