Chickweed has to be pulled up by hand

BACKYARD Q&A

January 30, 2000

Q. I have a mat of chickweed and lots of little weeds with purple flowers in my garden. These weeds make it hard to plant seeds and transplants. What's the best way to get rid of these weeds?

A. Pull them up by hand on a mild day and compost them. These winter annuals will flower, produce seeds and die in late spring, so most gardeners forget about them until they reappear the next winter. The little weeds with purple flowers are henbit and dead nettle.

Q. We're planning to build a porch onto our house and will have to move some mature azaleas, boxwoods and a pyracantha. I was hoping to transplant them this spring. What can I do to ensure survival?

A. March is an excellent time to move woody plants. They are still dormant and won't be shocked by the move, and their roots will soon begin to grow into the new soil. Do not cut these plants back. They will need all their leaves to make food to produce new feeder roots. Take a soil test of the new site immediately and amend the soil as needed.

The site should be well-drained, of course. Choose a mild, overcast day for transplanting. Dig up as much of the root mass as possible, and quickly re-plant into the new site. Gently tamp down the soil around the roots. Water deeply and then keep the root zone moist throughout the spring and summer to ensure establishment.

Garden tips are provided by the Home and Garden Information Center of the Maryland Cooperative Extension. Call the center at 800-342-2507, or visit its Web site at www.agnr.umd.edu/users/hgic.

THIS WEEK'S CHECKLIST

1. Do not apply fresh manure or fertilizer of any kind on frozen ground. Lime, however, can be applied during the winter months, according to soil test recommendations.

2. Store bird feed in sealed metal containers to prevent rodent and squirrel feeding. Squirrels can chew through plastic lids.

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