Middle South

February, 2008
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

New Echinaceas
We've been seeing a flurry of new coneflower varieties, and this spring is no exception. Here are a few you may be seeing at garden centers and in catalogs. 'Pink Double Delight', with double pompon flowers, has a compact habit and multiple flowers per stem. The flowers on 'Coconut Lime', the first double, white coneflower, start out green; the outer petals turn white as they age. 'Avalanche' is a dwarf echinacea with white flowers. 'Elton Knight' is compact with large magenta flowers and petals that don't droop. You can view photos of these and other new plant introductions at: http://www.greenbeam.com/features/plantpav08.pdf

Clever Gardening Technique

Aerate Lawns Annually
Lawns growing on compacted soil often struggle. If your lawn gets lots of foot traffic or you have clay soil, it will likely benefit from regular aeration. Although often best done in fall, much of our region has been in a drought and dry soils are difficult, if not impossible, to aerate. Spring is the next best time. Wait until grass is up and growing -- cool-season grasses get going earlier than warm-season types. Use a lawn aerator that pulls out plugs of soil rather than using spikes. The holes allow nutrients and water to better penetrate to the grass roots, and the plugs left on the surface will quickly decompose. If soil is dry, water the lawn thoroughly the day before aerating. Spread a thin layer of compost over the lawn after aerating to provide slow-release nutrients.

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