Coastal and Tropical South

June, 2010
Regional Report

Lawn spurge

Summer lawn weeds can be tenacious, usually because the lawn beneath is less than healthy. Do what you must to knock down weeds like spurge, then remove their remains, improve the soil, and seed or sprig to fill in the gaps left in the lawn. Give the new sprouts the water they need to keep growing, and fertilize when seedlings are 3 inches tall or when new leaves appear on the the sprigs or plugs. Take care in mowing around the new grass.

Algae in ponds

When algae builds up, your pond or water feature is not healthy. There are three steps to take to remedy the situation. First, physically remove the algae with a rubber rake or other device. Second, fill its space with floating plants to cover at least two-thirds of the surface. Visit your local garden center or take a local pond tour for suggestions. Third, investigate organic ways to control algae, including innovative treatments using barley in liquid or floating bales.

Sad shrubs

Azaleas can develop yellowing between the veins of their leaves in summer. The problem is called iron chlorosis and is most often attributed to iron deficiency. But the iron may simply be unavailable in soils lacking organic matter and beneficial microbes. When the pH goes much above the acid range, azalea cannot absorb iron. Apply iron to the soil or leaves as a short term relief, but acidify the soil for long term solution. Start by working some compost into the soil around each plant twice a year.

Don't move

Our usual rule is this: Unless a tree presents an immediate hazard to people or structures, wait until fall or winter to dig it up and move it. And if that is your plan, begin now to prepare the tree for the inevitable shock. Forgo fertilizing this summer, prune as needed to encourage compact growth, and water regularly. However, if any tree or branch could fall in a high wind and damage your property or a neighbor's or fall into a street now is the time to remove it.

Oleander redo

Prune these durable shrubs in between flushes of bloom if they have lost leaves, gotten spindly, or grown more upright than desired. Cut back each stem by up to one third to stimulate new growth, work compost into the soil around each one, and fertilize with a flowering shrub formula. All parts of the oleander are poisonous and prunings should be immediately removed from the garden.

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