It seems we’ve had rain for weeks now, but the calendar indicates that the spring season is coming soon. So, we gardeners need to start pruning crape myrtles, roses and overgrown shrubs.
By doing the pruning now, we set the plants up to swell the latent buds that are on the stems of the stems of the plants so they will break dormancy in about six weeks.
At the same time, if you have not yet applied lime to your St. Augustine or Bermuda lawns, do so now. Dolomitic lime needs to break down to affect the pH of the soil and give you maximum uptake of the fertilizer you will be applying later in the season.
Also apply the lime to flower beds, vegetable gardens and shrubbery – except azaleas and camellias.
Remove any leaves from the lawn by lawn mower, but do not drop the blade height, as this can put the grass under stress if we get cold temperatures. It would also allow weeds seeds an easier time to germinate as more sunlight reaches the ground.
You should be applying a herbicide to kill any winter weeds and give some early pre-season weed control. By applying weed control now, you put less strain on the grass before it breaks dormancy.
You can also plant shrubs at this time to get them ready to handle the summer heat, as they will be developing roots as long as the soil temperatures stay above 40 degrees.
This is the time to analyze which flowers did well in the garden this past year, and consider what you might also want to add.
We have had sufficient rainfall this winter, so keep your irrigation off for now. As long as we are getting a good rain every week or two, that is sufficient for this time of year.
When you do start watering this spring, it is better to water heavy and less often. If you have a clay-based soil, this might not be the best approach. On clay-based soils, it is better to water until run off. Let this soak in and then water again in a couple of hours.
A good rule of thumb for how often to water is: one time a week when we are in the 70s, two times per week when the temperature is in the 80s, and three times a week when it is in the 90s.
Some days, it feels like spring is already here, but it’s not. We will most likely have more cold weather – and probably a frost.
Edward Poenicke is a retired Chatham County extension agent. This article is provided in collaboration with Lawn Doctor of Beaufort County.