Question: There is a disagreement in our family over whether we should be bagging our grass clippings. Can you offer some insight on this?
Answer: This is not a yes or no question. Grass clippings left on the lawn are not harmful to the grass and actually return a small amount of nutrients back to the soil. In addition, grass clippings are around 95% water and do not contribute to thatch buildup. However, if you over-fertilized the lawn this spring or let more than 5-7 days slip by without mowing, you may need to bag the excess clippings. If your mower is clogging up with clippings or they are mounding when discharged from the mower, it is advisable to bag. One easy way to avoid bagging is to mow the grass when it is dry and not wet from rainfall or morning dew. Fescue that is mowed weekly at the 3- to 3 1/2-inch height rarely needs bagging. Attach your bag if you need to pick up flower blossoms, tree leaves, and other debris in the lawn. You can go back with a leaf blower and blow those areas where clippings have accumulated if needed. Fescue growth will slow down with warmer temperatures and the onset of summer leaf diseases.
Question: We have cedar-type shrubs planted by our drive that is scratching our cars. How far can we cut them back?
Answer: You can only trim back the new growth that is appearing now. Any further pruning that renders the branches bare of needles will not produce new growth later in the summer. Therefore, your shrubs will look dead on the side you trimmed for years to come. The cedars or junipers are incapable of regenerating new growth on their branches. The general recommendation for overgrown cedars or junipers is to remove them when they reach this point.
Question: How can I get rid of the wiregrass growing around my grapes and blueberry bushes?
Answer: The herbicides that contain Fluazifop or sethoxydim can be used on grapes in the spring when the bermuda grass (wiregrass) is fully green. Repeated applications will be needed 4-6 weeks later. Do not apply within 50 days of harvest when used around grapes. These are grass killers only and will not kill broadleaf weeds. Roundup or generic glyphosate can be used around grapes too, but you must be careful not to spray any leaves or the stems of the grapes. Roundup will kill both grass and broadleaf weeds. Do not apply within 14 days of harvest. For grass control around blueberries, your choices are limited to sethoxydim with a 30-day wait to harvest. You can use Roundup, but be extremely careful to avoid wetting any canes or leaves. Roundup should not be applied within 14 days of harvest.
Question: I have old muscadine grape vines that I am trying to restore. How much fertilizer do I use and when should I apply it?
Answer: Apply 1-2 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer under the vine evenly over the soil but several feet away from the trunk. Do this now. Reapply the same rate in mid-June. Broadcast the fertilizer in a 60-100 square foot area around the vine. Any fertilizer applied later in the year will subject the vines to winter injury. Your objective is to get 3-4 feet of new growth this summer. If growth exceeds that this summer reduce the amount of fertilizer you apply next year.
WOMEN'S RESOURCE CENTER PLANT SALE
Today is the day to shop for your favorite herbs, native plants, perennials, and heirloom vegetables at the Women’s Resource annual plant sale at the First Presbyterian Church at 508 W. Davis St. in Burlington. Go early for best selections!
Rett Davis is a retired Alamance County Extension Director and certified arborist. You can email your questions to Rett_Davis@ncsu.edu