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Agriculture Today

Drought-stricken lawn tips

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November 9, 2011 | 2,610 views | Post a comment

Q. What are the options I have for my lawn this fall? It did not fare well in the drought.

A. Since the drought is still with us, it might not be best to launch a major lawn rejuvenation project. Forgo any major sodding until we see what is going to happen this winter and spring.

• Lawn grass will surprise you with its ability to repair itself. Maintain a reasonable irrigation schedule this fall and winter.

• Consider aerating and top-dressing with compost. The actions can be a magic elixir for a lawn.

• Keep the weeds mowed so that seed heads are prevented. Weeds can also crowd out grass, but mowing gives the lawn grass an advantage.

• Fertilize an injured lawn with an organic lawn fertilizer. The low nitrogen organic fertilizers are also low salt. The slow release may be best for a weak lawn.

Q.When can we plant pansies?

A. Right now, plant pansies in the sun with snapdragons, calendula, stock, and dianthus. Also consider cyclamen and primula for the shade.

Q.We are getting covered in an application of sap from our pecan trees. Is it because of the drought?

A. The “sap” is actually “honeydew,” which is aphid excrement. The aphids feed on the leaves and excrete the sugary material, which covers everything below the trees. In some cases, a black fungus (sooty mold) grows on the honeydew. The pecan trees are so tall, it is not practical to spray. If a sprayer was available, a soap solution may be the most effective control. Our more potent insecticides, if they kill aphids, also kill the beneficial insects. The aphids recover more quickly than the beneficial insects and so you have the problem return. The aphids should decline with the arrival of cooler weather.

Q.Is there anything we can still plant in our vegetable garden?

A. You can still plant carrots, radishes, beets, lettuce, English peas, turnips, and rutabagas by seed. Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, and cauliflower are available as transplants.

Calvin Finch is a horticulturist and the San Antonio Water System’s project director of regional initiatives and special projects. Hear him on “Gardening South Texas” on KLUP 930 AM radio Saturdays noon to 2 p.m., and 1-3 p.m. Sundays. Or, e-mail him at

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