Soil test and then fertilize your plants

Hopefully your yard and neighborhood received some good soaking rains in the last few days as the big weather front crossed our state. If you got a good soaking this is a great time to mulch your flowerbeds with a 2” or 3” layer of bark or hulls. The mulch will conserve soil moisture, cut future watering about in half and reduce weeds in your gardens. If you did not get rain please be attentive to the watering needs of your plant material .Your watering requirements will vary depending on soil type, heat level and how much drying winds we are facing. Be prepared to water as needed with water hoses, sprinklers or install your own drip watering system.

This is a great time to fertilize your lawn, trees and shrubs, flowers and vegetables while they are growing rapidly and before the stress of the summer heat. It is always best to get a full soil test and to only apply the nutrients your soil actually needs to support the plants you are growing. Without a soil test, apply a well balanced fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorous and potash, the 3 main elements listed on fertilizer bags.  Oklahoma soils usually have adequate phosphorous represented by the middle number so you can use a fertilizer with low or even no phosphorous and generally do well. Good choices would be blends like 20-10-20, 21-7-14 or many other balanced fertilizers. It is important to apply the fertilizer shortly before a soaking rain or to water it in well after application to make the fertilizer available to the plant’s root zone and prevent burning where the fertilizer lays.

This is a good time to sow grass seed for new lawn areas or to patch trouble spots in existing lawns by over-seeding. This is also a good season to plant grass sod or sprigs. Remember that lawn seed, sprigs or sod will all need regular watering until established and “rooted” in just as new plantings of trees or flowers.

Some gardeners start worrying when it is too late to plant with Memorial Day only a week away. We are only 5 or 6 weeks into the post freeze planting season and we have around 22 to 24 weeks left before our first freeze this fall so about 80% of the growing season is still ahead of us. Most everything we would plant now is container grown so we can plant all through the summer with no problems as long as we are prepared to water and mulch to support our plantings. The hot season is coming so now is the time to think about where you would like to add shade and natural cooling on your property. Select trees to add in those spots. Even though they won’t provide much shade now, they grow rapidly and in just a few years you will have changed the look and environment of your yard and can create the natural habitat you’ve dreamed about.

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