No matter how long
the winter,
spring is
sure to follow.
English Proverb      

Holey Moley

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and The Truth


In honor of Groundhog Day and the furry rodents that live underground, let's discuss the pesky yard destroyer, the mole.


Growing to approximately 6-8 inches, these mammals have gray to black fur, beady eyes and long front claws to help them dig. Moles tend to live alone, except during mating season, and become most active when the weather is cooler so Spring and Fall are very prominent times that you will see their tunnels. In the summer, they bury deeper in the yard and are not as noticeable. One mole can trash a half an acre of lawn in one day by digging over 100 feet of tunnel.  The greatest harm that mole tunneling does to turf grass is to separate soil from its roots . The best immediate response is to press back the soil with your foot and to water the area thoroughly to keep the roots moist as they re-anchor themselves in the soil.Moles feast on insects such as the destructive ones likes snails, beetles and millipedes, grubs, and crickets and it is this pursuit of food that has the mole tunneling through our yards. They do not eat the roots of your grass or plants.


We all want the perfect green lawn, no brown spots, no tunnels, just a picturesque sea of green. Achieving that can come at a cost and so it is with the removal of moles. There are many theories, homemade remedies, traps, solar powered mole deterrents that make a high-pitched noise designed to keep moles away, and insecticides. Many mole removal companies offer a two-prong attack on ridding the moles from our beautiful lawns. Essentially it comes down to trap the mole and eliminate its food source. Sounds simple. Ha!


To trap a mole you need to find the main tunnel the mole uses every day. You may see many tunnels and some of these are going to be secondary tunnels that the mole created to find its food. Once the mole has eaten in that tunnel it will leave a scent that serves as a reminder that he has already eaten there and will not go back to that tunnel. You may also find entry and exit mounds that are pushed up, somewhat like a volcano. The mounds are connected to main runways that the moles use repeatedly. These are the tunnels that you want to use to bait or trap the mole. To find the main tunnel, poke holes in the tunnels in your yard and mark them. The next day, go out and see if the holes have been plugged. If they have been plugged, you know this is a main tunnel because the mole will always plug holes in the main tunnel. That night, unplug the hole you created and drop bait in there. Here's the deal, that bait is extremely poisonous. The mole will eat the bait and will suffer a rather horrible death. You can also use a steel trap set atop the tunnel that will impale the mole as it travels the tunnel, either way, a rather horrible death. Additionally, when disturbed, moles may temporarily vacate the area, but generally return within a week or two. In addition, when a tunnel is abandoned, a new mole inhabitant will "recolonize" using the handiwork of its predecessor.


The second wave of attack is to apply a powerful insecticide to the lawn and kill all the insects living in the soil. This includes the earthworms that do so much work to aerate our soils and leave behind beneficial castings that enrich the soil. Earthworms are essential to our soil as are some of the other insects they eat, so spraying insecticide in the yard is not always the most environmentally responsible method of handling the problem. It upsets the natural balance in the "city of insects" under the soil that helps to make our plants beautiful above the surface and strong beneath it. And keep in mind; this is not always an effective method. It may or may not remove the animal.


And of course, there are companies that provide services that will cost the homeowner several hundreds of dollars to remove the moles. They then put you on a service contract and there is a monthly or quarterly fee to maintain the property, again most likely using insecticides and toxic bait.


The bottom line, you can spend a fortune on a monthly maintenance plan or you can apply toxic chemicals yourself but there really is no environmentally responsible method for ridding your property of moles. Along with earthworms, moles are nature's best aerators. The mole's digging actually improves soil quality by turning and aerating the soil and mixing accumulated nutrients throughout the excavation. Take advantage of Mother Nature's gift. Consider the mole your own personal aerator and pest control team.


Florida Betony
Winter Weeds
Winter What?!?

I have often been overheard saying that if my flowers grew as prolific as my weeds, I would have a garden worthy of a magazine cover.  Sadly, my weeds have a tendency to get a little bit out of hand and over the years I have just decided in some cases that the weed with the beautiful purple flower doesn't look that bad in the garden!  On occasion though, I have had enough and I have waged war on the weeds, I thought I would share some of the battle scars and hard won knowledge.


One year, as I was sitting at the edge of a flower bed with my fork digging up Florida betony tubers, my elderly neighbor walked over and wondered why I was digging up all of my pretty flowers!  Well, I will have to tell you I was never successful at getting all of those tubers, but it sure did make me feel better to see the large pile of weeds that would go into the garbage and never grow again!  As with other winter weeds, this one will die off and go dormant once we get some warmer temperatures, only to return with the cooler weather.  If you don't get excited about digging weeds you can always use a non-selective herbicide in your established beds to rid your gardens of the undesirables.  Glyphosate also known as Round-Up is a very good non-selective herbicide to use in small controlled areas.  Be careful, it is called non-selective for a reason, killing what ever it is applied to.  Check weather forecasts for rain, this could cause run off and death to surrounding grass.  Apply only on calm days as the wind will create drift to other plants, and if you have a large bed you are working in, work backwards.  Do not spray the chemical and then walk in it!  Don't ask how I know to give you this bit of advice, but I would consider the brown footprints in the lawn for several weeks leading from one flower bed to another a battle scar!

Poa Annua


Weeds are the greatest of opportunists. Give them a nice patch of soil and they will happily do their best!  With that information in mind the best way to keep the weeds out of your lawn is to have a nice, thick healthy lawn.  Don't give the weed seeds a single millimeter of soil to germinate or set root.  Yes, I know that I am once again describing the garden that is worthy of a magazine cover, so let's talk about some ways to deal with those pesky weeds that have found their way into our lawn.  Some of the weeds you may find in your lawn now are Poa Annua, also known as bluegrass, Carolina geranium, hairy bittercress, lawn burweed and chickweed - all found in a small area in my yard with very patchy grass.


A pre-emergent herbicide like 0-0-7 with surge or dimension can be used in the fall to discourage the germination of weed seeds.  Unfortunately at this point, a pre-emergent is not going to help

Carolina Geranium

with the weeds that you have in the lawn now!  Keep this in mind for next year, also keep in mind that it is a very tricky

process to rid the lawn of all weeds with a pre-emergent.  Seeds germinate at different soil temperatures and the pre-emergent has an effective time limit once applied so with our unpredictable weather it is hard to hit the optimal application time, but a good guideline for applying the pre-emergent is

the second week of October.


A post emergent is going to be the best way to rid your lawn of weeds now.  There are almost as many chemicals to treat for weeds as there are weeds, so be forewarned, you will need to do some homework before you suit up to apply chemicals.  A post emergent will kill the weeds that are present now, but will not prevent future seed germination.  A favorite of mine is a product with the active ingredient 2-4-D and Dicamba. It is sold under many names with other active ingredients sometimes thrown into the mix.  There are many variables for chemical application, some are temperate sensitive and will only work in certain temperatures and in some cases will cause turf die off if applied at the wrong temperature.  Some chemicals will harm certain types of turf grass and then, the most

Hairy Bittercress

upsetting of all, is some chemicals are specific to the weed.  This is the part about homework, remember?  You must first be able to identify your weed and then find the chemical that will work for the temperature, your turf and weeds.  If this all seems to be too much, remember the fork from earlier, or you can always stand back, squint and believe that beautiful patch of green is not weeds, but spring coming early to your yard!


Lawn Burweed

I would like to touch on one more option.  As mentioned above, the best way to prevent weed growth is to have a beautiful lush lawn.  Our sister company Lawn Rangers has been using an organic product called Byo-Soil along with core aeration and a top dressing of organic compost to promote a healthy soil to create a lush lawn.  This method is not for those striving for the magazine cover this season, this is somewhat like letting your hair grow back to it's natural color - it's a long, ugly and painful process - but well worth the end result.  The idea is to make the soil as healthy as possible and encourage the growth of thick healthy sod.  The sod will cover the available soil and use up all the available nutrients, putting the weeds behind in the competition. 



A Lowcountry Favorite

Ornamental Grasses
Time for their Hair Cut!


With their graceful foliage and fluffy plumes, perennial ornamental grasses add form and texture to a landscape for most of the year. Their nodding seed heads and rustling leaves provide appealing sound and movement during the winter, when most of the garden is in the doldrums.


Ornamental grasses are not only visually appealing but also desirable as fast growing plants with most varieties having minimal needs. They require little to no watering or fertilization and will grow in poor soil. Dream date, right?


However, perennial varieties will need cutting back once a year in very early spring (aka now), before they start to send up new shoots.


You should cut back grasses before the new season growth starts. Cut the stems to a few inches above ground level for best appearance. Grasses can be cut by hand with pruners or hedge sheers, with electric hedge clippers, or with a weed-eater fitted with a brush cutting blade. Tightly tying a string around the grasses before cutting them will keep the cuttings intact and make clean up a snap!


Cut as low as you can without harming the crowns of the grass as this is where the new growth begins. Comb through the grass foliage with gloved hands to remove old spikes.


After the new growth has emerged, maintain the appearance of the grass by trimming discolored foliage and removing dead spikes.

If you would like more information on cutting grasses, please watch the video below that was broadcast on Live5News with Kaitlyn McGrath.  Stephanie Harbin demonstrates how to cut the grasses back.


Cutting Back Ornamental Grasses
Cutting Back Ornamental Grasses