The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

April 5, 2013

"Ask A Master Gardener"


TARBORO — J. Winslow (Tarboro) asks-  I want to put some half rotten logs around-and in-my garden but wonder if the combustion process involved in their further decomposition would damage or detract from the growth of the surrounding plants.

Answer: Just like the forest floor, the decomposing wood will likely enrich your garden soil and should not impede the growth of your plants.  It's always a good idea to use natural materials in your garden.

Jamie E. (Tarboro) Asks: What should I use to control white grubs in my lawn and when do I apply it?

Answer:  Grubs can be very damaging to lawns if the population is high, but there are now effective, safe-to-use products available that have low toxicities, fairly long residuals, and less adverse effects on beneficial insects. So timing is not as critical as it used to be with the traditional grub products. The effectiveness of both products is more than 90 percent, topping the list of insecticides used in home lawns for grub control.

Imidacloprid is one of the insecticides that came on the homeowner market in 1996. This is available as a granular product as well as a ready-to-spray product. It can be applied from mid-May to mid-August for control of Japanese beetle and masked chafer grubs. If applied mid-May to early June, several other lawn pests are also controlled, including billbugs and the first generations of both chinch bugs and sod webworm. Imidacloprid has to be applied BEFORE the new generation of grubs is discovered in August, and is therefore useful in lawns with a history of grub problems.

DO NOT apply earlier than mid-May, or it might not be effective by the time eggs hatch in late July to early August.

Another new grub insecticide came on the homeowner market in spring of 1999: halofenozide (molt-accelerating compound halofenozide). Wait to apply this insecticide until early June. This will control both white grubs and billbugs. An advantage of this product is that it can be applied after the new generation of grubs is discovered in August, mid- to late in the month.

This is a more integrated pest management approach, targeting the pest population directly once it is discovered and after determining that control is needed. Read and follow all pesticide label instructions.

Brenda E. (Tarboro) Asks - Is there a ground cover that will grow in a

shaded, damp area? All we have now is moss.

Answer - As you have discovered, it is very difficult to have a healthy lawn in a shady, poorly drained area, and a suitable ground

cover is a good idea. The presence of moss indicates that the soil in this part of your yard may also be compacted or is of low fertility. Moss does not necessarily mean that you have acid soil. You might want to have your soil tested so that you can correct any pH or fertility problems. A soil test is quite simple and inexpensive and will provide information that can save you time and money in the future. Few plants will grow well if the soil is infertile. The Extension office can help you perform a soil test and submit your sample.

Here are some shade-tolerant plants that will grow in moist conditions.  Try out several types to see which do best for you before investing in a large number of one kind of plant.

• Part shade: If you have clay soil, Ajuga reptans makes a very

good ground cover. Ferns of many types but especially the Cinnamon, Interrupted, and Ostrich fern will also fill in shady, moist areas. Gout weed, or Aegopodium, is a fast-growing ground cover for shade and competes well with tree roots. Some hostas will also work; Thomas Hogg and Fortunei are recommended for damp locations. Primulas, ligularia, and astilbes would be nice accent plants here, too.

• Full shade: Pulmonaria and Tiarella would work. Pulmonaria seeds

freely, and if you plant a few, you may soon have many. I put in two plants about eight years ago and I now have a large area of pulmonaria in my shady yard. They have lovely pink flowers that turn blue in the spring and large attractive leaves in the summer.

"Ask A Master Gardener" is a weekly column providing our readers solutions to common problems concerning horticulture, gardening, and pest management. Trained Extension Master Gardener Volunteers have access to the research that provides answers.  

Submit your questions by email to Or call the local Extension Center at 252-641-7815 and tell them you have a question for a master gardener; a volunteer will return your call with a solution to your problem, or write to "Ask A Master

Gardener", c/o The Daily Southerner, P.O. Box 1199, Tarboro, NC 27886.