April 6, 2016
Well, the snow was a “nice” surprise. Soon the snow will melt and we can get back to gardening.
The snow did tell us something interesting about our region. The snow told us that you couldn’t rush spring. We had a spell of warm weather in March and people wanted to plant grass seed and to try and get a head start on planting. Yet it is 18 degrees as I write this column. I would hardly call that a normal temperature in April but it is not unheard of to be that cold in April. The temperatures will moderate and we will be back to trying to figure out when the weather will let us get out into the yard again.
As the snow came down on the weekend and on Monday, people were asking me what might happen to the pansies and the other flowers that they had planted. It is hard to say what the cold and snow will do to the plants. I have seen pansies buried under 16 inches of April snow and when the snow melts, the pansies spring back to life as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened. I have seen years where the daffodils are beginning to flower and they are hit with a snowstorm. The flowers get bent over by the snow, yet as the snow melts the flowers pick their heads back up and act as if nothing has happened. I think the key is to not force the flowers back up but rather to let the flowers thaw a bit and let them do their own thing. Only time will tell how the plants will do after this weather.
Once the snow goes away, you can get back to applying lime and fertilizer to your lawn. If crabgrass was an issue in your lawn last summer, you will need to apply what is known as a pre-emergent crabgrass seed control. The crabgrass plants die in the fall as the temperatures drop. However, before the plants die, they drop hundreds of seeds on the ground that begin to grow at about the same time the forsythia flowers begin to go by flower. If you control the seeds now, you will have few, if any crabgrass plants growing in your lawn this summer. There is both organic and chemical pre-emergent control that you can apply to your lawn. If you are going to apply grass seed to your lawn, you have to apply a very specific crabgrass control that won’t kill the grass seed too. Otherwise, you may have to wait up to 16 weeks before you can apply grass seed and not have the grass seed die.
There are always questions about when to fertilize the shrubs in your yard. If you have any of the spring flowering shrubs, they should be fertilized after they are done flowering. This would include rhododendrons and azaleas. Spring flowering shrubs can also be pruned back after they are done flowering. This will keep them smaller in size and will help them to put out more flower buds for next years flowers. If you prune these plants back in the late summer or fall, you are pruning out the flower buds that will give you flowers in 2017.
Well, that’s all for this week. I need to get the snow shovel out and do a bit of additional cleaning up of the driveway. And by the way, we still have some ice melter to sell if you are in the market for any to melt the frozen snow on your driveway!! The joy of an April snowstorm.
I’ll talk to you again next week.