Late-summer lawn renovation dominates the August work schedule in many Washington area landscapes, but for the best of reasons. The target is a reasonably good fall lawn for some, a spectacular lawn for others. No matter what condition your lawn may be by October, this is the lawn you will live with come next spring and summer. This explains why you tackle the preparatory lawn work in August, leading to the seeding or overseeding of the lawn, and the resumption of major lawn fertilization. Let us pick up the renovation program for the weekend and the coming week.
Disaster lawn: A week ago, you were to have scalped the lawn, bagged all clippings, then fertilized the disaster lawn. You also were to have shopped for the supplies to kill the lawn this weekend, weather permitting. You need either a quart container of liquid concentrate Ortho Kleenup, which treats 1,000 square feet, or a pint of Roundup L&G liquid concentrate, which will treat 2,500 square feet; do not use substitute products.
Unlike past years, you can use the hose-end sprayer to apply both products to the lawn.
Without cutting the lawn, treat your disaster lawn with either product this weekend or anytime next week. Before spraying, check the forecast to make sure no rain is imminent. If the chance of rain is above 30 percent, postpone the treatment.
For the sake of accuracy, mark off the lawn in 500- or 1,000-square-foot sections, the idea being to restrict the spray to the given area. Sprinkle lime over the lawn to create these "borders" just before spraying the lawn. Here are the application rates:
With Ortho liquid concentrate Kleenup, add 16 ounces to the jar of the hose-end sprayer -- do not add any water to the jar. Attach the jar to the spray head, move the deflector down at the nozzle, then spray 500 square feet of the disaster lawn. Refill the jar a second time and spray the next 500-square-foot area.
With Roundup L&G, add six ounces to the jar, and do not add any water to the jar. Spray the contents of the jar over a 1,000-square-foot area. If the area to be treated is only 500 square feet, add three ounces to the jar and spray the area.
Regardless of the product used or the size of the lawn, spray in the evening to have maximum absorption of the herbicide by all weeds. Remember, absorption occurs when only while the foliage is wet; do not treat the lawn in the morning or afternoon, if at all possible.
Put on rubber footwear before you enter the lawn. Move to the most distant part of the lawn first so the garden hose is always behind you. Spray from left to right, then right to left. Back up a few steps, lifting the hose from behind you, then spray from left to right and back again. The diffused spray will wet the foliage of all weeds, killing them in the process. Do not keep spraying weeds over and over because this only serves to wash the product from the weeds you are attempting to kill.
If any spray should fall on a desirable plant (shrub or flowers), use a sprinkling can to wash the weed killer off the plant immediately after.
On leaving the lawn, remove the rubber footwear, then use a clean rag to wipe down the garden hose of any herbicide residue. Add an ounce of chlorine bleach to the jar of the hose-end sprayer, then flush the nozzle with the solution; direct this spray on the driveway or road, not on the lawn or nearby plants.
After the treatment, stay off the lawn for 24 hours, children and pets, too. Do not cut the lawn.
All treated weeds, brush and undesirable plants will start to discolor on the fourth day, turning pale green to yellow in the process. By the seventh day, everything will have turned brown, indicating that the product has entered the root system. Complete kill will occur in the second week. Next week's column will pick up the program at this point!
60-40 lawn: Over the past week, you were to have made two distinct treatments to the lawn, first with the general-purpose weed killer, and then the first application of the so-called "crabgrass killer" in the past few days.
Of course, you may not encounter crabgrass or goosegrass on your sunny lawn, in which case this crabgrass treatment isn't needed; however, if any of these grassy weeds are present, you must apply the crabgrass control to put these weeds away.
Assuming you have made the first crabgrass treatment, no lawn work is on the agenda this weekend, However, one week after your first crabgrass treatment, you will have to make a second application to control the weeds. Refer to your garden notes so you know when to repeat the treatment.
You need 24 hours without rain for this second treatment to end grassy weeds on the lawn.
First, cut the lawn at the low setting with your rotary mower, bagging all clippings in the process. Ideally, this would be done during the heat of the afternoon for best results. Immediately after, move a clean trash can to the lawn, adding 12 gallons of water followed by the required amount of "Super Crabgrass Killer."
Add one ounce if the air temperature is below 90 degrees at the time of application, but use a half-ounce if the temperature is above 90. Dip a sprinkling can into the solution, then sprinkle all 12 gallons over a 1,000-square-foot area. Sway the sprinkling can from left to right so you wet these grassy weeds, specifically crabgrass, goosegrass, foxtail, barnyardgrass, orchardgrass, etc., trying to avoid treating good grass or weeds in the process of dying.
Stay off the lawn for 24 hours after treatment, children and pets, too. Next week's column will pick up your lawn renovation program at this point.
With the raspberry harvest virtually ended, immediately prune to the ground all canes (those you marked with masking tape) that just yielded fruits. All pruned canes should be cut into small pieces, then added to the trash can. Not only does pruning eliminate overwintering disease problems, but it also encourages continued spur development on canes which have grown this summer and which will yield raspberries next July.
Thought by some to be a second coming of tent caterpillars, fall webworms have appeared on many woodland trees around the Beltway, occasionally in home landscapes.
If you find silken webs on the ends of branches, you'll know it's the fall webworm. By garden standards, fall webworms seldom warrant sprays. Where you encounter substantial webworm colonies, all you need do is poke a hole in the tent with a long stick, then focus a stream of water from the garden hose at the tent. Once washed to the ground, the fall webworm problem no longer exists.
Those strange-looking reddish-brown to black insects seen around the foundation have been bugging homeowners for weeks, but the problem is not as bad as it seems. What you see are earwigs, but they aren't the fierce insects they seem to be, and they aren't trying to get in your ears.
Sometimes, they do manage to get into the house, but they die soon after for lack of food; patching cracks in the foundation usually prevents earwigs from entering the house. Earwigs generally stay outdoors to feed on decaying plant matter. They prefer dark, moist environments most of all. A clean garden eliminates the earwig problem, so check the area near the house foundation first.
Jack Eden is the host of "Over the Garden Fence" Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on WTOP Radio (1500 AM).