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  • March garden tips & tasks

    If your fescue lawn looks a little skimpy, overseed early this month. Fescue grows best when the weather is still cool.

    Clip dead stems from perennial herbs – thyme, sage, lavender, rosemary. Pruning encourages vigorous new growth.

    Prune nandinas, flowering quince and other airy shrubs by reaching in and removing about a third of the branches at ground level.

    Remove mulch or leaves that may be covering perennials in garden beds.

    Prepare a new garden bed: Have the soil tested (check with your county’s Extension service). Remove grass and dig or till soil 8 to 10 inches deep and mix with soil amendments and organic matter to improve drainage.

    Add fertilizer lightly to perennials as soon as you see new growth. Too much fertilizer may result in lanky growth.

    Herb transplants that don’t mind cool weather -- parsley, cilantro, sage, oregano – can go in the ground now.

    When you cut daffodils to bring inside, cut the stems at an angle and place them in water right away. Change the water in the vase daily to keep them fresh longer.

    Save the date - Middle Tennessee garden events

    The Perennial Plant Society's annual Plant Sale will be April 8, opening at 9 a.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale offers newly released and hard-to-find perennials from top local nurseries -- more than 450 varieties of perennials, vines, grasses, shrubs and annuals. The event supports local scholarships for Tennessee horticulture students and monthly gardening programs, open to the public, at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. For information visit www.ppsmtn.org.

    The Herb Society of Nashville's annual Herb Sale will be April 29, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale will offer heirloom vegetables, rare varieties of perennial and annual herbs, handmade pottery herb markers and more. To learn more, visit herbsocietynashville.org.

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May garden tips & tasks

May is a busy and beautiful time in the garden. Here are tasks and tips to keep you busy this month.

Early in the month

If you haven’t already gotten those warm-season vegetables in the ground, plant them now! Tomatoes, peppers, squash, okra, beans, eggplant and other favorites will get off to a fast start now that the weather is warm.

zinnias-1

Set out bedding plants of zinnias and other summer annuals.

Set out bedding plants of zinnias, celosia, snapdragon, begonias, petunias, coleus – all the favorite summer annuals.

Plant plenty of basil in a sunny location to use in summer recipes. Clip and use it frequently, which allows the plants to grow sturdier. Snip off flowers as they begin to form.

Use mulch in perennial and annual beds and borders to keep weeds in check, and to retain moisture in the soil.

Here’s a reminder for mowing: set the mower to cut only about a third of the height of the grass, which results in a healthier lawn. By the way, grass clippings make good mulch, but allow them to decay before you use them on beds and borders.

Mid-May

If the foliage of daffodils, tulips and other spring-flowering bulbs has turned brown, cut it down.

Azalea pink

If you need to prune azaleas, do the job shortly after they finish blooming.

If you need to prune azaleas, do it now; don’t wait any longer, or you risk cutting off next year’s flowers, which will begin to form soon.

Watch for aphids that may cluster on tender new growth of plants. Spider mites may find your roses and other shrubs if the weather turns hot and dry. A strong spray of water from the hose every few days will help keep both under control. On roses, especially, concentrate on the undersides of leaves.

As perennials flower and fade, cut the dying blooms. This will encourage the plant to bloom longer.

There will always be unwanted plants (sometimes known as weeds). Pull or dig them out of garden beds before they form seeds. Weeds are easier to root out after watering or after a rain, when the soil is moist.

Later this month

irises

Divide bearded irises after they finish blooming.

Divide hellebores. Dig up as much of the root ball as possible and gently separate the roots. Replant right away, or share with friends (reminding them to plant as soon as possible).

Divide bearded irises after they finish blooming. Cut the leaves to about five inches, then lift the tubers with a spading fork. Separate the rhizomes and cut off damaged portions, then replant the rhizomes close to the soil surface.

Gardens and lawns need about an inch of water a week. If it doesn’t rain, use sprinklers early in the morning. Soaker hoses placed throughout garden beds are an efficient way to deliver moisture to the plants’ roots.

Container gardens dry out quickly in hot weather, so if your “garden” is a collection of pots on the deck or balcony, they need to be watered frequently.

As summer approaches, make sure spring-planted trees and shrubs continue to get enough moisture. Provide about an inch of water a week — by hose or sprinkler if it doesn’t rain.

 

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