dew on blades of grass

Reminder: Don’t fertilize lawn until spring

by Connie Oswald Stofko Your lawn is dormant now, so there’s no need to fertilize. And in New York State, you’re not permitted to use any kind of chemical fertilizer on your lawn from Dec. 1 to April 15. By prohibiting fertilizer application in winter, the New York State Nutrient Runoff Law aims to keep these chemicals from running off your lawn and polluting our waterways. Get some tips on green practices for your lawn and garden here from the…

lawn at Lakeside Sod

Best time to plant grass seed in WNY? August & September—no watering!

by Connie Oswald Stofko If you plant grass seed now in Western New York, you won’t have to water it, said Mike Braddell, part owner of Lakeside Sod in Clarence. He grows grass for a living: Lakeside Sod is a farm and their crop is grass. “We seed in August and we never water,” Braddell said. The only time they water is when they harvest sod; the extra moisture helps the sod curl into neat rolls. August through September is…

don't use lawn fertilizer with phosphorus

Don’t use phosphorus on your lawn; ‘Look for the Zero’

To keep our Western New York waterways clean, go phosphorus-free when using lawn fertilizer and “Look for the Zero.” On a fertilizer bag, you’ll see three numbers. The number in the middle is for phosphorus. For lawns, choose a fertilizer that has a zero in the middle. Excess phosphorus is a threat to many New York waterbodies, triggering algae blooms and sometimes rendering waters unswimmable and unfishable, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). That’s why…

dandelion with seeds blowing

Stop weeds before they emerge with corn gluten meal

by Connie Oswald Stofko Stop weeds before they even pop out of the ground–that’s what pre-emergent herbicides do. Pre-emergent herbicides act on seeds at the germination stage. Corn gluten meal is an organic pre-emergent herbicide. There are synthetic pre-emergent herbicides, too. These can work well on grass seed and broad-leaf seeds. However, like every herbicide, they don’t kill every type of weed. They don’t kill existing weeds. And they don’t work on plants with tap roots, such as dandelions. They…

don't use lawn fertilizer with phosphorus

Keep our waterways clean: look for zero on lawn fertilizer

Do you like swimming or fishing or clean water in general? Then help our lakes, rivers and creeks by not spreading phosphorus on your lawn. If you fertilize your lawn, look for a bag with a zero in the middle. Fertilizer labels have three numbers. The number in the middle is the percentage of phosphorus in the product, such as 22-0-15. Excess phosphorus has made many waterways in New York State un-swimmable and un-fishable, according to the New York State…

lesser celandine in yard

Kill lesser celandine before it flowers; look for it now

by Connie Oswald Stofko Don’t wait until you see the pretty yellow flowers. Look for lesser celandine and get rid of it now. If you want to use an herbicide, you must do it now before the plant flowers. Why you should get rid of lesser celandine If you’re not careful, lesser celandine can spread until you have no grass or other plants in your lawn. Even worse, it can spread into wild areas and wreak havoc there. Lesser celandine…

edging around garden beds in Hamburg, New York

How to get crisp edging, plus this week’s garden walks

by Connie Oswald Stofko The large landscape of Sue and Russell Rich in Hamburg is full of gardens, with flowering perennials packed shoulder to shoulder. Sue made all that happen. Russell mows the lawn and does the edging. So what is the one thing that people ask most often about this impressive landscape? To Sue’s chagrin, they ask about edging. People always want lessons on edging. I visited the Riches’ landscape during the Hamburg Garden Walk last weekend, and Russell…

grass with numbers representing zero phosphorus in fertilizer

“Look for the Zero;” don’t use phosphorus on lawns

by Connie Oswald Stofko Most lawns don’t need phosphorus. And if you use a fertilizer containing phosphorus on your lawn, the excess phosphorus can wash off and pollute our waterways. That’s why the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is running its “Look for the Zero” campaign. If you want to use a chemical fertilizer on your lawn, make sure you choose one without phosphorus. Fertilizer labels have three numbers. The number in the middle is the percentage of…

spider plant

Caring for spider plants, plus more tips from Master Gardeners

Spider plants are popular for indoors because they look great with a waterfall of foliage and little “spiderlets” of leaves. They’re easy to care for, too, according the article in this month’s edition of WNY Gardening Matters, produced by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County. Read more about spider plants here.  Also in this month’s edition, read: Fall fungi, which discusses mushrooms that pop up in your lawn Crazy about clematis This month in the garden,…

large fungus in lawn in Amherst

Why are there mushrooms in my lawn & what should I do about them?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Here’s an email I got recently from a reader: Hi Connie, Would you be so kind as to post this question for me?  I thought we were lacking rain so why do I have these HUGE mushrooms growing in my front lawn that gets lots of sun?   This is only my 2nd summer in WNY and I am confused!   Thanks a bunch o’ coreopsis, Pam Anderson Lewiston Sometimes I ask readers to share tips…