Change your landscape

take a class

September 20, 2008|By BOB KESSLER

We still have openings in our landscape design classes. Maybe you want to make some changes to your landscape. It is always good to develop a plan, and then as you are able to afford the plants, you can add to your landscape.

The classes start on Thursday, Oct. 2, and cover the basic tools and principles you will use to develop your plan. Then, during the next five weeks, you will learn how to select trees, shrubs, native plants and other features for your landscape. One of the Master Gardeners will sit down with you and review your plan to be sure it meets your needs.

The six classes cost $40, which includes handouts, supplies and refreshments. To register, stop by our office on Franklin Farm Lane, Chambersburg, Pa., or call us at 717-263-9226.

Fall weed control

Whether you are a gardener or a farmer, fall is an excellent time to manage biennial and perennial weeds, according to Bill Curran, Penn State weed specialist. In general, you can apply your herbicide from early September through October.


Plants like Canada thistle, dandelion and quack grass can be controlled into early November. As you go later in the season for these weeds, try to spray when you have days that the temperature is at least 50 degrees. Cool nights will reduce and slow the effectiveness of your sprays.

If you want to spray dandelions and other weeds in your lawn, wait several days after you mow to spray them and wait a few more days until you mow again.

For most of the weeds you will be spraying, you want to use a product that contains 2, 4-D, MCPP and dicamba. When you look at the ingredients or the label of your weed killer, you won't always see these listed.

For instance, 2, 4-D is really 2, 4-Dichloro phenoxyacetic acid, so look for this on the label ingredients. MCPP has an even longer name than 2, 4-D.

If you need to buy a material to control your broadleaf weeds, I would encourage you to purchase a ready-to-use product for spot treatments because it is easier to use and store.

Look for products like Ortho Weed B Gone Lawn Weed killer, Dragon Lawn Weed Killer or Trimec. For larger areas, use a concentrated product and mix only enough for you to cover the area you need to spray.

Harvesting black walnuts

You've probably already heard the thump of black walnuts hitting the ground. For some people, this is a great sound and they rush off to gather up all the black walnuts they can.

Black walnuts are not easy to prepare.

Step one: Remove the green hulls as soon as they are ripe and start to fall. Be sure to wear gloves while handling the hulls, or you will dye your fingers brown for a couple weeks.

Some people will drive their car over the nuts to dislodge the hulls. This is not recommended. Use a corn sheller or use a hammer and hit the ends of the nut.

Another method I read about is to drill a hole in a board that is big enough to let the nut but not the hull go through. Then pound the nuts through the hole to remove the hulls.

Step two: Wash the nuts. Spread the nuts without the hulls on an area like wire mesh and wash them by spraying. You can also add them to a tub of water. This is also a good way to separate out the good nuts from the bad, because the bad nuts will float. Throw them away.

Step three: Dry out the nuts. Spread them out in a cool dry spot like a shed or garage for a few weeks. You will know they are dry by opening a nut and trying the meat. If the meat is dry, it will snap and be crunchy, not soggy, when chewed. If you don't get the nuts dry enough, they will mold.

Step four: Store whole nuts or nut meat carefully. You can store whole nuts in cloth bags and place in a well-ventilated area that stays around 60 degrees.

Or you can open the hulls by hitting them on the point end of the shell with a hammer until the shell opens. Remove the nut meat and store it in plastic bags in the freezer.

And if all of this seems way too much work, you can buy them in stores and online, but I am sure they don't taste as good.

Rusty lawns

Conditions are very good for rust to show up on our lawns this fall. We have seen some in the summer, but now with the cool nights, we will have more dew creating a better environment for rust spores to develop.

You will know you have rust when you see a red powder on your shoes or on your lawn mower. If it is severe, you might see an orange look to your lawn or see an orange cloud of dust (spores) as you mow. Rust tends to develop on turf that has not been well fertilized or growing well.

It is a fungus that will not do much more than cosmetic damage to your lawn. Generally you don't need to use a fungicide; instead, fertilize the yard.

In mild cases of rust, you can apply a lawn grade fertilizer so you apply at least one pound to one and a half pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.

This will stimulate the grass to grow out of the disease. Usually perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass are the most susceptible.

Bob Kessler specializes in consumer horticulture and energy for Penn State University. He can be reached weekdays at 717-263-9226 or by e-mail at

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