Beautification Committee

 

TIPS FOR GARDENERS:

 

MONTHLY GARDENING TIPS
OCEAN CITY BEAUTIFICATION COMMITTEE

January l February l March l April l May l June l July l August

September l October l November l December

 

JANUARY TIPS
by: Julie Golightly, CPH

Lawns

  • Hand pull winter annual weeds to keep them from going to seed in the spring
  • Avoid walking on frozen grass. This damages the crown of the grass plants
  • Do not leave excessive leaves on the lawn or grass will be damaged

Woody Ornamentals

  • Trees and shrubs can still be pruned. Do not prune spring flowering ornamentals unless you need to reduce the number of blooms or size of the shrub
  • January and February are the two most severe winter months for “winter burning” of evergreens. Protect by surrounding them with burlap windbreaks
  • Keep snow off of shrubs by gently sweeping in an upward motion
  • Winter burn is associated with dry soil. Expect some winter burning due to the dry summer and if plants were not properly watered during fall’s dry spells

Herbaceous Ornamental Plants

  • Prune out damaged leaves and inspect susceptible plants for scale problems. Scale can be controlled with a dormant oil spray as long as temperatures remain above freezing for 24 hours after spraying
  • Continue cutting back perennials to clean up garden beds, if desired

Pond/Water Gardens

  • Use a deicer to prevent solid ice formation on the pond. This allows for good gas and oxygen exchange between the air and water so fish stay alive over the winter

Soil, Mulch, and Compost

  • Now is still a good time to have soil tested
  • Keep all ice melting products and materials away from landscape plants. Builder’s or all purpose sand is a good alternative to improve traction
  • If you have not mulched your garden, apply mulch now to protect plant crowns and shallow root systems from severe cold weather injury
  • Compost pile microbes are greatly reduced, although still active. Continue to add to your compost pile. Keep large sticks, roots, and woody stems out since they take too long to breakdown and make turning difficult. Consider placing a tarp or lid over the pile to prevent water logging and nutrient leaching over the winter months

 

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FEBRUARY TIPS
by: Julie Golightly, CPH

Lawns

  • Over seed thin or bare areas in lawn from February through March. The freezing and thawing of the soil helps the seed get good soil contact. Snowfall over top of seed will not harm it

  • Keep ice melting products off of lawn to prevent damage
  • Avoid walking on frozen grass. This damages the crown of the grass plants

  • Check the pH of lawn soil and adjust if needed

Woody Ornamentals

  • Trees and shrubs can still be pruned. Do not prune spring flowering ornamentals unless you need to reduce the number of blooms or size of the shrub

  • When buds swell on spring flowering shrubs, harvest a few branches for indoor forcing

  • January and February are the two most severe winter months for “winter burning” of evergreens. Protect by surrounding them with burlap windbreaks

  • Keep snow off of shrubs by gently sweeping in an upward motion

  • Winter burn is associated with dry soil. Expect some winter burning due to the dry summer and if plants were not properly watered during fall’s dry spells

Herbaceous Ornamental Plants

  • Prune out damaged leaves and inspect susceptible plants for scale problems. Scale can be controlled with a dormant oil spray as long as temperatures remain above freezing for 24 hours after spraying

  • Continue cutting back perennials to clean up garden beds and remove debris

Pond/Water Gardens

  • Use a deicer to prevent solid ice formation on the pond. This allows for good gas and oxygen exchange between the air and water so fish stay alive over the winter

  • Do not feed fish until water temperature is at least 50 degrees. Their metabolism shuts down in cooler temperatures and food will not digest resulting in illness or death

Soil, Mulch, and Compost

  • Now is still a good time to have soil tested and amended

  • Keep all ice melting products and materials away from landscape plants. Builder’s or all purpose sand is a good alternative to improve traction

  • If you have not mulched your garden, apply mulch now to protect plant crowns and shallow root systems from severe cold weather injury

  • Compost pile microbes are greatly reduced, although still active. Continue to add to your compost pile. Keep large sticks, roots, and woody stems out since they take too long to breakdown and make turning difficult

 

Top

 

MARCH TIPS
by: Julie Golightly, CPH

Lawns

  • Now is the second best time to over seed lawns for repairs or to thicken

  • Check the pH of lawn soil and adjust if needed – pH should be in the 6.0 – 7.0 range to maintain healthy turf
  • If crabgrass was a problem last year, consider applying a pre-emergent herbicide in mid-March. If you are also re-seeding, be sure to select one labeled for use on new lawns, since pre-emergent herbicides kill growth sprouting from seed (including grass!). For chickweed, henbit and other broadleaf winter weeds, treat with an herbicide labeled for broadleaf weed control for lawns

  • Plan on treating your lawn right this year. Sharpen lawn mower blades and service your mower. Keep mowing height at 3-4 inches and if watering, do so deeply and less frequently. You want to build strong, deep roots. These practices will reduce weeds, reduce the need for extra fertilizers and will build a healthy stand of roots and turf. This will greatly reduce the amount of fertilizers and herbicides needed

Woody Ornamentals

  • Do not prune spring flowering shrubs or trees unless you are pruning for damage. Wait until after flowering to do ‘cosmetic’ or rejuvenating pruning

  • Non-flowering trees and shrubs can be pruned before new growth. Remove dead, broken, or diseased branches and make any necessary cosmetic cuts

  • Begin pruning roses in mid-March

  • Plan on proper planting and transplanting methods. Avoid working with wet soil and planting in compacted or poor soil. Purchase plants with healthy root systems and avoid planting too deep. Stake any newly planted trees only if winds and soft, saturated soils leave them tilting

  • Inspect for bagworms, and eggs of gypsy moths, Eastern tent caterpillars, and spider mites. If you notice infestations of scale insects on woody vegetation, treat with dormant horticultural oil. Spray only if temperatures are above 40degrees and temperatures remain above freezing for 24 hours

Herbaceous Ornamental Plants

  • Cut back perennials and ornamental grasses to clean gardens and reduce harboring diseases and insects. Pull weeds and apply 2-3 inches of mulch

  • Pansies are now becoming available in nurseries and are great for cool, wet spring conditions. Do not set out tender summer annuals until after the last frost

  • Summer annuals can be started indoors by seed this month. Check seeds for germination times, etc.

  • If you have unplanted spring bulbs that were stored in a cool place and are in good condition, plant them this month

Pond/Water Gardens

  • Begin cleaning out debris and leaves with a pond net to reduce algae problems

  • Do not feed fish until water temperature is at least 50. Their metabolism shuts down in cooler temperatures and food will not digest resulting in illness or death

Soil, Mulch, and Compost

  • Now is still a good time to have soil tested and amended. Only amend and incorporate materials when the soil is dry enough to work

  • Do not aerate, dig, or disturb soil when wet. This leads to greater compaction and doing so can result in long term damage of soil structure.

  • If you have not mulched your garden, apply mulch now to protect plant crowns and shallow root systems from severe cold weather injury

  • Avoid the use of excess fertilizers. Most plants get adequate nutrition from healthy soil rich with organic matter

  • Apply mulch at 2-3 inches and keep away from direct contact with shrub and tree trunks. Do not build mulch volcanoes around trees!

  • Mix or turn compost piles to speed decomposition. If your pile is overly wet, incorporate straw, leaves, or shredded newspaper. Compost piles should be at least one cubic yard to heat up properly

Vegetable and Herb Gardening

  • This is a good time to incorporate organic matter into your vegetable garden

  • Complete your garden plans and order seeds
  • Potatoes, onions, peas, leeks, beets, kale, and turnips can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked

  • Start other tender greens indoors and prepare to plant in 2-3 weeks

  • Herb seeds such as rosemary, thyme, sage, basil, lavender and tarragon can be started indoors in late March to be set outdoors in May

 

Top

 

APRIL TIPS
by: Julie Golightly, CPH

Lawns

  • Over seeding can still be done in April. Ensure good seed to soil contact and cover the area lightly with straw and water daily until germination.

  • It is not a good idea to fertilize cool season turf in the spring unless your turf is weak and thin or if you did not fertilize in the fall. Fertilizing in the spring encourages rapid and tender growth that is more susceptible to insect and disease attacks. Keeping the soil at a pH between 6.0 – 7.0 is important for healthy lawns.

  • Broadleaf weeds will begin to appear this month. For extensive weed populations apply an herbicide labeled for broadleaf weeds. Spot treatments of liquid herbicide are more effective and less environmentally harmful than dry broadcast herbicides.

  • Plan on treating your lawn right this year. Sharpen lawn mower blades and service your mower. Keep mowing height at 3-4 inches and if watering, do so deeply and less frequently. You want to build strong, deep roots. These practices will reduce weeds, reduce the need for extra fertilizers and will build a healthy stand of roots and turf. This will greatly reduce the amount of fertilizers and herbicides needed.

Woody Ornamentals

  • April is a good time to plant new or transplant existing trees and shrubs. Do not prune or top a newly planted tree!

  • Non-flowering trees and shrubs can be pruned before new growth. Remove dead, broken, or diseased branches and make any necessary cosmetic cuts. Prune out any winter burn damage from evergreens. It is not necessary to paint pruning wounds…dressings can impede the natural healing process.
  • Prune roses now. As they are budding you can easily determine dead vs. live wood. Roses should also be fertilized with a balanced fertilizer.

  • Plan on proper planting and transplanting methods. Avoid working with wet soil and planting in compacted or poor soil. Purchase plants with healthy root systems and avoid planting too deep. Stake any newly planted trees only if winds and soft, saturated soils leave them tilting.

  • Inspect for bagworms, and eggs of gypsy moths, Eastern tent caterpillars, spider mites, and aphids. If you notice infestations of scale insects on woody vegetation, treat with dormant horticultural oil. Spray only if temperatures are above 40degrees and temperatures remain above freezing for 24 hours.

Herbaceous Ornamental Plants

  • Most spring bulbs are now flowering. Remove spent blooms but do not remove the bulb foliage until it dies back naturally. The green leaves absorb nutrients for the bulb to store.

  • Continue to divide and transplant perennials.

  • Nurseries now have early emergent perennials in stock. These can safely be planted in April.

Pond/Water Gardens

  • As water temperatures warm up, algae will begin to grow. Make sure dead leaves and debris are cleaned out of pond to prevent excess algae growth.

  • Do not feed fish until water temperature is at least 50 degrees. Their metabolism shuts down in cooler temperatures and food will not digest resulting in illness or death.

  • Divide aquatic plants if necessary and replant.

Soil, Mulch, and Compost

  • Now is still a good time to have soil tested and amended. Only amend and incorporate materials when the soil is dry enough to work.

  • Do not aerate, dig, or disturb soil when wet. This leads to greater compaction and doing so can result in long term damage of soil structure.

  • If you have not mulched your garden, apply mulch now to protect plant crowns and shallow root systems from severe cold weather injury. Apply mulch at 2-3 inches and keep away from direct contact with shrub and tree trunks. Do not build mulch volcanoes around trees!

  • Avoid the use of excess fertilizers. Most plants get adequate nutrition from healthy soil rich with organic matter.

  • Mix or turn compost piles to speed decomposition. If your pile is overly wet, incorporate straw, leaves, or shredded newspaper. Compost piles should be at least one cubic yard to heat up properly.

Vegetable and Herb Gardening

  • This is a good time to incorporate organic matter into your vegetable garden.
  • Complete your garden plans and order seeds.

  • Cool weather greens and vegetables can be planted.

  • Herb seeds and summer vegetable seeds can be started indoors.

 

Top

 

MAY TIPS
by: Julie Golightly, CPH

Lawns

  • It is too late in the season to reseed your lawn. However, you can repair small bare spots if you are diligent about watering the young grass until well established

  • It is not a good idea to fertilize cool season turf in the spring unless your turf is weak and thin or if you did not fertilize in the fall. Fertilizing in the spring encourages rapid and tender growth that is more susceptible to insect and disease attacks. Keeping the soil at a pH between 6.0 – 7.0 is important for healthy lawns

  • Broadleaf weeds will begin to appear this month. For extensive weed populations apply an herbicide labeled for broadleaf weeds. Spot treatments of liquid herbicide are more effective and less environmentally harmful than dry broadcast herbicides

  • Plan on treating your lawn right this year. Sharpen lawn mower blades and service your mower. Keep mowing height at 3-4 inches and if watering, do so deeply and less frequently. You want to build strong, deep roots. These practices will reduce weeds, reduce the need for extra fertilizers and will build a healthy stand of roots and turf. This will greatly reduce the amount of fertilizers and herbicides needed

Woody Ornamentals

  • If your spring flowering shrubs are growing too large you can prune them after they bloom. Also, fertilize after blooming if needed

  • Non-flowering trees and shrubs can be pruned to remove dead, broken, or diseased branches. Prune out any winter burn damage from evergreens. It is not necessary to paint pruning wounds…dressings can impede the natural healing process

  • If your roses are prone to black spot, begin spraying with a fungicide when leaves are fully expanded. Knock out Roses are black spot disease resistant and ever blooming

  • Plan on proper planting and transplanting methods. Avoid working with wet soil and planting in compacted or poor soil. Purchase plants with healthy root systems and avoid planting too deep. Stake any newly planted trees only if winds and soft, saturated soils leave them tilting

  • Many insects can be observed now including mites, lace bugs, leafhoppers, scale, Eastern tent caterpillars, leaf miners, aphids, gypsy moths, sawflies, and cankerworms. Not all insects pose threat to ornamentals and do not require treatment where other insect infestations may require treatment of a horticultural oil or systemic insecticide. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service Office for tips to control insects and disease. They are an excellent resource!
    Diseases such as powdery mildew, blight, anthracnose and galls can also exist now. Again, contact you local Cooperative Extension Service for the best advice

Herbaceous Ornamental Plants

  • Begin planting summer annuals. Purchase those with a healthy root system and gently break up the roots of root bound plants and transplants. Summer bulbs can also be planted now

  • Continue to divide and transplant perennials. Nurseries now a plentiful selection of perennials in stock

  • Starter fertilizers can be applied to spring flowers. The fertilizer label will have three numbers. The middle number (phosphorus) should be the highest in order to build a healthy root system

  • Leave the foliage of spring bulbs alone until the top green growth dies back. The green foliage produces food for the bulb to store

Pond/Water Gardens

  • As water temperatures warm up, algae will rapidly begin to grow. Make sure dead leaves and debris are cleaned out of pond to prevent excess algae growth. Consider treatments of beneficial bacterial to reduce algae growth

  • Plant aquatic plants to cover 60% of the pond’s surface to also reduce algae growth

  • Do not feed fish until water temperature is at least 50. Their metabolism shuts down in cooler temperatures and food will not digest resulting in illness or death
  • Divide aquatic plants if necessary and replant

Soil, Mulch, and Compost

  • Do not aerate, dig, or disturb soil when wet. This leads to greater compaction and doing so can result in long term damage of soil structure.

  • If you have not mulched your garden, apply mulch now to protect plant crowns and shallow root systems from severe cold weather injury. Apply mulch at 2-3 inches and keep away from direct contact with shrub and tree trunks. Do not build mulch volcanoes around trees!
  • Avoid the use of excess fertilizers. Most plants get adequate nutrition from healthy soil rich with organic matter

  • Mix or turn compost piles to speed decomposition. If your pile is overly wet, incorporate straw, leaves, or shredded newspaper. Compost piles should be at least one cubic yard to heat up properly

Vegetable and Herb Gardening

  • Begin setting out transplants of warm season crops and prepare to cover if frost is expected. Plant after frost-free date

  • Pinch off flower blooms off of transplants so more energy can be directed to root development

  • Keep an eye on pests, insects, and diseases. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service for proper control methods

 

Top

 

JUNE TIPS
by: Julie Golightly, CPH

Lawns

  • Unless your lawn is irrigated, grass is growing at a slow rate this month due to the lack of rainwater. Still maintain a proper mowing height – 3”, which is important for its survival through the summer (and to prevent excess weed growth)

  • Keep mower blades sharpened. Dull blades tear grass and can lead to disease problems

  • Water lawns deeply and less frequently. You want to build strong, deep roots. These practices will reduce weeds, reduce the need for extra fertilizers and will build a healthy stand of roots and turf. This will greatly reduce the amount of fertilizers and herbicides needed

  • Many types of summer annual and perennial weeds are rapidly growing. They can easily be controlled by spot treatment of an herbicide labeled for broadleaf weeds
    Grubs are best controlled in July with acelepryn and imidicloprid. Only use these chemicals where grub populations exceed 6-8 grubs per square foot of soil and if they are killing your lawn

Woody Ornamentals

  • Keep newly planted shrubs and trees well watered this summer! Give the root ball a good soaking every few days and apply a 2-3” layer of mulch. Keep mulch away from the trunk or stem

  • Rhododendrons and azaleas can be fertilized at this time
  • Poison ivy is growing rapidly at this time. Spray with glyphosate or cut back stems and continue to do so to eradicate. Be careful with handling poison ivy!
    Healthy shrubs and trees can be planted throughout summer as long as proper care is given to provide sufficient water and care. A very common planting mistake is planting too deep. Plant the root ball at the same level as it is in its container and apply 2-3” mulch.

  • Many pests and diseases are very active now and can be observed including aphids, bagworms, lace bugs, mites, leafhoppers, scale, leaf miners, sawflies, and slugs. Not all pests pose threat to ornamentals and do not require treatment where other insect infestations may require treatment of a horticultural oil or systemic insecticide. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service Office for tips to control insects and disease. They are an excellent resource!

  • Diseases such as powdery mildew, blight, anthracnose and galls can also exist now. Again, contact you local Cooperative Extension Service for the best advice

Herbaceous Ornamental Plants

  • Cut back spring bulb foliage if it has died back. Keeping the green foliage is critical for nutrient absorption for the following year. Iris stalks can be cut to the ground when blooms are over

  • Practice proper weed control! Many weeds are flowering and setting seed. Pulling weeds will minimize future weed problems. Applications of glyphosate are also helpful

  • Pinch the flower buds of asters, mums, and other fall blooming perennials to keep the plants bushy and prevent early flowering

  • Pinch or cut back trailing annuals to prevent them from getting “leggy”
    Attract beneficial insects to your gardens by planting a wide variety of annuals and perennials that will bloom over the entire growing season.

  • Pests, insects, and diseases are prevalent now. Monitor vegetation for populations and new signs or symptoms of damage. Cultural and environmental factors cause many of the plant problems in home landscapes. Be sure to proper identify the source of the problem and carefully choose the correct practice for treating or controlling the problem. Your local Cooperative Extension Service can provide the proper advice and assistance

Pond/Water Gardens

  • As air and water temperatures continue to warm up, algae growth will also continue to increase. Planting aquatic plants to cover 60% of the pond’s surface to also reduce algae growth

  • If fish are present and algaecides are used, be careful to not kill the algae too quickly. Sudden decomposition of the algae can significantly lower oxygen levels and asphyxiate the fish. This also holds true of pond plant decomposition. Aerating the pond with a fountain or waterfall can help prevent this from happening

  • Now is a good time to divide crowded aquatic plants

Soil, Fertilizer, Mulch, and Compost

  • Adding organic matter like composted leaves, grass clippings, and manure will improve soil structure and attract earthworms (which are a sign of healthy soil)
    Now is a good time to have your soil tested if you have not done so for several years

  • Fertilize plants according to their specific needs and based on soil test recommendations. Trees are typically fertilized after they drop their leaves in the fall. Fescue lawns are best fertilized in the fall as well

  • Do not fertilize ornamental garden plants that appear healthy and productive. Over fertilizing produces weak growth and can encourage sucking insects like scale and aphids

  • Keep fertilizers off hard surfaces to prevent runoff in the Chesapeake Bay
    Make sure mulch is applied to protect plant crowns and shallow root systems. Apply at 2-3” and keep away from direct contact with shrub and tree trunks. Do not build mulch volcanoes around trees!

  • Mix or turn compost piles to speed decomposition. If your pile is overly wet, incorporate straw, leaves, or shredded newspaper. If it is dry, add enough water to just moisten. Compost piles should be at least one cubic yard to heat up properly and decompose plant material

  • Keep woody sticks, stems, and roots out of your compost since they take too long to breakdown and turn the compost pile

Vegetable and Herb Gardening

  • Control weeds by laying down newspaper with straw, mulch, or mulched leaves

  • Keep tomatoes and pole beans staked to provide proper support
    Cut back herbs as they begin to flower to keep plants bushy and productive

  • Keep vegetables and herbs well watered during dry weather
    Many pests, insects, and diseases are present now. Spinosad is an excellent organic insecticide for control of beetles, caterpillars, and leaf miners. Insecticidal soaps and oils will kill aphids, spider mites and whiteflies. Again, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service to provide proper control methods

 

Top

 

JULY TIPS
by: Julie Golightly, CPH

Lawns

  • Unless your lawn is irrigated, grass is growing at a slow rate this month due to the lack of rainwater. Maintaining a proper mowing height of 3-4 inches is critical during very hot and dry weather.
  • Keep mower blades sharpened. Dull blades tear grass and can lead to disease problems
  • With hot, dry weather, it is common for cool season lawns to brown and become dormant. No water is recommended unless lawns are newly sodded or seeded
    Water lawns deeply and less frequently. You want to build strong, deep roots. These practices will reduce weeds, reduce the need for extra fertilizers and will build a healthy stand of roots and turf. This will greatly reduce the amount of fertilizers and herbicides needed
  • Crabgrass is growing rapidly and can be controlled with a post emergent herbicide
    Grubs are best controlled in July with acelepryn and imidicloprid. Only use these chemicals where grub populations exceed 6-8 grubs per square foot of soil and if they are killing your lawn

Woody Ornamentals

  • Keep newly planted shrubs and trees well watered this summer! Give the root ball a good soaking every few days and apply a 2-3” layer of mulch. Keep mulch away from the trunk or stem
  • Corrective pruning can be done anytime to remove dead, damaged, crossing or low branches. Minimize aesthetic pruning since this will stimulate new late growth that may not be winter hardy
  • Poison ivy is growing rapidly at this time. Spray with glyphosate or cut back stems and continue to do so to eradicate. Be careful with handling poison ivy!
    Healthy shrubs and trees can be planted throughout summer as long as proper care is given to provide sufficient water and care. A very common planting mistake is planting too deep. Plant the root ball at the same level as it is in its container and apply 2-3” mulch.
  • Many pests and diseases are very active now and can be observed including aphids, bagworms, lace bugs, mites, leafhoppers, scale, leaf miners, sawflies, and slugs. Not all pests pose threat to ornamentals and do not require treatment where other insect infestations may require treatment of a horticultural oil or systemic insecticide. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service Office for tips to control insects and disease. They are an excellent resource!
  • Diseases such as powdery mildew, blight, anthracnose and galls can also exist now. Again, contact you local Cooperative Extension Service for the best advice

Herbaceous Ornamental Plants

  • Many perennials can be deadheaded or cut back to encourage a second blooming
    Deadhead spent flowers on annuals to encourage more vigorous growth and pinch or cut back trailing annuals to prevent them from getting “leggy”
  • Pinch the flower buds of asters, mums, and other fall blooming perennials to keep the plants bushy and prevent early flowering
  • Practice proper weed control! Many weeds are flowering and setting seed. Pulling weeds will minimize future weed problems. Applications of glyphosate are also helpful
  • Attract beneficial insects to your gardens by planting a wide variety of annuals and perennials that will bloom over the entire growing season.
  • Pests, insects, and diseases are prevalent now. Monitor vegetation for populations and new signs or symptoms of damage. Cultural and environmental factors cause many of the plant problems in home landscapes. Be sure to proper identify the source of the problem and carefully choose the correct practice for treating or controlling the problem. Your local Cooperative Extension Service can provide the proper advice and assistance

Pond/Water Gardens

  • As air and water temperatures continue to warm up, algae growth will also continue to increase. Planting aquatic plants to cover 60% of the pond’s surface to also reduce algae growth
  • If fish are present and algaecides are used, be careful to not kill the algae too quickly. Sudden decomposition of the algae can significantly lower oxygen levels and asphyxiate the fish. This also holds true of pond plant decomposition. Aerating the pond with a fountain or waterfall can help prevent this from happening
    Now is a good time to divide crowded aquatic plants

Soil, Fertilizer, Mulch, and Compost

  • Adding organic matter like composted leaves, grass clippings, and manure will improve soil structure and attract earthworms (which are a sign of healthy soil)
    Now is a good time to have your soil tested if you have not done so for several years
  • Fertilize plants according to their specific needs and based on soil test recommendations. Trees are typically fertilized after they drop their leaves in the fall. Fescue lawns are best fertilized in the fall as well.
  • Do not fertilize ornamental garden plants that appear healthy and productive. Over fertilizing produces weak growth and can encourage sucking insects like scale and aphids
  • Keep fertilizers off hard surfaces to prevent runoff in the Chesapeake Bay
    Make sure mulch is applied to protect plant crowns and shallow root systems. Apply at 2-3” and keep away from direct contact with shrub and tree trunks. Do not build mulch volcanoes around trees
  • Mix or turn compost piles to speed decomposition. If your pile is overly wet, incorporate straw, leaves, or shredded newspaper. If it is dry, add enough water to just moisten. Compost piles should be at least one cubic yard to heat up properly and decompose plant material
  • Keep woody sticks, stems, and roots out of your compost since they take too long to breakdown and turn the compost pile

Vegetable and Herb Gardening

  • Control weeds by laying down newspaper with straw, mulch, or mulched leaves
  • Keep tomatoes and pole beans staked to provide proper support
    Cut back herbs as they begin to flower to keep plants bushy and productive
  • Keep vegetables and herbs well watered during dry weather
    Fall vegetables can be started now. Late crops of squash, beans, and cucumbers can be direct sown through the end of July
  • Many pests, insects, and diseases are present now. Spinosad is an excellent organic insecticide for control of beetles, caterpillars, and leaf miners. Insecticidal soaps and oils will kill aphids, spider mites and whiteflies. Again, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service to provide proper control methods

 

Top

 

AUGUST TIPS
by: Julie Golightly, CPH

Lawns

  • Unless your lawn is irrigated, grass is growing at a slow rate this month due to the lack of rainwater. Maintaining a proper mowing height of 3-4 inches is critical during very hot and dry weather. High mowing is the best defense to help lawns survive drought and prevent broadleaf weeds. Leave clippings to decompose
  • Keep mower blades sharpened. Dull blades tear grass and can lead to disease problems
  • With hot, dry weather, it is common for cool season lawns to brown and become dormant. Grass will recover when rain returns. Mid-August through October is the best time to start new lawns or renovate and overseed existing ones
  • Water lawns deeply and less frequently. You want to build strong, deep roots. These practices will reduce weeds, reduce the need for extra fertilizers and will build a healthy stand of roots and turf. This will greatly reduce the amount of fertilizers and herbicides needed

Woody Ornamentals

  • Water deeply by allowing water to soak the soil directly underneath and around newly planted trees and shrubs. Break up any hard-crusted mulch to allow water to penetrate the soil
  • Corrective pruning can be done anytime to remove dead, damaged, crossing or low branches. Minimize aesthetic pruning since this will stimulate new late growth that may not be winter hardy
  • Poison ivy is growing rapidly at this time. Spray with glyphosate or cut back stems and continue to do so to eradicate. Be careful with handling poison ivy!
  • Healthy shrubs and trees can be planted throughout summer as long as proper care is given to provide sufficient water and care. A very common planting mistake is planting too deep. Plant the root ball at the same level as it is in its container and apply 2-3” mulch.
  • Many pests and diseases are very active now and can be observed including aphids, bagworms, lace bugs, mites, leafhoppers, scale, leaf miners, sawflies, and slugs. Not all pests pose threat to ornamentals and do not require treatment where other insect infestations may require treatment of a horticultural oil or systemic insecticide. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service Office for tips to control insects and disease. They are an excellent resource!
  • Diseases such as powdery mildew, blight, anthracnose and galls can also exist now. Again, contact you local Cooperative Extension Service for the best advice

Herbaceous Ornamental Plants

  • Many perennials can be deadheaded or cut back to encourage a second blooming
  • Deadhead spent flowers on annuals to encourage more vigorous growth and pinch or cut back trailing annuals to prevent them from getting “leggy”
  • Plant hardy mums for fall color so they will become well established before winter
  • Practice proper weed control! Many weeds are flowering and setting seed. Pulling weeds will minimize future weed problems. Applications of glyphosate are also helpful
  • Pests, insects, and diseases are prevalent now. Monitor vegetation for populations and new signs or symptoms of damage. Cultural and environmental factors cause many of the plant problems in home landscapes. Be sure to proper identify the source of the problem and carefully choose the correct practice for treating or controlling the problem. Your local Cooperative Extension Service can provide the proper advice and assistance

Pond/Water Gardens

  • As air and water temperatures continue to warm up, algae growth will also continue to increase. Planting aquatic plants to cover 60% of the pond’s surface to also reduce algae growth
  • If fish are present and algaecides are used, be careful to not kill the algae too quickly. Sudden decomposition of the algae can significantly lower oxygen levels and asphyxiate the fish. This also holds true of pond plant decomposition. Aerating the pond with a fountain or waterfall can help prevent this from happening
  • Now is a good time to divide crowded aquatic plants and clean out excessive plant growth in your pond. Also remove dead or diseased leaves.
  • Keep the water circulating during hot weather to increase the amount of oxygen available for fish

Soil, Fertilizer, Mulch, and Compost

  • Adding organic matter like composted leaves, grass clippings, and manure will improve soil structure and attract earthworms (which are a sign of healthy soil)
  • Now is a good time to have your soil tested if you have not done so for several years
  • Fertilize plants according to their specific needs and based on soil test recommendations. Trees are typically fertilized after they drop their leaves in the fall. Fescue lawns are best fertilized in the fall as well.
  • Do not fertilize ornamental garden plants that appear healthy and productive. Over fertilizing produces weak growth and can encourage sucking insects like scale and aphids
  • Keep fertilizers off hard surfaces to prevent runoff in the Chesapeake Bay
    Make sure mulch is applied to protect plant crowns and shallow root systems. Apply at 2-3” and keep away from direct contact with shrub and tree trunks. Do not build mulch volcanoes around trees
  • Mix or turn compost piles to speed decomposition. If your pile is overly wet, incorporate straw, leaves, or shredded newspaper. If it is dry, add enough water to just moisten. Compost piles should be at least one cubic yard to heat up properly and decompose plant material
  • Keep woody sticks, stems, and roots out of your compost since they take too long to breakdown and turn the compost pile

Vegetable and Herb Gardening

  • Control weeds by laying down newspaper with straw, mulch, or mulched leaves
  • Cut back herbs as they begin to flower to keep plants bushy and productive
  • Keep vegetables and herbs well watered during dry weather
    Knowing when to harvest your garden at its peak is important since many vegetables need to be cured or dried then stored under proper conditions
  • Excessive heating can cause softening of fruit, uneven ripening, sunscald and color changes. High temperatures can also prevent tomatoes, peppers and bean plants from forming fruits or pods. They should resume when cooler weather returns
  • Cool season vegetables can be started now. Late crops of squash, beans, and cucumbers can be direct sown through the end of July
    Many pests, insects, and diseases are present now. Spinosad is an excellent organic insecticide for control of beetles, caterpillars, and leaf miners. Insecticidal soaps and oils will kill aphids, spider mites and whiteflies. Again, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service to provide proper control methods

 

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SEPTEMBER TIPS
by: Julie Golightly, CPH

Lawns
Now is the time to renovate, reseed, fertilize and treat your lawn for weeds

Woody Ornamentals
Early fall is generally a good time to transplant trees and shrubs, with the exception of broadleaf evergreens
Continue spraying roses with a labeled fungicide if they are susceptible to black spot disease

Ornamental Plants
Plant hardy mums, pansies, and ornamental cabbage and kale so they will become well established prior to cool weather.
Plant, divide, and transplant perennials

Pond
Consider laying netting or a wire screen over your pond during the fall months to keep leaves out

Vegetable & Herb Gardening
Plant cool season vegetable crops
Sow cover crops of oats, winter rye, winter wheat, vetch, and crimson clover now through mid-October

Seasonal & Indoor Plants
Prepare houseplants to bring back inside by inspecting for disease and insect problems

Wildlife
If desired, leave seedheads of perennials for birds to feed on throughout fall and winter

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OCTOBER TIPS
by: Julie Golightly, CPH

Lawns

  • There is still time to renovate, reseed, fertilize and treat your lawn for weeds

  • Herbicides are effective now, but do not apply to newly reseeded areas

  • Shred fallen leaves with a mower and leave to decompose naturally

Woody Ornamentals

  • Early fall is generally a good time to transplant trees and shrubs, with the exception of broadleaf evergreens

  • Dormant oil can be applied if problems exist with scale insects
  • Wait to fertilize woody shrubs and trees until late October or early November

  • Prune tree and shrub branches only if dead or damaged

Ornamental Plants

  • Plant hardy mums, pansies, and ornamental cabbage and kale so they will become well established prior to cool weather.

  • Divide and transplant perennials
  • Now is the time to plant daffodil bulbs…tulips should be planted from mid-October through November

  • Early October is a good time to apply Glyphosate to hard to kill plants (phragmites, bamboo, multiflora rose) because this is when they are transporting food to the roots for winter dormancy

Pond

  • Consider laying netting or a wire screen over your pond during the fall months to keep leaves out

Vegetable & Herb Gardening

  • Sow cover crops of oats, winter rye, winter wheat, vetch, and crimson clover now through mid-October

Soil & Mulch

  • Bare soil is prone to erosion…cover with mulch, groundcover, or turf

  • Apply mulch at 2-3” deep. Keep away from shrub and tree trunks!

 

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NOVEMBER GARDENING TIPS
by: Julie Golightly, CPH

Lawns

  • Leaves that fall on the lawn can be shredded with a lawn mower and left to decompose naturally if less than 1” depth

  • Weeds can still be controlled if temperatures stay in the 60’s

Woody Ornamentals

  • Nursery stock (container or balled and burlapped) deciduous trees and shrubs can be planted until the ground freezes

  • Fertilize newly planted and young trees and shrubs

  • Prune trees and shrubs to remove dead and/or diseased branches and make any necessary cosmetic cuts. Wait until dormancy to perform corrective and other cosmetic pruning. Do not prune spring flowering shrubs!

Herbaceous Ornamental Plants

  • There is still time to plant spring flowering bulbs

  • Begin cutting back dead flower stalks to the ground to clean up gardens…or leave for birds and other wildlife to enjoy the seed heads

Pond/Water Gardens

  • Cut back any dead or decaying pond plants and remove leaves. Decomposing matter can produce harmful gases and deplete oxygen for pond fish

  • Stop feeding fish if water temperatures drop below 50º. Fish can not properly metabolize food at these temperatures and can hurt and/or kill fish

Vegetable and Herb Gardening

  • This is a good time to incorporate organic matter into your vegetable garden

  • Cool-season greens that have already germinated can be protected with a cold frame or floating row cover. Be sure to vent on sunny, warm days!

  • Root vegetables can be over-wintered by covering the plants with a deep straw or leaf mulch. Pull as needed

  • Herbs brought indoors should be placed in strong direct sunlight and kept away from drafts. Remove dead and weak herb plants from the garden. Store dried herbs in a cool, dark location

Soil, Mulch, and Water

  • Do not begin to mulch perennials until after the first hard freeze. This will help keep the soil cold to prevent freezing and thawing extremes that result in heaving
  • Keep transplants and newly planted trees, shrubs, and herbaceous ornamentals watered during dry periods until the ground freezes

 

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DECEMBER TIPS
by: Julie Golightly, CPH

Lawns

  • Lime can be applied as long as the ground is not frozen

  • Mow fallen leaves on turf areas to mulch. Leave in place if they do not exceed 1”. Otherwise, use in compost or to mulch garden beds

  • Be careful when using deicing products on sidewalks and driveways to keep them from getting onto the lawn, resulting in damage

Woody Ornamentals

  • Trees and shrubs can be pruned now to remove dead and diseased branches and to make cosmetic cuts

  • Evergreens can also be moderately pruned

  • Keep snow off of shrubs to prevent breakage

  • Trees and shrubs can be fertilized as long as the ground is not frozen

  • Nursery stock trees and shrubs can be safely planted until the ground freezes

  • It is too late to transplant trees and shrubs

Herbaceous Ornamental Plants

  • If desired, leave seed/flower heads on perennials to provide winter food for birds or begin cutting dead stems and stalks to the ground for aesthetic appeal and to prevent harboring of insects and disease

  • Lift tender perennial bulbs and tubers from ground and store in sawdust or potting mix in a cool, dry location

Pond/Water Gardens

  • Remove leaves and cover pond with screen or netting. Consider buying a deicer to keep an area of the pond from freezing to prevent buildup of gases and depletion of oxygen, which can kill fish

Soil, Mulch, Compost, and Water

  • Now is a good time to have your soil tested
  • Bare soil is prone to erosion and nutrient run off. Cover with mulch or groundcover

  • Do not turn over or dig into wet soil. This can cause long term damage to the soil structure

  • Newly planted trees, shrubs, and ornamentals still need regular water if it is dry. This is especially important for evergreens

  • The composting process slows down considerably when temperatures fall below 50º. However, continue turning compost pile and adding high nitrogen (green) and high carbon (brown) materials

 

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