Grass weeds in lawns are classified as either annual or perennial. Management options differ between the two classes, with annuals generally easier to control.
Tall fescue can be a signficant weed problem in Kentucky bluegrass lawns.
Crabgrass and other annual grass weeds are common problems in home lawns that can be treated through both chemical and nonchemical methods. Proper lawn care practices to encourage a dense stand of vigorous grass is the best way to prevent weeds from invading. For example, mowing height can have a big impact; lawns mowed higher (over two inches) tend to have less problems with annual grasses such as crabgrass. Close-mowed lawns tend to open up, allowing weeds like crabgrass to invade. Light, frequent watering also favors crabgrass. Crabgrass often invades areas seeded in late spring because of bare soil, frequent watering, and the onset of hot weather, which is ideal for its growth.
Herbicides (weed killers) are also available to manage annual weeds. Preemergence herbicides prevent annual grass weeds such as crabgrass from emerging. Timing of application is important, as the weed killer should be applied to soil before the crabgrass emerges from the soil. Crabgrass will germinate when soil temperatures are greater than 55 to 60 degrees F. for 7-10 consecutive days, and continues until soils reach 95 degrees F. Other annual grasses germinate as the soils get warmer than 60 degrees.
Ornamental grasses require relatively low levels of fertility. By keeping the level of nitrogen low, lodging or flopping over can be kept to a minimum. Leaf color and vigor are good guides to nitrogen requirements. Application of one-half to one pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 sq. ft. of garden area or about one-quarter cup per plant is sufficient. Apply fertilizer just as growth resumes in the spring. An application of a slow release fertilizer such as Osmocote in the spring is enough to take care of the plant's needs throughout the summer. Fertilizer should be watered in thoroughly.
Plants should be well watered the first season after planting so they can develop a good root system. Established plants do not need regular watering, but may need supplemental watering during drought periods. The amount of water will depend on the grass species, the site, and on the quality, size and growth rate desired.
Cultivate around grass plants to control weeds. Application of mulch will greatly reduce the need for cultivation as well as watering. It also tends to keep grasses in check that have a tendency to be heavy reseeding types.
Grasses do not need to be cut down before winter. In fact, they are attractive when left standing and the foliage helps to insulate the crown of the plant. Cut back the foliage to about 4-6 inches in the spring before growth resumes. When foliage is removed, spring growth will begin earlier. Old foliage left on the plant can delay the crown’s warming and subsequent growth by as much as 3 weeks.
Division depends on the spacing and visual appearance of the plants as well as the overall health. Plants suffering from die-out in the center should be divided to improve appearances. Division is done in the spring before growth resumes or in the late summer or fall after the growing season. Plants that bloom late could be divided in the spring.
Pansies represent just one of the over 500 different violet species in the Viola genus. Some of the most beautiful of our native plants are violets. Blue violet is the state flower of Illinois. Violets can be found blooming March through May in every county in Illinois. Violets are also important larval hosts for fascinating Fritillary butterflies. Garden pansies and violas come in just about every color and color combination. They may be a single clear color such as blue or yellow. The single color might also have lines radiating from the center. Or the flowers can be multicolored with a "face-like" dark blotch.
Even though they are all in the Viola genus, gardeners generally lump violets into two groups.The first group includes true violets such as Tufted violet, Viola cornuta and Sweet violet, Viola odorata which are perennial. Sweet violet is the common purple violet in our yards and gardens. The second group of pansies and violas gets the most press.
Check soil pH and fertility by having your soil analyzed at least once every three years. Your local Extension agent will have directions for properly collecting a soil sample. Your soil samples can be sent to the State University or a Soils Laboratory for testing. Soil testing kits are also available. Soil pH measures the degree of acidity or alkalinity of the soil. Vegetables vary to some extent in their requirements, but most garden crops will do well with a soil pH of 6.2 to 6.8. This is a little below neutral, or slightly acid (sour). If soil pH is too high or low, poor crop growth will result, largely due to the effects pH has on the availability of nutrients to plants.
A soil test report will include the relative level of phosphorus, potassium, and micronutrients in the soil. The report also will give you recommendations for the amount of lime and fertilizer to add so that your soil pH and nutrient levels are suitable for vegetables. To find out more about soil testing in you area, call one of the following local services:
Rock Island County Farm Bureau: (309) 736-7432
Scott County Extension Service: (563) 359-7577
A site that provides full sunlight, good air circulation, and a well drained soil high in organic matter is ideal for growing roses. Roses should receive at least six hours of sun a day. If all-day sun is not available, a location where they get only morning sun is preferred to one where they get only afternoon sun. Morning sun helps to dry the leaves quicker, reducing the potential for disease. Shade in the afternoon is a plus, as it helps to prolong flower quality.
Poorly drained soils and "wet feet" spell death for roses. When selecting a site, growers must be sure the drainage is adequate. If drainage is suspect, improve it through soil amendments or by constructing raised beds. If an 18-inch-deep hole filled with water drains in 5-6 hours, drainage is satisfactory.
Roses are tolerant of most soil types. However, they do better in a relatively fertile soil high in organic matter. Applying 2-4 inches of organic matter over the bed prior to tilling will help to improve the tilth of the soil. For each bushel of organic matter, add about 1/2 pound of superphosphate to the soil. A soil pH of 6.0-7.0 is preferred by roses. If possible, prepare planting beds as early as you can to allow the soil to settle. Bed preparation is a good time to address issues of nutrient and pH adjustments. It is absolutely necessary to prepare the bed before planting any plants.
Asparagus is a hardy perennial. It is the only common vegetable that grows wild along roadsides and railroad tracks over a large part of the country. Although establishing a good asparagus bed requires considerable work, your efforts will be rewarded. A well-planned bed can last from 20 to 30 years. For this reason, asparagus should be planted at the side or end of the garden, where it will not be disturbed by normal garden cultivation. Asparagus is one of the first vegetables ready to harvest in the spring. Asparagus is native to the Mediterranean and was eaten by the ancient Greeks.
When to Plant: Asparagus should be planted as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring. One-year-old crowns or plants are preferred. Seeds are sown in a production bed and allowed to grow for a year. The young plants have compact buds in the center (crown), with numerous dangling, pencil-sized roots. Adventurous gardeners can start their own plants from seed. Although this adds a year to the process of establishing the bed, it does ensure fresh plants and the widest possible variety selection.
Harvesting: Asparagus can be harvested the third year after planting crowns, but for no more than one month the first season. The plant is still expanding its root storage system and excessive removal of spears weakens the plants. During the fourth year and thereafter, the spears may be harvested from their first appearance in the spring through May or June (as long as 8 to 10 weeks).
The winter landscape may seem a bit bland at first glance. But if you look closely, you'll find that quite a few plants have interesting bark that is actually easier to appreciate without the distraction of leaves and flowers. Bark often changes over time, so that a species that starts out with thin, smooth bark on twigs and young branches may become thick and flaky or change in color as the plant matures. Beautiful bark comes in many forms, including smooth, shiny, ridged, flaky, blocky or peeling.
Among the better-known candidates for ornamental bark are the birches, the paper bark birch (Betula papyrifera) most obvious. As the tree gets a few years of age, the outer white bark peels off in horizontal sheets to reveal reddish-brown bark beneath. There are several other birch species with attractive bark, including European white birch (Betula pendula) with white, non-peeling bark eventually mottled with black, sweet birch (Betula lenta) with shiny, reddish-brown bark and river birch (Betula nigra) with peeling, scaly bark mottled with cinnamon brown, beige and orange.
Some of the most beautiful bark belongs to the cherry (Prunus) species, many of which are lustrous, shiny and characterized by horizontal grayish-brown markings that are very distinctive. The native black cherry (Prunus serotina) has attractive grayish-black bark, but, due to its prolific production of seedling offspring, can be quite a nuisance species. Nanking cherry (Prunus tomentosa) is a shrubby cherry with reddish-brown, shiny and peeling bark.