Spring Gardening for Zone 6 in the Southern US
Spring cleaning for the yard and garden
Make your hard work count this spring.
Spring is here and with it comes the opportunity to get outdoors and tackle those chores that have been waiting for you all winter. If you´ve lost plants or shrubs during the winter, now is the time to add new plantings. If you want to redesign plantings, the spring is the best time to put your new garden plans into action. The following spring checklist should help.
- Mid- to late March is the time to scalp or dethatch warm season lawns. This practice should be done only if there is a thatch problem. Yearly practice of these methods without reason can cause potential stress to a lawn. Otherwise mow at 1.5 inches for zoysia or 0.75 inches for hybrid Bermuda through May. Mow fescue at 2 to 2.5 inches.
- Apply pre-emergent herbicides to lawns prior to the middle of March to prevent unwanted warm season weeds like crabgrass.
- March is a good month to overseed cool season turf grasses.
- Apply fertilizer to cool season lawn grasses like fescue or rye according to soil test recommendations.
- Remove winter weeds in annual beds.
- Prune roses and dwarf crape myrtles this month even though foliage has started to grow.
- Prune spring flowering plants (i.e., forsythia, dogwood, redbud, etc.) immediately following their bloom period.
- Avoid removing foliage from spring flowering bulbs. Foliage should be allowed to die naturally since it nourishes the bulb for the next year´s growth and flowers. Tying the foliage in a knot keeps it more attractive until it dies.
- Spray susceptible trees for foliar diseases during bud swell, when leaves are half-grown, and again at maturity according to label directions.
- Start spraying pine trees for foliar diseases when their buds or "candles" start to grow. (For example, tip blight on Mugho pines.) Repeat sprays according to label directions.
- Apply pre-emergent to shrub and perennial beds.
- Treat trees prone to fireblight when leaves first begin to emerge.
- Remove winter mulch from perennial and rose beds. Divide and replant overcrowded perennials.
- Control Eastern tent caterpillars as soon as they appear (as wild cherry leaves break bud); it is best to spray in early morning before they leave their tents.
- This is a good time to replace dead trees and shrubs.
- Prevent cedar-apple rust infestations on crabapple trees with a fungicide as soon as orange jelly galls emerge on cedar trees.
- Proper watering of newly planted trees and shrubs often means the difference between success and replacement.
- Check plants for powdery mildew and other foliage diseases during heavy spring rains.
- Fertilize warm season grasses according to soil test results.
- Prune out winter damage on shrubs. Prune spring flowering plants as soon as they are finished blooming.
- Continue spray schedule for disease prone trees and pines.
- Lace bugs, aphids, spider mites, bagworms, etc., may start popping up in the landscape. Keep an eye on all plants.
- Fertilize any early-blooming azaleas or rhododendrons after bloom.
- Apply Di-syston granules to any barberries with a history of damage by barberry looper.
- Deadhead spring bulbs as needed, but leave the foliage alone.
- Begine prepping any annual beds that do not have pansies.
- Fertilize bulb plants that are not in pansy beds as soon as they finish blooming.
- Start roses preventative spray program to control black spot and powdery mildew. Other plants may need a preventative program also (e.g., crape myrtles and phlox).
- Thin perennials and shrubs susceptible to powdery mildew to encourage air circulation (or thin neighboring plants).
- Plant summer bulbs such as cannas, dahlias, elephant ears, caladiums, and gladiolus.
- Bagworms will be emerging soon on arborvitae, junipers, and various other plants. Treat when they are small. Untreated plants can be killed.
- Insect problems begin to climb as temperatures rise. Look for aphids, lace bugs, spider mites, webworks, elm leaf beetles, etc. Scouting frequently is the key to control.
- Check and spray the underside of leaves where insects hide.
- Shake a leaf over white paper to look for spider mites. If the tiny specks begin to crawl, mites are present.
- Late May is the best time to control borers. Check for label recommendations and controls. (Especially susceptible to borers are dogwoods, birches, and flowering cherries and plums. Spray the dogwoods.)
- Continue applications of fungicide for pine diseases according to label directions.
- If watering is needed, water deeply.
- Prune and fertilize azaleas immediately after blooming according to azalea fertilization schedule. Use Miracid or dry food.
- Fertilize perennials during the first part of May.
- Bermuda grass mowing height should be set a t 0.75 to 1 inch. Zoysia should be mowed at 1.5 inches. Fescue should be mowed at 2 to 2.5 inches. Never remove more than 1/3 of the grass height at one time.
- Apply pre-emergent to shrub and perennial beds.
- Spot spray lawns as needed for weed grasses.
- Begin pinching mums for compact growth.
- Pull pansies and plant summer annuals.
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