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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of April 16, 2018

Now that it is warming up – let’s get into the yard!

  • Soil testing for your lawn is a great idea!  Grass needs a pH between 6.5 and 6.7 to make full use of nutrients.  Calcium is also one the secrets to a low-maintenance lawn.  After a soil test, if you find that the lawn is need of lime, apply a calcitic lime.  Applying a thin layer of horticultural gypsum will also raise the soil’s calcium level.
  • To have fewer weeds in your lawn, set your mower high.  The close-cropped lawns weaken the grass and allows the weeds to flourish.   Keeping your lawn at 2 ½” – 3” will overpower the growth of weeds.
  • When mowing, be sure to leave the grass clippings on the lawn.  They will quickly disappear and serve as an excellent source of organic fertilizer.
  • Scatter bulb fertilizer where you see newly sprouted bulb foliage.
  • Be careful when applying nitrogen to lawns and landscape plants.  Too much nitrogen leaches into waterways and its excess suffocates aquatic life by stimulating algae growth.
  • To prepare your lawn and landscape for the season, complete a spring clean-up of your gardens by cutting back any foliage left from perennials last year.  Rake all debris from lawns and landscape beds when the soil has dried.  A bamboo or other soft rake is less apt to tear at sod.
  • Visit your favorite nursery/garden center and purchase a flat of pansies to plant outdoors.  Fill a beautiful container or accent the border of your landscaped beds.  Look for heat-resistant varieties to extend the bloom time.  Pinching off each flower as the spent petals curl will encourage new flowers to bloom.
  • Thin crowded seedlings of vegetables by snipping off the weakest stems with scissors.  Thinning in this manner reduces the stress to the roots of seedlings caused by other thinning methods.
  • Shear seedlings of onions to 4” if their tops are beginning to flop over.  Don’t toss out those clippings.  Use them in your favorite dishes.  They add a delicious flavor!
  • Do not apply high-nitrogen fertilizers or manure to areas of the vegetable garden where beets, carrots, radishes and turnips are to be grown.  Too much nitrogen encourages leaf growth and slows the root development.  Fresh manure should never be used as it also promotes the formation of scab on beets.

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