GREEN THUMB: When to use fertilizer; sick dogwoods

Nancy Brachey offers tips and solutions for home gardeners:

Q. My grass looks tired, not very fresh. What about fertilizer now?

A. Not now. There are too many hot weeks still ahead of us to encourage untimely new growth on fescue lawns.

Please be patient. Come mid-September, we will all join in the great autumn lawn renewal experience. That means aeration, fertilizer, overseeding, all the good things that will turn your lawn from tired to fresh. I'll tell you how. In September, not now.

Even though fescue lawns are at a low point of loveliness now, many look better than Augusts of the past decade. Though the Carolinas are in a drought, some areas got heavy rain, enough to keep the grass alive, and it wasn't blistering hot, merely tolerably hot, in July. So the grass managed to hang on, instead of dropping dead as we have seen it do during very hot and dry summers of recent years.

Q. My dogwood tree has unusual white spots on the leaves. What is wrong with it?

A. There is a fungus affliction called powdery mildew on your dogwood leaves. You can blame this on regular rainfall, especially those late afternoon and evening storms, lately. Foliage stayed wet through the night. I would not worry about it so late in the summer. However, the fungicide Immunox will work on it, if your mind needs easing about this affliction.

Fortunately, crape myrtle flowers, which can be badly affected by powdery mildew, seem to have escaped this summer.


It's Time To ...


Schedule someone to aerate your lawn during lawn renewal season in September.


Get your lawn mower to the shop for a tune-up if you didn't do so earlier. Mowing of fescue grass gets more frequent as the days cool.


Press a nice bloom between the pages of a heavy book. It will be a souvenir of this year's flower show.