Q&A – Ask Neil: December 28, 2023
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SHOULD I LEAVE FALLEN LEAVES?
Question: My home is surrounded by huge, towering oak trees. I have a lush St. Augustine lawn with full sprinklers. Should I allow all the leaves to fall and then rake them up, or should I mulch up the leaves? Joey D., Wise County.
Answer: This combines two questions I’ve addressed here over the course of this fall, so instead of referring you back to them separately, I’ll answer them together. You need to gather the leaves (however you choose to do so) and get them off the lawn. That would be too much organic matter to mulch back into the turf at one time. It couldn’t decay quickly enough. And if you leave them in place they will pack down and trap moisture and warmth beneath them. Disease will become an issue, plus if you get a strong north wind associated with a bad cold front, the tender St. Augustine could be exposed and left very vulnerable. Either blow them or rake them, or if you prefer to mow and bag them, gather them and use them in the compost pile. Just don’t burn them or send them to the landfill.
WHERE CAN I FIND A SKYLINE HOLLY?
Question: A few months ago I saw a plant called Skyline holly at Calloway’s Nursery. However, now I can’t find it for sale anywhere. Where would it be available? Blake B., Lewisville.
Answer: Skyline is a columnar selection of yaupon holly. There have been several before it, but one thing this one has going for it is that it is being grown by the highly respected Green Leaf Wholesale Nursery and promoted under the Garden Debut marketing program. Here is a link to its page on their website. You will find a “Find a retailer” option. Enter your Zip Code and it will tell you all the retailers within a pre-determined number of miles of your house who handle Garden Debut plants. Those are the nurseries that can order it for you with their spring shipments that will start arriving in a few weeks. (Most are probably not going to have it in stock yet.) I tried it for my Zip Code and found 15 or 20 within driving distance. That included a couple of Calloway’s locations as well. Good luck in getting it!
WHERE CAN I FIND A LARGER CATAWBA CRAPE MYRTLE?
Question: I’m looking for a larger (30-gallon) Catawba crape myrtle. I’ve called lots of local nurseries in Denton County many times this fall and winter without luck. Do I need to think farther out? Michelle K., Argyle.
Answer: Perhaps try calling into the Dallas or Fort Worth metro areas where landscapers are doing so much work. They are the ones who are buying larger plants. Call retail nurseries who also sell to landscape contractors out of a “back office” at the rear of the retail store. They’ll be selling truckloads of merchandise to crews who are doing big jobs and who are daily customers. Those nurseries are also set up to look for special plants for specific needs. It’s amazing what all is out there. This is not an especially large crape myrtle size, nor is it an oddball variety. I’m trying to source 10 or 12 much less common varieties in that same sort of size, and I know how frustrating it can be. However, once spring arrives, it shouldn’t be difficult for you to find a Catawba. You might try Covington’s in Rowlett, Fannin’s Tree Farm in Frisco, and Shades of Green Nursery, also in Frisco. Calloway’s is also set up to do landscape design and installation now, so they very likely could get it in for you. Those are all in the radius in which I shop. You will have a similar set of options nearer to Argyle. Talk to the managers of those stores and ask if they will have it. If not, ask each of them if they know of a source. Nursery people are usually very willing to support one another. And remember how rapidly crape myrtles grow. Covington’s, for example, has 10-gallon Catawbas on their website inventory list. Those could be 30-gallon size within a couple of years if given good care.
COULD I GET A HEADSTART WITH BERMUDA PLUGS NOW?
Question: I’d like to get a head start on transplanting bermuda plugs into my yard. Would these plugs make it, or is this a waste of time during the winter? Kevin W., Azle, Tarrant County.
Answer: They’re going to sit there almost completely dormant for eight weeks if you plant them now. Let’s assume they would survive (they probably would). Let’s assume you planted some now and you also planted some April 15. My bet is that by July 15 you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. The later plantings would soon catch up. In a heartbeat, I would wait.
WILL 2,4-D KILL THESE WEEDS?
Question: I’ve been noticing these weeds popping up in our yard. I’ve been pulling them out, but I’m wondering if 2,4-D would kill them so I wouldn’t have to pull them any longer. Thanks! Tom S., Belton.
Answer: This is exactly the purpose of 2,4-D. It will put these weeds out of business once and for all. Spray them while they have these big, fluffy leaves. Don’t water for several days after you spray. Use a pump sprayer so you can direct the droplets right onto the leaves. If the droplets bead up and run off, add one drop of liquid dishwashing detergent per gallon of spray to help them adhere to the leaf surfaces. Don’t mow for several days before or after you spray. You will see the leaves start to twist and gnarl, then the plants will gradually disappear.