Looks Like A Early Spring But History Says Winter Is Not Done Yet!

It feels like spring has sprung early this year and everyone has been anxious to start gardening.  Trust history and the likelihood of more freezes ahead to resist the temptation of planting tomatoes, peppers, and warm season annuals until at least April.  There are many things you can and should do now.  Spend your time now planting the cool season vegetables, trees, shrubs and perennials as you prepare the soil for new flower beds.  Enjoy the early spring show of flowers including the bright yellow fountains of forsythia flowers, the hot oranges and reds of Quince, the dazzling yellow, white and orange trumpet flowers of daffodils or narcissus.  The folks who planned or thought ahead last fall and planted crocus, grape hyacinths, tulips, hyacinths and daffodils are being rewarded now for their efforts with the encouraging and beautiful show of bright spring flowers even while the grass and trees are still dressed in brown.

This is the time, the best time, to apply pre-emergent herbicides or weed killers if you want to control crabgrass, sandburs, goat head stickers, dandelions or many other summer or warm season broadleaf or grassy weeds before they ever germinate.  Think of these products as birth control for weeds.  You can spray them on your lawn or hire a service to spray them on your lawn or you can apply them as granules with a fertilizer spreader over your lawn.  Some of these products even work well in flower bed areas.  Visit with your nurseryman and check the product label to select the proper product and to use it correctly in your yard.  Depending on the product you select they will kill weed seeds for two to four months as the seeds try to germinate.  You can also apply most of these products as a combination weed and feed treatment so you can fertilize your lawn or flower beds as you kill the future weeds.  Most of these pre-emergent products only work to inhibit weed seed germination and will provide no control once the weeds have sprouted or rooted in and started growing.  There are numerous products to choose from but I suggest looking for a herbicide or weed and feed treatment that contains Prodiamine (Barricade), Dimension, Treflan, Balan, Gallery, Team (Treflan & Balan combination) or Sulfentrazone.  Treflan and Dimension can be used in flowerbeds as well as on lawns.  Do not use any of these pre-emergent herbicides where you plan to sow new grass seed this spring or in flowerbeds where you plan to sow seeds including vegetables or color annuals.  These herbicides kill seeds as they germinate – they cannot decide which seeds you want and which seeds you don’t want although some will work only on broadleaves and others only on grasses while several provide control on both grasses and broadleaves.  Pre-emergent weed killers will not affect new sod or sprigs on lawns or transplanting bulbs or established plants into treated areas.

Apply the pre-emergent as soon as possible for maximum weed control but before the redbud trees are finished blooming in your area.  These granular products need to be watered in after application to become active and to spread them into the seed “germination” zone.  Apply before a good rain or water in with the equivalent of a one-half to one inch soaking rain.  You can increase the effectiveness of granular products by applying at half rates going in one (like north/south) direction and the other half going the opposite (like east/west) direction.

Don’t forget to plant most of your cool season veggies and berries by St. Patrick’s Day for the best results.  Plant seed potatoes, onion plants, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, peas and other cool season crops now.  Plant berries and small fruits like strawberries, grapes, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and others like rhubarb and horseradish to provide years of fresh and colorful nutrition in your yard.

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