Gardening columnist Tim Daly answers the following questions from readers:

Question: I have a fescue lawn with some bare spots. Could I put some seed on it, or is it now too late? What about fertilization? — Bob, Grayson.

Answer: Bob, yes, you can apply fescue seed right now at the rate of five to seven pounds per 1,000 square feet. However, the best time to overseed fescue grass is in September and October, when the weather is cool, and the seed has more time to get established through the winter months and following spring, thus making it better to handle the summer heat.

Fescue grass is a cool-season grass meaning it thrives in the cooler weather and stays green in the cold weather but stresses in the heat. So seeding now may work, but doing so in the fall is the best. In regards to fertilizer, avoid putting ones with high nitrogen out on the grass.

As we move into the warmer weather, the fertilizer can stress the grass and promote brown patch fungal disease, which is problematic on fescue grass lawns in the summer.

Q: I need to till my vegetable garden to get it ready for planting. We have had much rain lately, and the soil is wet. Can I till the soil if it has this much water in it? Would doing so harm the soil? — Chris, Lilburn.

A: Chris, if the soil is wet, avoid working it. By tilling or digging by hand can disrupt the soil structure causing it to become harmful and challenging to manage. Wait until it dries.

Here is how you can determine if the soil is ready to work: grab a hand full of soil and squeeze it into a ball. If the soil stays solid and does not crumble, it has too much water in it and should not be worked; however, if the ball falls apart, then the soil is workable, and you can commence getting it ready for planting.

Q: I see many plants that are not tolerant of freezing temperatures for sale at local garden centers and nurseries. Is now a good time to plant, or should I wait a while?

— Joan, Buford.

A: Joan, though frost-tender plants, such as tomatoes, peppers, petunias, begonias, and others, are for sale, now is not the right time to purchase and plant. The average last day of freezing temperatures is April 15. Planting before this date risks damage to the plants by a late-season freeze, which has happened numerous times over the years.

Q: I noticed some web-like material in the crotches of several trees in my community. Does some spider cause them? Will, it hurt the trees? — Betty, Dacula.

A: Betty, you are observing the Eastern tent caterpillar. They emerge in the spring and create webs for protection in the crotches. They prefer cherry and persimmon trees. The insects do not harm the trees and will go away on their own. You can tear open the webs to allow for predators to get to them if you find their presence bothersome.

Later in the summer-fall, webworms will make their appearance. They differ in that they build larger webs in the outer parts of tree canopies but cause no harm — these insects like pecans and sourwoods but favor other tree species.

We are approaching the time of the year to plant our summer vegetables. UGA Extension Gwinnett will be offering a program on vegetable gardening April 13 at 6 p.m. If you would like to participate, please contact the Extension office to register.

Timothy Daly is an Agricultural and Natural Resource Extension Agent with UGA Extension Gwinnett.


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