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‘Full steam ahead‘ for Turfgrass
Now is the time to get started on the warm season grass activities (e.g. Bermuda, centipede, zoysia and St. Augustine).
Seed, sprig, plug or plant rolls of sod now and throughout the summer in the Cape Fear region of North Carolina.
Fertilize, water, mow low and let it grow. Centipede is the exception to the typical lime and fertilizer suggestions, since centipedegrass prefers acid soils and fertilizing just once in early June.
You can aerify and dethatch warm seasoned grasses, if needed, to overcome compaction and thatch problems. One other overlooked task is to identify grass types in your lawn and what weeds you have and implement an eradication program before the weeds take over.
Other chores for May
Inspect vegetables, fruits and landscape plants for the following insect problems: aphids, caterpillars, lace bug, leaf miner, mites, scales, stem borers, weevils and whitefly.
Also, inspect for disease problems such phomopsis die-back and phytophthora root rot for landscape plants and other stem and root rots in the vegetable garden.
Shield your plants from contact herbicides as you spray.
Leaf gall attacks azaleas and camellias at this time of year. Sprays would have helped this situation if only they had been sprayed when the new leaves came out in April.
At this late stage of development, handpick and remove the infected leaves from the area.
Powdery mildew may be a problem as the season progresses. It is most likely to be found on crape myrtle and euonymus. This fungal disease may be controlled by spraying Banner or Bayleton, according to label directions.
Disease prevention is important for people who are trying to limit their chemical spray controls. Avoid watering late in the day or at night. Wet foliage at night will enhance the development of diseases.
Cool season vegetables will be finishing up and double cropping this garden space will increase your garden productivity. Now is the time to plant warm season vegetables (melons, peppers, squash, cucumbers, snap beans, and okra).
Now is also a good time to plant annuals and summer bulbs, such as caladiums, cannas, dahlias and gladiolus.
If April has been too dry in your location, then make sure you are tending to the watering needs of your plants as the weather warms. We are still many inches below normal rainfall for the past 12 months.
Light to heavy pruning may be done at this time for most landscape plants, but have a good reason in mind for when you prune and what you hope to achieve with the cuts that you make (e.g. crossing branches, rubbing branches, girdling roots, storm damaged parts, diseased limbs, etc.). Remember the 4D’s: dead, diseased, dying or damaged tissue may be pruned at any time.
Mulching provides more than 15 benefits to the garden and to the environment and this month is still a good time to keep weeds in check and to conserve moisture by applying mulch to areas in the garden and around the landscape. How many benefits can you name?
What to prune: Prune deciduous spring flowering shrubs after flowers fade; quince, spirea and forsythia all flower on old growth. Heavy pruning and rejuvenation pruning of summer blooming shrubs can be done now.
What to fertilize: Typically it is best to fertilize most ornamental plants around April 15. You may apply bulb fertilizers according to label directions after bulbs emerge. If you have not already fertilized, do so now at your earliest convenience.
Pest outlook: Check for tea scale on camellias; scale on euonymous and spider mites on juniper. Spray roses for black spot every 7-10 days.
To control sooty mold, scale, mealybugs and spider mites, use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Always check label recommendations. We already have reports of Japanese beetles beginning to feed on crape myrtles.
Applications of Merit should already be down for the roots to take up to control spring and early summer pests.
Lawn care: Irrigating during warm, dry and windy weather with low relative humidity levels will prevent turf grasses from dehydrating.
Do not irrigate every day. Over-watering can lead to many different problems. Mow your lawn as the grass begins to green-up. You will need to follow any water restriction codes for your area set by local authorities.