Saturday, May 18, 2024

Gardening with Dr. Joe White: Late Spring (April And May) Is A Great Period To Improve Your Landscape Appearance

by BPT Staff
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Lawns are in many respects much like a canvas for a picture. They serve as a background for all of the other plants whether they be flowers, shrubs or trees. This should be incentive enough to want to keep the lawn as attractive as you can. But lawns offer many other benefits. They absorb unwanted sounds, provide a nice surface for playing or relaxing, keep soil stains from ruining indoor carpets and just about eliminate soil erosion.

Dr. Joe W. White is a retired horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter.

Keeping a lawn well-groomed seems to be important to some home owners while others seem not to care about the appearance of their lawn and landscape. Those are the kinds that probably even gripe when they have to prune oversize shrubs that block a door or walk.

April and May (although April has already passed) is considered the optimum time in north Louisiana to do any needed yard work whether it is to establish a turf, renovate the grass or just simply routine maintenance. This is when grass makes its fastest growth thus enabling it to utilize any applied fertilizers. This is the time when several of the lawn herbicides can be used without harming the lawn to get rid of unwanted weeds. Later, when the weather gets really hot many of the herbicides cannot be used as they will harm the turf unless your grass is Bermuda or Zoysia. Be on the watch for some of the common turf diseases and treat with appropriate fungicides. Insects that damage turf grass may begin to appear so any sign of insect damage should be followed with treatment with an insecticide. But don’t look for Chinch bugs because they don’t usually arrive until the weather gets much hotter.

Although fertilizer gives optimum results when applied in mid-April, an application before the end of this month will still be beneficial. Do use recommended products. Do not apply a granular fertilizer to a damp turf or the fertilizer will stick to the grass and cause chemical burn. Applying just before an expected heavy rain is a common practice, but is risky if the forecast is wrong. A better method is to apply the fertilizer to a dry lawn and then turn on irrigation sprinklers at maximum capacity to wash the fertilizer to the base of the turf.

While irrigation may be needed under extreme weather conditions, slowly apply about one inch of water per week under average weather and double the amount if the drought is of long duration.

As some newer varieties of lawn grass may have been introduced since I retired, in addition to common Bermuda there is “Jackpot”, “Mirage” and “Mohawk”. For St. Augustine (no seed) you can establish your lawn with sprigs or some other vegetative part of the plant and possibly the best variety is “Palmetto”. However, “Delmar” and “Raleigh” are good. Three varieties of centipede to look for include “Oaklawn”, “Tennessee Hardy” and “Tennturf”.  Three varieties of zoysia are “El Toro”, “Palisades” and “Cavalier”.            

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