Coastal and Tropical South

March, 2013
Regional Report

Check for Thatch in Lawns

If your lawn grass doesn't perform well, despite all your best efforts, look beneath the blades. Healthy sod arises from a layer of thatch no more than about 3/4-inch deep. This thin layer insulates the soil, cushions the grass from foot traffic, and reduces water loss from the soil. Any deeper and the thatch can interfere with the health of the grass. Overwatering, over fertilizing, and infrequent mowing contribute to excessive thatch development.

Handle Herbs Wisely

Garden beds can host parsley, rosemary, and basil, but trailing rosemary and dwarf basil grow faster in pots. Grow chives in plastic pots and clip their flowers to control spreading, but use clay pots for thyme, oregano, and sage. Leaves will be cleaner and thunderstorm protection easier to provide.

Toss the Tulips

Spent tulips make great compost since their chances of reblooming are slim. However, Valentine gift pots of narcissus, daffodils, and hyacinths usually naturalize in our gardens and return to bloom each year. Cut old flower stems down, trim the leaves back by half, and plant outside. Fertilize annually in June.

Prune for New Growth

Whether you prune each year or suddenly have the itch, evergreens need attention now. You can clip lightly to shape, pull out the hedge shears and even up a row of shrubs, or prune harder to rejuvenate spindly and overgrown evergreens. Keep in mind, however, that many evergreens will not break new buds on old wood. To avoid leaving stubs, don't cut back branches past sections with foliage or else remove the entire branch back to a living side branch or the trunk.

Make Less Shade

If you want flowers but have mostly shade, let light in under the canopy by removing tree limbs up to six feet. The top growth of mature trees can be thinned to allow dappled sun onto flowering groundcovers, bulbs, and annuals below, but this is a job best left to a professional arborist.

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