41March 28, 2019

The weather starts to warm up, and then it drops back down. If it weren’t for the persistent wind, we would probably love being outside. If you live along the coast, the summer sea breeze is wonderful. As for the rest of the year, the wind off the ocean is not, as they say, a day at the beach.

Every year about this time, people tend to worry because the tulip and daffodil bulbs are beginning to put up shoots. People worry that the cold temperatures will kill off the growth that is coming above the ground. If you think about it for a moment, most of your daffodils and some of your tulips will flower in mid- to late April. If these bulbs don’t begin to put up growth now, they won’t be flowering at the proper time.

The growth that you see coming up now is usually leaf growth. The leaves are extremely cold-tolerant. As the temperatures slowly warm during the day, the bulbs will continue to put up new growth and they will eventually flower on schedule.

If you want to worry about the bulbs, then hope that we don’t have a wet and pasty snow just as the flowers begin to open. So for all of you who want to cover up the new growth emerging from your bulbs, just leave them alone. There is no need to cover the growth with mulch or topsoil.

Speaking of mulch, over the past week, I have had a few people ask about applying mulch to their shrub beds. The job of mulch is to hold in moisture and to keep the soil temperatures from fluctuating up and down. At this time of the year, the soil is still cold and, in some cases, frozen. You need to let the soil thaw out and the soil warm up a bit before you apply a new layer of mulch.

I know that all of us want to get out into the yard and do some work. However, applying mulch to the flowerbeds or around the trees and shrubs is one of those things that you need to postpone for a few more weeks.

I received a couple of questions this week, so let me try to answer those questions.

Howard asked about how to keep the squirrels from digging up his lawn to get at the acorns that they buried in the fall. That can be a tough one to stop. The acorns get buried in the fall so that there is some food for the squirrels to eat in the spring.

There are animal repellents that you could apply on top of the lawn that may keep the squirrels from digging. Most of the repellents have a fragrance that the squirrels find offensive. Many of the repellents are based on the oils of various herbs. We don’t mind the smell, but the animals don’t like the smell.

If that doesn’t work, then you could supply the squirrels with an alternate food source, but that can just lead to an increase in the squirrel population. In time, when more natural food sources become available, the squirrels should stop digging up the acorns.

Another reader from Methuen had a question about grassy weeds growing in mulched areas and using a pre-emergent weed control. When it comes to grassy weeds growing in the yard, there are both annual and perennial grassy weeds.

The annual weeds sprout in the spring from seeds that were dropped by the weeds in the fall before the frost killed the weeds. If you apply a pre-emergent weed control, it will kill the seed before the seed can grow into a grassy weed in 2019.

The harder thing to control is the perennial grassy weeds. They emerge each spring for their root system. Just like the perennials in your flower beds, the weeds come back year after year. The only way to control these weeds is to pull them up or spray them with a weedkiller. In most cases, if you pull them up and leave part of the root system behind, they will regrow from the roots left behind. If you need to use a weedkiller, you need to find one that will kill grassy weeds.

Most of the weedkillers that control grassy weed can also kill the desirable plants in your yard if you get the spray on those plants. As you may guess, you have to be extremely careful to not contact the desirable plants.

You can apply a pre-emergent spray or granules in April to see if that kills the weed seed, but ultimately, you may have a lot of work to do to control those perennial grassy weeds.

Just remember that you need to read the label directions on either the pre-emergent or grassy weedkiller. If you don’t apply them properly, you may wind up damaging the plants in your yard.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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