You have a great looking lawn. The grass is cut regularly. It gets fertilized a few times a year. It gets watered during a drought. The weed control takes care of most of the weeds, but there are a few problems that persist. In both Baton Rouge and New Orleans, nutsedge and lespedeza can be a hard weed to get rid of from your yard. We'll go through a little bit about each weed here and some tips on weed control.
How to Identify Sedge Weeds
Sedge is a general name for a group of weeds that includes purple nutsedge, yellow nutsedge, and kyllinga. We tend to have a problem with purple nutsedge and kyllinga in south Louisiana. You can identify sedge weeds easily since they are a lighter green than the surrounding grass and they grow taller than grass in a much shorter time. Sedges have a triangular stem, meaning they have three points on the base growing from the ground. Sedges look like thin grass blades until they form a group of three leaves on top which then spouts a flower.
Sedges maintain a root system of rhizomes that average a full foot or more below the ground. The root systems can spread into a patch of sedge measuring between eight and twelve feet. These rhizomes extend to what appear to be new sedge plants growing close to one another, but are actually the same plant. The root system is also attached to starchy "nutlets" that provide plenty of food when the weed is cut. These plants are perennial, meaning you will see them during the summer every year until you get rid of the weed for good.
How to Get Rid of Sedge Weeds
First, you should manage the environmental conditions of your yard. Sedges like poorly drained soil that stays moist. If you have a problem with sedges, try filling in low spots or using aeration and top dressing with sand. Second, you may be mowing your grass too low. The lowest setting on your mower should not be used to cut grass except for maybe bermudagrass. Try raising your mower setting up to one of the higher settings. The grass should thicken up and look healthier, which will crowd out the weeds. Surprisingly, your grass will actually grow more slowly since it will not have to grow as aggressively each week to gather sunlight.
How to kill the sedge in your grass? Visit a local hardware store or nursery. Seek a "sedge killer" product that is labelled as safe to use on your grass variety. Most sedge control products require at least two applications spaced a few weeks apart. You will most likely need to do the same treatment again the following year to get full control of the weed. We use products like Certainty and Sedgehammer.
How to Identify Lespedeza Weeds
Lespedeza grows into thick sections called mats. It branches out into leaves of three along the ground. Lespedeza is a summer annual. It grows leaflets out of veins which tend to grow at right angles from the main stem along the ground. If confused by the description, just compare your weed to the one pictured above.
How to Get Rid of Lespedeza Weeds
Cultural control of lespedeza involves aerating compact soils and not cutting your grass too low. Lespedeza thrives in compact soils. It also grows lower to the ground than grass, so it suffers when the grass makes shade over it. If you have a persistent lespedeza problem, check your soil pH. This weed will out perform grass if the soil pH is off balance.
Control products can be found in your local hardware store for use when controlling lespedeza. Carefully read the product label for heat restrictions. Certain products, like three-way herbicides, work well at eliminating weeds, but can burn your grass if used in the middle of summer in Louisiana. These product's results will vary. Products containing Metsulfuron are very effective in getting rid of lespedeza in St. Augustine, Centipede, and Bermuda lawns. A professionally available product called Celsius WG also controls lespedeza with impressive results. Always read and follow the label when dealing with herbicides.
If you have an underground irrigation system, you may have some maintenance to do occasionally. One of the common problems that start with older systems are irrigation pop up heads that stay up even when the system shuts off. This is usually due to any of a few reasons. First, a build up of calcium deposits from the water is common. Second, an abundance of dirt may have worked its way into the irrigation head. Both of these problem may have a DIY solution.
Twist the irrigation cap. Take out the entire riser and clean it off. Clean out any dirt in the body also. Turn on the water or the station controller to flush out the line of any debris that may be stuck in it. This alone may work if it is just some extra dirt. If this still doesn’t work, a short term solution would be to brush some petroleum jelly onto the riser. Push the riser up and down and put it back into the irrigation body. Test it out by pulling it up and see if it goes down on its own now.
If that doesn’t work, you may have some bad springs or other parts. At this point, replace the sprinkler head completely. It wouldn’t be worth the extra time trying to match up the correct spring type. Also, your irrigation head is so old at this point, something else will break soon anyway.
To change the sprinkler head, cut a small six inch section in the soil around the irrigation head. Be careful to not break the irrigation line underneath. Use a shovel to lift the grass off the top and set aside so you can replace it later.
Dig down until you can see the water supply pipe and have cleared away all the soil around the riser. Unscrew the old sprinkler body and discard it. Be careful to not let dirt go into the pipe! Use some plumber’s tape and screw the new body onto the pipe by hand.
Turn on the water for a moment to flush the pipe again and shut off. Insert the filter and screw on the nozzle. Twist the nozzle to aim where you want to spray. Replace the fill dirt you removed earlier. Put the grass back on top to make it look as good as possible. It will look better later as it grows back together.
Turn on the irrigation system and make sure everything works. If you do not see water blasting out of the ground or a new pocket of water rising up in a mound, your system should be ready to work for a long time to come.
If you need irrigation repair and live in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, or anywhere in between in Louisiana, contact us today.
If you want to grow some plants from seed, sow some cucumbers, squash, southern peas, or okra. Plant pumpkin seeds in the first half of July to have them ready in October. Enjoy fresh pumpkin pies, pumpkin soups, and Jack-o-lanterns.
July is a really good time to plan out your fall garden. Buy or order your seeds you will want to plant. Plan to plant broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, or collard greens. You can start seedling trays in early August for these and later transplant them to your garden.
Have you ever seen an insect in your garden and been excited? It may sound crazy to some, but there are a number of insects and critters you want to have making a home near your garden.
Bacteria and micro organisms can be your gardening friend. Beneficial nematodes and milky spore bacteria can be purchased and added to your garden. Bacillus thuringiensis, most commonly called Bt, can control caterpillars, worms, and beetles.
Beneficial Nematodes can control black flies, maggots, mosquitoes, grubs, yellow jackets, caterpillars and more.
Robins and wrens are species of bird which eat beetles, cutworms, and grasshoppers. Use a bird house to attract these birds to make a more permanent home near your garden. Chickens are also good at eating insects, plus you get eggs!
There are quite a few bugs that are the “good kind of bug” list. Lacewings and ladybugs love to eat scale and aphids. Hoverflies eat aphids. The live in dill and fennel plants. Praying mantis eat a large variety of insects. Parasitoid wasps sound like something on your kill on site list, but they can really help out with tomato hornworms and cabbageworms. They want to be around ground cover so plant some alyssum to attract them.
Snakes! Well, garter snakes. These snakes really help out around the garden since they eat crickets, grasshoppers, and more pests.
Toads are considered gross by a lot of people, yet they do a very good job protecting your garden from slugs and other bugs. You can buy a toad house online and put it by your garden. It will attract a personal toad security guard and give your garden some character.
Mole crickets are a problem that is hard to completely to eradicate. Every time you think you got every last one of them, another one pops up. Pesticides are a good control method to use, especially if you have a mole cricket epidemic. Pesticides do have the drawback of being expensive and you have to regularly put them out. Some pests also develop a resistance to the pesticide. That is a good reason to try another approach. Keep an open mind and think about unleashing biological warfare on those grass gorging bugs. While biological controls will not eradicate mole crickets, it will likely keep their population in check beneath problematic levels. This means you won't notice they are there since your grass is still alive!
Say hello to the Larra wasp. The adults of these bugs lay one of their eggs on a mole cricket and fly away. They can lay about 100 eggs in their life. Said egg later hatches into a baby wasp that is hungry. Yes, that baby wasp is going to go to town on a mole cricket buffet. The adult wasp tend to only eat plant nectar and do not sting humans unless you actively grab them... and who is grabbing wasps bare handed anyway?
Larra wasps will kill around 1/4th of the mole cricket population for each wasp generation. That is about 4 months, meaning every four months, your mole cricket population is dropping by a fourth! While it may never get down to zero, that is a pretty good control method. If you want to attract Larra wasps, plant some white pentas, aka white Pentas lanceolata in the science community. They are a pretty flower and your mole crickets will be put on notice.
Give those flowers and that wasp a shot. Let us know how it works for you in the comments. If you need some pentas planted and you live in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, or somewhere in Louisiana between, contact us today.
Come out and cheer for Ducky Green at the Knock Knock Duck Derby on Saturday, June 9, 2018 at the Knock Knock Children's Museum.
The Duck Derby will take place at 1900 Dalrymple Dr, Baton Rouge, LA 70808.