Growing Concerns: Don’t let impatience damage your lawn and garden


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Wasn’t the weather last Sunday amazing? Other than the wind. it really felt like a spring day. And I know many of you are counting the hours till you can get back in the garden.

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But as nice as it was, remember: the ground in many places is still somewhat frozen and if we try to work it, we will do more harm than good.

This time of year, try not to walk on the ground too much, because the top layer has thawed and is saturated with water. Walking on it will leave footprints – sometimes quite deep – that can damage grass roots and leave divots and rough ground in your lawn.

Sunday’s strong winds did do a good job of helping dry up water sitting on the surface, but this time of year it’s important to be patient and give things a chance to wake up on their own.

I did spend some time outdoors picking up broken branches and other winter debris. Despite having a fenced-in backyard, I found a bit of garbage, including wrappers and paper food containers. I guess the squirrels had a party.

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I also put several sections of sod back in place where the sidewalk plow did some damage. Hopefully, they will take again and I won’t have any damage to fix later.

This week, I visited a garden center and couldn’t believe how many were looking for grass seed already. Any grass seed you put down right now will end up as nothing more than expensive birdseed.

That’s because grass seed can’t germinate until the soil temperature is at least 68 F (20 C). How can you tell when it is? Forsythia, large shrubs that produce bright yellow flowers before they have leaves, will be in full bloom. Spring bulbs will have started to bloom, too, but forsythia is the telltale sign that the soil is warm enough to start working in it.

Now is the time to put your energy into your seedlings indoors. They’ll require a bit of attention making sure they don’t get overwatered and may need to be repotted in bigger containers as they continue to grow. Don’t forget to fertilize after the second set of true leaves has formed.

And it’s never too late to add a tropical or two to your home or office. There’s an amazing number of new plants in garden centers this time of year, so stop by and take home a new friend or two.

Growing Concerns is produced by Parkway Gardens. Send your gardening questions to Homes, c/o The London Free Press, 210 Dundas St., Suite 201, London, Ont., N6A 5J3.

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