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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Weird weather causes backyard diseases

Don’t spray unless you know what you’re spraying for
Oak arthracnose
By Will Collette

Our mild winter and recent wet weather have caused a different array of backyard plant illnesses than usual. Among them is anthracnose fungus in shade trees, such as the oaks that dominate much of Charlestown’s landscape.

Charlestown readers have reported spotting the growths on the tips of oak branches. The little blisters or cankers can be seen on low hanging twigs, look especially disgusting in the early morning dew. New growth twigs look like they have canker sores, leaves start to shrivel.

The URI Extension Division has posted a link to a fact sheet  you should check out before doing anything more than raking up leaf litter.

lawn fungus
The same damp weather causes a lawn fungus commonly referred to as dollar spot or fairy ring.

Both types of fungal infections should go away without causing permanent damage once the weather turns hot and dry. Seems like that might take forever, but it will come.

Raking up leaf litter helps to remove the fungus spores and, as an added bonus, it also denies ticks one of their favorite hang-outs. Be careful they don’t decide to move from the leaf litter to some nice soft patch of skin on you. I hate those little bastards.

The fact sheet on the URI Extension website also recommends cutting away dead branches and doing some pruning to open pathways for air and sunlight to get in to help zap the fungus.

Of course the nice people at Home Depot would be glad to sell you a few 55-gallon drums of chemicals you can spray on your trees, shrubs and grass to make all your problems go away, but do yourself a favor and resist the temptation.