Posts tagged Dustin Vande Hoef

All about lawns

   It’s spring and attention is turning to lawns. Two things today about lawn care. The first is from Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith and the second came to me from Dustin Vande Hoef, communications director for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey sent the message to remind homeowners that spring is an ideal time to improve soil quality in our yards and that restoration of the soil can help retain water, prevent erosion and protect water quality.

 

This is from Claire Smith:

 

   Are you ready for some mowing?  Depending on the weather, your summer lawn mowing and maintenance can begin anytime in April.

Did you service the mower last fall?  If you didn’t have time then, you should take time now.  Beg or bribe your favorite spouse or relative to change the oil, kick the tires, replace the spark plug and air filter, and be certain the blades are sharp and not bent. 

If the ground temperature is 55-60’ you can commence any necessary re-seeding and repairs. Lawn repair kits that will contain seed and mulch can be purchased.  But remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is so do not succumb to terrific sounding no maintenance grasses and groundcover.   Apply the patch after you have removed the dead turf and loosened and amended the soil.

   Pizza or ice cream treats may create some enthusiasm to have the kids or grandkids help you rake and remove clumps of leaves and other debris left over from winter ice and snow. Initiate a game of pickup sticks (branches). Tamp down runways created by winter vole activity and fill in holes. 

  Hose off lawn areas along walks, drives and roadways that have been exposed to deicing compounds or your grass may not reappear.  Keep newly seeded and sodded areas moist to reduce stress on young and developing root systems.   Watering an established lawn is not necessary now.  Wait until May to fertilize.  Over watering and over fertilizing does more harm than good on your lawn:  strike a happy medium.  Excessive use of insecticides may reduce nature’s aerating machines, the earthworm. Monitor your lawn for any insect damage prior to spraying. 

   Proper mowing is a real key to a healthy lawn.  The suggested mowing height is 3-3 ½” Taller grass forms a deeper root system.  Stronger plants are more likely to fend off insects, disease and weeds.  Remove only 1/3 of the total height of the grass and leave the clippings on the lawn to decompose. Clippings add nitrogen, moisture and organic matter to the soil.  Varying the direction and pattern of mowing will reduce the wear and tear on the lawn.

   So, are you ready for some mowing?  Grab a bottle of lemonade and your hat and sunscreen. Hop on the mower and enjoy the spring weather and the start of a beautiful lawn.

 

From Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship:

 

    Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today encouraged homeowners to consider incorporating soil quality restoration efforts into their annual spring yard work.

   Often in urban areas, especially new developments, the topsoil has been removed and what is left is compacted.  Restoring soil quality helps yards and green spaces absorb and infiltrate rainfall, which reduces the homeowners need to water their yard while protecting water quality and preventing runoff.

   “Iowa is known for it’s great soil, and rightfully so, but we need to make sure we are taking care of that soil so that it is healthy,” Northey said.  “What made our soil so productive was the high organic matter content and porosity that absorbed rain and allowed roots to grow deep.  Soil quality restoration helps recreate those conditions that allow plants to thrive.”

   If you are establishing a new lawn, perform deep tillage (8-12 inches deep) before seeding or sodding to breaks up compacted soils.  Add compost to increase organic matter.  It is recommended that soils have 5 percent or more organic matter before sodding or seeding, which can be achieved by incorporating 1 to 3 inches of compost.

   If you have an existing lawn, consider aerating the soil and then apply a blanket of compost in the spring or fall.  An application of one-quarter to three-quarters of an inch of compost following aeration will help fill the holes with organic matter to amend the soil and allow existing turf to grow through the compost amendment. If your turf is patchy, add seed to the compost application to thicken up the vegetation.

   “Improving the soil quality in your yard will make your lawn healthier, require less water and reduce the need for fertilizer and pesticide applications,” Northey added.  “A better looking lawn and improved water quality in the state are possible when we better manage runoff through soil quality restoration and other measures that allow water to infiltrate.”

   There are a number of other lawn care tips to help care for your soil and promote infiltration of water and prevent runoff.

  • Begin mowing after the first of May and end near Labor Day.
  • Set the mower at three inches high. The higher the grass shoots the deeper the grass roots, making it better able to survive dry periods.
  • Use the mulch setting on your mower to leave the grass clippings on the yard. Don’t lower organic matter content by removing clippings.
  • Consider using native plants for accent in planting beds or in rain gardens to minimize the amount of turf grass.
  • Seed your lawn to a native turf mixture that has deep roots and thrives in Iowa’s weather conditions without extra care.

   More information about urban conservation, rain gardens and a soil quality brochure are available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s website at www.IowaAgriculture.gov

 

 

               

               

 

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Emerald ash borer alert – new infestation found just miles from Iowa in Wisconsin

This came out today from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Spokesman Dustin Vande Hoef said the emerald ash borer infestation discovered in Wisconsin – the closest its ever been to Iowa – appeared to be well-established. The best action Iowans can take to prevent an infestation – which most experts believe is only a matter of time – is to buy firewood locally and not bring it into the state from quarantined areas such as Michigan, where the emerald ash borer was first discovered in the United States and where the beetle has already decimated ash trees.

Here is the press release that came out today:

Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer

IOWA OFFICIALS HIGHLIGHT EFFORTS TO PREVENT AND DETECT EMERALD ASH BORER FOLLOWING NEW DISCOVERY IN WISCONSIN

New Infestation Discovered Across Mississippi River in Wisconsin

 

DES MOINES – Following the discovery of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) just across the Mississippi River from the Iowa-Wisconsin border, members of the Iowa Emerald Ash Borer Team today highlighted steps being taken to prevent an infestation in Iowa and detect the beetle if it is in the state.  EAB is an invasive beetle that feeds on ash trees and eventually kills them.

 

The new infestation was found near Victory, Wis. on the east bank of the Mississippi River across from Allamakee County in Northeast Iowa. This new infestation is less than 5 miles southeast of the Minnesota-Iowa border.

 

The Iowa Emerald Ash Borer Team includes officials from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the USDA Forest Service

 

The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is native to the Orient, and was introduced in the United States near Detroit, Mich. in the 1990s.  Although not yet found in Iowa, EAB has more potential for future harm to Iowa forests and urban communities than any other insect currently being dealt with in the United States.

 

EAB kills all ash (Fraxinus) species by larval burrowing under the bark and eating the actively growing (cambium) layers of the trees. EAB has been killing trees of various sizes in neighborhoods and woodlands. Ash is one of the most abundant native tree species in North America, and has been heavily planted as a landscape tree in yards and other urban areas. According to recent sources, Iowa has an estimated 58 million rural ash trees and approximately 30 more million urban ash trees.

 

The movement of out-of-state firewood to and through Iowa poses the greatest threat to spread EAB.  Areas currently infested are under federal and state quarantines, but unknowing campers or others who transport firewood can spark an outbreak.

 

Each member of the Iowa Emerald Ash Borer Team is taking steps to monitor Iowa’s ash trees and ensure that the beetle has not spread into Iowa by examining high risk sites.  The Iowa EAB team has defined high risk sites as locations where people would bring out-of state wood, such as campgrounds, nurseries and sawmills.

 

DNR estimates there are up to as many as 5 million ash trees in Allamakee County, this represents about 5% of the trees in the forested areas of this county.  Allamakee is the most forested county in Iowa with 42% of the land covered by trees (176,000 acres of forest).  Iowa agencies in cooperation with USDA-APHIS and Forest Service will be working together to survey for EAB.

 

Monitoring efforts include visual surveys at high risk sites by Iowa State University, DNR’s placement of sentinel ash trees that are intentionally stressed so that they are more attractive to EAB, and the placement of purple sticky traps around the state that attracts and traps the insect by a collaborative effort among APHIS and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

 

Team members will be working with Wisconsin and Minnesota officials in response to this new discovery and will be conducting additional visual surveys in the area in the coming weeks.

 

To learn more about EAB and other pests that are threatening Iowa’s tree population please visit www.IowaTreePests.com.

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