Extension News

Ask the ISU Experts

Note to media editors:

Got gardening questions? Contact the Hortline at (515) 294-3108 (M-F; 10-12 & 1-4:30) or send an e-mail to hortline@iastate.edu. For more gardening information visit us at Yard and Garden Online at www.yardandgarden.extension.iastate.edu



Should I stake a newly planted tree? 

Staking is not required for most newly planted trees. However, top-heavy trees and those planted in windy, exposed sites may require staking. If staking is necessary, allow the trunk to move or sway to encourage proper trunk and root development. To prevent damage to the trunk, use strong, wide strips of canvas, rubber or other materials to support the tree. Remove the stakes as soon as possible. In most cases, stakes can be safely removed after one growing season.


When can I plant snap beans in the garden? 

Snap beans are a warm season vegetable and should be planted after the danger of frost is past.  In central Iowa, it’s usually safe to begin planting snap beans around May 5. Bean seeds should be planted 1 to 1.5 inches deep. When planting bush varieties, space rows 2 to 2.5 feet apart with seeds spaced 2 inches apart within the row.  After the seedlings emerge, thin bush snap beans to 4 inches between plants.  Plant every 2 to 3 weeks (up to Aug. 1) for continuous harvest during the summer months. Plant pole beans in rows spaced 3 to 4 feet apart with the vines supported by a trellis, fence, or poles. In the row, plant pole bean seeds 3 to 4 inches apart, later thin to 6 to 8 inches between plants. 


Suggested bush snap bean varieties for Iowa include ‘Benchmark,’ ‘Tendercrop,’ ‘Bush Blue Lake 274,’ ‘Topcrop,’ ‘Provider,’ ‘Kinghorn Wax’ (yellow), and ‘Derby.’  Excellent pole beans include ‘Blue Lake,’ ‘Kentucky Blue,’ and ‘Kentucky Wonder.’


How often should I aerate my lawn? 

The frequency of aeration is largely determined by the soil type and the amount of use.  Lawns growing in heavy, clay soils and those subject to heavy foot or pet traffic should be aerated twice a year.  Once a year should be sufficient for lawns that are established on well-drained soils and experience little traffic. 


In Iowa, September and April are the best times to aerate Kentucky bluegrass and other cool-season lawns. While the overall results are beneficial, core aeration causes some initial damage.  Aerating in September or April allows the grass to quickly recover during the favorable growing conditions in spring and early fall. 



Contacts :

Richard Jauron, Horticulture, (515) 294-1871, rjauron@iastate.edu

Jean McGuire, Extension Communications and Marketing , (515) 294-7033, jmcguire@iastate.edu