Crows looking for food in zoysia sod

Q. We just had some new zoysia sod put in and crows are out there every evening plucking it out of the ground. Any suggestions? -- Paul Long, Cobb County

A. I consulted my University of Georgia Cooperative Extension friends and they say the crows are likely looking for grubs or earthworms. You can determine which food they're seeking by mixing four tablespoons of dish soap in two gallons of water and pouring it over a six square foot area. Any earthworms present will quickly wriggle to the top of the soil. If grubs are present you should be able to lift the sod and find C-shaped white grubs underneath. Grubs can be controlled with imidacloprid (Bayer Advanced Grub Control) or halofenozide (Mach 2, Grub B Gon or Grub Ex).

Q. My wife and I are very experienced gardeners. This past winter I picked up a load of horse manure from a stable and let it compost under a tarp. In spring I top-dressed my flower beds and mixed the compost with soil when I renovated my raspberries. Now the flowers are showing diminished vigor and the raspberries have simply not grown. I used the compost when I planted my tomatoes and they all have died. Could the manure be to blame? -- Carl and Eva, Smyrna

A. The manure could well be the culprit. My bet is that the horses were fed hay from a pasture treated with picloram (Grazon, etc). Picloram is a common pasture herbicide but it has a long half-life in organic matter: 60 to 300 days, depending on environmental conditions. I'd spread the compost pile on your lawn, where it may help you control broadleaf weeds. Next time you get manure, make certain you know how the horse pasture has been maintained. You can also do a simple bio-assay by mixing the manure 1:1 with potting soil and planting a tomato in it. If the tomato shows no harm, the manure is safe.

Q. I am a moss lover. Is there a best way to remove weeds from my moss areas? When I pull them by hand, particularly the grass, the moss comes up also. -- Barbara Vignola, email

A. The best idea is to clip weeds at the base with scissors. Most of them are annuals and if you get to them before they drop seed the weed problems will diminish over time. Even grass, regularly cut low, has a hard time recovering, especially in semi-shade, where I assume your moss bed is located.

Q. We hate to mow our lawn and were wondering what you know about "no-mow" grass. Our lawn is primarily shady, so what we are mowing now is weeds. -- Holley Shufords, Conyers

A. If you're referring to No Mow Grass sold on the Internet, I believe it primarily contains fine fescue and bentgrass, neither of which grow well here due to our hot summers. No grass adapted to the South will thrive in less than six hours of direct sunshine or eight hours of high pine shade. If you can tolerate occasional bare spots and the need for constant weed control, tall fescue can make an acceptable lawn in four hours of direct sunshine. There are no miracle grasses. Either give your lawn grass what it needs in order to thrive or install beds of shade-tolerant plants.

Listen to Walter Reeves Saturday mornings on AM 750 and 95.5 FM News-Talk WSB. Visit his website,, or join his Facebook Fan Page at for more garden tips.