Gardening This Weekend: May 7, 2020

When I heard I’d be signing almost 3,000 books this week I knew it was a task too big for our dining room. We did 1,700 books in there last time around, and it was more than my poor wife could endure. So we struck a deal: If I’d agree to do my book signing on the front courtyard/driveway, she wouldn’t divorce me after 53 years. So my books and I have had a pleasant week outdoors beneath our big pecan trees signing away. And from that, I’ve struck up this list of things you might want to get done this upcoming weekend.

Two weeks ago I showcased my favorite flowering annuals, and last week my favorite foliar annuals. All of those remain high on my list of recommendations to plant now. Click back to see those two stories.
Perennials from quart and gallon containers, while nurseries have their very best supplies of the year. Do your homework ahead of time to know size, blooming times of each type that you choose. (The multi-page chart in my book would be a huge help in your planning.)
Trees, shrubs, vines and groundcovers now. Nurseries have outstanding selections and plants are growing vigorously. If you’re trying to avoid crowds, go in just as they open on weekdays.
New turf from sod, seed or sprigs. This is absolutely the best time of the year to start new lawns. Non-negotiable: rototill lightly and rake to a smooth grade.

Dead flower stalks from early spring perennials, but leave green foliage in place until it yellows and dies.
Mow lawn at recommended height. Common bermuda at 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inch. Hybrid bermuda heights will depend on the variety, generally 1/4- to 3/4-inch. You will need a reel mower in most cases. Zoysias at 2 to 2-1/2 inches. Buffalograss and fescue at 3 to 4 inches.

Annual flowers and vegetables with same type of fertilizer as for lawns on 3- or 4-week intervals. In almost all cases that will be a plant food having no phosphorus and with upwards of half of its nitrogen in high-quality, slow-release form.
Liquid or water-soluble, high-nitrogen fertilizer for patio containers and hanging baskets. Supplement with timed-released pellets.
Iron additive to correct deficiency (“chlorosis”) in acid-loving plants such as azaleas, gardenias, loropetalums, wisterias and many others. Iron quickly becomes insoluble in alkaline soils and alkaline irrigation water, so include sulfur soil acidifier. Repeat several times during the growing season. Keep iron products off concrete, brick and stone that could be stained.

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Chiggers! They will be in bermudagrass turf and especially in weeds, ditches and pastures. Reach in to pick ripe dewberries and you’ll come back with an armful of chiggers. (Personal experience.) I recommend spraying yourself with DEET repellent rather than trying to spray your entire lawn and landscape. That will stop mosquitoes and their diseases, too.
Poison ivy and other broadleafed (non-grassy) weeds with one of the many products containing 2,4-D. Let your nursery or hardware professional recommend one to you.
Italian cypress, Leyland cypress and Blue Point junipers are being ravaged by disease. Seridium canker is attacking the two cypresses and Phomopsis canker and Kabatina twig blight are attacking the juniper (see related story this issue). There is no control for any of them. Trim out the dead wood and try as much as you can to reshape the impacted plant. It will, however, be difficult.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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