June 30, 2022

McKenzielee Blog

Wicked Clever House Experts

What not to do in the garden this month. Texas A&M garden expert offers tips including how to weed

4 min read

Spring temperatures and new growth around town compel us to clean, trim and tidy our yards. An assessment of our property includes trees. However, certain bird species are starting to nest in those trees. They build nests with the intention of camouflage, so they are hard to detect with a simple visual inspection.

It is an unfortunate alignment that tree pruning and felling happen in the very season that birds need them most. Every nest that is felled with a tree is a generation lost. In every neighborhood, in every county, in every state. Losses add up. If possible, perform a tree assessment now, but wait to prune and remove large trees until the late winter months.

The benefit of winter pruning is that by this point in the spring, the tree has spent all its energy on new growth. Pruning it now can add stress. Healthy trees may manage it well, a weak tree may not.

If you are looking for an arborist, treesaregood.org is an excellent resource. The International Society of Arboriculture manages the website, and its mission “is to promote the professional practice of arboriculture and create a worldwide awareness of the benefit of trees.”

Loropetalum chinense is blooming now. This mature specimen has grown to around ten feet tall as an understory tree. Dwarf varieties are available for smaller spaces. Form and flowers look best when little pruning is performed.

Brandi Keller / Contributor

Other things to avoid

Do not prune spring-blooming shrubs until they have finished flowering, then do not wait too long. Shrubs that bloom on old wood produce growth in the summer that give birth to the buds for next spring. These include azaleas, rhododendron, viburnum, loropetalum and gardenia.

Do not apply pesticides to plants in bloom. This can affect pollinators.

Do not willy-nilly pull weeds up; you don’t want the roots to break at the soil line. Wait until after a rain for the soil to soften and loosen. Then, pull weeds carefully, with the roots intact. Spreading 3 to 4 inches of mulch in beds will help reduce weeds, retain moisture and keep roots cooler in hot months.

Avoid the combination of weed and feed. It can be effective for short term use, but the application rate is rarely followed by homeowners and can cause more harm than good. Since it contains a broadleaf weed killer, this can affect shrubs and trees. If this herbicide is needed, a fall application is more effective. Fertilizing turf is not done at the same time as weed control.

Do not crowd plants. Whether it is vegetables or shrubs, air circulation is an important aspect of disease and pest prevention.

Be careful when trimming trees and shrubs, so that you don’t disturb a mourning dove or other nesting bird.

Be careful when trimming trees and shrubs, so that you don’t disturb a mourning dove or other nesting bird.

Shannon Tompkins / Houston Chronicle

What can be done this month

 Get a head start on monitoring for pests before they become a problem. It is much easier to manage a population of eggs or nymphs before they go out into the world on their own. Not all insects are created equal. Learn your beneficials.

 Plant now to allow roots to establish before the heat of summer. Garden centers are stocked with annuals, perennials and shrubs. Since annuals are meant to live their life cycle in one season, they provide color like a nonstop fireworks display, instantly. Annual seeds that can be sown directly in the garden bed are marigold, zinnia, cosmos, sunflowers and celosia. Perennials live for many seasons. They may not provide the color pop that annuals do, but they come back each year, can be divided into new plants and add to the diversity of a garden bed. Fall is the ideal time to plant most trees and shrubs, but it can still be done now, with proper planting and watering.

 In the vegetable garden, plant transplants of tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. Certain seeds do better if sowed directly into the ground. These include beans, Southern peas, squash, melons, okra, cucumber, Swiss chard.

 Sow herb seeds. Leftover herb and vegetable seeds can be saved by storing in a sealed, glass container in the refrigerator.

 Remember foliage plants — croton, coleus, caladiums. Speaking of caladiums, it is the time to plant bulbs.

 Enjoy cool-season annuals while they last. Pansies, violas and snapdragons look great right now. Take note for next year.

 Warm-season grasses will not need nitrogen fertilizer until your grass is green and requires mowing two to three times. A good estimate is about six weeks after the last expected frost date. Regular mowing will help prevent weeds from developing seed heads.

 Here’s what is blooming now: Redbud (Cercis canadensis), azaleas, loropetalum, Camellia japonica and Mexican plums (Prunus mexicana). Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria), while not a flower, is providing a great show in red berries.

Brandi Keller is a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent.


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