Spring, access to water make for the perfect time to plant

I am taking out some rock surrounding our yard. We would like to plant grass seed in place of the rock. What time of year is most appropriate to do so? Can we do it this spring?

— Brian

Spring is a great time to do this. Most people wait to plant grass seed until they have ditch water so they can keep it irrigated. Once water is available, go for it.

If the weather turns cold, the seed may take a bit longer to germinate. Just maintain even soil moisture and it will be fine. Also, take advantage of the opportunity by amending the soil well before you plant by rototilling in a good amount of decomposed organic matter.

My Austrian pine needles are falling off more than usual and seem to have what looks like scale on them: tiny football-shaped shells ranging in color from tan to black. My neighbor’s tree is dying and I want to save mine. What can I do to treat this, and when should I do so?

— Jennifer

Yes, you have black pine needle scale. There are a couple of ways to go after this little demon. The “old” way is to spray the entire tree a couple of times with a summer oil mixed with a contact insecticide such as Malathion. The first spray is in mid- to late May and the second one is two or three weeks later.

The second way is to use a systemic. The common systemic out there, Imadicloprid, doesn’t work at all on this guy. You have to use a related chemical called Dinotefuron. We finally were able to get our hands on some last summer and should have good supplies this spring.

It’s applied around the base of the tree and is taken up fairly quickly and works throughout the tree. I’d probably apply it about the first of May to give it time to work its way throughout the tree. 

The only caution here is that Dinotefuron is extremely toxic to bees. Bees have been known to forage on the pollen of pines which this chemical can get into. For this reason, don’t apply it any earlier than May.

I also would be cautious about applying it if there are shrubs or perennials around the base of the pine tree that attract bees when they flower.


Does the plum coddling moth behave in the same way as the other coddling moths? I would like to prevent it from attacking my Victoria plum tree.

— Steven

Plum coddling moth is the same insect as the common one we get in apples and pears. Treatment would be the same. I’ve never seen it in western Colorado on plums, but that’s not to say it hasn’t occurred.

Most of the literature I’ve read talks about it being a problem in California. Here, coddling moth is a problem on apples, pears, crab apples and walnuts.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, bookcliffgardens.com. Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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