« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Don Kinzler, Published November 08 2013

Fielding questions

Q I thought I had crabgrass, but the Extension Office identified it as tall fescue. I was going to apply something for crabgrass, but that won’t get rid of fescue. Any help will be appreciated.

– Emily McDowell, Fargo

A Wide-bladed, weedy grasses that pop up in lawns are often nicknamed crabgrass, so it’s not unusual to find that it’s actually something else.

Tall fescue is a perennial grass that grows in clumps with dark green flat blades, stiff texture, and prominent veins on the upper leaf surface. Roots are fibrous with no underground white rhizomes present with quack grass. Because it tolerates drought, it often looks better under stress than the rest of the lawn.

Crabgrass is an annual grass growing each year from seed rather than root survival during winter, so it doesn’t appear as early in the spring as tall fescue.

Because tall fescue resents low mowing, it can be minimized by reducing mowing height to 1.5 inches, which is lower than normally recommended. Isolated clumps can be hand dug. Large patches can be killed with Roundup and reseeded.

Q In the fall, I cut all of my regular peonies down to the ground after the first hard freeze. I have one Bartzella intersectional peony. I have read that this peony should be cut back leaving 5-6 inches of stem above ground. Is this correct, or should I cut it down like the others?

– Pam Werre, Fargo

A You have a beautiful and somewhat rare specimen. Bartzella is a magnificent yellow peony formed by crossing garden peonies with tree peonies, which generally lack hardiness. The resulting group includes your variety, highly sought by collectors for its double or semi-double blooms of sulfur-yellow with a lemon fragrance. Although they are hardier than originally thought, a protective mulch might be good during the first several winters.

Some peony literature advises cutting back to “ground level” in the fall, while other states more specifically to cut back to “several inches” above ground. Both are usually referring to much the same. I think it’s wise to leave several inches of stem above ground with most peonies. Bartzella tends to have buds closer to the surface, so I would leave 5 or 6 inches, which will help hold protective snow or mulch.

If you have a gardening or lawn care question, email Don Kinzler at ForumGrowingTogether@hotmail.com. Questions with broad appeal may be published, so please include your name, city, and state for appropriate advice.