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April Landscapes – At Home? Lets Get it Done!


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Are you stuck at home? Let's go get in the garden!

The current COVID-19 crisis has kept many people at home. Some people are finding unique and productive ways of spending their time at home. Of course, one of those ways is gardening. And why not? Its great therapy, its still cool outside and its productive time spent!

This is April and there is so much to do this month! Spring is officially here and everything is either blooming or greening up outside. What an exciting time! The kids are home, why not get them involved and make it fun for everyone? Spring is a great time to plant a tree!



Spring Flowers
Spring flowers – now is the time to plant your spring flowers (annuals). If you’re looking for a quick splash, look for Petunias, particularly Wave Petunias. Most Petunias will die off when the heat of summer arrives, however. For spring flowers that will last the whole summer, look at both Periwinkles (Vinca) or Begonias. Great blooming power. Great staying power. Great bang for the buck in both cases.

Don’t be afraid to use perennials in your landscape. Some plants, such as Homestead Verbena, for example, are listed as perennials but don’t necessarily perform like a perennial and instead die during the winter. I easily overlook this hiccup. Verbena can sometimes have trouble with our winters, when they’re cold. So I just treat them as annuals. And why not? They give you a great payback. Plant a 1-gallon specimen and it will easily quadruple in size in no time! 

Another perennial, Stella Del Oro Day Lillies, will give you faithful blooming all summer long. So many perennials don’t offer that.

Remember, preparation is the key to success in the gardening world. Your flowers will only be as good as your preparation is. You want to use all organic planting mix or a combination with compost. Once they’ve become established in early May, give them a mild feeding before the brunt of summer sets in.

If you’ve planted flowers in pots, know that these will go dry so much faster than those planted in the ground. They must be watered more frequently than what you’re watering in the beds.



Time to Fertilize!
I’ve warned you to hold off on the lawn fertilizer, despite the sometimes spring-like weather in the past month or so. Now, you can fertilize!

Make sure you understand what type of grass you have before you purchase your fertilizer or weed/feed. In Texas, you’ll likely have either Bermuda, St Augustine or Zoysia turf. It is important to know the difference. Remember, all fertilizer features a three-number combination which tells you the chemical combination ratio for that product. For example, Fertilome makes a St Augustine Weed/Feed that is a 16-0-5 combination . These numbers are important with regard to the type of grass you have.

Why is it important? St Augustine and Zoysia, for example, cannot withstand the same fertilizer Bermuda will require. St Augustine and Zoysia like a nitrogen (the first number in our fertilizer combo) level to be around 16 to 19. Anything stronger than that and you risk burning up the turf and causing stress, which leads to other problems.

Bermuda, meanwhile, likes a fertilizer with a nitrogen level from 27 to 34. This level will create a very thick and healthy Bermuda turf.

Remember to check your product’s labeling for information regarding the correct spreader ratio for that product. This is important. Putting too much down can damage the lawn.

For St Augustine and Zoysia turf, I recommend Fertilome’s St Augustine Weed/Feed product. It’s not expensive. It produces great results. It has high grade of atrazine (weed killer component) and nitrogen (growth component) and it is slow release over 90 days. The product is made especially for St Augustine or Zoysia turf.

On the Bermuda side, the best retail option I think is Scott’s Turfbuilder. I like the original version, without the insect/fungus/weed killing features. It’s a very smooth grade of nitrogen that is time-released for 90 days. Bermuda loves it, and its especially made for Bermuda.

If you have a lawn that has Bermuda mixed with St Augustine, go with the St Augustine product. It will still provide very positive results.

Remember, once you apply, water it in immediately!

The Fertilizer - Pre Emergent combo doesn’t make sense
I am often asked about products and my preferences when it comes to brands. Recently, I’ve received the same question by lots of folks who have inquired about the combination of weed preventer (pre emergent) with fertilizer in a granular form that has been on the market for the last couple of years.

Several name brands are marketing this same product. You’ll find them at the big box stores and the hardware stores where these products are sold.

My thoughts? I think it’s always wise to put more pre emergent down, however, its particularly effective when put down at certain times of the year. Preferably before the periods where weed seed germination takes place, typically February, August/September, and November. 

Its really a bad idea to put any type of fertilizer down in the month of February. We always want to wait until April 1 or later so we can be somewhat sure the cold weather is behind us.

Since you want your pre emergent down in late January/early February, it wouldn’t make much sense to include it with your April feeding. The two products, pre emergent (preventer) and fertilizer, are needed in different months. 

Some other pointers for this month

1. Right now, Indian Hawthorns are blooming all over the state. I probably don’t have to say this, but, wait until the blooming is completed before trimming them.

2. The general rule in the tree trimming business is you don’t trim Oaks between March and June. This is because this is the most active pollination period for Oak Wilt. Creating cut wounds on Oaks now would expose them to the possibility and risk of contracting Oak Wilt. This is relative to all types of Oaks.

3. You can still trim Roses, its cool enough that they will rebound and produce grow-back before the heat of the summer arrives.


(Mark’s column each month is sponsored by Stagecoach Trailers, Inc., of Naples, Texas. Find them at www.stagecoachtrailers.com)


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Given the sudden cool down plus all the rain we've had, conditions have become favorable for lawn fungus. We're seeing it in the Metroplex right now.

Be on the lookout for dying grass in your lawn. Fungus will usually be in a circular shape in the lawn. It starts small and slowly grows larger.

The remedy is a fungicide, preferably liquid, to be applied to the area and also a 1-ft perimeter around it. If you buy a retail fungicide, you may have to treat twice, a week or so apart.

If you're not sure, you're welcome to post pictures here or send them to me via email at greenthumbtx@verizon.net

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