Articles by Sam Marshall Special to Topsail Advertiser

  • Black Twig Borers: Tiny insects pose a big threat to your trees and shrubs

    What’s small, brown, and has the potential to damage your ornamental trees and shrubs? Why, the black twig borer of course. But have you ever actually seen one? Unless you happen to be extremely observant and own a microscope, the answer is most likely no. However, the black twig borer is fast-becoming a common pest in nurseries and home landscapes throughout our region. READ MORE

  • Master gardener: The right way to water your lawn

    Editor’s note: This article is the first in a three-part series on water-wise practices for lawns and gardens. This article focuses on watering lawns. Next week's article will focus on watering landscapes. And the following week will finish out the series with a discussion of watering vegetable gardens. READ MORE

  • Master Gardener: Keep Christmas trees in use after the holidays

    The holidays have come and gone and soon you will begin the chore of taking down the decorations for the season. Of those tasks, none may be more disheartening or messier than removing your Christmas tree, which by now probably resembles a dried piece of kindling. If the last stop for your tree is usually on the curb with the empty gift boxes, consider a greener approach this year and recycle it! READ MORE

  • Wild columbine grows well in just about any habitat

    The best job I ever had in college was the summer I worked in the Cherokee National Forest, tromping through remote woods cataloguing native and invasive plants of Eastern Tennessee. I remember one day stumbling across a patch of some of the most interesting plants I had ever seen. The leaves looked like small green mittens and the flame red flowers stood tall on sturdy stalks. It was my first exposure to wild columbine, and to this day it remains a favorite for any natural area or home garden. READ MORE

  • Back to school; time for a soil test

    Any successful gardener in this area will tell you that the key to a beautiful lawn or garden starts with healthy soil. The only way to ensure your soil is healthy is to conduct a soil test. Soil test results guide decisions like which type of fertilizer to use and whether or not to apply lime. Different types of plants have different pH and nutrient requirements. By soil testing, you can ensure you are applying the proper amounts for optimal growth of all your plants. READ MORE

  • Fall vegetable gardens extend growing season

    Fall is an exciting time in southeastern North Carolina! We finally get a reprieve from the heat and humidity and the bugs are more tolerable, which means you can begin to reclaim the outdoors and get back in the garden; and now is the time to start a fall vegetable garden. If you typically grow a summer garden—tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, squash—and no fall garden, you are only getting half the production potential from your beds and are missing out on some tasty cool-season veggies. READ MORE

  • Get your lawn and landscape ready for cooler months ahead

    Fall weather is in the air and its arrival to the Cape Fear region is much-appreciated! But the work isn’t over. Cooler weather means that deciduous landscape plants and warm-season turfgrass will soon be going into dormancy, a period of inactivity when plants store energy for the colder months ahead. As you reclaim the outdoors and get back to your garden you will still find there is plenty of work to do in order to get your landscape ready for winter. READ MORE

  • Avoid invasive plants in your landscape

    From soil preparation to choosing the right variety, there are many factors that go into choosing the best plant for your landscape. However, one factor that may go overlooked is whether a plant is invasive. Invasive plants can escape cultivation and spread to natural areas, where they displace native plant species. The loss of native species to invasive plants reduces wildlife diversity and also has direct impacts to humans. So before you plant this fall, consider first what you will be planting and whether it has the potential to become invasive. READ MORE

  • Home grown pecans delicious by any name

    If you are from Western North Carolina, you probably call them pe-kahns, and if you are from Eastern North Carolina, you likely call them pe-cans. No matter how you say it, pecan trees are becoming more popular in home landscapes. Native to North America, pecan trees have many benefits as edible landscape additions for the patient gardener. With minimal effort and inputs and the right soil conditions, you can grow pecan trees in your backyard. READ MORE

  • Master Gardener: Mistletoe considered potentially harmful addition to landscape

    Mistletoe is a common sight this time of year in deciduous trees throughout coastal North Carolina. A parasite of many hardwood trees, mistletoe can also be blamed for the increase in stolen kisses from December through the first of January. While it has had many uses throughout history, this evergreen plant is usually considered to be an unsightly, unwanted, and potentially harmful addition to the landscape. That being said, there are a few factors to consider before deciding whether this is a friend or foe to your landscape trees. READ MORE

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Weather • Surf City, North Carolina