Category Archives: Central Ohio

Good Bugs vs Bad Bugs

I use minimal insecticides mainly because I’ve always had dogs and Murph is like a 4-legged mop because his legs are so short. I also don’t want to harm the good insects like bees, nor do I want to harm the birds. I prefer to let Nature take its course. Like the Assassin bug I found a couple years ago, I learned it killed the bad bugs, even though it was really ugly.

GOOD BUG!

Praying Mantis

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Over the weekend I spotted another highly desirable bug, a Praying Mantis. They’re fun to watch as they do their jerky movement and turn their strange head. Eventually it “walked” down to the green plant below where it became nearly invisible with its color match. If you check articles on Google, you’ll find that these insects are killing machines, attacking much larger critters like frogs! Amazing!

BAD BUGS!

Grubs under the lawn

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Also this past weekend I began cleaning up the brown spots I had in the yard. I thought they were due to the extreme dry weather we had. But as I began to use my thatching rake, I pulled up the sod … a sure sign of grubs. I was finding a grub for every 2 square inches. THAT’S A LOT!

I found this invasion over large parts of my back lawn. Given the time of year, I checked online for a specific insecticide that would kill them NOW. Many grub controls are preventative and must be put on in late spring. I found an article from Michigan State University that there are only 2 active ingredients that kill now. One of those took 3-4 weeks to work. The other kills in 24-hours. So I made a trip to Home Depot to buy the Bayer granules.

grub damaged lawn

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I tested the insecticide on one of the large damaged areas, soaked it with plenty of water, then watched the grubs squirm and try to bury themselves further down into the dirt. If it didn’t work, I wasn’t going to put it over other areas because of Murph. I checked the next day and the grubs were dead. I’ve since covered the area with topsoil to keep Murph from coming in contact with the granules. (The hose was circled around the spot to keep Murph off – he hates the hose!)

I’ll be repeating this process over all the other large areas where I spotted the nasty grubs. If there were just a few grubs, I wouldn’t bother with this, but if I don’t control them to some degree I’ll just have a bunch of June bugs next year with a repeat of the damaged lawn.

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Alvin is stocking up for winter

Normally these little critters scamper as soon as I walk out the door. This time the little guy was defiant! I got within 2-feet to take the picture. There was a “stare down” as I snapped 3 pics with my phone before it scampered away. Guess the special Fruit & Nut seed was just too enticing that it was worth defying the “dangerous human”! 🙂

Their fat little cheeks are cute but they sure do empty the feeders in a hurry!
chipmunk staredown

Coppertina Ninebark – Buyer Beware!

powdery mildew on Coppertina Ninebark

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In May 2015 I wrote about a new landscape bed which I put in that contained 2 Coppertina Ninebark plants. The first year I really liked them. The changing copper colors were quite attractive. But as the year went on I began to notice a problem with powdery mildew. I cut out the affected leaves then sprayed with a fungicide. As time went on the fungicide seemed to have no effect, so I sprayed again when we would have several rain-free days. Still no control of the mildew.

This spring the powdery mildew came back with a vengeance. I checked Google to see if there was a known problem for this type of plant and found several articles on the subject. It seems powdery mildew and Witch’s Brooms are a genetic problem with Ninebarks although some varieties are less damaged by the disease. None of the suggestions for control were very effective. The stems where the Witch’s Broom occur soon turn black as do the leaves.

One of the two plants was smaller and less attractive since it has had more powdery mildew problems than the other one. I don’t want to have to mess with pruning off the affected leaves and black stems every couple weeks OR have to weekly spray a fungicide that really doesn’t work, so I removed the smaller plant. I’m really disappointed since the plant is or could be very attractive but this genetic issue makes them a questionable purchase. Be advised!

ANTS, ANTS, ANTS in my PLANTS!

The ants have been TERRIBLE this year. I’ve tried insecticide sprays and Diatomaceous Earth. However those treatments don’t kill the queen so the nest continues. Then someone recommended Terro Ant Baits. I’ve tried baits before without much success. Then a guy from North Carolina posted his photo on Twitter of using one style of Terro bait. So I checked YouTube for similar videos. Surprise! There’s a lot of such videos of ants going nuts over the sugary Borax mixture.

Home Depot only carried the flat indoor-style bait so I bought a box of that style and put them outside. I laid a rock on each to hold them in place. They worked very well as the liquid was depleted within a few days. I found the outdoor stake-style at another store and now have 8 of them in place around the outside of my home where I’ve seen ants. I made this short video of the last stake I put into place. The nest immediately attacked it! I installed the stake on Saturday. Today is Tuesday and I’m seeing only a few stragglers. This Terro bait really works!

Trick to Weathering Wood Overnite

I have a split-rail fence as required by my subdivision. It’s now 20 years old and was again in need of replacing some rotted fence posts and rails. When I’ve had this work done in years past, I had to live with a “new wood” look until it also aged over time. Because I had so many posts and rails replaced this time I went to Home Depot with the intent of finding a suitable “weathered” stain. One of the salesmen told me that stain wouldn’t really work well. Instead he showed me a YouTube video giving instructions on weathering using white vinegar and steel wood pads. Sounds odd but I found many such videos so apparently I’m the last to know this trick.

I bought a half-gallon of vinegar and used 4 steel wool pads. In one of the videos I watched, it was suggested that if a darker color was desired to make black tea and spray it on the wood first. I didn’t want to do that plus I had only regular tea so I put 7 tea bags in the vinegar mixture. I put a lid on the container then let it sit for 24 hrs. I poured the mix into an all-purpose spray bottle I had on hand then sprayed all the new wood. VOILA!

weathering new wood on old fence
fence post weathering
In the photo all the top rails are new and the post on the right is new. They look a little different than the 20-year old rails but look a whole lot less obvious than the new wood did. They turned this color within a few hours. The photo below shows another sprayed post as it compares to a leftover of a new wood post. Pretty amazing isn’t it!

I do have a couple cautions.

1) Wear gloves because the spray will stain your hands, nails & especially cuticles. It also can stain kitchen counters. Use Chlorox!

2) The fibers from the steel wool may periodically clog the spray bottle’s tube so you may need to check the bottom of the suction tube to remove the fibers.

Spring is for Transplanting

This Spring I’ve been busy in the yard. There were plants that needed moved because they had overgrown their space or they weren’t doing well in their spot. I also had to replace a large Butterfly Bush that didn’t make it through the winter. Rather than move two large hostas I gave them to my insurance agent during a meeting I had with him. Actually I told him he could have them for his new home IF he came and dug them up.Spruce & Pear Trees

Last fall I had to have Davey Tree cut down one of my large spruce trees. The trees had been planted too closely and in an arc. The middle one of the 5 trees wasn’t getting enough sun anymore so it looked very bad. Removing it would allow the two trees beside it to get more sun and space. My wonderful neighbor volunteered to cut the stump out. It was an afternoon of really hard work and I certainly appreciated it.

Ligularia

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The Ligularia that I planted 2 years ago had grown much larger than I thought they would plus they were in a spot where I had to walk by them to reach the garden hose and a bird feeder. The leaves are easily damaged so they needed to be moved to a spot where I didn’t walk by them. So I moved them to the empty space where the spruce tree was. So far they are doing great. Their tall daisy-like flowers should look very pretty in this mass display.

Ninebark and Summersweet

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The Ligularia was originally planted next to the back of the house where the dead Butterfly Bush was. I wanted a tall plant to replace the Butterfly Bush so I chose a Vanilla Spice Summersweet shrub. It is to get up to 6 ft tall and wide. It has white fragrant flowers in late summer and is favored by butterflies and hummingbirds.

Orangeade Potentilla

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There were 3 Spireas in front of the Spruces which never did well so I moved them to another spot. In their place I put 5 Orangeade Potentillas. They’ve already started to bloom in the three weeks they’ve been in the ground. Whenever I plant flowers and shrubs I always use one of the types of Miracle-Gro soils and Miracle-Gro fertilizer so they have a good start. Butterflies are supposed to like Potentilla. We’ll see.

I’ve also divided some very large Hostas and put the divided portions within the Spruce bed and moved some dwarf Barberries in the front yard. I AM NOW DONE! (until I decide to do something else)

EDIT UPDATE: This is what the Orangeade Potentilla looks like 2 weeks later. Very pretty!

Orangeade Potentilla