May is a month when most gardeners are busy planting and maintaining plants in the landscape.
The following are tips gardeners should keep in mind when caring for their lawn and garden.
Letting a young lawn grow too tall and then cutting it back to the recommended height is detrimental.
Such extreme leaf removal stops the flow of food to the roots, weakens the plants and opens the lawn to diseases. Never let it grow so tall that you have to cut off more than one third of the grass blade.
Lightly sidedress perennials, including spring bulbs, with 10-10-10 fertilizer. Be careful to avoid the center or crown of the plant.
If you love to garden, but don’t have a lot of time, choose plants that are easy to maintain. Plants that do not need “deadheading” include begonia, impatiens, coleus, alyssum, ageratum, lobelia, vinca and salvia.
Caladiums need generous amounts of water and fertilizer to encourage continuous production of leaves during the summer.
Apply a light, side dressing of 5-10-5 fertilizer every two weeks and water thoroughly to encourage bright-colored foliage.
Pinch back annuals when they are 4 to 6 inches high to promote busy growth. Some that require pinching are zinnias, petunias and salvia.
Impatiens are the most satisfactory annual for use in shady areas. Begonias, coleus, ageratum, salvia and vinca prefer light shade (five to six hours of sunlight).
Prune rhododendrons immediately after flowering. Old cluster should be snapped off when partly dry, but remove with care in order to not decrease or prevent bloom next year.
Poison ivy is dangerous all year round. You can get an irritation from the leaves, roots, berries and even smoke from burning the vines. Learn to know the leaves so you can guard against it.
If you think you may have come in contact with it, wash immediately with soap and water and remove any clothes that may have the oil on them. Prevention is the best medicine.
Plant ground covers under shade trees that don’t allow enough sunlight to sustain grass. English ivy and liriope are two ground cover plants that grow well in shade.
Remember English ivy may spread into unintended areas.
For more information, contact the Dawson County Extension at (706) 265-2442.
Clark Beusse is the Dawson County extension agent.