You are suffering with a common disease that I call “insect wrongway-itis.” Nobody is trying to break in. They have broken out.
In the fall, a heap of insects that spend the winter as adults fly or crawl to the south and west sides of the house. This herd could include boxelder bugs, multicolor Asian lady beetles, western conifer seed bugs, cluster flies and elm leaf beetles.
They squeeze and squish themselves into small openings to end up in the wall void. This is between the outside and inside wall. They hibernate there as long as the temperature stays a cool 40-50 degrees.
When the sun shines on the wall and warms the area, all the sleepers awake and head for the exits. Some find their way inside to your living space. Others head for the great outdoors.
Your guys are outside which means they went in the right direction. When it gets chilly again, they will slide back to their hiding place. But with the next sunny day, they are out again.
Killing those you see outside will do little to limit next fall’s invaders. The great controller of insect populations is the weather. That determines how many overwintering guys are hanging on the wall this fall and in the spring.
We tore down a garage in the fall and leveled off the soil. We want to put in grass seed but how do we do this? My past experience with putting down seeds is that most don’t come up. How can we make this work?
Starting grass should be one of the easier tasks but there are some guidelines. Grass is the happy simpleton of the plant world. It requires eight or more hours of full sun to grow and fill in well. It needs moisture for seeds to germinate and plants to grow tops and roots.
Buy new seed packed for 2011. Look at the kinds of seeds in the package. If it is annual rye grass, it will come up once and die at the end of the season. Some less expensive mixes will have annual rye grass included.
Buy a mix that has all perennial seeds. You want perennial rye, fine fescue and bluegrass. This is commonly found in most lawn mixtures. Each of these grasses comes up at different times so it appears that grass gradually fills in.
If the soil is warm, it takes about a week for perennial rye grass to germinate. Fine fescue takes about two weeks but bluegrasses take three to four weeks. That’s as fast as they can grow. But they can certainly grow slower with poor conditions.
Rake the area to loosen the soil. Seeds cannot get into compacted ground.
The ideal seeding time in the spring is April 15 to May 15. Notice that is “ideal” and not “only.”
Rake right before you put seeds down. If you want to use a starter fertilizer, you can, but follow the label directions.
Make sure your entire bald area gets covered adequately with seeds. Then water the area to snuggle the seeds in. Cover with a light scattering of straw. Make sure this gets watered to hold it down when the wind blows. It should look like a piece of lattice and let sun in but offer some cover.
The next part is the most difficult to do.
Keep seeds damp until all have germinated. This means that you will be watering as much as twice a day if the weather is hot. If the seeds are just beginning to produce their first root and it dries out, the seed is dead. That’s why it makes sense to do this before hot weather.
Start picking off straw as the grass begins growing. Mow for the first time when grass is a little taller than 3 inches and mow to a 3-inch height.
Contact Gretchen Voyle, MSU Extension-Livingston County Horticulture Educator, at (517) 546-3950.