Time is running out for winter lawn fertilization

By law, you'll need to complete this important yard work by Nov. 15

  • Angelina Stonecrop/ Sedum
Angelina Stonecrop/ Sedum (Ginny Williams, Photo for…)
November 10, 2012|By Ellen Nibali, For The Baltimore Sun

Is it too late to put fertilizer on my lawn?

All fertilizing must be done before November 15th by law. Tall fescue, a cool season grass most appropriate for Maryland, grows rapidly in the fall. Fertilizing at that time encourages good root growth, which is critical for strong turf all year round. Lawn fertilizer now has at least 20 percent slow release nitrogen, which will feed the grass during the winter. Fertilizing on frozen soil is never a good idea because it may wash off and pollute waterways.

I noticed yellow leaves on my hollies (still in pots waiting to be planted!). I found white bumps like marshmallows on the branches and "raspberry jam" underneath when I picked them off. Is the leaf yellowing normal or a problem I can solve organically?

That is wax scale, an insect. The female is red-bodied and hides under a waxy cover it exudes. It is sucking the juices out of your holly, yellowing the leaves. (Normally, older holly leaves turn yellow and drop in spring.) If there are only a few scales, rub them off by hand. The wax cover prevents sprays from penetrating to the scale. However, when its eggs hatch into crawlers the last two weeks in July, the crawlers are vulnerable. You can spray a horticultural oil or soap then. Read the label carefully for dilution rates and temperature limits.

Plant of the Week

Angelina Stonecrop/ Sedum

Sedum rupestra 'Angelina'

When cold weather arrives, Angelina gives you a bonus. This perky yellow groundcover takes on bronze, orange and red coloration all winter. In summer, Angelina is a 2- to 5-inch-tall trailing mat of yellow-green leaves with yellow flowers. Happiest in full sun, it still sparkles in part shade, though it may be thinner, less yellow and may not bloom.

Angelina works in poor, dry — even droughty — soil. Growth is better when it is watered but give it good drainage. In a container or on a rock wall, it cascades nicely. You can walk on it, but not too often. Broken off pieces can root when conditions are favorable. —Ginny Williams

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