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November Landscapes – "Hard Winter" ahead?


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Don't abandon Fall and Winter irrigation!

Cold, windy weather without much precipitation spells hard times for the landscape

Welcome to November! This month, we’re going to address a hodgepodge of items that are pertinent to the month of November. Yes, Fall is in the air. But there is a multitude of things we should take care of this month.

Last week, I had a conversation with a nice couple about their watering habits as I was concerned about some new plantings in the landscape.

He said “well I just shut the system off once November arrives.”

This would be a mistake. And there are several reasons for having a minimal sprinkler usage during the Fall and Winter.

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My Dad was a grower, like me. But he grew crops while I am into landscapes. When I was a kid, he once said to me “I hope we don’t have a hard winter.” At first, I thought I knew what he was talking about. A winter with a bunch of snow and ice and cold temperatures, right? But with a little doubt, I turned to him and asked “what do you mean when you talk about a hard winter?”

“A hard winter is a winter where we get the cold and the wind, but not the precipitation. So things dry out and plants and trees die. Dry soil freezes much easier than wet soil,” he said to me.

Keep in mind, November is the one-year anniversary of the current drought we’re in. Add to that, we’re only two months away from the driest month (January) of the year in Texas. So we could indeed be in for a hard winter. The precipitation in November and December will tell the tale.

So with those things in mind, keep your sprinkler system running once a week during the Fall and Winter, and run for a minimal time such as five minutes (sprays) and 10 minutes (rotors). You can skip this during any week where we receive good rainfall.

This will keep things moist in the turf and landscape but it also helps protect your home’s foundation. If things go dry, your foundation can shift.

If you see a winter storm in the forecast, run your sprinklers the day before it hits. Doing this will help protect the roots of your shrubs and trees. Doing this the day before helps prevent any type of ice that would form on surfaces around the property if you had run your system on the day the cold weather hits. Once it has run, turn the system off until the winter weather is over.

November issues to watch for

We’ve seen it all it seems this year so far. We had a drought, which led to a Chinch bug epidemic, watering restrictions, much lower lake levels, 58 days of 100-degree heat and this happened to plants and trees and shrubs that were still recovering from Snowmageaddon 2021.

So what else are we going to have to deal with?

In November, the Sod Web Worms are still active. You can know they are present by walking through your turf you will see little white moths fly up as you walk. They lay the larvae that becomes the Sod Wed Worm. He feeds on your lawn at night. When we get a hard frost, they will no longer be a problem. But don’t wait on that, treat it now to reduce the damage you’ll have to repair. Watch for the white moths I spoke of, and you will notice small holes in the turf as you walk, looking like someone stuck their index finger into the turf over and over. Those are the locations of the thatch web the worm makes. He’s at the bottom of that web.

It is best to treat these with a granular product with Bifenythryn. Apply, water in. Repeat in one week. Since the worms are protected beneath the turf during the day, you cannot kill them very well using a liquid spray. The granular dissolves in the turf and reaches beneath where the worms hide.

What else?

Last month’s column was focused on lawn fungus. Lawn fungus will continue to be a concern until your lawn goes dormant (brown) from freezing temperatures. What you’re looking for is yellowing blades and turf, sometimes in a circular shape in the lawn. This can be treated fairly easy with a fungicide, liquid or granular. The more widespread your fungus is, the more product you should use. If you have a lawn fungus, check your watering and make sure your cycles start in the mornings, so it has the day to dry out some before nightfall.

 

Pre-Emergent

November is when we put our last pre-emergent application down for the season. We want to have this done in the first or second week of the month. Water in for two days to get the product into the soil where it can work.

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Above, note the large gap between the turf and the stone. Fill these gaps now so your turf can reclaim this space in spring.

 

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Now that the mowing season is coming to an end, this is a great time to repair some of the residual effects of a summer of lawn care. For instance, the gaps between the concrete and the grass where edgers and weed eaters have passed through time and again over the season. Simply fill those gaps now with good soil. When your turf begins to grow again in Spring, it will close the gap . . . until this time next year :)

Lawn services

Lawn services continue to operate despite the change in weather. Like the weather, the scope of the work is changing. In November, we don’t mow a lot yet other things are becoming factors in the landscape, such as the dropping leaves. There’s shrub trimming and tree trimming that are ideal to do this month. Mulching is also a common task. Do not allow leaves to accumulate next to your home, in beds, etc. Leaves trap moisture and can cause issues with the home. Dry leaves are a fire hazard. Lawn crews remove the leaves, clearing out the concrete areas, beds, foundation lines, etc.

Sprinkler Inspection

Now that the summer season of heat is behind us, it is a great time to check your sprinkler system for proper operation and functionality. After the growing season, shrubs, plants and trees have grown and might have affected the spray heads and their coverage. Some of the heads/nozzles may need to be replaced and even valves can have slow leaks that can become nightmare in freezing weather. Best to address it now instead of when it’s cold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SHA, I cut down a shade tree that didnt leaf this summer. 

When I cut the tree down it had no moisture in it.  it also had bore(?) holes, holes filled with castings and castings under the bark

 

2 ash tree trunk w_holes_castings[221030].jpg

3-ash tree limb bore holes[221030].jpg

4-cut trunk w_holes[221030].jpg

I have several questions.  

1. I was thinking about cutting the trunk level and putting a cedar 12"x12" cap on it and maybe put a potted plant on it.  I'm not sure that is a good idea if it is still infested 

2. I was thinking of letting one of the saplings coming up from the base grow into a new shade tree. Is this a good idea with an infected tree?  would the insect just cross over into the young tree

3. or would it be best and just get the tractor and pull the whole thing out? 

4. what would you do to kill the insects in order to keep them from spreading?

5-ash tree w_saplings[221030].jpg

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12 hours ago, Soldierhorn said:

SHA, I cut down a shade tree that didnt leaf this summer. 

When I cut the tree down it had no moisture in it.  it also had bore(?) holes, holes filled with castings and castings under the bark

 

2 ash tree trunk w_holes_castings[221030].jpg

3-ash tree limb bore holes[221030].jpg

4-cut trunk w_holes[221030].jpg

I have several questions.  

1. I was thinking about cutting the trunk level and putting a cedar 12"x12" cap on it and maybe put a potted plant on it.  I'm not sure that is a good idea if it is still infested 

2. I was thinking of letting one of the saplings coming up from the base grow into a new shade tree. Is this a good idea with an infected tree?  would the insect just cross over into the young tree

3. or would it be best and just get the tractor and pull the whole thing out? 

4. what would you do to kill the insects in order to keep them from spreading?

5-ash tree w_saplings[221030].jpg

 

If you keep the trunk, I would pour some cedar oil into the cracks and holes. If there's are insects in there, they will bail out or die. Another positive is that it smells good to us.

My concern would be are there other trees in the immediate area with the same bores? You can let one or two of the sucker trees grow. They'll have a fair shot at making it. But the threat will come from the surrounding trees, if they are also infected.

 

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4 hours ago, Eastexhorn said:

Been meaning to askbut kept forgeting. How did your Dixie Belles do?

Mine did exceptionaly good. Best crop ever of that variety. Biggest single andmore big onions. Will proably last rest of year, and wife uses a lot of onions cooking.

This was my best year ever with my onions. Best size I've had and they taste great.

With the heat we had, I didn't do too well with much else except jalapeños. Even my watermelons gave up the ghost.

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On 11/2/2022 at 12:40 PM, Sirhornsalot said:

 

If you keep the trunk, I would pour some cedar oil into the cracks and holes. If there's are insects in there, they will bail out or die. Another positive is that it smells good to us.

My concern would be are there other trees in the immediate area with the same bores? You can let one or two of the sucker trees grow. They'll have a fair shot at making it. But the threat will come from the surrounding trees, if they are also infected.

 

thanks for the response.  wow... I've never used cedar oil before and man is it expensive.  I just bought a gallon on amazon for $200.  out of curiosity, I'll see how it works but that's too expensive to use on a regular basis. 

I probably should cut the stump down and pour used motor oil in it.  In the past I've drilled holes in stumps and filled the holes with salt or sugar and both work... but they take a long time to deteriorate from the inside out.  The reason I went on ahead and bought the cedar oil is because, as you suspected, it looks like one of my peach trees has some damage. Along with the shade tree, the tale-tale sign is the peach tree has the red/black carpenter looking ants taking advantage of the holes. 

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4 hours ago, Soldierhorn said:

thanks for the response.  wow... I've never used cedar oil before and man is it expensive.  I just bought a gallon on amazon for $200.  out of curiosity, I'll see how it works but that's too expensive to use on a regular basis. 

I probably should cut the stump down and pour used motor oil in it.  In the past I've drilled holes in stumps and filled the holes with salt or sugar and both work... but they take a long time to deteriorate from the inside out.  The reason I went on ahead and bought the cedar oil is because, as you suspected, it looks like one of my peach trees has some damage. Along with the shade tree, the tale-tale sign is the peach tree has the red/black carpenter looking ants taking advantage of the holes. 

Wow, that is expensive. Remember, a little bit goes a very long way.

To kill those ants, use a 1-part Orange Oil + 9 parts water. Mix together in a generic spray bottle. It will kill any ant or termite on contact. Orange oil is pretty cheap.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/6/2022 at 3:37 PM, Sirhornsalot said:

Wow, that is expensive. Remember, a little bit goes a very long way.

To kill those ants, use a 1-part Orange Oil + 9 parts water. Mix together in a generic spray bottle. It will kill any ant or termite on contact. Orange oil is pretty cheap.

Am I correct in assuming that any beetles left are down in the trunk and not in the limbs or cut off trunk parts?  I was going to transport the cut portions out to property I have in the hill country and eventually burn them (fire pit?) but I dont want to transport infected material that could infect trees out there.  

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Are the trees in your area still green?  The grass isnt growing up since the last cut which usually means it's about to go dormant but it's still green. My crap myrtles have about 20% leaves but my peach, oaks and other trees are still with full leaves and green. Supposedly, we have had a freeze and that usually signals dormancy and de-leafing but not yet for the most part

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1 minute ago, Soldierhorn said:

yeah, it seems odd or it's just me but I'm usually raking leaves by now, esp as cold as it's been. 

This year is definitely different. My cottonwoods still have all their leaves and they haven't started turning. But the deer have turned really dark which normally signals a cold winter.

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12 minutes ago, Baron said:

This year is definitely different. My cottonwoods still have all their leaves and they haven't started turning. But the deer have turned really dark which normally signals a cold winter.

I thought it might must be my area. My pecans and 1 1/2-2" bur oak acorns still havent dropped and it's almost december. strange

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3 minutes ago, Soldierhorn said:

I thought it might must be my area. My pecans and 1 1/2-2" bur oak acorns still havent dropped and it's almost december. strange

We don't have any pecans or acorns. The drought really messed that up. That would make you think that the deer would be headed to the feeders but I hear that isn't working so well. Lot's of people are telling me it's a hard hunt this year. If I wasn't so lazy I could have already limited out. Must be my nice green St. Augustine.

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14 minutes ago, Baron said:

We don't have any pecans or acorns. The drought really messed that up. That would make you think that the deer would be headed to the feeders but I hear that isn't working so well. Lot's of people are telling me it's a hard hunt this year. If I wasn't so lazy I could have already limited out. Must be my nice green St. Augustine.

I dont know if it matters but during the drought, I did a deep soak once every two weeks. I dont use sprinklers (bermuda & buffalo grass dont need it). I would just put the hose on the ground at canopy edge and let it soak into the ground to get to the tree roots. 

Speaking of St Augustine, I have a brand new electric dethatcher that I've never used. I need to give or sell it to someone that has St Augustine. 

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Seems like my tree leaves don't fall until we get a good freeze and we haven't had one down here yet. The burr oaks are turning the brownest but most other trees are still holding most of their green leaves.

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I think you guys are on to something.

My Brandywine Maple still has all its leaves. It did ditch some last week with the wind we had, but those leaves were green.

During normal years, my Brandywine sheds its last leaves around Halloween.

My Redbud has lost most of its leaves.

Fall color is always a crazy thing following a heat wave. During those times, we normally won't see much color and the leaves will brown then fall. Thats not what is happening this year.

 

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4 hours ago, Soldierhorn said:

a week out from December and my peach tree leaves are finally turning yellow - amazing - pecan and oaks still green

Do boring insects leave eggs in limbs and higher trunk?  If so, would splitting the logs expose them to air and cold, thus killing them?  I hate to prematurely burn wood that I can use later

They don't lay them in a particular place. Close to wherever they spend their time. They don't travel much, just a few feet in any direction.

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If you have bird houses, now is a good time to take them down and spare them the winter weather. Make sure to get them back out around the first of February.
Once you get them down, take time to clean them out and make any necessary repairs. THEN put them away. But don't forget they're there!
Also . . .
Remove your Hummingbird feeders. Bring them in and again, clean them before putting them up. Taking them down removes any incentive for them to stay around longer than they should. They must migrate to avoid freezing temperatures, which kill them.
Bird baths . .
You will want to take your bird bath bowls (removable ones) and flip them upside down or bring them indoors. You don't want them to have water in them when temperatures fall below freezing. That can cause cracks and leaks.
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4 minutes ago, Sirhornsalot said:
If you have bird houses, now is a good time to take them down and spare them the winter weather. Make sure to get them back out around the first of February.
Once you get them down, take time to clean them out and make any necessary repairs. THEN put them away. But don't forget they're there!
Also . . .
Remove your Hummingbird feeders. Bring them in and again, clean them before putting them up. Taking them down removes any incentive for them to stay around longer than they should. They must migrate to avoid freezing temperatures, which kill them.
Bird baths . .
You will want to take your bird bath bowls (removable ones) and flip them upside down or bring them indoors. You don't want them to have water in them when temperatures fall below freezing. That can cause cracks and leaks.

Speaking of bird houses, how do you keep sparrows out of a Martin house. Is it height or some other arcane measure?

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55 minutes ago, Baron said:

Speaking of bird houses, how do you keep sparrows out of a Martin house. Is it height or some other arcane measure?

No, nothing like that. Sparrows are very aggressive toward Martins. If you have a nest of Sparrows on your property, Martins simply won't come to your property.

Inspect your house(s), removing any Sparrow nests you find. Sparrows make their nests out of straw/grass with a hole in the center. Martin nests are made of leaves and mud and are flat.

Sparrows are in introduced species and are problematic towards the Martins. Males are very territorial and will invade Martin nests and kill the young or eat the eggs. One naturalists group literally calls Sparrows a "pest species."

If you have Sparrows set up shop in your birdhouse, take the house down or board it up until they leave. The problem is, Sparrows are more likely to show up first after Winter. Shut it down when/if you see them at your place.

One other species, the Bluebird, will nest in a Martin house. They are a protected species so don't harm them.

 

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I aggressively cut back my dwarf yaupon hollys. they stay green year round but arent pushing new limbs right now so I thought it was safe. I had to cut it back several inches on one side and almost bare of leaves now. they are a VERY hearty plants and normally it wouldnt bother me. But, the bare side is on the north side and doesnt get the sun that it use to. I'm concerned that the bushes might not grow back as they have in the past. A very healthy burr oak now casts a lot more shade and the bushes only get a couple of hours of direct sun in the morning and a couple more in the evening. 

what do you think?

 

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19 minutes ago, Soldierhorn said:

I aggressively cut back my dwarf yaupon hollys. they stay green year round but arent pushing new limbs right now so I thought it was safe. I had to cut it back several inches on one side and almost bare of leaves now. they are a VERY hearty plants and normally it wouldnt bother me. But, the bare side is on the north side and doesnt get the sun that it use to. I'm concerned that the bushes might not grow back as they have in the past. A very healthy burr oak now casts a lot more shade and the bushes only get a couple of hours of direct sun in the morning and a couple more in the evening. 

what do you think?

 

Agree that you will see reduced volume of leaves, particularly on that north side. But a few hours in the morning and evening will keep most of it with leaves.

How many of them do you have?

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