Container-grown trees are fine for those who aren't weight-lifters

BACKYARD Q&A

October 21, 2001|By Dennis Bishop | Dennis Bishop,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Q. We are going to plant several shade trees in our yard this fall. Is there any advantage to buying a balled and burlapped tree instead of a container tree?

A. The one advantage of a balled and burlapped tree is that you can purchase larger trees. Balled and burlapped trees can be 6 inches or more in diameter, while container-grown trees are typically 3 inches or less. However, very few people plant trees larger than 3 inches in diameter. Container-grown trees are lighter and easier to handle. This is especially important for homeowners who are planting on their own.

Q. In early September I put down some fertilizer and some crab-grass preventer over bare spots in my yard, and then planted grass seed. I have watered regularly. It is now six weeks later and very few of the seeds have germinated. Do you know what may have caused the low germination?

A. Yes, more than likely the crab-grass preventer is causing the low germination rate. Crab-grass preventer is a pre-emergent herbicide that kills germinating seeds. It may kill other seeds besides the crab grass and should only be used on established lawns in the spring. It should never be used just before planting grass seed.

Q. I planted a bed of pansies a month ago, and they already have some problems. The leaves are turning brown and are covered with fuzz. Is this a disease and can I treat it?

A. The description suggests that your pansies have botrytis blight. This fungal disease attacks the leaves and turns them a papery brown. The fungus appears as gray fuzz on the leaves; hence its common name is gray mold disease. It is most serious during cool, damp weather. To help prevent botrytis, do not overcrowd plants and try to keep the foliage dry. Water in the morning, so the afternoon sun can dry the leaves. The blight can also be controlled with fungicidal sprays. Call the Home and Garden Information Center for a recommended fungicide.

THIS WEEK'S CHECKLIST

1. Now is the time to lift your canna roots and dahlia tubers from the ground and bring them in for winter storage. Be sure to cut the tops off before storing them in a cool, frostproof basement or garage.

2. Dead branches can be easily seen when plants still have leaves. Remove them now before fall leaf drop.

Dennis Bishop is an urban horticulture educator for the Baltimore office of the Maryland Cooperative Extension Services. If you have a gardening or pest problem, you can call the Home and Garden Information Center hot line (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.) at 800-342-2507. You can also e-mail questions, order publications and diagnose plant problems by visiting the Web site, www. agnr.umd.edu / users / hgic.

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