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World Naked Gardening Day, Saturday May 6

It is that time of year again!  The 13th annual World Naked Gardening Day is this Saturday (always celebrated on the first Saturday of May).

To kick off my all day celebration I am joining my friend Walter Reeves (The Georgia Gardener) on his Atlanta radio show from 7 to 9 am.  Celebrating this special day on the radio is somewhat easier and less risky than it would be on TV!  Click here to check out all the great gardening information on Walter’s website and click here to find the WSB radio site where you can listen live.

 

Just saying the word “naked”, reminds me of Lewis Grizzard’s humor.  Lewis said:  “Depending on how you pronounce certain words here in the South their meaning can change.  For instance if you are “naked”, you have taken all your clothes off.  If you are “nekkid”, you have taken all your clothes off and you are up to something!”

If you are more interested in keeping your clothes on, while getting answers to your lawn and garden questions, click here to see how to get help from the Scotts Help Center anytime, not just this Saturday.

Feeding with Scotts Natural Lawn Food is a great choice for World Naked Gardening Day… (Or any day for that matter!) By the way, Rita was totally naked under her clothes when she took this picture.  (Click photo to enlarge)

 

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Walter Reeves adding to his compost pile on World Naked Gardening Day.

 

 

May – How to Help Your Lawn?

Mow your grass taller. Taller grass blades mean deeper roots to match the leaf growth. So adjust your mower to leave your grass height at around 2-1/2 inches for Bluegrass, Ryegrass and Fine Fescue; at 3 inches for Tall Fescue and Buffalograss; at 3 to 4 inches for St. Augustinegrass; and at 1-1/2 to 2 inches for Bermudagrass, Centipedegrass and Zoysia.

Feed your lawn so your grass roots are not starving. It is best to give your lawn two spring feedings about 6 to 8 weeks apart.  Feeding your lawn while we’re getting some late spring rain will strengthen your grass and help it grow new roots. Research has proven that the slow, steady feeding that is unique to Scotts helps your lawn develop a healthier root system that uses water more efficiently. A healthy lawn that’s been fed 4 times a year with one of the Scotts Lawn Foods will look good this summer on less water than a starving lawn with weak roots.

This lawn owner feeds her St. Augustine grass lawn on a regular schedule. Most lawns thrive with 4 or 5 feedings a year.

Get rid of dandelions and other aggressive weeds, otherwise they’ll steal what little water there may be from your good grass this summer. If you have just a few weeds, you can spot treat them without hurting your good grass by spraying Ortho Weed-B-Gon MAX plus Crabgrass Killer OR Roundup For Lawns.  If you have lots of dandelions, you can kill them the same time you feed your lawn with Scotts Turf Builder Weed & Feed.  (If you have St. Augustinegrass, use Scotts Bonus S Weed & Feed instead.)

Make sure you have crabgrass under control. If you had lots of crabgrass last year, and you have not gotten your crabgrass preventer down yet, you might still consider making the application as soon as possible even though you are past the ideal application time.  That is because you can still prevent the later germinating crabgrass if you act fast.  Then in summer, you can spray any crabgrass you missed with Ortho Weed-B-Gon MAX plus Crabgrass Killer.

Prevent Grub Damage. Now is your best opportunity to prevent grubs from destroying your lawn this fall.  A single application of Scotts GrubEx this month will prevent the next generation of grubs from attacking your lawn in late summer.  This application of GrubEx also protects against other lawn damaging insects like sod webworm .

Protect your family and pets from fleas, ticks, ants by spreading  some Ortho Bug B Gon on your lawn.

How Long to Wait to Seed After Crabgrass Preventer?

I hear this question quite a few times this time of year asked in two ways:  “I put down my crabgrass preventer earlier this spring, how long do I need to wait before I can seed?”  OR, “Can I prevent crabgrass and seed at the same time?”

If you have already put down Turf Builder plus Halts Crabgrass Preventer the directions state that you should not plant grass seed for 4 months after application.  This would mean you will need to wait until the end of August to seed.  You may be able to get around this if you only have a few small areas you want to seed.  I have seen folks break the crabgrass germination barrier in those spots by cultivating the soil to a 4 inch depth (to disrupt the crabgrass barrier), then mixing in an inch of compost like Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Soil, and then seeding with Scotts EZ Seed.  This is not practical if you want to seed a large area, so you will need to wait until early fall to put down your grass seed.

Crabgrass seedlings about a week after germination.  These seedlings quickly choke out new grass seed that is trying to germinate at the same time.

If you have NOT put down your crabgrass preventer yet and you want to seed this spring you should use Scotts Starter Lawn Food plus Weed Preventer instead of Halts.  (Note:  this is a different active ingredient that does not last as long as Turf Builder plus Halts, however it is your best choice if you want to seed in spring.)

Get the Jump on Ticks and Fleas

We take the precaution of treating our pets for fleas and ticks.  We wear protective clothing and repellents when hiking.  Yet experts say we can take an extra step to help protect our family and pets from being attacked by fleas and ticks.  The good news is this extra step is easy and does not cost much.

Our neighbor took this picture last year of a dog tick that dropped off her dog after gorging itself with blood.

The milder than normal winter has caused Entomologists across the country to predict a big population of fleas and ticks this year.  Since fleas and ticks can hideout in your lawn, you can help protect your family and pets by taking a few minutes to spread Ortho Bug-B-Gon MAX Insect Killer granules on your lawn using your trusty Scotts lawn spreader.  The good news is that this single treatment not only kills fleas and ticks for up to 3 months, but also knocks out ants, chiggers and 100 other insects, many of which can cause your lawn to thin and turn brown in summer.  The final step is to water your lawn after spreading to put the kill in motion.  Once your lawn is dry it is safe for your kids and pets to play on your lawn.  (I keep Dudley, our cat, inside while I spread the granules.  I then gave the lawn a good watering of ¼ to a half inch to activate the kill.  Once the lawn is dry we let Dudley back outside.)

I treated my lawn yesterday and now I know fleas and ticks do not stand a chance around our home!

As you can see, Dudley is not worried about fleas and ticks!

Coarse, Clumpy Fescue vs. Turf-type Fescue

Hear the grass name “Fescue” and you may immediately have good or bad thoughts.

Coarse Fescue, “The Bad Fescue” is a clumpy, wide-bladed grass that grows taller than your good grass.  The only way to get rid of it in your lawn is to dig it up or spray individual plants with Roundup.  (Note:  Roundup will also kill your good grass so be careful where you spray.)  Roundup also comes in a gel product that may make it easier to treat individual weeds that are taller than your existing good grass (click here for more info) Kentucky 31 Fescue is a coarse fescue that is often sold for roadside plantings.

“Bad Fescue” is a clumpy, wide-bladed grass that grows taller than your good grass

“The Good Fescue” is one of the many turf-type fescue varieties.  In my experience the best way I know to buy the good fescues is in a blend like Scotts Turf Builder Heat-Tolerant Blue (click here to learn more) or Scotts Turf Builder Southern Gold Mix (click here to learn more).  You will also find fine-bladed fescue grasses in shade mixes for dense shade.

“Good Fescue”. This Scotts Heat-Tolerant Blue lawn is nice and thick and has a pleasing texture.

How I Took Care of My Georgia Fire Ant Problem

Spring rains and warmer weather are encouraging fire ant mounds to show up.   They wreak havoc on your lawn, and make it next to impossible to feel safe and enjoy your outdoor space with friends and family.  I have had great success with the Ortho 2-Step approach to kill the fire ants I see and control the ones I don’t see.

When you accidently encounter a fire ant colony thousands of ants are on you like a magnet with multiple stings and bites. The Ortho 2-Step method will help you will the war on fire ants! (click photo to enlarge)

Here’s how I took care of my Georgia Fire Ant problem:

Step 1 – Kill the Mound: Treat mounds you see with Ortho Orthene Fire Ant Killer (click here for more info).  This product is designed to kill the queen and destroy the mound.  Do not disturb the mound prior to treating.  Sprinkle a tablespoon of product over and around each mound and do not water.  Over the next several days the ants and queen in the mound will be killed.

Step 2 – Protect the Ground: Treating only the mounds you see is not enough to completely get rid of fire ants. That is because not all fire ant mounds are easily seen. Colonies may remain active underground, hidden from sight. Additionally, new queens can fly in to establish colonies or foraging fire ants may enter the yard to look for food. Use a lawn spreader to put down Ortho MAX Fire Ant Killer Broadcast Granules (click here for more info) to protect your lawn by killing foraging fire ants and controlling new fire ant mounds from forming for up to six months.  Water your lawn after spreading the granules.

Landscape Focal Point Idea

These three photos were all taken in one year as this high impact flower bed featured all tropical plants made dramatic growth.  These kinds of plants are considered annuals as they will not survive outside during winter (some of them are considered to be houseplants).  We planted this flower bed when we lived in Ohio, however these kinds of plants are available across the country in the tropical plant section of your local garden center.  Here are the details:

First:  We mixed a couple of inches of Miracle Gro Garden Soil for Flowers into the existing soil in the bed.

Second:  We planted these plants:

1-Red Banana plant

3-Purple Threadleaf plants

3-Pennisetum “Rubrum” plants

3-Coleus “Morning After” plants

3-Carex “Amazon Mist” plants

3-Peperomia “Silver Ripples” plants

And Third:  We fed with Osmocote Flower & Vegetable Plant Food.  I like Osmocote because it provides 4 months of feeding… a good choice for someone who forgets to feed on a regular basis.

These three photos show the dramatic results:

Our flower bed just after planting on May 20. (click photo to enlarge)

Our flower bed on August 18, three months after planting! (click photo to enlarge)

Stand back Rita… I don’t know how big it’s gonna get! Our flower bed on October 6, five months after planting. (click photo to enlarge)