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Grass Control

1. Q. I have heard about using Ortho Grass-B-Gon on Asian jasmine to eradicate bermuda grass. Will it kill bermuda in Monkey Grass and liriope without harm to the Monkey Grass and liriope? May I use it to kill bermuda grass growing under small shrubs such as Chinese Holly and Dwarf Yaupon Holly without harm to these shrubs?

A. These Fusilade, Poast, Verdict-containing products such as Ortho Grass-B-Gon are truly a wonderful addition to our herbicide arsenal. The only weakness, also the blessing, of these chemicals is the specificity, that is, these products kill ONLY grasses so if broadleaf weeds are present, they are not damaged. Most folks are willing to hand weed the broadleaf pests if they are spared the eternal pulling of tenacious bermuda grass. That prayer has been answered. These grass-specific products will not harm Monkey Grass, liriope, Chinese Holly, Dwarf Yaupon Holly, petunias, vinca, or any broadleaf flower or plant. All users of this or any pesticide should read and follow label instructions. Good news! These grass-specific products have only been available to homeowners in ready-to-use form for several years. Now you can mix your own for a cheaper price. HiYield Poast and BASF Vantage are now available in local nurseries. A dead sentence for bermuda grass and a parole for grass pullers is insured with the use of these products!

The question of the benefits of fall fertilization for trees, shrubs and groundcovers has been discussed for many years. The benefits of fall fertilization for trees, shrubs and groundcovers has been confirmed by researchers in the field across the nation.

2. Q: I have a beautiful ten acre field that is in a life and death struggle with Johnson Grass. I want to save it if I can and if the cost is not out of sight. The only treatment I have heard about is something called "MSMA". Have you ever heard of an effective treatment for controlling Johnson Grass?

A: If you want to eliminate the Johnson Grass and not the pasture grass get a wick applicator (some are large enough to go on the back of a tractor and some are as small as a stick mop with a small rope on it) and use the concentration recommended for wick application of a glyphosate herbicide (Roundup). It will kill what the wick touches and nothing else. The bigger the Johnson grass the better. Talk with your local farm supply store about the availability of the wick applicator which soaks up and rubs on rather than spraying on. It is more efficient and effective. READ AND FOLLOW LABEL INSTRUCTIONS because NO WAY will you think you're doing any good until the Johnson grass dies several weeks later!

3. Q: I live in Dallas, and have a yard FULL of Dallisgrass. I grow vegetables and herbs in both the front and back yards. I also have two small dogs. I detest the Dallisgrass, but have heard from local radio garden shows that MSMA is arsenic. On the other hand, I have seen literature from the MSMA manufacturers that specifically deny this. What is this stuff made of, how does it work, is it toxic to men or dogs, and does it biodegrade?

A: Even though the name arsonate is included in the methanearsonate term in the active ingredient Monosodium Acid Methanearsonate, THIS PRODUCT WOULD NOT BE AVAILABLE IN EVERY NURSERY IN THE STATE if it was a deadly killer. Follow label instructions and all involved individuals will survive. I'll tell you what you DON'T want to use -- some of those nicotine sulfate products (WE KNOW nicotine kills people EVERY year!!) that are commonly recommended.

4. Q: We've been trying to rid our property of Pampas Grass for the last few years without sucess. Are their any systemic poisons which destroy the insidious stuff?

A: Pampas grass has a massive root system so digging it out may not be an opion especially if you have a lot of it. Since Pampas Grass is a grass, I think I would mow it down and as the new growth begins, use a glyphosate herbicide such as Roundup on it. Glyphosate is systemic and will kill roots and all, but several treatments may be necessary if these are established clumps. If mowing is out of the question, burn it then treat the new growth. Or, if you could convince the locals that it is a beautiful ornamental grass, you could start a "dig your own" pampas grass operation. As they say, one man's trash IS another man's treasure!

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