The Saratoga Sun -

Common Yard Calls

Common yard problems and what to do


March 25, 2020

One of my favorite parts of being a University of Wyoming Extension Educator is going on yard calls. Residents from around the county will call the office and ask questions about things that are giving them fits in their landscape: yellow patches in grasses, odd-shaped holes in leaves, funny insects marching up and down the bark and so forth.

Sometimes people stop in the office with a sample; sometimes they bring pictures. If I can’t figure out the problem from the sample or the picture, I travel to the property and take a look in person. In remote areas I often schedule more than one of these visits in a day to make good use of the travel. If I don’t know what’s causing the problem, I take pictures and send them to specialists on campus and all together we try to resolve the situation.

Over the years we’ve seen insects never spotted in the state before, and some very curious wildlife situations, but there are also “repeat customers” so to speak. These are problems that are common for several landowners across the county. I thought I’d share some of those common issues in this article.

Due to the early snow we received in October before the ground was frozen and the fact that it never melted all year long, many residents will be finding snow mold when their lawns are finally visible again. It may look like wispy white spider webs or a thin layer of white cotton candy on the lawn. It can also occur from fertilizing too late in the fall but, this year, snow mold will be common from the snow accumulation. I’ve already seen it. The best thing to do is simply rake the matted grass. The heavy snow layer and no air flow has essentially made a sauna for fungus. Raking the sections allows airflow back in. In most cases the lawn doesn’t require any follow up after the raking, however, if there are dead spots, the grass will not grow back and will require re-planting.

Grasshoppers are also on the radar. They can easily outcompete livestock and wildlife for forage. Carbon County doesn’t usually have huge outbreaks but some residents were noticing an influx of insects last fall. Carbon County Weed and Pest and grasshopper specialists can assist with these cases, but first it’s important to monitor for the grasshoppers. Noticing large populations in the fall is too late to take action. One to seven grasshoppers per square yard is a very reasonable population, but grasshoppers can use their size to their advantage. It’s important to be vigilant in detecting them. Not every grasshopper is problematic either. There are 120 species in Wyoming, but only a fraction of those are pests. In fact some are even beneficial. USDA-APHIS, Weed and Pest, and Extension Grasshopper specialists are all great resources to call on if you find yourself asking “hoppy” questions.

A lot of my annual calls have to do with trees. It’s a challenge to grow trees in Wyoming, and it feels quite devasting when things aren’t going according to plan. Scales on both needle-bearing trees and aspens are common calls. Dead branches in confers that have been over trimmed or suffered too much direct wind through the winter season are often common concerns. Of course, we are always dealing with dear old aphids. The treatment, or lack thereof, can vary depending on the severity of these situations, but I almost always tell people to start with increased watering. Its difficult for trees to fight attacks if they are under stress and the number one stressor for trees in our area is not enough water due to both climate and wind. If they are getting all their needs met, trees are great at fighting off attacks on their own.

If you have questions about these or other issues, I’d love to help you find a solution and can be reached at the Carbon County Extension Office, 307-328-2642 or [email protected].


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