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Whats next for landscape?

The weather last week and earlier this week has slowed many outdoor projects. Many people have questions as to what should be done to maintain their landscape.
Below are a few questions received over the past few days that may relate to your situation.
Q: Can I still fertilize and seed my lawn now?
A: Yes, but germination will be slow with the cooler weather. Be sure to keep falling leaves off newly emerging grass seeds.
Q: My newly planted fescue is about 7 inches tall. It seems to be frail. Should I mow it now?
A: Yes, mow your lawn at the highest setting and be sure your blade is very sharp. Avoid using a riding mower if possible.
Q: Is now the best time to cut back trees and shrubs? I have large shrubs that need to be severely pruned.
A: I would wait until mid-March to heavily prune evergreen shrubs. Our weather has been too variable and the chance of a freeze is always a problem.
Spring blooming plants such as azaleas and camellia japonica should be pruned after bloom in the spring. Buds are set in the fall and pruning now removes much of the flowers for spring. This is also true for other spring flowering trees and shrubs.
Trees and shrubs can be lightly pruned now. Excessive summer growth or an occasional limb that hampers mowing can be removed without major damage to the plant.
Q: Can I still plant pansies?
A: Pansies can still be planted. Make sure that the plant beds are deeply tilled with ample soil amendments. Mulch newly set plants with a layer of fine bark. Dead head spent blooms throughout the fall and winter to allow maximum root growth.
Fertilize with a water soluble fertilizer when temperatures fall below 60 degrees. Fertilization during unseasonably warm temperatures causes the plants to stretch and become weak.
Q: You had an article about bulbs in the paper last week. You did not mention how to keep voles from eating newly planted bulbs.
A: Spring flowering bulbs such as tulips are easy prey for rodents. Some use wire mesh buried around the bulbs. Other gardeners have had success using Perma Till.
Perma Till is a soil conditioner that is also used to impede voles. It is sold as Mole Block. The puffed slate seems to deter voles and other burrowing rodents. Avoid using pure bone meal as it may entice rodents.
Darrell Blackwelder is an agricultural agent in charge of horticulture with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at 704-216-8970.
Web sites:
http://www.rowanmastergardener.com
http://rowan.ces.ncsu.edu
www.rowanextension .com

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