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Winter Lawn and Plant Care Tips  by Jerry Naiser                                                    

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We apply a soil conditioner and bio-stimulate with micronutrients and a pH correction additive. We also apply pre-emergent weed control products as well as spot treat weeds that were already growing.

Most broadleaf weeds that you see during the winter and spring, such as dandelions, clover and thistle, germinate in the fall. This is the time to apply broadleaf pre-emergent weed control products.

What this will do:

These products will help your soil increase microbial activity which helps breakdown organic matter and thatch. They will also help loosen up the heavy clay soils so prevalent in the Austin area and help correct our ongoing pH issues. We also add extra zinc and magnesium. The lack of these two nutrients, along with a high soil pH will invite “take all patch” to your lawn.

 We know that the key to healthy plants is healthy soil.

Brown Patch and Take All Patch

Although Brown patch and Take all Patch are similar at first glance, if you look a little closer you will see that they are completely different problems, with different causes, modes of destruction and cure.

Brown Patch

Brown patch of turfgrass is caused by the fungus Rhizoctonia solani and may be referred to as may be referred to as Rhizoctonia blight. Brown patch symptoms vary, depending primarily on turfgrass species and mowing height. Brown patch occurs on dense, heavily watered turf in hot (above 85°F), humid weather when night temperatures remain above 60°F. Poorly drained soils, thick thatch and night irrigation lengthen the period of leaf wetness and promote greater infection. High levels of nitrogen and low levels of phosphorous or potassium may contribute to increased disease severity. Mowing with a dull mower blade frays leaf blade tips and causes excessive wounding that enhances infection through those frayed blade tips. Brown Patch damages the point where the blade of grass attaches to the stolen or “runner”. The blades release very easily from the stolen, without much effort. Often the base of the blade is purplish in color. Since Brown Patch does not damage the stolen, the grass will re-grow, in the spring, and give the appearance to recover, right before repeating the cycle again in the fall. A preventative fungicide is the best answer to this problem, as Brown Patch is much easier to prevent, than cure. Take-all patch appears as circular or ring-shaped dead areas that range from a few inches up to 3 feet (90 cm) or more in diameter. Roots are rotted and have dark strands of mycelium visible on the surface. Large, black, globular, fungal fruiting bodies (perithecia) may be visible with the use of a hand lens. Take-all patch generally occurs in the late fall and winter when temperatures are 50° to 60°F and soils are wet or moist. However, symptoms may not appear until the turf is exposed to periods of drought or heat stress. Soils light in texture, low in organic matter, or under fertilized with a high pH also contribute to disease development. Specifically these soils are low in fertility and lack Zinc and Magnesium.

When differentiating between the two diseases, look at the stolen. With brown Patch, the stolen stay healthy therefore the grass will recover quickly. With Take all Patch, the solons also die. Recovery is slower and nutritional suppliants are a must, as well as the application of fungicides and pH monitoring and correction.

Caring for your houseplants

Heating systems cause low humidity that will increase your house plants need for water. Try misting your plants a couple of times a day, and/or grouping them together, placing them on trays of pebbles with water. Be sure to check the moisture levels of the plants more frequently when the heater is running, watering only after the soil completely dries out. This will reduce the chance of fatal soil fungi. Fertilize very little (if at all) during the winter months.

On cold nights (less than 32 F) protect all tender plants outside

It takes only one good freeze to destroy many plants. Be cautious and prepare if you know that temperatures will fall into the low 40’s Cover them or bring them inside. Often times getting them close to the house will do, because of the radiant heat stored and released during the night.

All tender plants should already be protected. Several years ago, I lost two beautiful tangelo trees in my back yard, to a late frost in March. If you have a question or doubt about temperature, please give me a call, or drop me an e-mail, Jerry@realgreenlawns.com

Place your plants where you can enjoy them, but remember that they are alive and have needs too. Ideally they should receive light from a window. Avoid locations near a door or window that a cold draft could stress the plant. Check the soil daily, with your finger, watering only when the soil feels dry. If the pot is covered with decorative foil, be sure to punch some holes in the bottom, to allow the water to drain onto a saucer beneath the pot.

Pest Control

Bugs don’t take the winter off and can spread rapidly in a crowded indoor garden. Spider Mites thrive in the warmth. Watch for pests and treat promptly. Be ready with a pre-mixed house-plant spray. Green Light makes a wonderful parathyroid based product, sold as bug-b-gone. Make sure you coat all the foliage completely, including the adjacent plants.

One more note: I have made some recent changes to the website, so that you may order a free service call, if you have a problem that needs further attention. This is located in the quick Quote page of the website. These service requests will all come across my desk. Please fill in as much detail as you can. Also take a look at the "Real Weather" page. let me know what you think.


Jerry Naiser


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