Western Mountains and High Plains

June, 2010
Regional Report

Prune evergreens

As the new growth, or 'candles' on pines and spruce elongate, you can regulate their growth patterns. It is easy to pinch growth back part way depending upon the amount of new growth you want to control. This technique works well on mugo pines that tend to outgrow areas in which they are planted. Pinching and pruning now allows new buds to form at the point of pinching. Next year these buds will develop new shoots.

Mulch to smother weeds

If weeds continue to grow up through the mulch in flower and vegetable gardens, it is time to add more organic mulch. This is one of the most effective ways to control weeds before they can spread and go to seed. For other areas in the landscape where mulch is impractical, use a scuffle hoe to cut weeds off from their roots just below the soil surface. The weeds will dry up and die and you will have gently cultivated the soil around plants as well.

Sulfur to the rescue

If you grow tomatoes, peppers and potatoes, early season control of insect pests can be accomplished with the use of an old-fashioned technique of applying dusting sulfur. Apply sulfur to the underside of the foliage to reduce outbreaks of psyllids, the tiny pests that cause serious damage and spread diseases to vegetable plants. Follow label directions carefully.

Danger in weed killers

Avoid broadcast applications of weed killer products that contain the herbicide dicamba, especially near trees and shrubs. High concentrations of this weed killer will not only kill broadleaf weeds in lawns, but the root-absorbed action will slowly kill trees and shrubs as their roots can readily take up dicamba. This material can persist in the soil for several weeks to months and accumulate to toxic levels to gradually kill your valuable landscape plants. Weeds can be effectively controlled by spot treatment rather than a blanket application of weed and feed products.

Check pines and spruce for scale

If the needles don't normally have speckles, scale insects may be lurking. The small flecks of white are actually insect pests that draw juices from the evergreens, causing the needles to turn yellow and brown. Eventually, premature needle-drop may occur. Scale has many natural insect predators, so use pesticides sparingly; you can also control with summer horticultural oils. Read and follow label directions carefully.

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