Skip to main content
Over the Garden Fence

What is Going on in the Yard?

So many things, only so much space to get them down. I think the weather has been both good and bad, depending on your perspective right now. Lawns usually begin to slow down a bit, as the natural spring flush begins to pass, but as long as the rains continue, grass will continue to grow at an above average rate. The good part is I have not seen a bad looking lawn, park, cul-de-sac or parkway yet. The bad news is keeping up with the mowing is tough between the rain and attempts to follow that one-third rule.

The overly wet soils also are promoting mushrooms, many from rotting roots and decaying landscape mulch. All those Ash tree roots from dead trees, courtesy of the Emerald Ash Borer, have been in the ground long enough now that decay is well underway.

The above average rains are causing some insect problems both inside and out. Inside, homeowners are reporting more ants in the home in general and some specific types looking for food. Dishes of open dry cat food can be found covered with those very tiny tan ants, especially if that dish is always in the same spot. Outside you may find a potted plant not doing so well, only to find out ants have come out of the overly wet soil and brought their eggs with and have taken up home inside the pots, high and dry.

Another very tiny insect is the Thrip. They can be found by the thousands, unexpectedly on yard furniture and even the car. Not really much to do with them, as those populations will soon crash. The weather is to blame again, allowing large populations on our landscape plants and later to be found on all sorts of objects nearby.

Other outdoor pests are mosquitos, and it is tick season. Care should be taken especially for ticks. Your outdoor pets should be routinely groomed to remove ticks not already feeding and to properly remove ticks taking a blood meal. Best to call your vet for more information. If outside a lot, dress correctly. Wide-brimmed hats or at least a ball cap can help keep them out of your hair and scalp. Tuck your pants into your socks and use a rubber band to help seal them out. Do your homework and research how long some of the repellants are effective, some only last a couple of hours, others much longer and none last all day without reapplying. A family "tick check" is not a bad idea either. Mosquitos need water for several days to complete their life cycle. Right now after every rain, go out and empty everything that holds water that could support mosquitos.

Homeowners are also reporting lots of water sprouts and suckers in their landscape plants and sprouting suckers from roots in the lawn many feet away. Water is again to blame. Plants continue to take up moisture and will naturally push that water and nutrition into latent buds, which break and show up as water sprouts and suckers. Crabapples may be the worst, yet all plants do this.

About the author: Richard Hentschel’s expertise extends across several subject areas with specialties in lawn care, fruit tree production, woody ornamentals, and home and community gardening. During his 45-year career in horticulture and agriculture, Hentschel became a well-known and respected expert for commercial and homeowner audiences, industry organizations, and media. He retired from University of Illinois Extension in April 2022 with nearly 30 years of service as a Horticulture Specialist and Educator in northern Illinois.