The Winter Lawn & Landscape Break is Nearing the End
With January behind us and spring only a few weeks in front of us, it is time to end our winter slumber and return to making our world a prettier place. Sure, there are still a few cold days to come, but with each day the average temperature is rising and days are getting longer. Very soon the browns of winter will be replaced with the colors of spring.
If you thought you had another month of slacking on the lawn and landscape activities, I’m here to remind you of a few important task that should be done this month to have the best lawn and landscape this summer.
Lawn Equipment – If you mow your own lawn, February is a perfect time to get your mower ready for the new season. A great shop for a Winter Tune up is Bronco Power Equipment at 5010 N Rockwell, Bethany, OK 73008. They will put in a new spark plug, change the oil and filter, replace the air filter if needed, put in fresh fuel with stabilizer, and sharpen the blade. I am a firm believer in having your lawn mower professionally serviced every winter. Not only will you have less mower headaches during the season, you also can expect a longer mower life. Call Brian at (405)789-8672 for more information. You will be glad you did when spring arrives.
Watering – We started the winter with abundant moisture, but January turned out to be a drier than normal month. The last significant moisture was on January 12th in Central Oklahoma. During the winter your trees, shrubs, flowers, and turf still need some moisture. Winter plant damage is more likely when we have cold snaps during dry periods. I would recommend running your irrigation or stringing out the hoses on nice days in February if we have not received a good rain within the last week.
Dormant Oil – Many insects, such as scale and aphids, overwinter on trees and shrubs. Spray with a dormant oil when the temperature is above 40 degrees before the end of the month and you will have less insect issues during the season. Caution – do not use dormant oils on evergreens.
Weed Control – Since early January, we have been applying the very important first step of our lawn care program to our customer’s lawns. For the best lawn this year it is critical you have a pre-emergent herbicide put on your turf to prevent spring and summer weeds before the end of February. Many summer weeds germinate when soil temperatures reach 55 degrees, which typically occurs in early March in central Oklahoma. If you have a bermuda lawn, now is the perfect time to be more aggressive in controlling existing weeds in the turf. While the lawn is dormant, non-selective herbicides can be used without harming the turf. If you have a fescue lawn, now is also a good time for post-emergent weed control, but you must read the label and insure it is safe for fescue before applying. Never assume that a herbicide is okay on any turf type.
Soil Test – If your lawn did not respond as expected to fertilizer last year, you may a soil problem. It is a good idea to have your soil tested every three years to insure the soil will continue to yield a healthy landscape. A soil analysis will provide you with the pH and levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. A pH range of 6.0 to 7.5 is acceptable for most plants. Using a spade take 10-12 samples of soil from the top 6”. It is best to test turf soil and landscape planting soil separately. Mix in a bucket and remove roots and debris. Place about 2 cups of soil in a plastic zip lock bag. Take the sample to your locale Oklahoma County Extension Center. The Oklahoma County’s center is located 2500 NE 63rd St, Oklahoma City, OK 73111. For a nominal fee they will have the soil tested and send you the results along with recommendations in approximately two weeks.
Tree Pruning – Complete any needed tree pruning this month. This is particularly important on young trees. Prune for a strong central leader by removing competing branches. Remove crossing branches. Remove low hanging branches. Then, take a step back and inspect the shape and make a few final pruning cuts to suit your taste. Pruning young trees will make a big difference in health and appearance as the tree matures.
Tree Planting – The best time to add new trees to your landscape is during the winter while they are dormant. Balled and burlap trees are dug during dormancy and the success rate of transplanting increases to nearly 100% if they are replanted before they exit dormancy.
Lawn Maintenance – Continue to keep leaves and debris removed from the landscape. Later this month, go ahead and cut the lawn for the first time. It is not necessary to scalp the lawn all the way to the soil. I recommend cutting the lawn at or just below the height you desire to maintain it at during the spring and early summer.
I hope you are anticipating the arrival of spring. An occasional spring-like day in February always gets me ready to be out in the landscape. Take advantage of all the great days to get your lawn and landscape ready for a wonderful 2019.
If you need help with any of these tasks or have questions, please give Hall|Stewart a call.