“A gush of bird song, a patter of dew, A cloud and a rainbow’s warning;
Suddenly sunshine and perfect blue, An April day in the morning!”
Harriet Prescott Spofford

The spring-like weather is inviting us to get out there and start digging around in the soil. Below is a listing of timely tasks to consider for your garden and landscape.

• Have your soil tested! If you have not had a soil test done for your landscape, then it is difficult to properly manage it. Simply stated – unless you know what you are working with and what the plants’ needs are, you truly do not know how much fertilizer and nutrients to apply. It is recommended that soil tests be repeated every three years.

• If you are battling weeds, avoid use of a combination weed and feed product especially around trees, shrubs and other broadleaf perennials. It is possible for the herbicide to be taken up by your ornamentals and cause damage or death of the plant.

• Use caution in planting tender annuals or tropicals too early. Ideally, the night time temperature should be consistently at 65 degrees Fahrenheit to lessen susceptibility to disease and pest problems.

• Wait a few weeks before you start your fertilizer management for your turfgrass. After complete green-up of your lawn, apply high Nitrogen or an all-Nitrogen fertilizer. Half of your Nitrogen should be in a slow-release form.

• Replenish your mulch in the bedding areas. In addition to helping add that finished look to your landscape, mulch helps to protect roots from extreme temperature changes, helps to prevent weed germination and lessens the evaporative loss of water from the soil. Although available at our local garden centers, you can also get mulch from the City of Abilene’s Environmental Recycling Center and it’s free.

• If you have pecan trees in your landscape and are managing these trees for maximum nut production, begin your fertilizer program with a high-Nitrogen fertilizer such as 21-0-0 or 33-0-0. Don’t forget that Zinc foliar applications will help with growth of healthy leaves and should be applied every two weeks once leaflets are about two inches in length up to mid-August.

• Save those Easter Lilies! Remove any spent blooms but do not cut back the green foliage. Plant in a well-drained bedding area that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. Allow the foliage to remain until the plant goes dormant in the late summer or early fall. Removing the foliage too soon reduces the food storage available for the bulb to re-bloom next year. Once the foliage is yellowing, then it can be cut or mowed. You will enjoy these again next spring.

• Be careful not to seed or sod warm-season turfgrasses such as St. Augustine and Bermuda too early. Night time temperatures above 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit will improve the establishment rate.

• Pruning of oak trees is not recommended at this time of year. Oak Wilt is an infectious disease caused by the fungus, Ceratocystis fagacearum, which invades and disables the water-conducting system in susceptible oak trees. Unless it is absolutely needed due to damage from limb breakage, pruning should be postponed until the coldest temperatures during our winter months. For oak trees that must be pruned, the equipment should be sanitized using a 10% bleach solution before cuts are made and also sanitized immediately after use and, before moving to another tree. All wounds and pruning cuts should be sealed using a pruning paint.

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