The next few weeks will determine the quality of your lawn for the rest of the year, so please spend some time working on it.
Begin with a good cleaning: picking up rocks and branches now will help keep the lawn mower blade sharp and prevent disease problems to the lawn later.
Start your lawn mower as soon as possible and let it run for a few minutes to make sure no problems developed during the winter.
Sharpen the blade so that when you cut the grass, you cut it, rather than ripping it with a dull blade.
Change the oil.
I know people who have never changed the oil in the mower in the past three, four, five years.
Clean the oil filter and the underside of the mower for a good start to the New Year.
If this is not your thing, have it done now, while the repair shops are still quiet.
Moss is a problem to a lot of you and now is the best time to work on it.
If you are using limestone, use the product at the rate of 50 pounds per 1000 sq.
If you are using a drop spreader-- the rectangular type which allows the product to just fall out--open it all the way so it just pours out and turns the ground white.
Do it right and the moss will have problems growing in your yard.
You can also use the new lime substitute from Jonathan Green Lawn and Garden called Mag-I-Cal at the rate of one bag per 5 to 10 thousand square feet.
It's less expensive, less weight you have to handle, and best of all it will change the acidity in just 2 or 3 weeks, unlike the limestone that takes up to 6 months to do the same.
If the moss is really bad and thick, almost like carpeting, look for Lilly Miller Moss Killer.
All you have to do is apply it when the grass is wet and the product will kill all the moss without hurting the lawn.
Crabgrass is best controlled at this time of the year, with a pre-emergence crabgrass control product.
If you are using a 4-step program, it will be Step One: crabgrass control plus fertilizer combination.
Apply now, as it must be applied while the forsythia flowering shrub is in bloom.
Once the yellow flowers begin to fall, the crabgrass seed is beginning to germinate and the product will not work.
Also be sure to water it in well to dissolve the powder and change it to a liquid, so it will create a skin on the soil surface to kill the seed.
If you plan to plant grass seed this spring and want to control the crabgrass at the same time, be sure to tell the salesperson so they can tell you about a different product just for this purpose.
The common crabgrass control products will kill your new seed as well as the crabgrass seed at the same time.
You will pay a bit more for this new smart technology, but it is well worth the investment if you want to plant seed this spring.
If you want to stay organic, use corn gluten as a fertilizer and crabgrass control product now.
Espoma Lawn and Garden or Bradfield Organics have a corn gluten product available at many garden centers that will keep your lawn clean of crabgrass.
However, you will not be able to plant seed with corn gluten! Plant your grass seed in the fall but act now to kill the crabgrass seed!
Fertilizer in the spring is very important to the lawn and helps to get it greened up after the long winter.
The best synthetic lawn fertilizers for your lawn are manufactured by O M Scotts and Jonathan Green companies.
When applied correctly, you will have a beautiful lawn that is safe for the entire family to enjoy.
Both companies have been in business for over 50 years and work hard to develop products that are safe to keep your lawn beautiful, thick and green for you to enjoy.
Today some of you want to go organic in the lawn and that is possible.
Look for Espoma Lawn and Garden 4-step organic fertilizers at your local garden centers.
For just fertilizer for the lawn I recommend Converted Organics, a Boston based company that has developed a lawn food made from spoiled or outdated food products, like fruits, vegetables, breads, and meats from supermarkets and restaurants.
Their special process also allows bacteria and microbes to survive and help rebuild your lawns organically.
Look for their products in Whole Foods, Home Depot and selected Garden Centers.
This is the ultimate lawn fertilizer recycled and reused with no waste.
It is now time to prune any non-flowering shrubs, uch plants as privet hedges, Burning Bush, barberry, spread, upright and pyramidal yews, junipers, hemlocks and dwarf evergreens.
Prune now to control the size of the plant before the new growth begins, and holes that develop with this pruning will fill in when the new growth develops later.
DO NOT BE SCARED TO PRUNE! Pruning will keep plants under control so they do not take over the planting area and have to be replaced because of size.
Any dead or damaged branches should be removed; this cleaning will help to prevent problems later.
You can remove up to 1/3 of the plant without hurting it as long as evergreens still have green foliage on the remaining branches.
Fertilize your evergreen shrubs at this time also with Holly-Tone or Dr Earth Evergreen fertilizer.
If you are feeding deciduous plants, use Plant-Tone or Dr.
Earth shrub fertilizer.
Transplanting of shrubs is best when done this month, as they are still dormant or slow to develop.
Moving plants now will cause little setback or stress to the plant.
When replanted the roots will compensate for the loss and plants will quickly adapt.
Such plants as beach roses, regular roses, azaleas, rhododendrons and Rose of Sharon do better when moved at this time of the year.
Multi stem plants like lilacs, hydrangeas, ornamental grasses, and perennials can be divided easily at this time of the year with great success.
If you own a property that has wild pine trees, birches, blueberries and small shade trees growing on it, now is also the best time to relocate them with higher success.
If plants have outgrown their planting area, now is also the best time to move them.
When planting, be sure to use compost in the new hole so the roots have rich soil to develop a new root system.
I also recommend that you use Soil Moist to help hold water around those new roots that wil l develop.
The new technology with the garden is Mycorrhiyzae Bacteria, replacing Superphosphate fertilizer with better results.
Bio-Tone or the new liquid Plant Thrive fertilizers should be used when you transplant new shrubs on your property.
Prune shrub type plants to 18 inches from the ground as this will control size and stimulate new growth for more flowers.
All dead or damaged branches should be removed from the plant now.
Your climbing roses will always do better when tied down to a fence or trellis with garden twine or Twistems to prevent wind damage.
To help keep the plant flowering, be sure to remove the suckers that may develop below the graft on the stem of the plant.
The graft will resemble a fist or swollen area on the plant; any growth below this will produce foliage only, with no flowers.
Sucker growth will grow straight up and very fast, stealing the energy from the plant.
Climbing roses will flower more if you keep the branches growing horizontal, so tie them in the shape of the letter S for more flowers.
Apply mulch around the base of the roses to keep out weeds, hold water around the plant during the summer, and help insulate the roots during the winter months.
Feed roses monthly from April to September with a good fertilizer like Converted Organics Flower and Garden food or Dr.
Earth Rose and Flower fertilizer with Pro-Biotic.
In May, add a systemic insect and disease control product from Bayer Advance Lawn and Garden to the rose garden.
Check your soil pH to keep plants growing properly.
If you see moss growing in the lawn around the garden, that is a good sign that the garden needs some lime.
If you are growing root crops and not having great results, it could be clay in the soil; this condition can be corrected with Liquid Gypsum from Soil Logic, found at most Garden Centers or Feed and Grain stores.
If your soil is sandy and requires many waterings during the summer, it may be time to add compost, animal manure, peat moss, or some sort of organic matter to help out.
This year make a plan of your garden on paper so you can change the location of your vegetables each year.
Crop rotation helps for a more productive garden.
If you are planting peas or beans this year, try using seed inoculation, nitrogen-fixing bacteria for a better crop.
Your garden center will have this--and it doubles the crop! If you grew tomatoes or potatoes in the vegetable garden last year had problems with the "Late Blight", pick up a bag of Actinovate.
Actinovate is a new bacterium developed at a Texas University that will prevent this problem from reoccurring this year.
I am going to cover half of my garden this year with a new product called "Weed Free Garden Watering Blanket." This black woven landscape fabric with a built in watering system will water your garden without getting the foliage wet while putting water directly on the roots of the plant.
No weeds, no water on leaves means fewer disease problems, water under the fabric means less water needed and if you put it on the garden now, the soil will warm up faster for better growth during the season.
Warm soil gives you early and more vegetables--2 to 3 weeks earlier, and it's great for peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, squash and tomatoes in your garden.
Check it out at www.evoorganic.com.
As soon as the flowers fall from your trees, begin a spraying program to control insects and disease problems.
If you want a good crop of fruit, you will have to spray them every 2 weeks or you will have bumps, spots, dents or even worms on the fruit.
Look for Organocide organic fruit tree spray to keep your plants clean.
If you have a problem with squirrels or birds feeding on the fruit, look for a "molded and ridged" owl at a garden center or feed and grain store.
Owls are predators, so if you can move your fake owl around the trees weekly, it will keep animals and birds away from your trees.
Drive a tomato stake in the ground and set the owl on it.
If you have deer chewing on the branches, apply Bobbex Deer repellent on the tips of the branches and foliage or Dear Scram around the drip line of the branches.
Start now and train the deer before they get comfortable and move to the vegetable garden.
Fruit trees will have bigger fruit and more fruit if fertilized every spring.
Use one pound of food per inch of tree trunk and place the food in holes 6 inches deep under the canopy of branches.
Espoma Tree-Tone or Dr.
Earth Fruit Tree Fertilizer with Pro-Biotic will help improve your crops.
All ground cover plants will benefit with fertilizer now to encourage new growth and repair damage of brown or discolored foliage caused by the winter weather.
Plants like pachysandra may have pale green foliage, but a fertilizer that contains iron will deepen the color in just a few weeks.
Look for "Ironite" or Miracid from Scotts to green up all plants.
If you have English ivy and there is a lot of dried up foliage, add 1 to 2 inches of peat moss or compost over the entire bed, covering the foliage a little bit.
This organic material will stimulate the dormant buds at the base of the brown leaves and develop a new green leaf.
Feed with Holly Tone and keep wet.
Ground cover with grass developing in it can be cleaned with the new "Over the top 2" spray from Fertilome lawn and Garden.
To keep weeds out for the entire year apply Fertilome Weed and Grass Stopper.
If you have a slug problem in the bed use the new Organic Sluggo Plus at the first sign of a problem.
While your strawberry plants are small, cover the bed with straw to keep out weeds, keep berries clean, water less, and control slugs.
Two inches of loose straw is best--apply now! Applied now, the new growth and buds can grow through the straw.
Feed blueberries with rhododendron fertilizer and aluminum sulfate fertilizer to make the soil more acidic.
Add 2 inches of bark mulch, sawdust or rabbit bedding as a covering around each plant.
Raspberry beds should be cleaned of old branches as the new growth makes the best fruit.
The more shoots that develop around the base of the plant, the more fruit will develop during the year.
Spray all fruits with Organocide to prevent insect and disease problems as needed.
Feed with Plant thrive or Bio-tone fertilizer now and again in Early June.
Clean all beds of old dead foliage and winter build up of leaves and pine needles.
Edge the flower beds now and then spread bark mulch or compost to a depth of 2 inches deep.
Feed with Flower food like Dr Earth Flower fertilizer with Pro-Biotic or Converted Organics Flower Garden food.
If your lilies are up, pour a quart of Tree and Shrub insecticide mixture around each clump to eliminate the Asiatic Lily Beetle.
Use 1 Tablespoon per gallon of water.
Spread Weed and Grass Stopper from Fertilome to prevent weeds in the garden for one year.
Spread Lime or Mag-I-Cal around lilacs and clematis to sweeten the soil for more growth and flowers.
Treat your hard surfaces with Wet and Forget to prevent moss and mold build up since we have had so much rain this spring.
Treat your awnings, umbrellas, and patio furniture as you put it out for summer to eliminate problems.
Remember this organic product will last the entire year and works best when rain is available to help destroy the moss or mold.
Fences, walkways, shingles on the house and decks will stay clean.
Moss and mold will destroy wood, crack vinyl fencing, rot canvas and eat away the concrete that holds the brick together.
One application per year will keep everything clean.
If you have a brick walkway or patio and the soil has settled, add a little stone dust or mason sand to it and sweep into the crack to lock the bricks in place.
Wash the sand into the cracks with water from the hose, as this will compact it tightly to keep weeds out and stop the bricks from settling.