Winter garden chores prepare plants, lawn for spring

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With the warm temperatures we had in December, many of our plants are out of sync and will bloom earlier. In addition, weeds will appear earlier. So, go ahead and order your garden seeds and flowers now to be ready for this coming spring.

It is also time to prune fruit trees by removing any broken limbs, limbs that cross through the middle of the plants, and water suckers (especially on pears). You can also prune muscadine grape vines now.

Start pruning crape myrtles as well, by removing very thin shoots first. Then, remove any limbs crossing through the middle of the plant.

Cut back main limbs by trimming the growth to look like fingers on the outside of the limbs. Do not cut back to knuckles, as this is the wrong way to prune crape myrtles.

Now is the time to prune off any limbs you were considering this past summer or fall on other trees. Just remember once you cut off the limb, you cannot reattach it. Start by removing smaller limbs first before cutting off the major limbs.

Apply pre-emergent products to your lawn to help control those winter weeds that have germinated (or are going to) along with early spring weeds. You have through late February to apply, but the earlier you apply the easier it is to remove those weeds before they become well established.

If you are having a lot of leaf drop, keep mowing the lawn at the normal height to remove the leaves. If they build up, they will keep the grass moist, which could start fungus in the lawns as they start to green up this spring.

Due to the recent warm temperatures, mole cricket activity is still being seen, so consider treating for these insects before they cause major damage to the grass and weaken it. That is how disease can get started easily.

If you have not limed your St. Augustine, Zoysia or Bermuda grass in the last year consider doing so now, with dolomitic lime. You can also lime flower beds, vegetable gardens and most shrub beds - except azaleas and camellias.

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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