Karen Cambre, Sharpe, Kenneth W.
News article for: April 1, 2019
Spring is a great time of the year. The world looks so fresh when the deciduous trees put on a new fresh set of light mint green leaves and new growth is everywhere.
This time of year also comes with a lot of chores to do for the long growing season ahead. By now many of the spring blooming ornamentals have finished their spring bloom and if pruning is necessary now would be the time. I am referring to plants such as azalea, spirea, lorepetalum, etc. These plants will set new flower buds in late spring to early summer and if you cut them after those buds form you will cut off next year’s flowers. Prune spring blooming ornamentals as soon after flowering as possible but at least by mid-May.
The rains of the last two years took a toll on my mature azaleas. Azaleas like well-drained areas and even though they have been there for the past 30 years, during this period of enormous amounts of rain I lost a lot of plants. I have seen the same thing everywhere I go. Plants will have whole branches just wilt and die. This is caused by root rots brought on by excessive moisture.
Pruning is not necessary if your plants are not growing outside of their intended space. If they have outgrown the area it becomes necessary to rein them back in. Fight the urge to box off plants by shearing the tops and sides. Instead go down into the plant and remove whole branches to reduce both height and width at the same time while keeping the natural form of the plant. In the case of die back, cut back to green tissue.
Once you have finished with pruning, mulch your beds with organic mulches like pine straw to reduce weeds. Add a general fertilizer like 8-8-8 at the rate of about ½ cup per square yard of bed area.
Fire ants have spread with all the rain and late April to May would be a good time to reduce those populations. If you want it to be easy, use one of the baits such as Extinguish, Extinguish Plus, Amdro, Esteem, Award and Distance. Apply baits to a dry lawn with 48 hours of dry weather in the forecast. These baits are usually applied at a rate of 1.5 pounds per acre so you can use a small hand held spreader. Ants will travel several hundred feet for food so you only have to apply strips every 25 feet or so to get good control. Be patient, it takes about 6 weeks to see the full effect of this treatment but it starts working right away.
Since the major portion of most landscapes is grass you should give your lawn grasses a spring fertilization. Apply a general fertilizer such as 8-8-8 at a rate of 6 pounds or 13-13-13 at the rate of 4 pounds per 1000 ft² in April to early May. This will keep your grass full and healthy, but is not overly aggressive so you have to cut too much grass.
Crape myrtles are very popular summer blooming trees. Lots of people have trouble making their trees bloom. Your first line of defense is spring fertilization. Poor fertility will decrease blooming so use an 8-8-8 fertilizer at a rate of about 2 pounds per total inches of diameter of the tree trunks measured at 4 feet of height. Next you want to control insects such as aphids and scales that cause sooty mold (black crusty material that grows on the leaves). In May use 4 parts of Acephate 75% WP insecticide and 1 part water to make a paste. Paint a band of this paste around each trunk of the tree, several inches above the soil line. Make the band twice the diameter of the trunk. This will protect all the tissue above the band until late July. Repeat in early August for full year control.
This will get you started on the right path to enjoying your lawn before it gets too hot to stay outside.