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MSU Extension Service

Home Grown is an educational, entertaining, question-answer column seen weekly in "News from the Genesee MSUE Office," a weekly newsletter for Genesee County Master Gardeners. Special thanks to the Genesee, Oakland and Livingston county MSU Extension offices for providing this service.

2004 Editions

01-13-05 Fungus gnats; deer protection for trees
01-19-05 After cutting down trees: to chip or not to chip? Also: starting seeds indoors for spring planting
01-27-05 Excessive plant growth in ponds; problem trees and/or problem sites
02-11-05 Diplodia Tip Blight on Pine trees; caring for African violets
02-14-05 Caring for Ficus in winter; indoor pests: larder beetles
02-14-05 bonus! Fertilizer for gardens - designer vs "regular"; why gardenias don't like our houses 
02-21-05 vole damage in lawns & woody plants; how to root cacti and succulents
03-04-05 tree-climbing vines; hibernating insects
03-08-05 deer pests in the landscape; grain moths in kitchens
03-15-05 ants in the kitchen; mythological apple trees
04-07-05 spring care of ornamental grasses; little beetle in basements
04-13-05 Preventing crabgrass; flies on the wall 
04-18-05 Buying perennials in boxes; care of perennials in early spring
05-20-05 Dogs and lawns; winter injury on evergreen trees
05-27-05 Sawfly larvae on Scotch Pine trees; rabbit-eaten  Burning Bushes

This week's HomeGrown

Extension web sites:












I have some spots on my lawn and the guy across the street told me this was grub damage. My sister looked at the spots and told me that they were caused by snow mold. So who’s right here? I don’t think that I would be unlucky enough to have both. Is there an easy way to tell because I’m no scientist?

May I present Grass 101 for Higher Primates. This only works if you look carefully and think only semi-deeply. We begin with memory work. When the spots appeared is important. If you think spots were there by September, grubs would have already worked their magic. There would be some dead spots then. We had a nice rainy fall and the grass should have looked at least decent. If there were dead or thinning areas then, grubs are the usual suspects. If the spots weren’t there in the fall but were there when the snow melted, snow mold is the choice. Now, for the detective work. Examine the spots. If the grass is dead and standing up straight, grubs sound right. If the grass is completely flat and looks like it got ironed to the ground, snow mold is the problem. Usually, snow mold grass will look light gray and flat while grub grass will look tan and stand up. Step three involves the “lift and separate” portion of the diagnosis. No, we’re not talking underwear here; we’re still talking lawns. Grab onto the grass and pull upwards. If the flat grass pulls up and there are no roots and only dead grass, it’s snow mold. If you pull on the grass and grass, short roots and soil pull away, it’s probably grubs.

If the damage is grubs, look at reseeding those areas and use a grub control product the first week of July. Product names would be Bayer Season-Long Grub Control or Grubex. You want a product that contains Imidacloprid. If the problem is snow mold, rake the area of gray grass and 
look for regrowth of existing plants. It might be necessary to reseed the areas, but this is rare.

I have all these little maple seedlings coming up in my yard. Can I sell these? Or, can I grow them bigger for me? And how do I dig up small trees to move them?

The sad fact in this cruel world is that it might be more merciful to just run over the tiny seedlings and get rid of them. If you are a Druid and worship trees, this might be difficult. If you can save some for your own use, dig them and move them to a nursery bed. First, virtually nobody will pay for tiny seedlings. Most folks want a twenty-foot tall tree, if they could get it. Second, you would need to get a plant grower license Michigan Department of Agriculture to sell commercially. This costs a bunch of bucks and you probably wouldn’t make enough from your Dinky-do Maple Farm to make it worthwhile. For your tiny maples, dig and remove more than you want for your use. Not every maple baby will grow or look good. Put them in a sunny area that you are going to designate as your nursery bed. It needs to be located where you can water the maple kiddies as needed. It’s necessary to also control weeds and grass so trees can grow effectively. When digging up the small maples that you have, make sure the soil is moist. You want to have the soil cling to the roots and not crumble away. Move the trees by supporting the root ball. Don’t carry them by the trunks. Set them in their new spot at the same depth they were planted and water them. The more roots that you can dig with this small tree, the better it will do. Maples will grow into large trees eventually, so make sure that you have room for the big guys in 20 or 30 years. It’s much sadder to remove a large healthy tree than a seedling.

Gretchen Voyle, MSU Extension-Livingston County Horticulture
Agent 517/546-3950


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