Mound No More


    It’s stupid, senseless, and as ugly as the dogs’ breakfast. Mike McGrath, host of You Bet Your Garden, will try to turn the tide against the deadly practice of mounding mulch up onto innocent trees. Plus your fabulous phone calls.

    Photo via Gardens, Lawns, and Landscapes on Flickr.

    Question of the Week

    I often see trees in my town and neighboring communities ‘mulched to the hilt’—six to 10 inches of mulch packed right up against the bark. The majority (if not all) of those trees are diseased, dying, or dead, yet the “mound mulching” practice continues to be rampant…

    Lori in Lawrenceville, NJ

    It’s Time to Declare War on the Mulch Mounding of Trees! »

    Highlights from show for October 25, 2014:

    Rabbit Fertilizer

    Carey in Texarcana, Arkansas is using rabbit fertilizer in his garden and puts it around his fig trees. The fig trees are growing like crazy, but is it too much to use the rabbit fertilizer? Mike is curious where he is getting the fertilizer. Carey has a tenant who supplies him with it from her own rabbits. Amazingly, Carey is getting two pounds every two days from three trees. Mike warns that rabbit manure is a little powerful when its fresh. So, don’t close up the bag you put it in. Leave it out so it can air out for a while. Mike says, this is a very well balanced fertilizer and he’s not surprised the figs are responding to it.

    Grass Rot?

    Barbara in New Hope, PA has a 9×12 spot that never had grass, so she prepared the area and put the seed in and grass came in and looked great. Then at about three inches high it suddenly looked like someone had poured motor oil on the lawn. Barbara remembers a caller who spoke about rot in their grass and she figured that was what was going on. She’s curious if she should I feed the grass in the fall? Barbara admits she planted the grass in July and Mike says it had no chance of survival whatsoevef. “The middle of summer is the absolutely worst time.” Barbara says she was watering the grass at night and once she stopped the disease went away. In addition, she own a Shetland Pony who grazes on the grass and keep sit short. Mike suggests letting that Pony get out there every time the grass is 4 to 4.5 inches high and let him nibble and see how it works out over time.

    Mature Pines

    Robert in Edmund, OK recently bought a property that has 30 pines trees on it that are all mature. They have been clearing the land of cedar trees to reveal the pine trees. He’s worried, however, about the the pine bark beetle and wants to know how to prevent them from taking down some of these trees. Mike wants to know if Robert is using the wonderful Cedar wood, which he is doing some of the time. Mike says not to feed the pine trees and not to mulch the trees. People who pile mulch up agains t trees are inviting insencts like the pine bark beetle to set up residence. Mike also suggests suet feeders for foraging birds in the winter to help keep the insects at bay.

    Lilac Care

    Larry from Auburn, Maine, has lilacs that he fertilizes each year and spreads a little lime at their base and is wondering why he’s not getting a lot of flowers. Mike stops him right there and expresses his surprise that Larry is using lime. Mike also says feeding in the fall is awful. “Just as you should not feed a dormant person, you should not feed a dormant plant.” Mike also warns that if Larry must mulch the the lilac then he should make sure that no mulch touches the trunk and make sure the leaves are really well shredded. After some light interrogation Mike realizes that Larry’s lilac really isn’t getting enough sun and Mike determines that might be an issue for him.

    Magnolia Scale

    Lloyd from Wayne, PA is worried about Scale on his magnolia trees. He notices secretions coming from the magnolia, which attracts yellow jackets through the summer. Mike wouldn’t necessarily care about the scale as long as the tree is healthy, but the added issue of the yellow jackets is dangerous. Mike asks some investigative questions and realizes that the tree is heavily mulched by a landscape company that comes around Lloyd’s condo community. Mike begs Lloyd to get them to stop and tells him to rake all the mulch away from the tree. Once the tree is healthy it won’t attract insects anymore.

    Bag Worms

    Jack in Mullica Hill, NJ has what he calls “bag bugs” on his evergreens. Mike corrects him that they are “bag worms” and are actually caterpillars. He instructs Jack to get as many of the “pinecones” off the trees, cutting into the branches if need be. Then he should treat the tree with BT in the Spring, which will kill the caterpillar infestation.

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