Common gardening questions answered – East Idaho News
Courtesy of BYU-Idaho
Throughout the growing season I get gardening questions related to the timing of the season we are in, and thought there might be some common questions answered in case you have the same.
We are currently reviewing the drought conditions in our area and in our multi-state region due to the fact that many areas received less snowfall this winter. As a result, many people start to think about methods of saving water and ways to reduce their water consumption at home. When people become more aware of water, I am asked, “Should we stop watering our lawns if it rains?”
The answer is “it depends”. Normally rainstorms in the spring / summer can give us a bit of humidity, but more often than not these storms have little impact when watering the landscape. Many rainstorms drop less than 1/8 of an inch of water, which can wet concrete, but doesn’t help a lawn or trees stay hydrated. We must remember that we live in a high altitude desert where the air is dry and the moisture from a light rain evaporates quickly. With just a light sprinkling of rain, the grass is still dry although the blades may get wet, so you will need to keep irrigating on time. But, if we do get a downpour and get ½ inch or more of rain in one storm, then turning off the sprinklers for a day or two would be appropriate. Another aspect to consider if you decide to turn off the sprinklers is the degree of heat and dryness the day after the storm.
The lesson here is that while rainstorms can seem to wet the ground and water the lawn, most of the time they have very little impact on our soil moisture and can cause us to not water our lawns enough.
Courtesy of Joseph Berger, Bugwood.org
What can I do about the large earthworms (nocturnal caterpillars) that infest my lawn and cause bumps in the grass and make it uneven to walk on? Okay, so first of all you can’t kill the worms in your lawn with any chemicals because there is nothing labeled to control them.
Second, they are beneficial because they digest and break down organic matter in the soil, help aerate compacted soils, and make nutrients more available to plants after dead matter is digested. But, small piles of dirt and unevenness can be annoying for many homeowners.
Here are a few things to try; first don’t mow your grass that short and let it grow to a longer height of 2 to 3 inches in height. This makes the piles of worms less visible. Then water deeply and infrequently as this helps your weed but also helps break up the little dirt piles created by the worms.
You can also roll a barrel or other round, heavy object across your lawn to help crush piles and smooth the lawn surface. The downside to rolling and breaking up soil piles is the potential for soil compaction, but aeration at least once a year in the fall will help solve the compaction problem and can also help break up soil piles. earth created by the worms at the same time. .
Courtesy of the US Forest Service
Finally, black spots on trembling aspen leaves are something that plagues gardeners in our area. This is caused by a fungal spore, called Marssonina leaf spot. The cool, wet and windy spring weather spreads these spores and when they come in contact with new / young trembling aspen leaves, they infect the leaf and create dark spots which become quite pronounced in July and August. The first way to deal with them is to remove the source of the infection.
These spores overwinter on last year’s leaves that were left on the ground under the tree. To prevent them from being a source of infection, rake aspen or poplar leaves and remove them from the property. (Do not compost or reuse infected leaves).
There are fungicide sprays labeled for this fungus on aspens and poplars, but timing is of the essence. These sprays are primarily preventative in nature, and if the fungus has already started infesting the new leaves, then they are ineffective.
If you have any other gardening questions, please contact Lance at (208) 624-3102.