Spring time is here, and now is the time to start thinking about our lawn and gardens. Here's hoping that some of the following will be of benefit to you.
Lawn & Garden Dates
APRIL IS NATIONAL LAWN AND GARDEN MONTH.
APRIL IS KEEP AMERICA BEAUTIFUL MONTH.
Let's make the theme for this year’s National Garden Month “Give a Garden –– Add Beauty To Life”, it embodies the core message that plants have the power to change our lives.
It is our desire that through National Garden Month, that residents will enliven, invigorate, renew and sustain the essential connection between people, plants, and the environment. “Give a Garden- Add Beauty to Life” is not just another platitude; it is a call to action that recognizes those elements in life that are fundamental and vital to well being.
The Give a Garden campaign speaks on many levels: It is the simple and therapeutic pleasure of working in one’s own garden and sharing one’s bounty with a friend, neighbor, or someone in need. It is the basic role gardening plays in serving as a nutritious basis for healthy living. It is our ability to pass this message on for the benefit of future generations; that plants and gardening reach back to the fundamentals of life.
Flower's of the Month
Daisies are an easy to grow perennial that brightens the flower garden and is great for indoor vases and arrangements. While there are dozens of varieties, the most popular are the Shasta Daisy and African Daisies. Daisies are among the most popular of flowers of both gardeners. And they are perfect for beginning gardeners and those whose thumb is not too green!
Daisies seldom are bothered by insects and disease. Generally, these plants do not need insecticides or fungicides. On rare occasion where insects or disease are a problem, treat them with an insecticidal soap and /or fungicide at the earliest sign of trouble.
Sweet Peas are fragrant and have an old-fashioned charm! They were brought to the New World from Europe. There are annual and perennial varieties in a range of colors including blue, white, pink, cream, and purple flowers. They can be grown in your flower garden, or scattered as a wildflower.
Sweet Peas are a hardy annual and thrive in cool weather. They can survive frosts, freezes, and a snow cover. That's how their cousin the vegetable "Snow peas" got their name. There are vining and non-vining varieties producing an early bloom in cool weather. Non-vining varieties will grow 1-2 feet tall, while vining types can grow 5-7 feet or more.
Did you know? There are over 1,000 varieties of Sweet Pea.
Lawn & Garden Tips
It is important to get the growing season off on the right foot, and a lawn that is well-fed will be better prepared to handle drought, insects, diseases and other causes of lawn stress. Apply a complete fertilizer, like 15-0-15 or 16-4-9.
Apply a lawn insect killer for grub and mole cricket control.
Thatch-prone lawns of zoysia grass or St. Augustine grass should be dethatched anytime between now through May.
If you stored your lawn furniture for the winter, now is a good time to bring it our of storage and clean it up for use this spring.
Check your irrigation systems. Summer is coming and you will need to start watering if you haven't already. Make sure emitters on drip systems are dripping, spray heads in lawns cover their assigned areas and misters in your greenhouse are not clogged. Clean filters on water lines if you have them.
As winter-blooming plants finish their show, thin them back and remove all the old flowers. This is the time to do your major pruning on these plants. Clean up and prune plants that have finished blooming.
Get all the weeds out now. Don't let them go to flower and then seed. If you get them early you will have that many less next year. Use a mulch on the surface of bare soil to keep the new weeds from getting a grip.
Plant impatiens, sweet alyssum, geraniums, lobelia and any other summer-flowering plants in your beds. Remember that dollar for dollar for a month of color in the shade, impatiens are still the best plants to have.
Thin back shrubs rather than hedging them back. Take the longest stem and cut it back to the next lateral branch going the direction you want it to go. Then take the next longest stem and repeat. Keep doing this until the plant is under control.
Wisteria is blooming now. Cut off flowers as they finish their bloom and you will prolong the blooming cycle. Remove tendrils that distract from the flower show and keep the plant in bounds.
As you are reading this there are snails moving toward your precious plants. Take a moment to go out and foil their onslaught. You have much more education than they do and besides that, you can move faster. Pick them up and give them flying lessons. They never seem to learn.
Have another garden party. You have worked hard, and whatever your reason to get out into the garden this is a good month to do it. Invite a few friends and enjoy the spring.
Lawn & Garden Recycling Tips
RECYLING IN YOUR LAWN AND GARDEN:
It’s economical, efficient, and environmentally friendly to recycle leaves, grass clippings and yard trimmings. By recycling yard debris, you’ll gain free mulch and return valuable nutrients to the soil.
Create and maintain a compost pile with yard waste, turning it into rich soil for both indoor and outdoor plants..
Recycle grass clippings by leaving them on the lawn.
Keep a 2-3 inch layer of mulch over the roots of trees and shrubs and in bed plants. Remember to leave at least 2 inches of space between the mulch and plant trunks or stems.
Use organic mulch, such as bark or pine straw.
Replenish mulch once or twice a year, as needed, to mantain a 2-3 inch depth.
Use fallen leaves and pine needles as mulch under trees and shrubs. They make an attractive, natural mulch and they’re free.
Create self-mulching areas under trees where leaves can stay where they fall.
The following article was prepared by the Clemson Extension Center:
Growing Grass in Shade
One of the most common problems the homeowner must face is growing lawn grass in the shade. There are not many solutions to the problems associated with growing turf in the shade, but guidelines have been set that may make this more manageable.
If an area gets less than 4 hours of sunlight per day, it is too shady for lawn grass to grow well. The lack of sufficient light reaching the grass causes a reduction in photosynthesis, which is the process that produces energy for growth. As a result, the plant has lower tolerance to heat, cold, disease, drought and wear stress..
Competition with trees and shrubs for limited nutrients and water also reduces vigor, as many shrubs and trees will have root growth in the same area as the turf roots. Disease problems are often more severe in shade due to higher humidity, reduced air circulation and prolonged periods of dew on turf. As a result of all the factors mentioned, turf grown in the shade often shows a steady decline in density over a period of years.
Some measures can be taken to reduce the problems associated with shade. These include plant selection, management of ornamentals and modifications of normal turf management practices.
Certain lawn grasses perform better in shade than others. Of the cool-season lawn grasses, fine fescues are more tolerant of shade than tall fescues. St. Augustine exhibits the best tolerance to shade of all the warm-season lawn grasses. Recommended St. Augustine cultivars for the coastal and midland areas include Raleigh, Palmetto, Delmar and Jade. Bitterblue and Seville are less tolerant of cold but grow well in coastal areas. Zoysia is more tolerant to light or moderate shade than centipede, but neither will survive heavy shade. Zoysia cultivars that have good tolerance to shade include El Toro, Diamond, Belaire and Cavalier. Meyer and Emerald have fair tolerance. Bermuda exhibits extremely poor tolerance to any amount of shade.
It is important to remember that fine and tall fescue lawn grasses are suited to the Upstate, while St. Augustine, Zoysia, Centipede and Bermuda are suited to the Midlands and Coastal Plains. And while some lawn grasses may be more shade-tolerant than others, all lawn grasses prefer sunny locations.
When establishing cool-season lawn grasses, it is best to seed or sod early enough in the fall so there is sufficient time for the turf to mature before leaves cover the ground. During the fall remove leaves by raking, blowing or bagging when mowing to prevent smothering of the turf. Lawn grass will grow long after deciduous trees have dropped their leaves. If lawn grass cannot be seeded by mid-September it would be preferable to wait until spring to avoid the leaf problem.
Ideally the mowing height should be one-half to 1 inch higher than normal. Turf growing in shade needs a large leaf surface to take advantage of what light does filter through the leaves. Mow on a regular schedule, never removing more than one-third of the leaf area at one time. It is also important to remove clippings to prevent further reduction of light to the turf.
Lawn grasses growing in heavily shaded areas require only one-half to two-thirds as much nitrogen as lawn grasses growing in full sun. Reducing the amount of nitrogen to grasses growing in the shade reduces the incidence of disease. Fertilize shady locations at the same time as turf grown in the sun. For maximum tolerance to disease and environmental stress, maintain the soil pH, potassium and phosphorus levels as recommended by soil tests.
The frequency and quantity of water needed for shady areas is less than that required for sunny areas. Water infrequently but deeply, and only when absolutely necessary. Light, infrequent watering encourages shallow roots, and increases disease problems associated with turf growth in shade.
Most of the same disease problems exist in both shady and sunny areas. Those diseases associated with high moisture and/or high humidity may be more serious in shady areas because air movement is reduced and surface moisture remains longer. Good cultivar selection and good management practices should reduce the severity of these diseases.
Ornamentals that have dense canopies and shallow roots normally result in failure of turfgrass stands even if proper management practices are used. When possible, select trees and shrubs that are deep-rooted and have relatively open canopies. Some species that generally cause fewer problems include sycamores, many oaks and most elms. Undesirable species include ash, willow, poplar and some species of maples.
Some measures can be taken to aid turf survival, whether desirable or undesirable ornamentals are present. Selectively prune branches, particularly low branches, to aid in air movement and light penetration. Ideally, the lowest branches of trees should be over 6 feet above the soil surface. Remove any unnecessary trees and shrubs. Use recommended species and sufficient spacing between plants when placing new plants.
Consider other alternatives if quality turf cannot be maintained, even after following sound management practices and using recommended species and varieties. Two options you may consider are: (1) Removing ornamentals; (2) Planting an appropriate groundcover such as English ivy, ajuga, liriope and pachysandra in place of lawn grass.