Spring Has Arrived And With It Your Lawn And Garden Chores

March 24, 1991|By Deborah Toich | Deborah Toich,Staff writer

Get out your hoes, rakes, shovels and pruning shears. Spring is here and county gardens are ready to be worked.

The first task before you is aeration and dethatching, which should be done before lawns are treated with fertilizers and herbicides. Aeration will reduce soil compaction so that water and nutrients can penetrate the soil.

Thatching is a mechanical process that removes excess debris. Even homeowners who bag their grass clippings can't get them all. The clippings tend to settle into the grass near the soil and build up. They are slow to decompose.

Fertilizing on top of thatch will do no good because fertilizer won't penetrate below thatch. As a consequence, fertilizer runs off and eventually makes its way into the bay.

While thatching can be done by hand, Wentz Garden Center recommends renting a thatch machine to do the job.

Fertilizing is your next step in yard preparation. A wide variety of fertilizers are available, but Wentz Garden Center and Florist in Severna Park recommends that county residents use a 10-6-4 combination with 50 percent organic nitrogen.

The numbers in the fertilizer combinations represent percentages of nitrogen, potassium and potash per volume. Nitrogen helps theplants become green, potassium helps the plants' cells, and potash helps the plants to develop roots.

A pre-emergent herbicide should be applied to lawns before April 15, before crab grass has a chance to germinate. A post-emergent herbicide can be applied after April 15.This will take care of broad-leaf weeds such as dandelions.

Homeowners can use the same fertilizer for shrubs and flowers that they use on their grass.

Early April is a good time to seed lawns, so that seeds have a chance to germinate before the weather gets too hot. Wentz Garden Center recommends a turf-type tall fescues grass that hasbeen developed for the Maryland climate and is disease- and insect-resistant. They warn that bluegrass will go dormant in the hot Maryland summers. Bluegrass also is prone to develop more diseases and is not insect-resistant.

If you do seed your lawn, the only pre-emergent herbicide recommended by Wentz Garden Center is Tupersan, because other pre-emergents will inhibit germination.

Early spring is also a good time to trim all trees and shrubs, with the exception of azaleas and rhododendrons, which should be trimmed after its flowers are finished.

It is also an ideal time for transplanting old plants andplanting new plants that have been hardened by winter. You can plantnew shrubs, flowers and bushes as they become available at your local nursery. Fresh stocks are arriving that have been wintered-over andare safe to plant.

Finally, erosion is a problem that needs to be dealt with on an individual basis: How steep an embankment are you dealing with? What is the existing landscape? What is the rate of water flow going down the hill?

Timbers, rocks, good grasses and plants can be used to slow the water flow down a hill. Steep hills should be sodded, if you choose to use grass, because seeds will only be washed down. A very steep slope could use a combination of ground cover and rocks, or can be terraced and landscaped.

Check with your local nursery for advice on your particular problem slope.

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