Western Mountains and High Plains

April, 2012
Regional Report

Fertilize Lawns Carefully

Avoid the urge to apply fast-release lawn food to your lawn. Pushing the grass to be the greenest in your neighborhood will predispose your lawn to certain leaf spot diseases. Additionally, the lawn will need to be watered earlier, mowed sooner and more often.

Start Tomatoes Indoors

Plant tomato seeds indoors using a good quality potting soil, not dirt from the yard. Moisten the potting mixture before planting, and set the seeds directly on top; then cover with 1/4- inch of vermiculite. This sterile material will help to prevent damping-off disease that often causes the collapse of the stems. Cover the container with clear plastic and set it in a warm spot, such as the top of the refrigerator.

Check Perennials as Growth Resumes

Begin to remove a little of the mulch in the perennial flower garden. Don't remove it all at once since this will expose the emerging foliage and flower buds to spring freeze damage. You can use a broom rake to pull away a little each week.

Briskly Rake the Lawn

If you're in the mood for lawn work, now is a good time to fluff the lawn with a broom rake. As lawns mat down over the winter, a lack of air circulation around the grass plants can lead to mold diseases. The bright sunshine has a powerful sterilizing effect, and fluffing the grass will add air and help prevent fungal lawn diseases.

Divide Old Perennials

Begin dividing clumps of late-flowering perennials that have new growth resuming. They will establish more rapidly now with minimal transplant shock. Hardy mums, fall asters, Shasta daises, and gaillardia are some good candidates for division and transplanting. Perennial flowers tend to get woody and produce fewer flowers with age, so dividing helps to rejuvenate the plants.

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