Spring Gardening Tips

Fertilizing - All plants need food or fertilization. The best time to apply fertilizers is during the initial growing season in March or early April.

Shrubs - Generally shrubs do not require more than 1/4 lb. (1/2 cup) of a complete and balanced fertilizer, such as 8-8-8 formula, per square yard of bed area. Distribute the fertilizer evenly around the plants and water. Do not allow raw fertilizer to stick to stems or leaves. Burning may result.

Roses - Roses should have about 1/4 lb. (1/2 cup) of a complete and balanced fertilizer per plant. Evenly distribute the fertilizer around the plant. Do not let it touch the stems or canes of the rose plants.

Lawns - If you did not fertilize in late February, apply 20 lbs. of a complete and balanced fertilizer (8-8-8) per 1,000 square feet of lawn area. Apply when the grass is dry, distribute equally over the lawn area, and water in or off the grass to prevent burning. Plan to apply nitrogen fertilizers in mid or late May.

Pruning - Prune summer flowering shrubs and evergreen shrubs in March or early April. Spring flowering shrubs such as spiraea (bridal wreath), forsythia, and flowering guince should be pruned after flowering in late March and early April, depending on weather conditions. Always preserve the natural form of a plant when pruning. Thin out from the center rather than shearing the plant which destroys its form.

Weed Control - The healthiest lawn and garden can begin to look bad if weeds are allowed to take over.

Turf Weeds - Herbicides can control weeds in your turf. Chemicals that are useful are 2-4D blends, Asulox, Simazine, Atrazine, and Basagran. Be sure to follow label rates and warnings.

Broadleaf Weeds - Use selective postemergence formulations which contain two or more herbicides to control broadleaf weeds. Formulations of 2-4D are available for most southern grasses. Some examples are Green Light Wipe Out, Broadleaf Weed Killer, Spectrum 33 Plus, Trimec, Fertilome Weed Out, and Weed-B-Gone. Most labels will stress use on younger weeds growing in the cooler mid-to-late spring. A temporary discoloration of the lawn may occur. A second application three weeks later is often needed on pesky species.

House Plants - After months of confinement in areas that are not usually favorable for plant growth, move your house plants to porches, beneath large shade trees or other outdoor areas where more favorable conditions are present.
Sink pots in beds if possible to conserve moisture over the summer.
Most house plants are very tender, so avoid placing them in areas where they get full sunlight or heavy winds. Scorching will result.
April is the ideal month to repot house plants. A good soil mixture is five parts garden loam soil, four parts peat moss or leaf mold, and one part builder's or sharp sand. If the plant is outgrowing its present container, repot it to a pot that is at least one size larger than its present container.

Care of New Plantings - This a critical period for any new plantings. With a little extra attention in the initial stages, plants can thrive.

Moisture - Water thoroughly weekly rather than giving more frequent sprinklings.

Mulch - A 4"-6" mulch of compost, pine needles, leaves, bagasse or other organic matter will reduce the frequency of watering considerably.

Levee - A small levee around the base of trees, shrubs, and new plantings will form a reservoir for water and will prevent excessive runoff.

Mower Settings - Cutting heights are important for healthy grass. Choose the higher cut for grass in the shade. Always cut grass to the the proper height.
Common Bermuda - 1"- 1½"
Hybrid Bermuda - ¾"- 1"
Zoysia - 1"- 2"
Centipede/Carpet - 1¼"- 2"
Tall Fescue - 3"
St. Augustine - 2½"- 3"

Vegetable Gardening - April is a great month to plant snap beans, butter beans, collards, cucumbers, eggplants, cantaloupes, okra, southern field peas, peanuts, pumpkins, winter squash, summer squash, sweet corn, sweet potatoes (late April), tomato transplants, pepper transplants, and watermelons.
May is a great month to plant sweet potato transplants, heat tolerant tomatoes, okra, southern peas, pumpkins, peanuts, sweet corn, collards, watermelons, cucumbers, butter beans, squash, cantaloupe, and eggplant transplants.

Landscape Gardening - Bedding Plants
Begin setting out bedding plants after danger of frost is over.
Prepare a good soil mixture before planting. A well drained soil with a high humus content is best for bedding plants.
For best growth, cultivate often, keeping out grasses and weeds which use up the moisture and available nutrients from the plants.