Integrated Pest Management

Fall is a good time to prune out any dead wood on your trees and shrubs. Branches are often killed by bacterial or fungal pathogens, and should be cut back to prevent the disease from spreading into healthy tissue. To find infected branches, look for branches with dead or yellowed leaves that are prone to wilting or seem off-color. When you cut into the branch, you may see tan or brown areas in the wood that are evidence of infection. If you are removing cankered branches, be sure to make your cut below the infected area into healthy, green tissue, slightly above a healthy bud.

Remove broadleaf weeds in your lawn when soil moisture is replenished and growth resumes. Weeds such as wild garlic, white clover, knotweed, plantain, yellow wood sorrel, and common chickweed can be removed by hand or may be treated with an herbicide containing 2,4,-D.

Did you know only 10% of the insects around your home are harmful to plants? Many insects such as earwigs, pill bugs, and ground beetles are common around homes and do not harm plants, pets, or humans. Pesticides do little to control many of these insects, and the use of pesticides so close to the home may lead to unnecessary exposure to harmful chemicals.

It is perfectly normal for conifers, especially pines, to shed some of their older needles in the fall, but the drought conditions this year may cause more shedding than usual. With less foliage needing water, the tree has a better chance of survival through the drought period. For more details on how to deal with the drought, check the USNA website.

It is not too early to think about spring flowering bulbs. Fall is the time to plant such bulbs as tulips, narcissus, dutch iris, and crocus. If the soil is dry, water bulbs after you plant them, and keep soil moist until the ground freezes this winter. Moisture is essential for proper root growth.

Boxelder bugs, which feed primarily on boxelder, Acer negundo, are showing up in places and on plants where they are not usually found, and may be in search of moisture. These insects are black and red and may be seen around your home when evenings begin to cool down. Boxelder bugs do no noticeable harm to plants, but if you find them in large numbers around your home, you can use a shop vacuum to collect them for disposal.

Skip fertilizing trees and shrubs this fall if weather has been dry in your area. Few nutrients have been leached from the soil with all the dry weather, and stressed plants aren’t able to use the nutrients. Excess fertilizer in the soil contaminates our ground and surface water.

Keep an eye out now for magnolia scale. These sucking insects can be found on the twigs as small bumps nearly a half inch in diameter. They may be white, yellow, or brown depending on their age. By September the eggs hatch into tiny crawlers. The crawlers look like tiny black dots about the size of a typed period, and can be easily spotted by tapping a branch over a sheet of white paper. Use horticultural oil only if you count more than 15 crawlers on the paper.

As autumn approaches, practice good sanitation in your garden. Remove spent vegetables and annual bedding plants and cut back spent flower stalks of perennials. Be sure to remove weeds before they disperse seeds. All of the resulting debris can be composted.