MOUNT PLEASANT — Lawn care, pruning and Japanese beetles were among the topics gardening expert Melinda Myers talked about Sunday afternoon at Stein Garden & Gifts.

For more than an hour Myers, a syndicated newspaper columnist with a gardening resume as long as a grape vine, responded to questions at Stein, 6626 Washington Ave. Her audience started at about a dozen people and slowly grew to double that.

Throughout, it was clear Myers prefers solutions that are easier on the environment. For example, she’s fond of Milorganite, an organic lawn fertilizer. It’s regularly tested and no longer poses a problem with heavy metals as it did decades ago, she said.

“There are two reasons for using Milorganite,” she said: it’s slow-release nitrogen and it contains iron which is good for greening plants.

Corn gluten meal has proven to inhibit seed germination and would be a great way, over time, to keep crabgrass seeds from sprouting, Myers said.

Myers is also a fan of ferric HEDTA, a broad-leaf weed killer, as an organic option. “This stuff is amazing,” she said. “It turns the weed black in 12 hours,” and the iron helps green the lawn.

Talking about attacking Creeping Charlie, she warned, “Most of the herbicides are very hard on shrubs and trees. So spot-treat. Use it cautiously if you want to take care of Creeping Charlie.”

The good news about Japanese beetles — which eat hundreds of different plants — is that turkeys and goldfinches eat then, Myers said. “We’re starting to see (their numbers) drop.”

But, she said, “Birch and linden trees are really suffering this year” from that pest. She added, “I would probably treat them” with a systemic herbicide that would kill the beetles as they feed next year.

On the topic of pruning, she said most plants should be left alone until next year for several reasons. “Any perennial that’s healthy, leave it stand and prune in the spring,” she said. If it blooms in spring, prune after that.

Because of this year’s scorching, arid summer, Myers said she’s worried Wisconsin will see peddlers of zoysia next year.

“The problem is: It’s only green when your bluegrass would be brown, and it’s brown when your bluegrass would be green. ... So don’t fall for the ad.”

For more of Myers’ gardening advice, visit www.melindamyers.com.

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