So many problems this year have been weather related. One grass-like weed that has shown up in the lawn, flower and garden beds is yellow nutsedge. Grass-like because it is actually a sedge. It is yellow-green in color and, if left to mature, produces "nutlets" in the soil to grow from in the future. To clearly identify it, cut even a very young plant in two, and look at the cut ends. You will see a strong triangular pattern. Nutsedge will have a fibrous root system that pulls out quite easily. If you remove it early, you are not only getting it out of the landscape, but you also are preventing the nutlet production. Two birds, one stone.
Nutlet formation can begin as early as late May, depending on how early the original plant sprouted. Some additional bonuses are it does not like shade or dry soils. Nutsedge will tolerate dry soils though, once established. Yellow nutsedge will grow in the same soil pH range as our lawn grasses and landscape beds. Controlling yellow nutsedge in the lawn once established means getting a lawn care company involved and may require two or more treatments. Just like your landscape beds, if you can pull it early when it is easy to do so, you can keep it from being established.
While not weather-related for a change, reports have been coming in about tree damage, especially red maples. The end of the branches appear to be impacted, as if hit with herbicide drift. The insect responsible for this damage is actually the potato leafhopper. A very small (1/8 inch) green colored bug that can move fast, as well as fly, making it hard to find and identify on the leaves. The leafhopper distorts newly emerging leaves and stunts annual growth. Leaf margins start to turn brown and eventually the whole leaf can be brown or black. Annual growth of the branches is often severely reduced to just inches for the year. Leafhoppers have a nymphal life cycle, meaning the young look just like the parent and the feeding damage is the same. The only difference is the young cannot fly yet. You may not ever see the leafhopper, yet the shed skins of the nymphs are often visible.
Red maples are not the only plants attacked by the leafhopper. Many other ornamental plants like redbud, birch, and Hawthorne are targets. Large shade trees, like oak and black locusts, besides the other maples, will host the leafhopper. If damage has already begun, treatments are warranted to prevent further and continued damage. Be sure leafhoppers are listed on the label and be sure to make additional treatments as the label suggests. Always read and follow label instructions. Organic choices include clove oil and insecticidal soap.
Whenever a landscape problem shows up, it is always better to try to manage the situation early on, limiting damage or future problems. Get in the habit of "walking the yard" and looking for changes that are not normal or expected as your landscape grows during the season.