English ivy disease can be controlled

BACKYARD Q&A

June 27, 1999

Q. My English ivy covers most of my small front yard. I noticed that some of the leaves are developing brown patches and dying. Is this a disease that will spread and kill the whole patch?

A. Volutella, a common fungal disease, is the most likely culprit. It will continue to spread but can be controlled if you vigorously rake out dead leaves and stems (to remove disease spores).

Thinning the bed will help improve air circulation and reduce disease incidence. You can also apply a copper fungicide early in the spring when new growth emerges.

Q. My lawn looks half-dead from the drought. I fertilize it every spring and fall and overseeded the bare spots last year with tall fescue. We are on a well and I can't water as much as I'd like. Will I lose my grass if it stays dry?

A. No, you won't. Established tall fescue can survive drought conditions by shutting down (becoming dormant). It's worrisome, of course, that your turf doesn't look great, but take comfort in the fact that it will recover with a return to cooler, wetter weather.

You should only fertilize established tall fescue in the fall. Spring feeding promotes fast, lush growth that is susceptible to pest damage and which cannot be sustained during a drought.

THIS WEEK'S CHECKLIST

1. Pinch off aster buds to prevent premature flowering.

2. Fill water baths regularly with clean water, and put out shallow containers of water in your yard for toads, spiders and other beneficial animals.

3. Add water to dry compost piles to keep them active. The organic materials should be kept consistently moist to promote rapid breakdown.

Garden tips are provided by the Home and Garden Information Center of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Maryland. For additional information on these questions, or if you have questions of your own, call the center's hot line at 800-342-2507, or visit its Web site at www.agnr.umd.edu/users/hgic.

Pub Date: 06/27/99

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