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Q

I work as a tree trimmer for the power company and I often have people asking if it is okay to use the chipped wood as mulch. Seems like it would spread diseases or insects if the tree that was removed were infected. Is this true? — via the Internet

A

Let's address these issues one at a time. Firstly, chipped wood makes nice mulch if one of your objectives is to reduce weeds around the landscape. Research has shown that the chunkier the mulch, the less successfully weed seeds are able to grow and become established. This is true if the source of the tree trimmings is fairly clean, without weedy plants such as poison ivy, or other species that have a lot of seeds to contaminate your beds. However, recent research at Colorado State University found that the fungus that causes Thyronectria canker, a common problem on honeylocust, remained a source of inoculum in uncomposted wood chips as long as 98 weeks after installing as a mulch. Another study showed pinewood nematodes surviving for 14 to 20 months in wood chips. The best advice to give people inquiring is to know the source.

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I think I have fairy ring on my bentgrass green. I've tried fungicides labeled for fairy ring control but without much success. How can I control this disease? — via the Internet

A

Fairy ring is a problem on turfgrasses all over the world. The name fairy ring refers to the ring of mushrooms that pop up in turf, often accompanied by a darker green color around the ring. These symptoms seem innocuous enough, but the disease can damage the turf by creating dry patches that are difficult to irrigate, and can result in death of the turfgrass, especially during hot, dry weather. There are more than 60 different fungi that can produce fairy ring disease. You may be able to improve your control by adjusting your fungicide applications. Successful control has been achieved by mixing a soil surfactant with your fungicide. Recently, a study at Texas A&M showed increased success by applying the fungicide via high-pressure injection, with or without the addition of a soil surfactant.

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