OAK LEAVES AS MULCH--Every year Dr. Jerry Parsons and I get
calls on the Gardening South Texas radio show (KLUP 930 AM,
noon on Saturdays and 1 p.m. on Sundays) wondering why the leaves
are falling off live oak trees. We forget that, although we
call them evergreen, live oaks do lose their leaves for a short
period every spring; now is that time.
not moan and groan about the leaves, they are a valuable resource
for your yard and should not be bagged for the garbage men.
Use the leaves as mulch or compost and leave the landfill for
the leaves two inches deep between rows in your vegetable garden
to save water, allow you to walk on the soil without compacting
it, and to reduce weeds. Pile the leaves four inches deep around
newly planted trees and you can expect the tree to grow 40 percent
faster than if you let the grass grow up to the trunk. Place
the leaves around all the shrubs in the yard to save water and
keep the soil cool.
the leaves in your compost pile with a cup of lawn fertilizer
per bushel and they will decompose quickly to form compost that
can be used in your containers. The easiest way to utilize leaves
is to just run the lawn mower over them as they lay on the lawn.
The chopped leaves decompose quickly to provide nutrients and
organic material for the growing grass.
PRE-EMERGENT HERBICIDE--The weeds in your lawn right now are
cool weather weeds. They love the damp, mild temperatures and
the drought-damaged lawns. Keep the weeds mowed and they can
be attractive. If you want to kill them, a 2-4-D contact herbicide
like Wipe-Out or Weed-Be-Gone will do the job. Follow the directions
closely. These herbicides will kill flowers as quickly as they
is also the time to apply pre-emergent herbicide to prevent
summer weeds such as sand burrs and crabgrass. Pre-emergent
herbicides such as Amaze, XL, Betasan or Balan prevent the seeds
of hot weather plants from germinating. The trick is to get
the granules applied before germination occurs; late February
and early March is that time.
MOSS CONTROL--With the leaves off the oak trees, the ball moss
is visible. Ball moss is not a parasite; it is not killing the
branches of oak trees. Ball moss is an epiphyte (air feeder);
it makes its living from the air. Ball moss will grow on utility
lines and fence wire in addition to dead an dying tree branches,
any place the seed can land, out of the summer sun where humidity
branches where it grows are within the tree crown and have already
died or are dying because not enough light is available to support
leaves. If the ball moss is unattractive to you, it can be physically
removed or killed with Kocide 101, a copper based fungicide.
Kocide needs to be sprayed on the ball moss and it eventually
will fall off. Sometimes applications need to be made two springs
in a row to get a complete kill. It is best to have a professional
perform the task. Kocide will stain concrete and defoliate plants
if label instructions are not followed closely.