September Garden Tips

September days are here, with summer’s best of weather and autumn’s best of cheer.
~ Helen Hunt Jackson

In the Flower Garden

Pansies planted this month will stay in bloom until the ground freezes. Mulch them for winter protection and these hardy pansies will be back in flower when the warm days of spring return. They are great companions for spring-flowering bulbs.

Plant frost-hardy plants like garden mums, asters, flowering kale, flowering cabbage, and pansies as you remove tender annuals from beds and borders. Mums are a great value for the spectacular show of color they provide.

For fun try taking cuttings of your favorite geraniums before first frost. Dip these cuttings in a rooting hormone and place in good, lightweight soil. Water in well, but let soil go fairly dry between waterings. 

When digging up your cannas, dahlias, and gladioli, use a felt tipped pen to write on the bulbs what color each bulb is so that you will be able to identify which is which in the spring. Store these and other tender bulbs in moistened vermiculite or peat moss in a cool area and protect them from freezing over the winter.

Bulbs

The best selection of bulbs is now. Don’t forget bulb food or super phosphate when planting your tulips, daffodils, crocus and other spring-flowering bulbs. Plant colchicum and fall-blooming crocus now which will bloom for you this fall. 

The easiest way to plant bulbs at the proper depth is with a bulb planter or an auger which attaches to your electric drill. When planting bulbs the pointed end of the bulb is positioned upward.

Plant bulbs under groundcovers like thyme or veronica for a great combination of flowers and backdrop. This is a low maintenance technique for combining plants for a succession of color. 

Plant small, early-flowering bulbs where they can be seen from indoors, since they bloom when it is usually too cold to enjoy them outside. 

Perennials & Roses

September is an excellent time for planting perennials! The temperatures are cooling down and the soil is still warm, which allows rooting to take place. Plant your perennials at the same time you plant bulbs. You’ll be able to place perennial plants between your
bulb groupings for color from spring to fall. 

Divide peonies and daylilies at this time of year. Stop in for a care sheet for instructions for both of these beautiful perennials. Remove any foliage with fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and rust. Discard in the trash. Cleaning up now will help prevent a recurrence of the problem next year. 

September Lawn Care

Lawns grow best in spring and fall. They will benefit greatly from two more feedings. Fertilize your lawn with Green Thumb Lawn Fertilizer by mid September. Green Thumb Winterizer should be applied in mid October. Your lawn will be nice and green in the spring.

Bindweed, dandelion, and other perennial weeds will be moving food reserves down to their roots now. This is a great time to use Weed Free Zone to kill these invasive weeds, roots and all. 

Core aerate your lawn in mid to late September, so that winter moisture can soak in. 

September is an excellent time to seed your lawn. Cooler temperatures mean less stress on you and your lawn. 

Trees & Shrubs

September is a great time to plant trees, shrubs, and vines. The soil is still warm
and good for root development and to get the plant established. Water in well
and cover with mulch to retain moisture.

Be sure to pay extra attention to the watering needs
throughout the fall and winter months.

Don’t be alarmed if your pine trees begin dropping their older needles. It’s normal for the inner needles to yellow or brown and drop off in the fall. 

Avoid excessive pruning of trees and shrubs, because pruning encourages new growth to begin and you want the plants to harden off before going into
dormancy for the winter. 

If you had insect problems on your trees and shrubs, whether they be aphids or borers, an application of Ferti-lome Tree and Shrub Systemic Insect Drench, will greatly reduce their population. Apply this fall, and your plants
will be protected for a whole year. 

Watch for leaf color to change on the trees and shrubs around your neighborhoods. Then come into the nursery and select the plant of your choice and the color that you want. Genetically trees and shrubs may have different shades
of fall color, so this is a great time to pick your plants. 

Rake up fallen apples, crabapples, and other fruit from the ground
to prevent insects from overwintering. 

You can reduce the amount of bruising and damage to apples and other fruit by using a long-handled fruit picker to reach the highest branches of fruit trees. 

Vegetable Gardens

Harvest potatoes when the foliage browns. It is better to harvest potatoes when the soil is fairly dry, using a pitchfork or spading fork to gently loosen the soil around them. Let the tubers dry for a few hours in a warm place, but out of the direct sun.

Winter squash — such as acorn, spaghetti, buttercup, butternut, and Hubbard — are ready to harvest when you cannot puncture the skin with your thumbnail
and the stems are dry and begin to shrivel.

Gently turn pumpkins and gourds to prevent soft spots. Place three or four inches
of straw under your pumpkins to prevent damage to the bottoms.

Before first frost dig up herbs like chives, rosemary and parsley, place them in pots in a south-facing window for seasonings all winter.

When onion tops start to yellow, bend them over to divert the plant’s energy to the bulb. After the tops turn brown, lift the onions from the soil and let them dry in the sun. Once the skins are dry, cut the stems and store the onions in a cool, dry place.  

Make notes or a journal to keep records on which of your vegetables did best and were the most prolific and which vegetables did not perform well. Next year, focus on planting varieties which performed well for you.  

Spray or pull up all weeds before they go to seed. This will save a lot of time
and aggravation next spring.

When Early Frosts Threaten…

Water deeply and thoroughly before cold weather – hydrated plants
will do better when an early frost occurs. If plants do show some signs of frost damage, wait a few days in order to give them time to recover
before pulling them up. 

Harvest fruits and vegetables prior to a hard freeze. 
Pick your green tomatoes — tomatoes will continue to ripen after being picked green. Place them in a single layer in a cardboard box, being sure they do not touch each other and cover with a newspaper. Place boxes in a dark, cool place, but don’t forget to check often as the tomatoes will ripen sporadically.  

Just as a blanket will keep you warm, it will also keep your plants warm!
Frost blankets will protect a late-season vegetable garden from cold damage
and ensure that it continues to produce after the weather has cleared.
Avoid using plastic coverings — plastic attracts the cold & may harm plants.

When temperatures drop into the low 30s, be sure to disconnect hoses from spigots.  Don’t forget to drain your hoses, birdbaths, and other water holding items
to prevent them from freezing or cracking.

Miscellaneous

Check your houseplants carefully for insects before you bring them back indoors. 

Plant amaryllis bulbs the end of this month for blooms at Christmas.

Continue to supply your hummingbird feeders for the fall migration show.

July & August Garden Tips

In the Flower Garden

Cut flowers for bouquets early in the morning and place the stems immediately into a bucket of water to keep them fresh until you are able to arrange them.

If your pansies were too nice to take out in June but are looking sad now, replace them with some heat-loving annuals like periwinkle, salvia, marigolds, celosia, gazania, geraniums, portulaca, or verbena for a great color show in summer. 

“Dead-head” (pinch off the spent blooms) on perennials, annuals and roses for longer flowering periods and more and larger blooms.

Continue fertilizing annuals and perennials as instructed on your favorite fertilizer. This will give you continued flowering all season long.

Check the water needs for hanging baskets and planters daily. The wind and sun dry them quickly. 

Pull the weeds out of your flower beds before they get large. They are competing with your plants for water. Don’t let them produce seed or you will have even more next season. 

Yarrow, strawflowers, celosia, and gomphrena can be cut for flowers and dried. Take pictures of your container combinations so you can repeat or modify the designs next year.

Roses & Perennials

Roses are heavy feeders, so continue to fertilize throughout the summer to produce an abundance of big, beautiful flowers. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer of your choice and water at the base of the plant.

August is the last time that roses should be fertilized. They should then begin to “harden off” for winter. Remove old, spent rose blooms after they fade, cutting the stem just above the uppermost 5-leaflet node on the stem. 

Prevent rose and perennial diseases like powdery mildew from taking hold by using a systemic fungicide before the problem appears. Once those diseases appear it is very difficult to control.  Bee balm, phlox, columbines and lilacs are some of the plants prone to powdery mildew. 

If your iris did not bloom well this year, they may need to be divided. This is the time to divide overcrowded irises. Dig up the whole clump, sort out the rhizomes which have leaves on them, and discard the old rhizomes. Replant the good rhizomes after improving the soil with compost and working a little super phosphate into the soil below the root zone.

Plant fall-blooming perennials like asters, mums, agastache and Autumn Joy sedum for color August through October. Look for empty spaces in your garden where you could plant some bulbs this fall between perennials to add more color to next spring’s show. Our fall bulbs usually arrive around Labor Day weekend.

In the Vegetable Garden

Avoid overhead watering when tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, corn and some other vegetables are in flower. They need pollination and the pollen can be washed away, resulting in fewer fruits.

Water your garden early in the morning while it is still cool. There is much less evaporation at this time than in the heat of the day. 

Vegetables will stay fresher if you harvest them from the garden early in the day. Clean them as quickly as possible and refrigerate (except tomatoes which should not be refrigerated for best flavor).

Fertilize your vegetable gardens to maximize your harvest, and fertilize strawberry beds with ammonium sulfate now for more berries next spring. 

Remove vegetable plants that have finished producing. If they are free of insects and disease, compost the plants; otherwise dispose of them so they don’t infect your other plants. 

Pinch off the flower buds of onions to direct energy to the developing bulb. Harvest corn when the husk is tight over the ear and the silks are dried to a dark brown.

Plant broccoli, carrots, turnips, lettuce and radishes now to enjoy a nice fall garden. Choose early varieties so that they will mature before freezing temperatures. 

Summer Lawn Care

Don’t expect cool season bluegrass to look as green in summer as it does in spring and fall. If a lawn goes somewhat dormant in summer, it will still green back as soon as the weather cools and more moisture is available.

Those impossible weeds like bindweed, dandelions and thistle in your lawn can be controlled with Ferti-lome’s Weed Free Zone.

Do you have dry spots in your lawn where water won’t penetrate? A lawn irrigator will put the water right at the roots and aerate those areas, so that water will percolate down. An application of Revive will also help water soak into the ground and penetrate deeper into the soil instead of running off of slopes. 

If your did not make the second application of fertilizer in June or July, our recommendation is Green Thumb Lawn Food for summertime feeding of your lawn. It’s best to avoid fast-release nitrogen fertilizer on your lawns in the heat of the summer.

Trees & Shrubs

Deep watering of trees, shrubs, roses, vines, and perennials is essential this time of year. Water thoroughly, but only when the plants require water.  Check soil 3-4″ deep to determine when these plants need to be watered.

Protect your trees and shrubs from grass trimmers. The best way to protect these is to eliminate the grass directly around the tree, encircle it with weed fabric, and then mulch with bark or rock.

Examine all trees, shrubs, roses, perennials and annuals for insects and diseases. This is the time of year these problems begin. There are controls for any of these situations.

Water Gardening

Is your pond turning green? Add more shade on the surface of the water with water hyacinths, water lettuce and water lilies. Use Algae Fix to get rid of green water and then treat with MicrobeLift TAC. These beneficial bacteria will compete with algae for resources and work to keep your pond crystal clear.

Houseplants

If you set your houseplants outside on your patio, be sure to examine them periodically for insects and treat them accordingly. Continue fertilizing your houseplants according to the directions on the fertilizer container.

If your plants have been in the same pot for two or more years, this is a good time to repot them into an attractive container which is at least two inches larger than the present pot.

Check the chemicals stored in your garage. If you have had them more than two years, they may be losing effectiveness.  Organic BT formulations may be ineffective after one year.

The most environmentally friendly way to get rid of chemicals is to use them up according to directions. You may still get control. If not, reapply with newer product. The logical choice is to buy only what you need this season. We can help you choose the safest effective products. 

Contact your local County Extension Service for information on disposing of your older or banned chemicals. Chemicals should NOT be thrown out with the trash.

Miscellaneous Summer Tips

Keep your hummingbird feeder filled and ready for the “hummers” fall migration.

Take your camera when visiting public gardens or even your friends’ gardens. If you want to have a beautiful flower or shrub you’ve seen, bring in a picture or a sample and we can help identify it for you!

Keep your compost moist and aerate the pile by turning it.  

If your yellow jacket trap is not working anymore, it may be time to replace the attractant.  

Echter’s Plant Doctors are available during store hours seven days a week to answer your gardening questions. For accurate diagnosis, it helps to bring in a sample.

Green Thumb Tips-April

Flower Gardens

Watering plants that have been recently planted outdoors is tricky. The rule is to water them in thoroughly after they are planted. Then watch the area next to the edge of the original soil ball to see if it is getting dry. You want to encourage the roots to move out into the surrounding soil to get water without letting the original soil ball get too dry. Reduce the watering frequency with time, but water thoroughly each time you water. Don’t just wet the surface of the soil.

An easy way to harden plants that are going outdoors is to cover them with Plant & Seed Guard for a few days after you plant them. You can use wire supports if necessary to hold the fabric away from the plants. Attach it to the ground with wire staples. It’s re-usable.

Pot begonias and dahlias now and keep them indoors until later in May. This will give them a good head start and they will bloom earlier after putting them outside.

Plant gladioli, lilies, cannas, callas, ranunculus, crocosmia and other summer blooming bulbs toward the end of April. Plant pansies between the bulbs to give you early color.

Fertilize your spring-flowering bulbs after the blooms have gone with Gro Rich Rose & Perennial fertilizer. Wait until the leaves turn brown to remove them. The leaves help build strength in the bulbs for next year.

Place your plant supports into position early. If you wait until they really need support, it may be difficult as the plant will be too large. This is especially true for peonies.

When you hand water, use a nozzle with a shut-off or trigger nozzle that stops the flow of water when released so you don’t waste water.

Before transplanting, be sure that your plants are not dry.

Flowering annual starts which can be planted out in early April after “hardening them off” are alyssum, dusty miller, sweet peas, anchusa, larkspur, centaurea, pansies, dracaena, and snapdragons.

When is it safe to plant other flowers?

Pinch back your annuals to promote stronger, bushier plants and more flower production.

More on Planting and Caring for Annuals and Vegetables

Perennials & Roses & Vines

If you have a fence you’d like to hide there are several plants you can use besides shrubs. Vines like trumpet vine, silver lace vine, wisteria, honeysuckle vine, Virginia creeper and climbing roses which are perennials can be used. Annual vines like sweet peas, morning glories, Scarlet runner beans are just a few good fence covers. Remember other tall plants like sunflower or hollyhocks.

Group flowers and vegetables with the same water needs together to take advantage of their lower water requirements.

When planning your flower bed, whether it is planted in annuals or perennials, don’t overlook ornamental grasses for a beautiful contrasting texture.

Spring is the best time to divide perennials that bloom in mid or late summer such as asters and chrysanthemums. Wait until September to divide early spring-flowering perennials like bleeding hearts and peonies.

Plant wildflower seeds in April. Improve your soil before planting by raking in either peat moss or compost or a combination of the two.

Add some spice to predictable bulb and perennial beds by broadcasting seeds of annuals like larkspur, cosmos, poppies, bachelor buttons or other annuals among your established plants.

Trees & Shrubs

April is the best time to plant new trees and shrubs. Improve the soil first with compost and/or peat moss. Then apply MYKE Tree & Shrub Transplanter and water in with Root Stimulator, both of which reduce transplant shock and stimulate root growth.

When planting large trees, stake them for the first year. Use 2” wide staking straps around the tree. Do not use wire, twine or rope on the tree itself. Place the stakes 2-3 feet away from the tree, tie the strap to the stake and leave a little slack. Let the tree sway slightly to develop roots and caliper.

April is perfect time to take stock of the plants in your yard. Are there plants that have overgrown their spaces? Are some sickly and unattractive? Now is the time to pull them out and replace them with a new and vibrant plant. This is what garden renewal is about.

Cut back butterfly bushes, blue mist spireas, Russian sage and other late summer-blooming shrubs at this time.

If you didn’t get around to pruning your shrubs and trees in March, you can still do some pruning now, the earlier the better.

Start your fertilizing program for roses, trees and shrubs when the leaves appear on the branches.

Protect your ash trees from Emerald Ash Borers. Use Ferti-lome Tree and Shrub Systemic Insect Drench for easy-to-use systemic protection from insects all year long. Follow the label directions and just mix it with water in a watering can or bucket and pour the solution around the base of trees or shrubs.

Watch for distorted leaflets on honeylocust trees. Leafhoppers can damage this trees fine leaves. They can also damage lawns. A good insecticide can help eliminate these tiny pests.

If you don’t have room for two different fruit trees for cross pollination, try one of our 4-in-1 apple, pear or sweet cherry trees for a great crop of fruit. There are four different grafts on one tree.

Are you tired of raking up crabapples in the summer? Spray crabapple trees with Monterey Floral Growth Regulator at mid to full bloom. This will prevent the fruit from forming.

Check for borer holes in your shade, spruce and pine trees. Evidence of these borers will be small holes, possibly with evidence of sap and/or sawdust. Our plant doctors can recommend the proper treatment depending on the type of tree and borer.

Remove protective tree wrap from young trees around April 1. Check the trunk for any problems.

Remember the worms on the ash trees last year? Watch for them again this year and spray with Eight from Bonide.

Although annuals look beautiful planted around new trees, there is a danger of over-watering your trees while trying keep your flowers pretty.

There are several trees, shrubs, and flowers which will attract those all-important pollinators – the bees. Anyone with a fruit tree or a vegetable garden knows their importance. Stop by our Plant Doctor desk for a list of these plants. Remember to refrain from spraying insecticides while bees are present. Something to note: bumblebees are more effective pollinators than honeybees.

Deep-root waterers get water under the lawn which is useful for trees, shrubs and roses. Some of these tools also have a container for dissolving fertilizer pellets to feed your plants right at the roots.

Before transplanting, always make sure trees and shrubs are not dry to help avoid transplant stress.

Start treating your pine and spruce trees for insects like scale, tussock moth, Cooley spruce gall, pine tip moth, pitch mass borer, and ips beetle. Come in and we can recommend the appropriate preventive treatments.

Vegetable Gardens

It’s time to plant seeds of peas, turnips, carrots, beets, spinach, Swiss chard, lettuce, radishes. Plant garlic cloves, seed potatoes, dormant strawberry plants and onion sets.

Keep an N-sulate cover handy for unexpected frosts after your garden is planted. It will keep the frost off new seedlings as they emerge from the soil.

Mid-April is the time to set out broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Swiss chard, radicchio, and Brussels sprouts plants. Be sure to “harden them off” first.

Enjoy an earlier growing season by four weeks by setting out Season Starter plant protectors in April. You can set tomatoes and pepper plants inside them ten days after initial setup of your Season Starter. The setup period allows the soil beneath the solar shelters to warm to a temperature suitable for plant growth.

If you are having trouble growing plants in your gardens, have your soil tested. We can test your soil for nutrient deficiencies for a nominal fee. We can let you know what to do to improve your soil for more flowers and vegetables.

Vegetable gardens benefit from watering at ground level, instead of watering overhead. Watering with soaker hoses helps to prevent many diseases and insects.  

Remember to rotate your vegetable crop plantings each year. Plant each variety of vegetable in a different part of your garden than you did last year. This will minimize repeated problems with disease and insects.

Plant your fast growing crops in two-week intervals to prolong the availability of lettuce, spinach, peas, and radishes. When the weather gets too hot for these vegetables, plant some in the shade of taller plants, like pole beans and corn. This system is also good for gardeners with limited space.

By placing a floating row cover over your carrot, lettuce, and spinach seed, your seeds will germinate quicker, and the birds won’t make a meal of them. Floating row covers also eliminate cabbage loopers on cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.  Keep your cover handy in case there is a cold snap for any newly planted vegetables and flowers.

Use soaker hoses in your vegetable garden and flower beds. You can either lay the hose on top of the soil next to the plant or bury it to get water directly to the roots. Soaker hoses can also be used to water trees and shrubs.

Lawns

Early April is the best time to start fertilizing your lawn. By using a fertilizer with pre-emergent (weed and grass preventer), you will be able to eliminate a lot of annual grass and weed seeds by keeping them from germinating.

April is a good time to seed or overseed lawns. Use a good grass seed and apply New Lawn Starter fertilizer after the seed is sown. Keep the area moist even after germination. Do not apply a pre-emergent crabgrass control before or after seeding, as this will prevent grass seed germination.

Core aerate your lawn before fertilizing this month. Not only does this help the lawn’s vigor and health, it also reduces maintenance and water usage. Be sure your lawn is well watered a day or two before aeration.

Keep your mower blade sharp. Dull blades can invite lawn diseases to enter grass blades. Bring your rotary mower blades into Echter’s for sharpening. You can bring them in on or off the mower.

Use a rain gauge to measure the amount of water you are putting on your lawn. Apply 3/4” to 1” slowly enough to evenly soak the lawn without running off the area.

Inspect your irrigation system regularly. Be sure sprinkler heads are not plugged and are properly adjusted for the radius and the level of spray needed. As surrounding plants grow, you will need to modify your system. Especially check for leaks in the sprinkler lines.

Houseplants

On a nice warm day, take your houseplants outside and give them a shower, or use your bathroom shower. The plants will appreciate a good cleaning after being inside all winter.

Birds

It’s spring cleaning season even for birds. If you haven’t cleaned your bird houses this year, clean them out and then spray them with a bird feeder cleaner before the new birds arrive.

Continue feeding the birds at your feeders. Seed-producing plants are just beginning to grow and there are now more birds competing for the depleted wild seed supply. Give them a supply of water also.

March Green Thumb Tips

Echter’s Plant Doctors are available during store hours seven days a week to answer your gardening questions. For accurate diagnosis, it helps to bring in a sample.

Flower Gardens

Plant begonias, dahlias and cannas in pots inside to give them a head start. Leave them inside until mid-May. You will have flowers much earlier.

Plant sweet pea seeds now, using an inoculant for better germination and flowering.

Perennials & Roses & Vines

Lift and divide crowded perennials late this month if new growth is evident. Proper soil preparation is essential for good growth after replanting.

Lily bulbs can be planted outdoors as soon as the ground can be worked for blooms in late June through September.

Cut back old stalks from your perennials, so you can enjoy the new foliage and flowers. Cut back ornamental grasses as low as possible so the old foliage won’t detract from the new growth.

Trees & Shrubs

Early March is the best time to prune deciduous trees and shrubs. You can see the branching structure. (Some exceptions are birch, maple, walnut, and elm. These should be pruned mid-summer.) Remove dead, dying, or unsightly parts of the tree. Remove branches that are crossed against each other. Use a pole pruner to reach branches up to about 15′ off the ground. Pruning paints and wound dressings are NOT recommended on the pruning cuts.

Prune fruit trees before they leaf out. There is less danger of spreading disease. Pruning assures good air circulation for better fruit production. Examine apple, pear, hawthorn, crabapple trees and cotoneasters for evidence of fire blight. The leaves remain on the branches and the branches will look scorched. Prune out infected branches and sterilize your pruners, loppers or saws between every cut. While these plants are in flower prevent this disease by spraying Ferti-lome Fire Blight Spray.

Prune new shrubs and trees very little for the first two years. Your plants need to establish a good root zone, and the more top growth (leaves and branches) the plant has the more the plant can produce its own food to grow. Look for these three things when pruning – dead branches, broken branches and branches that cross over and rub on others.

If your lilacs, honeysuckle or any other shrubs are really overgrown, prune out two or three of the oldest, largest stems using a lopper or a pruning saw. This will rejuvenate these plants.

Trees, shrubs, vines and roses have deeper root systems and should be watered for a longer period of time and less frequently than shallower rooted plants such as perennials and annuals. Do not water if the ground is frozen.

Suffocate overwintering insects, like aphids, spider mites and scale on trees and shrubs by spraying dormant oil.

Don’t be in a hurry to remove the mulch around roses and in perennial beds. We could still have some harsh weather.

Vegetable Gardens

Remember to rotate your vegetable crops each year. Plant each variety of vegetable in a different part of your garden than you did last year

Plant spinach, peas, Swiss chard, radishes, turnips, parsnips, carrots, kale, lettuce, leeks, rutabaga, onion seed and sets, bare root strawberries, asparagus, and potatoes directly into the garden if soil temperature is at least 40 degrees

Now is the time to start broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi, onion, alyssum, lobelia and pansy and geranium seeds inside for planting out later in the spring. Start tomatoes and peppers inside now to be planted out in late May.

When starting flower and vegetable seeds indoors, use clean new containers and a good seed-starting mix in order to prevent disease problems.

Give asparagus beds a good layer of compost or cow manure. You will have much larger and better production.

Prune out raspberry canes which produced fruit last year. (They will have a papery gray bark and traces of where the fruit attached.) Leave the canes which didn’t bear for this year’s crop.

If you saved seeds from previous years, plant a few seeds in small pots. Label and test to see if they will sprout.

Plan to grow one new vegetable you haven’t tried before. It will create renewed interest in your garden, and you might find a new favorite.

Rototill or turn over your gardens when the soil is fairly dry. Add organic matter like Canadian sphagnum peat moss and/or compost to your gardens before rototilling.

Although earthworms can be a nuisance for some, they are of great value in keeping soil aerated.  Earthworms take organic matter from the surface and drag it down into the soil, thus making them great little composters.

Lawns

Core aerate your lawn before you fertilize in the middle of April. This helps to promote deep root growth by providing oxygen and moisture to the roots. You can leave the plugs on the lawn as they will compost back into the soil.

Overseeding a thin lawn can begin as March warms up. Rake areas to be seeded to expose the soil.

Seed these areas with a good quality grass seed and keep moist until well germinated

We do not normally recommend power raking, but hand thatching is very beneficial for the lawn. It allows good air circulation and can prevent many diseases of the grass.

If you had disease problems in your lawn last year, apply Ferti-lome F-Stop when grass greens up as a preventive measure.

Once snow has melted off your lawn, check the turf in shaded areas for snow mold, a fungus that is white to pink in color and grows on the surface of the grass blades. If you see snow mold, lightly rake the affected areas and dispose of the debris. Exposure to light and air will normally dissipate the snow mold.  The grass will grow out from the crown of the plant as spring progresses. If the turf becomes patchy, you can overseed the area. There is no effective chemical control.

Indoor Plants

March is a great time to transplant houseplants into the next-sized larger pot. Use a good well-drained houseplant potting mix.

 Prune back leggy houseplants now before the spring flush of growth.

 As days grow longer, houseplants resume active growth and benefit from applications of fertilizer like Jack’s Classic Houseplant Special.

 Start an indoor herb garden. Plant several kinds of herbs together in a pot, or grow them individually in small pots. Chives, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, sage, tarragon and thyme are good choices for a sunny kitchen windowsill. Snip and use herbs during their indoor stay. In spring set the pots outdoors or transplant them into your garden.

Birds

You can help birds with their nests by providing a mesh bag near bird activity areas outside, filled with pieces of thread, string, yarn or lint from your dryer. Also leave small piles of twigs to help them in their nesting process.

Put up birdhouses this month in preparation for new arrivals this spring. Birds are very specific about the size of the entry hole. Be sure you have the right-sized entry hole for the birds you want to attract.

Also remember to clean out and sterilize last year’s houses.

Put up a woodpecker house under the eaves or near your home. This may deter other flickers from beating on your house. Woodpeckers and flickers are territorial and will keep others away.

Misc.

Now’s a great time to inspect your old patio furniture and replace it if necessary. Special orders placed now will usually arrive in time for the outdoor season.

Make sure your tools are clean and sharpened. For a nominal fee Echter’s will sharpen your pruners, shovels, hoes, hedge and grass clippers. 

Bring smaller twigs of crabapple, cherry, forsythia, quince and pussy willow into the house. Place them in a vase of water and you will have spring flowers in a few days.

Has your compost pile stopped “cooking”? Reactivate the microbes this month with a prepared compost maker product and get that decomposition started again.

 Clean leaves and debris from your gutters for more efficient water runoff from your roof.