Ask the Gardener-May 10

AmericangothicWhat do I do about the weeds in my lawn?

Your lawn can offer several different types of weeds that need to be controlled; do you know what kind of weeds you have growing in your lawn?

In the lawn there are two types of weeds that you want to control: Broadleaf weeds and grassy weeds. Broadleaf weeds, known as dicotyledons, would be like your clover, dandelion, mallow, etc whereas grassy weeds, monocotyledon,  would be like crabgrass, quack grass, nut grass, and other narrow bladed grasses that you don’t want to grow in your lawn.

Most advertising would have you think that you need to apply a weed and feed to your lawn in order to control most weeds.  However, for best results a weed and feed works best in the fall, about mid-September to late October, when all perennial weeds are out and are getting ready for winter.

Weed and Feeds, simplistically do two things: Kill broadleaf weeds that the chemical comes in contact with and then feeds the lawn.  Read the instructions to fully understand and know how to use these products.  You must have a wet lawn so that the weed killer will “stick” to the wet leaf of the weed and kill it.  Don’t water you lawn for 36-48 hours after applying the product. The weeds that this will kill are weeds that are already leafed out.  A Weed and Feed will not prevent weeds from sprouting unless it contains a pre-emergent chemical.

There are pre-emergent type of weed controls that when applied correctly will prevent weeds from growing.  However, they mostly will NOT kill already growing weeds.  Make sure that you again read, understand, and follow the label directions so that you will not miss-use the chemicals and then have problems where you have applied the chemicals.

Then you do have the liquid spray chemicals that you would mix up in a spray tank or connect to you hose and then apply the liquid mix to the weeds in your lawn.  This is the method I prefer to use in my lawn, because I can spot treat only in the areas that I need too.

Be careful when you use any type of chemicals on your lawn. Always read and follow the instructions.  Wind can carry the chemicals to plants nearby causing damage to them, be careful.  However, when used correctly, herbicides can offer you a nice reward with a beautiful weed free lawn.

Do you have a gardening question?  Ask us!  Leave a comment here or e-mail us your question @ .   We will answer your gardening question here in the Ask the Gardener column published each Monday, or in our monthly newsletter.  Happy Gardening!

Ask the Gardener-May 3rd

AmericangothicToday we have a question about seed germination chambers.

What is the best way to build a seed germinating chamber?

Many gardeners have tried a lot of different methods in trying to get their seeds to germinate, but had little or no success.  The general failure might be attributed not to just one step, but maybe a combination of problems. But let’s start with the chamber first.

The size of the chamber needs to be large enough to hold as many trays that you are going to start your seeds in. Also you must consider the size of heat mat you are going to use…yes I said a heat mat.

You can build your chamber frame out of 2×2 lumber boards, creating a 2 level or shelf box:  Simply having 4 legs, two shelves with cross rungs or planks to hold your seed trays.  Sorry I don’t have building plans available, because rather than building it out of lumber, I purchased a stacking shelf unit from the hardware store.

You can cover the chamber frame or shelves with clear vinyl sheeting, purchased from a fabric store, draping the sheeting like a tent.  Place the heat mat on the second shelf, then the trays on the mat. Or you can purchase your seed trays with clear germinating domes from your local garden center. The dome sits on top of the seed tray creating your germination chamber without having to actually build one.

As you can see there are different ways to build your seed chambers.  However, keeping it simple is easier than you might think.

Ask the Gardener-April 26th

AmericangothicToday we are going to tackle another one of the great questions our readers are sending to us.  Before we get to today’s question, we just want to remind you that you can ask us any of your gardening questions  here on these Ask the Gardener posts or by e-mailing us at  We will answer all of the questions we receive either here on the blog or in our new monthly newsletter.  The first issue of that newsletter should be hitting your e-mail inboxes the end of this week!  We hope you have signed up in the box in the sidebar for our newsletter.  You won’t want to miss a single issue!

Now, on to this week’s Ask the Gardener quesion:

When is the best time to transplant Irises?


Photo by: dog madic

When Spring has sprung and things begin to warm up, we tend to get Spring Fever and want to do everything in our yards and gardens.  Sometimes we get a little too eager and try to do things that are better off being done a little later in the growing season.  Iris transplanting and dividing is one of those things.

The best time to divide and transplant your Iris is approximately 6-8 weeks after they have finished blooming through fall.  So basically, anytime during the summer or fall time is a good time to transplant them.  However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind before you grab that shovel.  You don’t want to do your transplanting when it is too hot.  If it is 90+F, you will want to wait until it is cooler.  Generally you will find it best in late August or September, depending on where you live.

There are a couple of things that you will want to keep in mind when you do your transplanting.  When you plant your iris,  make sure that the surface of the rhizome is level with the surface of the ground or just below.  You don’t want to plant them too deeply or else your iris won’t flower.  Also make sure that you don’t mulch over the rhizomes or water your Iris with shallow and frequent waterings.  Overwatering and too much moisture in mulch could cause the rhizomes to soften and rot.

We will cover more about how to transplant Iris later when it is the ideal time to divide them.