Thursday, March 25, 2021

Sweet Bunnies, Bold Bunnies!

During March it seems grocery store shelves are well stocked with edible, sweet bunnies… white chocolate, milk chocolate, foil wrapped.  

Gift shops also are well stocked with an assortment of delightful bunnies… furry, soft, cuddly… bunnies seem to be everywhere. 

All of these adorable, desirable bunnies bring smiles to the faces of children and adults.

The bunnies that are NOT so adorable are those that frequent our gardens during every season, particularly winter and spring.  Even when shrubs are deep in snow, cottontail rabbits roam the landscape and boldly chew any exposed branches.  This chewing results in straggly, uneven branches when the snow melts exposing an unsightly shrub or plant.

This spring a bold bunny attacked my Japanese Barberry shrub, covered with tiny thorns; this bunny consumed several inches of top growth from each branch.  This barberry carries the botanical name Berberis thunbergia ‘Orange Rocket’ and it is a specimen plant next to our front entrance.  

Its dramatic coral colored foliage in spring looks striking against the terra cotta shades of our brick, and in past years, it was quite attractive. (‘Orange Rocket’ turns from coral to shades of green in summer with burgundy foliage in fall.) This winter several 24” stems were chewed down to barely 6” which I will manually prune to encourage new growth.  This plant normally has a vertical growth format, but with all the auxin hormone gone from each stem tip, it might grow in an erratic shape this season.  

(Although this bush has been planted in same location since 2015, this past winter was first evidence that a bunny could consume its thorn-covered branches.)

    Another shrub called Euonymus ‘Emerald Gaiety’ had a     similar fate from bold bunnies.  Footprints in the snow        leading up to this shrub were unmistakably bunny               prints. 

    This plant is a broadleaf evergreen; a bold bunny feasted     on branches and left most foliage fall to the ground.  

    In the genus Sylvilagus, the cottontail has a ravenous        appetite for several species of shrubs and plants. 

Cottontails also love to gnaw tender foliage of newly emerged tulips; these can be protected by placing a cylinder of 18” tall hardware cloth around each clump of tulips.  Even when tulips are in bloom, they can be admired through the hardware cloth. 
Since I don’t wish to place chemicals around tulips to deter rabbits, this cultural practice works well.  

Although we need to coexist with creatures in the natural world, gardeners also need to protect plantings that will beautify the world around us.

M. Lynn Schmid,   Certified Master Gardener

A.A.S. Landscape/Horticulture/Arboriculture

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Stop the Snow Mold this Spring!

 The Spring weather has begun! The sunshine is back, temperatures are warming up and the birds are singing! It makes you want to get out and rake up your yard, right?!

One of the best things you can do in the beginning of Spring is to clean-up your yard & get out in that sunshine! Grab your rake & help your lawn, while getting some exercise in also!

Take a good look at your lawn, look closely and spot the snow mold.

There is no more snow out there... so what is snow mold?

Snow mold is a fungal disease that appears after the snow melts off the lawn. It was a long winter, with alot of snow - a long time on our lawns. It's time for your grass to breathe!

Look for straw colored spots or areas where your lawn is matted. It could look like a cobweb in the grass. There is gray snow mold and even pink snow mold - but it's not pretty.

Snow mold can cause allergies & asthma attacks - so it's best to clean-up, rake and clear it up early in the season.

Gently rake areas to lift the mold and help the grass to dry out. There's been much snow and moisture sitting on your grass since the beginning of the year. Raking your lawn will also clean up excess leaves, branches and debris that Winter left behind. There's always plenty of that when the snow melts too!

If the snow mold sits on the lawn too long, it will begin to kill the grass and areas will die off. If this happens, the bare areas will need to be overseeded after your raking is completed.

Pick up a good quality soil & compost mix to scratch the bare areas and add the soil mix too. Overseed with a quality grass seed & make sure the areas are watered. Many times the Spring rains will give your lawn a great jump start for the season. An application of Milorganite organic fertilizer will also give your new & existing grass the nutrients it needs to take off into Spring!

Questions on snow mold or products to help your lawn become stronger this season? Give us a call at 262-677-3010 or stop in this Spring! We're here to help you enjoy your yard :)

What are you waiting for... the sun is out & your rake is calling! Have fun cleaning up your yard :)

Sheila Yoder, Horticultural Manager