Dear Neil: Is Zeon zoysia the best grass for shade?
A. No. Zoysias, including the variety Zeon, require more sun than St. Augustine, but they’ll tolerate shade better than bermuda. You may see advertising statements making some zoysia varieties sound almost too good to be true. Always buy your sod or plugs from a local source, and ask for referrals to see how those lawns look after a couple of years.
Q. Dear Neil: I can’t get rid of clover in my lawn. I’ve tried a 7 percent 2,4-D product, but it didn’t work. I’m thinking about using a stronger 2,4-D product but I don’t want to injure my lawn. What can I do?
A. The 2,4-D products do work. I’ve used them for all my career. Here are some specific suggestions. First, mix it carefully according to label directions. If you start with a more concentrated type it will just ask you to add more water. The final mixed spray will be of the equal strength, no matter where you start. I prefer to use a tank sprayer that will let me adjust the spray nozzle to small droplets (as opposed to hose-end sprayers that spew large droplets and too much herbicide out to the point of runoff). I include one drop of liquid dishwashing detergent per gallon of spray to help hold the spray on the clover’s leaves and I coat them only to the point of a complete coating. You do not want to mow for several days before you spray, nor do you want to mow for a few days after. You should notice the clover, twisting and becoming gnarly within a few days.
Q. Dear Neil: I spend a lot in caring for my St. Augustine lawn. What can I do for bare spots that won’t add more cost? If there is no seed for St. Augustine, and if I don’t want fescue or bermuda, what are my other options?
A. Your first goal must be to determine why the areas are bare. If it’s shade, as I mentioned earlier, St. Augustine is your best choice. You would want to dig your own plugs and replant them into the bare spaces. However, if shade caused the grass in those areas to die away, unless you improve the sun penetration, St. Augustine is probably going to fail again. In that case you would have to switch to a shade-tolerant groundcover like mondograss, Asian jasmine, purple wintercreeper, etc.
There also is the chance that chinch bugs caused the bare spots. In that case you could replant St. Augustine and just be mindful to treat when you first see signs of drying grass next summer.
There is no St. Augustine seed that you would want to plant because you would not have any guarantee of resistance to St. Augustine decline virus, nor would you have assurance of winter hardiness. And you certainly don’t want to plant any of the “grass patch” products because they would introduce grasses you really don’t want to mix in with the rest of your lawn.
Q. Dear Neil: Asian jasmine all over our daughter’s neighborhood in North Texas appears to have died. Is that from the cold?
A. It probably was the exposure to ice, but it wasn’t killed. It should be mowed or trimmed back to 3 inches. Apply an all-nitrogen lawn food to it (no weed killers included) and it should green up almost immediately now that it’s getting warmer.
Q. Dear Neil: We planted a passionflower vine, three years ago along a fence. We were very happy with its beautiful flowers that attracted butterflies, while the foliage fed caterpillars. However, last fall, the vine started to sprout up in the yard and in a raised-bed vegetable garden. Short of pulling them out by hand, is there any way of eliminating the sprouts without removing the mother plant?
A. So that you could keep the mother plant, you might use a roll-type mulch in the vegetable garden. Leave narrow, open areas in the mulch for planting your vegetables. That would limit the space in which sprouts could develop. In the yard you could use the same 2,4-D broadleafed weedkiller spray I discussed earlier. Passionflower vines often develop into thick tumbles of plants. They do require a good bit of trimming and training.
Q. Dear Neil: We have property in the southern part of Edwards County.
We are there mainly in the winter. We’ve tried two years in a row to transplant piñon pines to our entryway, but the drought has gotten them both summers after we moved them. This winter we moved them in October thinking we’d have several months to water them. We carry 20 to 30 gallons of water to them every day, but this third try is also looking very poorly. What suggestions do you have?
A. Pines are not easily relocated, and any newly transplanted tree will require at least twice-weekly watering its first summer (but not 20 to 30 gallons per day in winter). I would suggest starting with smaller trees, perhaps only 15 or 18 inches tall. Maybe even “root-prune” them every couple of months now through next fall before you try to move them. That would give them 10-11 months to establish new roots before it turns hot next summer. But you must provide water all year, not just in winter.
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