Tag Archives: grass

Aspen Suckers – Persistence Pays!

For many years, my property line was bordered by a small patch of aspen trees planted by a well-meaning neighbor. They were lovely for a few years but despite good care, things began to change – fungal diseases, insects and visible cankers, anemic fall color, as well as “gifts” in the form of aspen suckers peppered both lawns. While I’m not a lawn zealot, these suckers can rather quickly turn into a mini grove of trees as aspens reproduce by sending up shoots from the root of the mother tree. Suckering sometimes indicate that mom is on the decline, which in this case was true.

In early spring 2014, the owners decided the aspens were beyond saving and they removed the ten year old trees. With the trees gone, the  suckers continued to sprout with a vengeance, as the remaining underground root stock tried to offer us replacement aspens.

To win this battle, before every mowing (and sometimes more often) we diligently removed the tender new shoots and their roots by hand and dabbed freshly cut larger suckers with a product recommended by our local garden center (look for active ingredient Ethyl 1 Napthaleneacetate). Ideally, we would have tackled this without chemicals, but in this case, we were advised to go this route. Additionally, we aerated the lawn and over-seeded the grass to make it healthier and thicker, hence more difficult for suckers to emerge. To discourage sucker production, we were vigilant about not over watering.

I am proud to say that this year our persistence has paid off. We’ve not had a single sneaky shoot in the lawn or adjacent garden bed, even with this year’s abundant moisture. The remaining root stock appears to have died out, so (fingers crossed) the suckers are gone for good. For more info on reducing tree  suckers and seedlings: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/1538.html

Our experience is very common. Aspens are beautiful in the mountains, but ill-suited for the urban landscape. At lower elevations they are frequently disease prone, insect plagued and short lived. Since they thrive in moist, well-drained and slightly acidic soil and at higher altitudes, the Front Range soil, which is predominately compacted, alkaline and clay, is just not ideal.  If you already have aspens on your property, here is information which may help you keep them at their best: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/1701.html

If you are thinking of adding trees to your front range landscape, check out this list of tree recommendations from Colorado State University http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/garden/07418.html

Written by Linda McDonnell, a Denver County Master Gardener since 2013

How to Celebrate Lawn Care Month in April

green lawn with chairs

It takes a little work to whip a lawn into shape each spring.

After a long winter, it’s time to step outside and take a long look at the lawn. Most gardeners won’t like what they see.

While some lawns will look thick and green, thanks to that routine fall fertilizing, other lawns will need some help. To get the turf back on track means raking, aerating, weeding, reseeding, fertilizing, and watering. Fortunately it doesn’t all have to be done on the same warm spring day.

1. Grab a rake. Remove dead grass, fallen leaves and other debris from the lawn. If your lawn shows signs of thatch, like brown spots and general thinning, it may be time to use a power rake to lightly go over the lawn. The rake will remove the layer of built-up organic matter that sits between the leaf zone and the soil, usually caused by compacted soil.

2. Aerate the soil. Invigorate the lawn by aerating, also called core cultivation. Aerating reduces soil compaction, improves water infiltration, encourages root growth, and helps with seed germination. Rent a machine or hire a lawn crew to pull plugs of grass at regular intervals over the lawn surface. Be sure to leave the plugs on the lawn to decompose and help fertilize the lawn.

3. Manage weeds. It’s best to tackle grassy weeds, like crabgrass, with a pre-emergent herbicide in spring after the soil has warmed. With proper timing, one application will eliminate these troublesome weeds all summer long. It’s better to apply pre-emergent herbicides sooner rather than later. Apply either before or after aeration and water in well.

Because most pre-emergent herbicides can also kill germinating grass seed, delay adding grass seed to the lawn until late summer or early fall.

4. Add grass seed. The best way to keep the lawn healthy and weed free is to encourage thick growth. Apply a good quality, compatible grass seed after the lawn is aerated to give maximum seed-to-soil contact and to improve seed germination. Keep the seed moist, but avoid saturating the grass. It will take about 10-14 days for seeds to sprout.

5. Fertilize. Fertilizers add the nutrients your blue-grass lawn needs. Nitrogen is especially important if you want a thick green lawn. Use a balanced fertilizer that has nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, iron and sulfur. April is a good time to fertilize, especially if no fertilizing was done in fall.

For all the top turf tips, including how to handle dog spots in the lawn, visit CSU’s Turf Program website.

Now, what tips do you have for celebrating National Lawn Care Month?