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From The Ground Up

New Lawn Requires Proper Care To Thrive

By Pamela Redwine

The sense of accomplishment and pride from the time, money and energy spent establishing a new lawn for many homeowners is often lost within the first year of the lawns existence due to a few common mistakes made in the process from selecting the grass species to mowing and watering.

HORTICULTURE TIPS

Not all grasses meet all possible uses.  If you feel inept in selecting the best species for your site don’t hesitate in contacting an expert for advice.  Provide information such as geographic location, amount of shade, intended use of the lawn, and amount of maintenance input you plan to provide.  Don’t scrimp on costs of initial establishment.  The few dollars saved on inferior  sod or seed will usually cost you more in the long run.

Properly prepare the site before planting.  Take the time to have a soil analysis performed.  It is much easier and less costly to adjust soil pH and provide the proper nutrients to the soil before planting.  Site prep should include tillage and drainage considerations.

Select time of planting to optimize success.  Seed of warm season turf species  such as bermuda grass, centipede, carpet grass, etc. have the greatest chance of success when planted from spring to mid summer whereas cool season species such as fescue, ryegrass, and bluegrass need to be planted in the fall only and their use may often be considered as temporary lawns only for much of the deep south.  Most sod can be installed whenever it is available.

Maintain good cultural management practices.  It is critical to develop a sound lawn management regime to keep a newly established lawn healthy.  This should include infrequent but deep watering whenever needed, mowing often enough to never remove more than one-third of the total leaf blade at a single mowing, periodic fertilization to maintain healthy turf, and pests prevention.

Extension publication #1322 “Establish and Manage Your Home Lawn” is recommended reading and a free copy can be obtained from your local Extension Service office or downloaded from the web: www.MSUcares.com.

Don’t Forget The Roses

The disease-resistant “Knock-Out” roses have really spurred more interest in using roses in the landscape. There are many types of roses that are suitable for the home landscape. One of the best ways for the novice gardener to determine which roses will perform well in their garden is just to drive around the neighborhood and take note of the attractiveness and vigor of any roses you see—then “cultivate” a friendship with your neighbor to determine the name of the rose. Observing the performance of roses in public gardens or arboreta is helpful also as, most times, these plants are labeled.  Make a list of any roses, which are growing and flowering well in the southern heat. Then make a visit to your favorite nurseryman to get his advice and see if he routinely carries these roses, if not, maybe he would consider adding these to his stock for next year.

It is a good idea to keep roses well mulched – cuts down on maintenance like watering and weeding not to mention how attractive and neat it will make your roses look.  I use pine straw mainly because I have a large pine thicket on my property. When you can see bare ground around your plants it is time for more mulch. Be careful not to pile it around the crown or lower stems. Cankers and botrytis can occur when mulch covers the lower portion of the plant.

Spider mites and thrips can be a problem during July. Spider mite damage makes the leaves appear “silvery-gray.” Thrip in-fested blossoms will turn brown on the petal edges. Pull the blossom apart to check for these rod-shaped, small insects that will be feeding at the base of the petals. For control of these insects refer to publication P2369, “Insects Pests of Perennial Plants in the Home Landscape.”  Read and follow label directions.

Cool season vegetable seed are in the racks now at garden centers. Collards are notoriously tough plants and could be seeded in the garden now.  It is still a bit early to be planting turnip or mustard greens, but it is time to start cauliflower and broccoli in the cold frame or in flats  for later transplanting. Some of the quicker broccoli varieties will bear in October if seeded now. Cauliflower is a long season vegetable. Seeds planted now will bear for Thanksgiving.  Brussels sprouts take even longer than cauliflower. Brussels sprouts started now should be ready for Christmas.

Some varieties of South-ern peas will produce a second, smaller crop if the plants are cut at about six inches and additional fertilizer and water are applied. Be sure to turn in your Southern pea plants quickly after harvest is done if you are not going to encourage a second crop. The leaves are a good source of nutrients for the soil, but the stems lignify quickly and tend to clog the tillage equipment if left too long in the garden.

Temperatures are moderating slightly and some areas of the state are only experiencing highs in the ninety degree range. This is low enough to allow tomatoes to again set fruit. Observe the flowers closely and add a little extra fertilizer when you see new fruit appear.

Article Source: Horticulture Tips for July 25, 2011 Wayne Wells, Lelia Kelly, David Nagel

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