*Apply  [Powdered] Corn Gluten Meal at 20 lbs per 1000 sq feet to your lawn and bed area (after it is cleaned up) to control broad leaf weeds—if this is a concern. ( This year you may have already done this) Always remember that  whatever else you are putting down ( soil, compost, mulch etc)–the corn gluten meal must be on top to work.

FYI– never trim during rainy weather-it can cause disease in the cuts – trim on dry days — temperatures should be ok for you to be outside — so between 35 degrees  & up while you are trimming.

* Trim back evergreen  shrubs that are not Spring only bloomers — if they need it to make them bushy. Cut them back about 6”-18” to just above a node.  If they are real overgrown you may take most shrubs back by half or more — new growth will come  just above the cut so keep that in mind–as long as you do this between Feb. 15- March 31st (this is called radical pruning and is done only when shrubs have gotten very much out of hand) Always make your final cut on each branch just above a node.

Take care to dig out any leaves  that have accumulated inside  shrubs–If you don’t tend to this- a wet spring can rot out the plant or cause disease.  Use a stick or rake with long flexible tines on it to reach in and dig out the built up material

*Cut back perennial evergreen vines that are  all season bloomers like Coral Honeysuckle and  Sweet Autumn Clematis-no matter how good they look now– if you don’t the new growth will  pop out and  cause the old growth to turn brown and leave it looking shabby underneath.

Do not cut back spring  bloomers like Confederate Star Jasmine yet or Cross Vines yet-wait until after they have finished blooming usually in May

*Cut  rose bushes  that are repeat bloomers back by ½-

Remove 2-3  three year canes  to the ground-each year after the climbers are 3 years old –these will be  larger and woody ( gray)- and will be replaced by  fresh  stems that will bloom better do not cut back spring only bloomers- wait until after they  have bloomed-usually by May.

*Clean up any evergreen perennials   if they need it [ only cut back if damaged-or just remove damages part.]  Ex ample : Lenten Rose, Holly Ferns, Cast iron Plants, Divaracata Phlox, Columbine  etc.

(Holly ferns can be cut to ground if badly damaged-do this before the new growth appears- ( looks like monkey tails  and Cast iron can also be taken to the ground if badly damaged)

*Cut these woody perennials and others like them–back by 1/3-1/2 just above a node to keep them from getting too woody and leggy.

Salvia Greggii, , Mexican Oregano, Russian Sage etc.

* Always Cut back Powis Castle Artemisia and Pink Skullcap by 2/3–even if it looks good–(if you don’t it will be leggy in June and  you shouldn’t cut it then–the heat on the new growth will kill the plant.)

*Herbaceous  Perennials die back to the ground each year but will return. Remove the dead part or trim it off at just about 2 “ above  ground level.   Example-Turks cap, Mexican Mint Marigold, Mexican Bush Sage, Autumn Aster. Creeping Lantana,  Most Ornamental Grasses etc

*Apply a Granular   and a Foliar on your program— wait at least 2 weeks after  corn gluten meal was applied–If your lawn suffers from SAD or if you  overseeded last fall with Elbon rye  wait until the weather  gets up into the 70’s again on a regular basis to do this task-

see Pick Your Program- attached

Tips for Adding New Mulch

Hardwood Mulch is one I prefer because it holds in moisture, stays in place, and looks very rich.  Apply 3”- 4” deep and it should last for a year.  “However, you may use the one you like best as long as it stays in place ( for instance-pine bark floats away-not a good choice).

Pine Straw  is now available and works great too and lasts longer

a. Use for pathways and sitting areas and  as mulch around plants

b. Use to control turf grasses and weeds; one bale covers 24 sq. ft. at my rate; since it is so acid, turf grasses and weeds don’t grow in it if applied thick enough. Weed seeds don’t germinate in it.

Additional Mulching Tips-and Fire Ant Control under surfaces

How to keep fire ants out of your flowerbeds as long as the mulch stays in place: Remember3-4” of mulch should last a whole year-less will not.

Before you lay mulch, apply a thin layer of DE  to prevent ants in your beds (Diatomaceous Earth) that can be purchased from a garden center (this is NOT the same as what you add to your pool). I use an old sifter as a scoop to shake over the area. As long as the Mulch stay in place the DE will be there—ants do not choose to move in.

you will have to use Nature’s Guide Fire Ant Killer to remove any existing mounds ( the DE by itself won’t run them off- but it will keep them from building new mounds)

Also apply a thin layer of  plain DE under step stones, patios, sandboxes, etc. so ants will not  move in under them. This works great-it lasts as long as the item placed on top  is there.

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