Top 10 List

Blanco: Road Home has enough money to pay eligible applicants
December 12, 2007
December 14
December 14, 2007
Blanco: Road Home has enough money to pay eligible applicants
December 12, 2007
December 14
December 14, 2007

The LSU AgCenter has been promoting research-based best management practices (BMP’s) in the home landscape for several years to educate residents on how to properly manage their lawn garden and landscape to minimize non-point pollution, insect, weed and disease pests. Inadequate preparation of landscape beds topped the list of problems frequently experienced with home grounds and gardens in our area. Many of us frequently experience poor performance with our ornamentals, turf and home gardens in landscape plantings. This is due primarily to poor planning and preparation.

Many of the problems associated with our turf, gardens and ornamentals can be overcome easily if proper cultural practices are maintained. These cultural practices are referred to as best management practices or BMP’s.

The top 10 problems in our area:

1-Inadequate bed preparation: Poor internal drainage and aeration is responsible for root rot and other plant problems. Prepare the landscape bed adequately before planting; this is the only way to avoid problems later.

2-Soil fertility and pH: Soil testing is an important tool in our home landscapes. Most of the ornamental plants grown in Louisiana prefer a soil pH of 5.5 – 6.5. Proper fertilization is one of the keys to success with our landscape plants and lawn areas. Now is a great time to take a soil sample to get analyzed through the LSU AgCenter lab in Baton Rouge for $7.00 per sample. Call 446-1316 for additional information.

3-Ornamental plant selection: Selecting the correct plant for the proper location is critical. Consider maintenance requirements, sunlight exposure and traffic patterns. The mature height is commonly considered, but also think about the mature spread (width) of a tree or shrub.

4-Winter damage to landscape plants: It is difficult to explain winter damage to landscape plants when it typically appears in the summer. Mulching is a great way to reduce freeze damaging. Proper pruning, fertilization and irrigation are also helpful.

5-Shade tree problems: This is a major concern in our growing residential areas of the state. Construction takes a serious toll on the root system of trees. Protect trees during construction, and do not trench, excavate, change soil grades or modify drainage patterns around trees. The grade around trees should not be changed more than one inch per year.

6-Insect identification and control: Major insect pests in Louisiana include scale on camellia, holly and magnolia; lacebugs on azaleas; chinch bugs in St. Augustinegrass; aphids; whiteflies; and many more. Formosan termites are doing serious damage to ornamental trees in our area. Know how to identify insects as this will help you to achieve the proper control measures. The LSU AgCenter is a great resource in proper identification of insect and other pests.

7-General lawn maintenance: This includes everything from species selection to irrigation and fertilization. A well-maintained lawn provides many environmental benefits. Beware of “winterizer” fertilizers this time of year, especially if the first number (representing the macro-nutrient Nitrogen) is higher than five. Too much Nitrogen now can cause increased growth that can pre-dispose your lawn to winter injury with the next cold front.

8-Turf and ornamental diseases: Examples include entomosporium and cercopora leaf spot, brown patch and melting out on turfgrass, and blackspot. Many of these can be destructive if not corrected or avoided. Variety selection and proper cultural practices will aid in control.

9-Warm and cool season weed control in turf: In Louisiana, weeds are ever present in our lawn areas. Maintain healthy turf to achieve control over this year-round battle. Do not fertilize your lawn now with any product that contains nitrogen. This will cause growth that can lead to freeze or cold damage.

10-Control of sedges and broadleaf weeds in landscape beds: Nutsedge and broadleaf weeds are a major problem, but can be controlled better than most people believe by mulching, especially with pine straw. Pre-emergent herbicides, such as Preen and Amaze, work well if applied properly.

Lawn BMP Publication

The LSU AgCenter has an excellent publication for homeowners that covers the basic best management practices (BMPs) that when followed, will help reduce the need for pesticides and possibly reduced the non-point source pollution from running off your yard. The Louisiana Lawn BMPs publication is available at any Cooperative Extension Service office or at

Question of the week: What is the best way to take a nematode soil sample?

Answer: Nematode samples should be collected by a method similar to those used for general soil testing. The following tips will help:

-Break down areas with similar soils.

-Collect one sample from your garden or flowerbeds unless you have several different locations.

-The smaller the area represented, the more accurate the sample will be.

-Soil should be collected using a soil probe, shovel or trowel down to a depth of 6-8 inches.

-Try to collect from 10-20 spots in the garden, so that it is well represented by the combined sample.

-About a pint of soil should then be placed in a zip-type plastic bag (quart freezer bags work best) for mailing.

-A nematode assay sheet should be filled out for the samples to provide specific information about the sample, its history and future plans. The sheets can be obtained from the LSU AgCenter Extension Service office.

The LSU AgCenter has excellent research-based publications that can help you make better decisions in planning and managing your horticulture related activities. These are available at all Extension Service offices and on our website.

For more information on these or other horticultural topics, call me at 985-446-1316 or email me at, check out the LSU AgCenter website at or come by the office in Thibodaux located on 402 West 5th Street.