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Good management keeps landscapes healthy

News Release Distributed 08/17/12

By Allen Owings, LSU AgCenter horticulturist

The LSU AgCenter has been promoting research-based best management practices in the home landscape for several years to inform residents on how to manage their lawns, gardens and landscapes to minimize nonpoint pollution, weeds, diseases and insect pests.

Home landscape problems that need to be addressed regularly include insect identification and control, general lawn maintenance, turf and ornamental diseases, and warm- and cool-season weed control in lawns and landscape beds. Weeds may pose more significant problems than we sometimes realize.

Knowing major insects and how to properly identify insect problems are important. Major insect pests in Louisiana include scale on camellia, holly and magnolia; lacebugs on azaleas and lantanas; chinch bugs in St. Augustine grass; aphids; whiteflies; and many more. Formosan termites are doing serious damage to ornamental trees in south Louisiana. Knowing how to identify insects will help achieve the proper control measures. The LSU AgCenter is a great resource in proper identification of insects and other pests.

How we maintain our lawns goes a long way in determining how healthy they are. This includes everything from species selection to irrigation and fertilization. A well-maintained lawn provides many environmental benefits.

Late summer to fall is the time of year when many folks think about applying winterizing fertilizer to their lawns. But beware of “winterizer” fertilizers, especially if the first number (representing nitrogen) is higher than 5. Too much nitrogen in late summer to early fall can stimulate growth that can pre-dispose your lawn to winter injury with the next cold front.

Weeds are ever present in our lawns. Maintain healthy turf to achieve control over this year-round battle. Lawns with a history of weed issues should have a pre-emergent herbicide applied in fall to control cool-season weeds and a pre-emergent herbicide applied in late winter or early spring to control warm-season weeds.

Other lawn considerations include proper mowing height and soil pH. Centipede grass does well on acid soil while St. Augustine grass needs neutral to slightly alkaline soil.

Louisiana has numerous lawn and ornamental diseases. Examples include Entomosporium and Cercospora leaf spot on many popular shrubs; brown patch and melting out on turfgrass, and blackspot on roses. Powdery mildew and leaf spot are problems on crape myrtles. Many of these can be destructive if not corrected or avoided. Variety selection and proper cultural practices will aid in control.

Sedges and broadleaf weeds are difficult to control in landscape beds. Nutsedge and broadleaf weeds can be controlled better than most people realize simply by mulching, especially with pine straw. Pre-emergent herbicides, such as Preen and Amaze, work well if applied properly.

You can see more about work being done in landscape horticulture by viewing the LSU AgCenter’s Hammond Research Station website. Also, like us on Facebook. You can find an abundance of landscape information for both home gardeners and industry professionals.

Rick Bogren

Last Updated: 8/20/2012 3:48:14 PM

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