Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Gardening questions about moles, henbit and raised beds

Trained volunteers working the University of Missouri Extension Master Gardener hotline in Greene County receive nearly 100 calls per week during the spring from homeowners and gardeners seeking informed advice.

This past week, many callers to the hotline were concerned about the impact of the freeze on their plants and trees. But there were plenty of gardeners with other concerns on their mind also.

The following are the four most popular questions and answers from the past week.

Q: I've heard about raised bed gardening but I'm not sure what it is. Do you have information that could help me understand this type of gardening?

Raised bed gardens have become a popular, especially among people with disabilities, or older people, but it is also a good way to garden if you have limited space.

Raised bed gardens have several other advantages: better drainage, higher yields, an expanded growing season, ease of maintaining and the ability to use difficult sites where gardening might not otherwise be possible.

Any MU Extension Center will have two related guide sheets on this topic: G6985 on raised bed gardens and G6956 on making and using compost.

Q: My yard has lots of weeds this spring, especially Henbit and wild onions. What should I be doing?

The most common spring weed, henbit, is actually a winter annual. It can be controlled with Gallery preemergence herbicide applied in late September or with a three-way premix postemergence herbicide applied in late fall or early spring on a warm day.

If you already have henbit you can pull it up or spray it and kill it now, but you will still have it next Spring if you fail to do a preemergence treatment in the fall.

Wild onions, on the other hand, grow from bulbs and one control method is pulling them. Unfortunately, there are no pre-emergence herbicides that will control wild onion. They must be treated with a post-emergence herbicide, and persistence is the key.

MU Extension guide sheet G6750 addresses home lawn weed control.

Q: I have some flowering bushes that have gotten really big. When can I prune them?

Not now! Spring flowering shrubs may be pruned at that time, but flowers for that season will be lost. For that reason, spring flowering shrubs are usually pruned when flowering has been completed.

Shrubs that flower in late spring and summer are best pruned in early spring. Avoid major pruning in late summer and early fall, as this may force late growth that will be damaged by freezing.

MU Extension has a guide sheet (G6870) on pruning ornamental shrubs.

Q: Help! My yard is being destroyed by moles. What can I do?

You are now alone, this is prime breeding season for moles and litters are being born in March and April which means homeowners are seeing lots more runs now.

MU Extension has a research-based guide sheet (G9440) that deals with the most effective ways to control moles.

Trapping is the most successful and practical method for getting rid of moles and eliminating their damage but you need to understand a few things about moles in order to use the traps effectively.


All MU Extension guidesheets are available at area MU Extension offices and also online at

For more information, or answers to your specific lawn and garden questions, contact one of the following Master Gardener Hotlines in southwest Missouri: Barton County, (417) 682-3579; Christian County, (417) 581-4853, Greene County, (417) 862-9284; Jasper County, (417) 358-2158; or Stone and Taney counties, (866) 357-6812.

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