53 April 7, 2010

The weather has hit an early warm period. Let’s hope this bodes well for the future.

In the last few days, the forsythia bushes have come into bloom. With the warm temperatures, they may not stay in flower long. As the forsythia goes by flower, the crabgrass seed that over-wintered on your lawn will begin to germinate. This means that it will be time to apply a pre-emergent crabgrass control to your lawn to kill that over-wintered crabgrass seed. Keep in mind that if you sowed grass seed last fall or if you plan to seed your lawn this spring, you must not use the commonly available crabgrass preventer. This type of control contains an herbicide that will kill the grass seed and can kill any of the newly seeded areas from last fall. You will need to use a crabgrass control that contains Siduron. The chemical is more expensive, but if you use a conventional control, you will have to wait 14 weeks before you can seed. With a Siduron product, you can sow grass seed immediately.

There is also an organic crabgrass control that you can use. It is called corn gluten. This is a by-product of the processing of corn. It will control any germinating seed for about 4 weeks. As with the chemical crabgrass control methods, the timing of the application should be around the time the forsythia is done blooming.

Unlike broadleaf weed control methods, crabgrass control methods need to be watered to release the active ingredient.

Many of you spent this past weekend planting pansies in your window boxes and flowerbeds. Keep in mind that pansies will continue to flower if you deadhead the old flowers. Deadheading is the removal of the old flowers. You should remove the flower and its stem. By removing the old flowers, you will be encouraging new flowers to form. For continued flower production, you should also fertilize pansies on a regular schedule. If you apply a water-soluble fertilizer with a 20-20-20 analysis every 10 to 14 days, your pansies should last well into June.

We have received our first of many shipments of trees and shrubs. A question that always comes up this time of the year concerns the temperature. Some people will ask if it is too cold to plant or if cold night time temperatures will kill newly-planted trees and shrubs. Most plants will thrive if planted early in the season. The cooler days allow the plants to get a root system out into the soil. If nighttime temperatures get into the lower 20’s some new leaf growth may be nipped. However, new growth will appear again. All in all, April is a good month for planting trees and shrubs.

If you haven’t gotten around to removing the winter mulch from around your rose bushes, do so ASAP. Rose bushes are beginning to put out new growth. Rose bushes should also be fertilized at this time of the year. You should also be applying fertilizer to your summer flowering shrubs too. Spring flowering shrubs, such as forsythia, rhododendrons, azalea, andromeda,and mountain laurel should be fertilized after they are done flowering. Once these shrubs are done flowering is also the correct time of the year to be pruning back these spring flowering shrubs.

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

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54 March 31, 2010

Well, it seems that we have run out of the month of March. We had record amounts of rainfall, and a very warm month. Hopefully, April will be better.

I have received a couple of questions from readers and the questions are very timely.

Chris had asked if there was a general calendar for lawn care in this area. The answer really has to do with the weather early in the season and later in the season; you can actually follow the dates on the calendar.

Early in the season, the weather will determine how your lawn responds. The soil needs to warm up before the lawn will begin to grow. I have seen years when early April will warm up enough that you can begin to fertilize the lawn. I have also seen years when it is early May before you can begin to fertilize the lawn. What you are looking for is blades of grass beginning to actively grow before you put fertilizer on your lawn.

As a rule of thumb, if you are using a 4-step program, the first step is usually a lawn fertilizer plus pre-emergent crabgrass control. This product is applied when the forsythia bushes are beginning to go by flower. The reason for this is that the crabgrass seed sprouts at about the same soil temperature that causes the forsythia to go by flower. As far as the calendar goes, this could be anywhere between April 10th to May 15th. It just depends on the weather.

The second application usually contains a weed killer. This product is applied when the weeds are actively growing. Again this could be anytime from late April to late May. The last 2 applications pretty much follow the calendar. You need to fertilize again about the first of September. This helps the lawn to recover from the heat of the summer. The 4th step is applied around mid-October. This helps the lawn to develop a stronger root system.

Lime is usually applied to the lawn in the spring or the fall. A ph test will tell you how much lime you need to apply.

This is a rough schedule for you to follow, Chris. If you have any more questions, please stop by the store.

Ian has a question about moss in the lawn. He has tried unsuccessfully to control the moss and to get the grass to grow in a shady lawn area. He was wondering if applying Round-Up would kill all the weeds and the moss and its spores and if it would be worthwhile to start the lawn all over again.

Moss needs acid soil to grow properly. It also needs shady conditions. It also needs a constantly damp soil. If you have 2 or more of these conditions in your yard moss will grow. From the e-mail I received, it would appear that Ian has many trees that shade the lawn. Those trees compete for food and water and they also help to make the soil acidic. It also sounds like there is a drainage problem or at the very least, the soil is hard packed. With all of these factors, it is no wonder that he cannot get the moss under control and to get the grass established.

First off, Round Up will not kill the moss or the spores. It will kill the weeds. What you need to do is to apply a moss killer to get the moss under control. You will then need to dig up the lawn area and add enough organic matter to improve the drainage and to provide a suitable growing medium for the roots of the grass. You then need to apply lime to the soil. At his point you can seed the lawn and you should have better luck at growing a lawn. You will have to do soil tests each year to test the acidity level of the soil. This will tell you how much lime to apply each year. The trees will also be robbing the soil of many nutrients. You will need to fertilize 5 to 6 times a year in the areas around the root zone of the trees. This will keep the grass growing.

If you have any more questions, Ian, please stop by the store.

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

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