Reseed Your Lawn This Fall

You can reseed your lawn during the fall

While you are out looking over your sprinkler system and getting your garden ready for the coming winter, why not reseed your lawn as needed? If you only need to repair small areas, this is also known as overseeding and will help you make your lawn healthier and uniform by filling in any spots that are bare or otherwise problematic.

Why Reseed your lawn This Fall?

Autumn is a good time to get new grass growing and repairing your lawn. As long as you are not doing it at the end of fall, there should be enough time for a strong root structure to be formed and give the grass a chance to store away nutrients for the coming winter dormancy.

You do want to keep an eye out on your local forecasts for frost and be aware of your average first frost date of the year. For example, it is usually around November 1st to 10th here where we are in Yonkers, NY. These dates are not a guarantee of course; frosts may definitely start before or after these dates. They are, however, based on observations of past trends and serve as a good guide when planning your garden tasks. A frost right when seedlings are emerging can be devastating.

The Basics of How to Reseed Your Lawn

It usually is not too hard to get new grass seeds going in the bare spots in your lawn. Start by mowing your lawn, taking away the clippings and adding just a little soil on top so that the new grass seed has somewhere to get started. You don’t want to smother your existing lawn, though, so only use a fraction of an inch.  Choose a type of seed that matches or compliments your current grass. Sow the seeds and make sure they get watered lightly a couple of times daily to keep the ground moist enough (not wet) for germination.

You can also totally reseed an entire lawn if it is beyond repair, though you will need to remove the old grass, work to enhance and repair the soil, then get it even and ready for reseeding.

Are you going to reseed your lawn this fall?

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Japanese Beetles in the Garden

Japanese beetles can skeletonize leaves

If you have holes appearing on the leaves in your garden and you notice coppery and green insects on your plants, they are likely a type called the Japanese beetle. These hungry bugs love to munch their way through foliage, wreaking havoc in their wake.

What Problems Do Japanese Beetles Cause?

As you can see in the photograph above, Japanese beetles will chew holes in the leaves of your plants. The damage can be so extensive that the entire leaf is skeletonized. If much of the foliage is destroyed in this manner, it can be difficult for the plant to photosynthesize and get the energy that it needs for proper growth.

How Can You Get Rid of Japanese Beetles?

Treating for grubs can help stop an influx of these pests if done at the correct time. This kills the larvae before it has a chance to grow up, greatly lessening the chances of problems in the future.

One of the most successful ways to lessen the numbers of these insects in your garden (since it is very difficult to get rid of them completely) is to simply find them on your plants and drop them into a solution of soapy water, making them drown. This method is very inexpensive and easy to use. You can also spray them with insecticidal soap.

You may have seen Japanese beetle traps for sale and thought that they could be helpful in this situation. Unfortunately, they may end up worsening the problem. While they do attract and catch beetles, they do it by using pheromones. Frisky bugs will head towards your garden and you will likely end up with more than if you had avoided the traps.

How do you handle Japanese beetles in your landscape?

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Dealing With Bentgrass in Your Lawn

Bentgrass is one weed that can invade your lawnBentgrass is not necessarily always a weed. In fact, it is often used to create lawns and golf course greens in some areas. The problem comes when it pops up in lawns and competes with the type of grass that you did intend to plant.

How Does Bentgrass Invade Your Lawn?

Seeds can arrive in your landscape by being blown in. They may also be brought in if you use a lawn mowing service. The plant starts to grow and can spread itself through stems called stolons. These allow the grass to put down roots in other areas and become firmly entrenched. 

How Do You Get Rid of Bentgrass?

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to remove just the bentgrass from your lawn, especially once it has had the chance to spread. If you are lucky and catch it when it first arrives, you may be able to manually remove the plants. It may take some time and diligence to make sure that it is truly gone.

You will need to use a nonspecific herbicide like glyphosate (one common version is Roundup®) on the areas around and including the bentgrass. This will kill any plants in the area so be careful when spraying. Follow the instructions on the bottle and protect your other plants outside the target area. 

It is safe to reseed your lawn a few days after the grass has died. You want to make sure that the herbicide has had a chance to become inactive before planting any new grass seeds. Make sure that it stays watered properly so that germination can occur.

How have you gotten rid of bentgrass?

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Are There Aphids in Your Landscape?


If you have ever seen clusters of pear-shaped insects on the stems of your plants, you may have an infestation of aphids. I see them on rose bushes, especially, but they may be found throughout the different areas of your landscape. They come in colors like green, pink and black.

What Problems Do Aphids Cause?

Aphids are very fond of cutting into stems and sucking out the juice from plants. This can stunt the growth of the plant. The aphids also may pick up bacteria, viruses or fungi and transfer them to other plants, spreading disease.

In the case of grass, this action can cause your grass blades to turn yellow and orange before dying. Other plants may show problems like yellowing, curling and wilting of leaves and possibly death.

They also can be problematic because of a sticky substance they expel, called honeydew. It can get onto surfaces and cause damage. When it is left on plants, the wet sugary conditions can encourage a fungal problem called sooty mold. While it is overall not too harmful in many situations, it will cause discoloration of your plants.

Why Are Aphids Difficult to Destroy Completely?

These insects can reproduce very rapidly, producing a new generation at intervals of approximately two weeks. They do not even need males to reproduce since they employ a process called parthenogenesis. In fact, aphids are born pregnant! As you can imagine, it can be hard to keep up with the pest population since even one surviving aphid can repopulate an area.

What Are Some Ways to Get Rid of Aphids?

On your smaller plants and shrubs, you can try spraying them with water to knock them off. You want to do this early in the day so that the leaves have time to dry out and avoid diseases. Insecticidal soaps may also be beneficial, as well as encouraging insects like ladybugs that feed on aphids.  If the problem is severe, lawn care companies can spray with pesticides, though this will also kill off the good insects.

You may have noticed that there are ants living near the aphids. They are protective of the aphids since they like to harvest the sweet honeydew. Controlling ants will make the aphids more vulnerable as you take measures to get rid of them.

What do you do to control aphids in your landscape?

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How to Keep Your Plants Healthy This Summer

Keep your plants healthy this summer with appropriate care.

Are you wondering how to keep your plants healthy during the warmest time of the year? Plants can naturally become stressed during summer, so you will need to watch over them carefully. Here are three ways to make sure your garden is in tip-top shape.

Scout Around for Insects, Pests and Other Problems

You definitely want to stay on top of problems so that you can treat them before they become too serious whenever possible. Some signs you may notice, among others, include:

  • Wilting
  • Rotting
  • Cankers
  • Spots on leaves
  • Leaves that turn yellow or brown
  • Holes in leaves, branches or trunk
  • Webbing
  • Galls
  • This one seems obvious, but insects themselves are seen

Once you notice a problem, you can do research to see what is causing it and how it can be treated. There may be several different methods including mechanical, cultural, biological and chemical controls.

Keep Your Watering on a Consistent Schedule

As I have mentioned before, it is usually better to water your plants just a few times a week, making sure that it is for a long enough period that they can get the amount that they need. If you do notice a plant that seems extra wilted, go ahead and give it a drink. However, do make sure that it needs water as overwatering can, strangely enough, cause wilting also.

Consider Moving Potted Plants to Shade

Container plants can have problems sometimes since their soil area is smaller than plants in bedding areas. The roots do not have the chance to fully spread out and can struggle when the soil dries out.

One way to help slow down this problem is to move the pots to an area that is a bit cooler. This can be under an umbrella or close to your house. You could also consider bringing them indoors as needed if it is really hot.

There are some factors to think about when deciding to move potted plants. Make sure that the specific plant is able to handle partial shade, since many need full sun. Your nursery should know if it can or you can search on the Internet by using the plant’s name.

If you bring them inside, you would need to harden them off when you do set them back outside. The environments are quite different between your house and your garden (with the latter usually being harsher,) so the plant can go into shock if it is just set outside. When you harden off, you take them out for a short period on the first day and gradually lengthen it over the course of about a week.

How are your plants doing this summer?

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Watch Out for Puncturevine in Your Garden

Spikes cover the puncturevine fruit

I have had the very unpleasant experience of stepping on the fruit of the puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris).  This weed produces an abundance of seed pods that are covered with very sharp spikes. They are so sharp, in fact, that they have the ability to embed themselves into your clothes, shoes or the tires of your vehicle.

Other names for this species include puncture vine, caltrop, goatheaddevil’s eyelashes, tackweed, cat’s head, bullhead, devil’s weed and devil’s thorn. Some people say that it offers benefits for improving fertility.

What Makes It a Weed?

As I have mentioned before, the simplest definition of a weed is a plant that has started growing where you do not want it. You definitely would not want to come across this species in your garden by accident! Weeds are often very prolific in their seed production and the puncturevine is no slacker; each plant can produce up to 5000 of these seeds in just one growing season. They harden as they age and are quite painful when you accidentally step on them or otherwise come into contact.

Each plant can quickly spread a few yards away from its base. It acts like a groundcover since it forms into a low mat.

How Can I Get Rid of Puncturevine?

You generally do not need to apply chemicals to control this plant in your garden unless it has been allowed to spread profusely. It reproduces by seeds, so you want to remove the plant when it is young and before it has a chance to start fruit production. This plant has one tap root (one long root that goes down) and you can kill the plant just by removing it. You also want to carefully remove any seed pods that are present on the ground.

Have you come across puncturevine in your garden? How did you get rid of it?

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Battling Common Mallow in Your Lawn

One weed found in lawns is the common mallow

If you have noticed a plant in your lawn with crinkly lobed leaves and flowers in shades of white, pink or light purple, it may be the common mallow (Malva neglecta). This relative of hibiscus, hollyhocks, cotton and okra is one of those plants that do offer benefits (in this case, nutrition,) but are too invasive to use as a garden plant.

The common mallow can be either an annual or biennial depending on where it is growing. In general, it tends to act as more of a groundcover and stay close to the ground, but it can reach a couple of feet high if left unchecked.

How Do You Get Rid of Common Mallow?

Watch out for this weed and pull it out while it is little. You definitely want to remove it before it produces flowers and goes to seed. As the plant matures, the roots also become stronger and woody, so it will be much harder to pull them out.

Using this method will help keep this species from colonizing your lawn. This is the best way to control this weed since chemicals do not usually work very well. You can use a tool like a dandelion digger to help you get out the long tap root. If the plant has been growing for a while, it can possibly resprout if some of the root is left.

As always, keeping your grass lush and healthy is another way to help stop this weed from spreading. When plants are growing well, their roots spread out appropriately and it is harder for other species like weeds to become established.

How have you stopped common mallow in your garden?

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Is Field Bindweed Taking Over Your Lawn?

Field bindweed in grass

At first glance, you might think the field bindweed is just another pretty little plant. It features many white or pink trumpet-shaped blossoms that are much like its relative, the morning glory. However, it is definitely one of the worst weeds that you could come across.

What Makes the Field Bindweed So Noxious?

The simple definition of a weed is a plant that is located where you don’t want it. Some plants have such difficult growing habits that you would not want them anywhere! For starters, they are very good at survival. This species is a perennial, so it is naturally structured to live more than one year.

The stems tend to act like a vine, twirling around surrounding plants and strangling them. One plant can spread across several yards, so it would not take many plants to overtake your lawn if you leave it unchecked for several years. It bears an abundance of flowers that can produce thousands of seeds, perpetuating the problem.

It gets even worse when you look at the root system. This tenacious plant develops an extensive mass of roots that can spread several feet beyond the width of the top plant. It has one main taproot, but also sends out side roots that grow for a few feet, then move down. It has the ability to send out new stems from any roots left behind after pulling as long as it has buds.

If It’s That Bad, What Can You Do?

There are systemic herbicides available that can help curb this problem. As the Penn State Extension office suggests, you should apply this when the flower buds have formed or just started to bloom. The plant is focusing its energy towards pollination and fruit production, so it uses up some of the energy stored in the roots to accomplish this. When you apply the herbicide, it has a greater chance of killing off the roots, though you may likely have to repeat this several times to truly get rid of the plant.

You can also achieve the same effect with manual removal over the long-term. If you keep removing the plant, it will slowly starve. Penn State asserts that a good time to remove the new growth is about 2 weeks after it appears.

Have you wrangled with field bindweed? How did you finally conquer it?

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Try Drip Irrigation for Your Trees, Shrubs, Vegetable Gardens and Flower Beds

Drip irrigation can help you save water in your garden and keep your plants healthier.

These lettuces are being watered using drip irrigation

For the past few weeks, my mother and I have been working on our plots at the community garden. I have been in charge of setting up the drip irrigation system. I love how you can deliver water straight to the plant instead of using a general spray.

Why Should You Try Drip Irrigation?

Since lawns continuously cover a large area, sprinklers that shoot over a wide area work well. However, it can sometimes be problematic if you try to water other plants in the same way.

  • Diseases can set in if parts of the plant like the leaves and trunk stay wet for a long period of time.
  • Since the sprinklers are set to cover a general area, specific plants may not receive enough water. They may also be overwatered.
  • You use more water than is needed in this case. Drip irrigation is designed to deliver water to the roots of each specific plant.

Types of Drip Irrigation

There are several different types of drip irrigation that can be utilized in your garden. Some lay on top of the ground, while others can be buried. In the example of my vegetable garden, we have some hoses that have drip emitters embedded into the hose every 18″. You can just plant your seeds or starts near these holes so their roots can get watered.

Elsewhere, I have hoses where I have punched holes as needed to attach smaller hoses that are outfitted with a drip emitter at the end. These allow more flexibility in getting water to your plants, especially if you are trying to add this to an established garden.

Finally, I will be setting up some soaker hoses this week for our rows of corn since they are placed closer than 18″. These are made out of recycled tires and have small holes punched throughout the hose to slowly ooze out water along its length.

They also sell small sprayers and bubblers that you can place in the vicinity of your plants, as well as garden hoses with holes punched along the line.

How Do You Plan Out Your Drip Irrigation?

I would suggest creating a map that is to scale of the current layout of your garden that includes each of the current plants, as well as any future plants that you are considering. Head out to a sprinkler supply store or home improvement store. Associates there should be able to help you pick out the right parts for your situation. We can also definitely help you figure this out!

Do you use drip irrigation in your landscape? What has worked well for you?

It’s Time to Prune Spring Flowering Shrubs and Trees


Prune forsythia after blooming

Forsythia should be pruned after it is done blooming in the spring

You may have heard that you should do much of your pruning in the spring while your trees and shrubs are still dormant. However, this could destroy the floral display of some species. Why would this happen and which species are affected?

Last Year vs. This Year: Wood and Buds

Trees and shrubs vary on when they produce their flower buds and generally fall into two groups: the “planners” and the “procrastinators”. We are prone to imagine that they fall on the procrastination side and produce flower buds every spring as new wood emerges. These are safe to prune in late winter or early spring before the plant blossoms since you won’t be disturbing the blooms.

However, some trees and shrubs do fall more into the “planner” category. They are efficient and start forming their flower buds in the fall before the next growing season since they tend to put forth their flowers so early in the year. If you were to prune them while they are dormant, you definitely run the risk of stripping away a lot of the flower buds and destroying your blossom display. Instead, you would prune spring flowering shrubs and trees once they are done blooming.

Which Trees and Shrubs?

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but here are some of the most common trees and shrubs that should be pruned after they are done blooming. It is a good idea to ask a professional about the specific trees and shrubs in your yard to be sure.

  • Azalea and rhododendron
  • Beautybush
  • Deutzia
  • Flowering crabapples
  • Forsythia
  • Hawthorn
  • Honeysuckle
  • Kerria
  • Lilac
  • Quince
  • Viburnum
  • Weigela

Do you have any of these trees and shrubs in your garden?

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