Frequently Asked Questions

Question:
How do I sanitize my pruners and other garden tools to prevent the spread of disease?
Answer:

Proper cleaning and sanitization of pruners and other garden tools is important to prevent the spread of disease issues.  At minimum when removing disease-infected plant material, pruners should be disinfected between plants.  Ideally,...

Question:
How do I control poison hemlock and wild parsnip?
Answer:

Control of wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) and poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) is the same.  Safely removing these weeds from the landscape is important as both species can be toxic to humans and animals.  ...

Question:
How and when do I prune suckers from the base of my tree?
Answer:

Remove suckers with a hand pruners as soon as they appear from their point of origin.  Often this requires pulling a little bit of soil back to find the base and clip it off while still less than 6 to 12 inches in length.  If suckers...

Question:
How do I control perennial grassy weeds in the lawn?
Answer:

Perennial grassy weeds die back to ground level in fall but send up new growth in spring.  These weed species have long narrow leaves with parallel veins.  They are often in the poaceae (grass) family or a closely related family and are...

Question:
How do I manage and kill poison ivy in my garden?
Answer:

Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is a native vine common to woodland areas but found frequently growing in gardens and along fence lines.  This vine causes an allergic reaction (dermatitis) in most people when their skin comes in...

Question:
Why is my newly planted tree declining or dying?
Answer:

Unfortunately, there is not one standard answer to this question!  When trying to determine the primary cause of the problem, several factors need to be given consideration. Remember that dieback does not always occur in the first year. Some...

Question:
When and where should I plant garlic?
Answer:

In Iowa, October is the time to plant garlic cloves 1-1.5 inches deep and 3-5 inches apart in well-drained, fertile soils.

Ideal Planting Conditions

Grow garlic in well-drained, fertile soils that are...

Question:
What types of garlic should I grow in Iowa?
Answer:

Garlic is distinguished from its other close family members like onions, chives, shallots, and leeks, by its flat leaves and clove-like bulbs which contain several small scales or cloves enclosed in a white or purplish parchment-like sheath....

Question:
How do I control weedy vines?
Answer:

Weedy vines are fast growing plants, getting very large in a relatively short amount of time often climbing and covering other garden plants. If left to grow, they can smother other plants blocking out light and killing the desirable plant.

...
Question:
How do I control woody weeds like honeysuckle, tree of heaven, or mulberry?
Answer:

Woody weeds are trees and shrubs that have woody plant tissue.  They are perennial and typically classified as eudicots, although some may belong to other plant groups like gymnosperms (conifers).  Examples of woody weeds include...

Question:
How do I control perennial grassy weeds, like quackgrass, zoysiagrass, or nimblewill in my garden and lawn?
Answer:

Perennial grassy weeds die back to ground level in fall but send up new growth in spring.  These weed species have long thin leaves with parallel veins.  They are often in the poaceae (grass) family or a closely related family and are...

Question:
How do I control perennial broadleaf weeds in my garden and lawn?
Answer:

Perennial broadleaf weeds die back to ground level in fall but send up new growth in spring.  These weed species have leaves that are wider and often have a major vein running down the center of the leaf with secondary veins branching off of...

Question:
Can trimming, pruning, & mowing be used to control weeds effectively?
Answer:

Cutting back or mowing off weeds is sometimes used to control weeds in the garden or lawn.  Timely or frequent cutting back stresses the weed and reduces its competitive advantage over more desirable plants.  Consistent removal of the...

Question:
How can I use preemergent herbicides to control weeds?
Answer:

Preemergent herbicides are used to prevent weeds from growing. They interrupt the growing process of a newly germinating plant, preventing that plant from becoming established.  Preemergent herbicides will not impact mature or established...

Question:
How do I manage annual weeds?
Answer:

Annual weeds grow rapidly, flower, set seed and die in a single season. New annual weeds, such as crabgrass, velvetleaf, purslane, knotweed, lambsquarter and foxtail, germinate from seeds each year. Before they die, most annual weeds produce...

Question:
How can flame weeding be used to control weeds?
Answer:

Flame weeding is the use of intense heat, usually produced by a propane torch or other fuel-burning device, to kill weeds.  This organic option for weeding causes the water and sap inside the plant cell to boil and expand rupturing the cell...

Question:
Can I manage weeds with boiling water?
Answer:

Pouring boiling water on weeds can be used especially in situations where other plants are not nearby, such as in cracks in patios or sidewalks.   Boiling water will act as a contact "herbicide", killing only the portion of the plant it...

Question:
How do I know if a plant is a weed?
Answer:

A weed is any plant growing out of place.

A weed is simply a plant out of place.   By this definition, any plant could be a weed if growing in a location where it is not wanted.  

There...

Question:
Can I use woodchips from black walnut as mulch in my landscape?
Answer:

Black Walnut is a common woodland and landscape tree in the Midwest that produces juglone which causes an allelopathic response (inhibition of growth) in other plants. When plants produce a chemical that prevents the growth of other plants, it is...

Question:
How long does juglone last in the landscape after the removal of a black walnut?
Answer:

Juglone is a chemical that inhibits the growth of certain plant species.  When plants produce a chemical that prevents the growth of other plants, it is called allelopathy.  Black Walnut is a common woodland and landscape tree in the...

Question:
What plants are sensitive to the juglone produced by black walnuts?
Answer:

Juglone is a chemical that inhibits the growth of certain plant species.  When plants produce a chemical that prevents the growth of other plants, it is called allelopathy.  Black Walnut is a common woodland and landscape tree in the...

Question:
What cultural methods can be used to control weeds in the vegetable garden?
Answer:

There are several cultural or management techniques the gardener can use to reduce weeds in the vegetable garden. 

Watering Directly

Water plants directly by hand or using soaker hoses or drip irrigation systems.  Unlike...

Question:
What herbicides can I use in the vegetable garden?
Answer:

Many home gardeners choose to avoid the use of herbicides in vegetable gardens since they are growing edible crops.  Several factors limit the usefulness of herbicides in the vegetable garden. Most vegetable gardens contain a variety of...

Question:
What mulches work well for weed suppression in the vegetable garden?
Answer:

Mulch

Mulches control weeds by preventing the germination of weed seeds. Established weeds should be destroyed prior to the application of the mulch. In addition to weed control, mulches help conserve soil moisture, reduce soil erosion,...

Question:
How do I control weeds in my vegetable garden?
Answer:

Control of weeds in the vegetable garden is important. These unwanted plants are strong competitors for available water, nutrients, and sunlight and can reduce yields when not controlled.  Reduced air circulation created by tall weeds...

Pages