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Friday, February 18, 2011

Hello Spring

We have endured another damaging cold winter, but we are now experiencing much warmer weather.  You should be seeing the beginnings of new growth from your lawn grass and landscape plants that are still living by now.  Here are some do's and don'ts for the spring clean-up.


  • Prune winter damaged plants back to new healthy sprouting buds. Make pruning cuts at a slight angle about ¼ inch above the bud.
  • Add new sod or plugs to repair areas in the lawn that are bare.
  • Use a fertilizer product with 50% slow release nitrogen in a formula like 15 - 0 -15. Pinellas County has passed a fertilizer ordinance that bans fertilizer containing Nitrogen and Phosphorus usage on lawns from June 1 - September 30, so using a slow release fertilizer is very important.
  • Fertilize palms with the UF/IFAS recommended formula (8-2-12-4). Florida's Finest fertilizer company has this formula.
  • Allow fallen leaves to remain on the ground or rake into beds and cover with new mulch. They add needed organic matter to the soil as they decay.
  • Remove debris from around plants that showed signs of disease or fruit from the ground. Cleaning up this debris is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to manage many of the fungal diseases that overwinter on plant debris.
  • Give annuals planted in the winter, such as snapdragons, petunias, pansies or geraniums, a light pruning and balanced slow release fertilizer. You should see a new flush of bloom that lasts into May.
  • Remove all fallen buds, flowers or petals from under Azalea and Camellia plants as soon as possible to discourage petal fungal blight. On camellias especially, if buds or flowers turn brown on the plant, remove as soon as you notice them.
  • Disinfected pruning tools after each use by dipping the cutting surfaces in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water or rubbing alcohol (70%) from the drug store (does not require diluting). If you have a lawn service that does your pruning, ask that they disinfect their tools prior to using them in your yard.
  • Add a fresh layer of mulch once all clean-up has been completed. Be careful to keep the mulch a couple of inches away from the base of plants and not more than two to three inches deep.

Please DON'T:

  • Scalp the lawn to remove the grass that has turned brown. You may remove living growing points that are protected by the brown grass blades.
  • Dig up plants yet that look dead - look closely at ground level to see if they are sprouting from the roots. If so, prune back to the plant base.
  • Prune green living fronds from your palm trees - the practice of removing all but three or so fronds from palms is very damaging. Palms need these green fronds for photosynthesis; the plant process of producing food for growth.
  • Rake up and remove old mulch prior to putting down fresh mulch - the old mulch will continue to decay and add valuable organic nutrients to the soil.

Did you know?  Pinellas County Extension North County Master Gardeners conduct a plant clinic each Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Palm Harbor Library on the corner of Nebraska Avenue and Riviere Road.  A team of Master Gardeners is available to answer gardening questions and give advice. They can help you learn the identity of that mystery plant in your yard, how to control the insect chewing on your roses, or what to do about the weeds in your lawn.  It helps if you can bring them a branch with several leaves, blooms and/or fruit, or the actual insect.  Digital pictures can also be helpful. 

Gardening can be a chore, but I think that the beauty of a well tended landscape is worth the effort!

7:41 pm est          Comments

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Pampered Gardeners LLC * Oldsmar, FL * USA *  Phone: 727 483-3783 * pam@pamperedgardeners.com