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St. Louis Lawn and Landscaping Challenges

by Matt Hagemann on October 9, 2015
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Maintaining your lawn and landscaping in St. Louis can be challenging and this year was especially fun! 

2015 started out like so many others: moderate snowfall, average temperatures, and a spring that seemed like it would never arrive.

While June is Missouri’s wettest month with an average of 4.28 inches, that is nowhere near the 13.14 inches that we received this year making it the second wettest June on record for Missouri!

The record setting rains of June had harmful effects as well as beneficial.

The good news is that the saturated soil was well timed to drown either Japanese Beetle Pupae or adults attempting to emerge. The appearance of adults was definitely delayed and likely reduced!

However, the effect of the rains also kept plants excessively moist, which are the perfect conditions for all kinds of fungi who love to hang out in our lawn and landscaping.

Increase and Impact of Fungal Diseases on Trees, Shrubs & Turfgrass

AppleScabChesterfieldMO.jpgApple scab [seen in photo] infects trees in the apple family, causing yellowing, black spotting, and eventually, leaf drop. This would impact fruiting and ornamental flowering crabapples. 

Another fungal affliction that I noticed this year was an increase of Powdery Mildew. I’ve seen numerous cases of lilacs and peonies showing the trademark symptoms of silvery white or gray leaves. Many peonies that didn’t exhibit the symptoms of powdery mildew instead had the large reddish leaf spots of Botrytis Blight, yet another fungal infection.

Fire Blight was present this year as well, but not near as prevalent and widespread as in 2014.  That year was like the perfect storm of conditions for this bacterial death sentence.

This pathogen affects pears, apples, pyracantha, cotoneaster, and other members of the Rosacea family. The only way to fight this disease is to remove infected tissue 8-12” behind where the infection is seen, using a pruner or saw that has been disinfected with a 10% bleach solution or 70% alcohol solution. The tool should be disinfected between every cut.

Although this still may not save the plant, because most of the time the plant will continue to show infection elsewhere, it’s worth a shot on prized trees and shrubs.

>>Read more on Fire Blight

Lawn Care Problems

Besides woody ornamentals in the landscaping, the excessive rain also had a huge effect on lawns. For us, it made the scheduling of lawn maintenance extremely difficult to the number of rainout days.

Turf_Disease_StLouis.jpgFor property owners, the ample moisture and lack of dry days for the leaf surface to dry out caused fungal growth to explode.

Even healthy lawns and ones that had never experienced Brown Patch Fungus were infected. Dowco worked proactively in bringing infected lawns to the attention of the owners to check the spread and try to stop the infection of our client’s entire lawns.

Though a fungal infection is impossible to reverse, stopping the spread makes restoration an easier operation once fall hits.

A well executed aeration and seeding with fertilization will thicken up and restore even the most damaged turf.

>>Read more on turf disease in St. Louis

Prevalent Pests in St. Louis

I observed two pests – the Peachtree Borer and the Shothole Borer on ornamental cherry trees.

Borer-Chesterfield-MO.jpgMany of these trees just suddenly had branches dying, with the leaves turning brown and wilting. As the number of browning branches increases, it brings the landscape professional closer to look for symptoms.

The Peachtree Borer attacks the cherry, plum, or peach tree low on the trunk or at the soil line.

The Shothole Borer produces small holes up in the scaffold branches or main trunk.

Both are easy to spot if one looks for the clear to gold colored sap clogging the wounds.

My thought is that these trees were attacked last year or the year before in response to the drought stress that we experienced 2 summers in a row, coupled with triple digit temperatures.

After all these challenges, things can only get better, right?

Even if not, rest assured that the lawn and landscaping professionals at Dowco are always here to diagnose and solve the problems for our clients to prevent and remedy all of the challenges that get thrown our way.

If you are one of our clients, we’ll be walking your property looking for exactly these kinds of problems to help you!

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Topics: St. Louis Locals, Tree & Shrub Care, News, Plant Care

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