Warm winter weather lures gardeners to fix the yard

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Everybody is getting eager about getting going in the garden due to the warm weather we have been having. If you are getting the itch, look for geraniums, petunias, perennials and shrubs.

Now is a good time to plant new shrubs and perennials in the garden so they will have time to develop a root system before the summer heat comes.

At the same time, you are trying to fix gardens that might have changed due to Hurricane Matthew damaging trees and yards as they fell. If you are thinking through what you want, start with the basics like shrubs, trees, flowerbeds and then lawn.

The reason I say wait on the lawn is to allow the soil temperatures to rise a bit. This allows the sod to root in quickly. If sod is laid in cooler temps, it might just lay there without rooting in. If you have open lawn areas you want to repair, consider using some rye grass seed for a quick repair until the soil temperatures rise and then the sod can be added.

With Matthew and warm daytime temperatures, we have seen more grub and mole cricket activity in the lawn, so consider treating for these insects now to reduce the pressure on your lawn as it comes out this spring.

Another problem we have been seeing occasionally has been brown patch due to the warmer weather. So if you have been seeing brown circular spots appearing in the lawn, treat with a fungicide to reduce the disease problem.

We should also be treating for weeds at this time to get rid of any winter weeds that have germinated over the winter and some early spring weeds that might be germinating.

Last but not least is the severe pruning of shrubs that have over-grown the area they are planted in. This is where shrubs have over-grown windows, roofs and sidewalk areas, or a general overcrowding of shrubs in the landscape plan.

Start by cutting the plants back to 12 to 15 inches from the ground and allowing them to sprout again with new growth in about six weeks.

If you have junipers or boxwoods, do not prune them severely, as you could kill these plants. These plants you have to cut back slowly to getting them back in bounds.

It is also time to prune your roses back for the year.

Edward Poenicke is a retired Chatham County extension agent. This article is provided in collaboration with Lawn Doctor of Beaufort County.

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