Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Rocky Mountains

April, 2004
Regional Report

Be on the Watch for Lawn Insect Pests

Lawn insects can be detected by the presence of feeding blackbirds and starlings. Look for small pecking holes every few inches. You may see clipped grass and small piles of fecal pellets, or the insects themselves. Sod webworms and cutworms can be brought to the surface of the lawn using irritants. A drench of liquid dishwashing detergent (one percent dilution) will irritate caterpillars, making them squirm to the surface. Healthy lawns can tolerate some feeding injury without apparent effects. If necessary, heavy infestations can be controlled with parasitic nematodes.

Prune Fruit Trees and Vines

The best time to prune apples, pears, cherries, plums, and grapes is mid to late spring. This timing is more in line with the plant's growth cycle, and the trees or vines will be ready to more quickly close or heal pruning wounds. You can still see the structure and framework of the tree and accomplish proper thinning. Tree or pruning paints are obsolete so don't waste your money or time applying them to cut areas.

Spray Oils to Control Scale Pests

One of the most effective times to apply dormant oil sprays and refined horticultural oils is early spring prior to bud and leaf expansion. Trees and shrubs that are infested with oyster shell, pine needle, San Jose, elm, and tortoise scale can be treated with a horticultural oil, which is very safe and effective against both the egg stage and early crawler stage of these pests. Check for crawler emergence by periodically shaking infested branches over a sheet of white paper. Treatments are most effective at the onset of crawler emergence.

Control Mites on Lawns

The warm weather last fall, coupled with dry winter weather in many areas of the region, has increased the incidence of clover and brown wheat mites feeding on lawn grasses. Banks grass mites can also cause damage to lawns on south-facing slopes, around the base of evergreens, and other dry sites. To prevent severe damage from these pests, be vigilant and water dry areas.

Keep the Garden Simple

Use annuals generously and plant a single type in a large grouping. Planting annuals like geraniums or petunias in a mass planting makes a dramatic display. This keeps the garden design simple and lessens the work required to maintain the flower bed.


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