It seems like at this time of year, when we have a nice day in the high fifties or sixties, people seem to forget that it’s still winter. People call us and ask when they should start mowing and should they scalp now? Is it time for pre-emergents? Or is it too late for pre-emergents…or too early? Is it okay to prune trees now? How about transplanting a shrub?
First of all, it IS still winter, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things we can do now, to get ready for spring. And, there are a few things we don’t want to do now.
Don’t scalp your lawn yet! Scalping bermuda grass removes all the old dead material from your lawn so that the sun can warm the soil and your lawn will green up faster. But right now, we can still get freezes that could harm your bermuda grass’ roots. Don’t scalp your lawn until all chance of frost has past. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the average last frost date in Tulsa is March 27. Read more about mowing and scalping.
Yes, it’s time for crabgrass pre-emergents. Speaking for the lawn care industry, we are all putting down pre-emergents now. Luckily, we have a large window to do that, January through March or April. Technically, you just have to get it down before the crabgrass germinates, when the soil temperature rises above 55⁰. In Tulsa, that’s usually between late March to early May, depending on the weather. According to OSU, at least one pre-emergent application should be down by mid to late March.
Should I prune my trees and shrubs now? Some yes, and some no. Technically, this is a good time to prune, because the leaves are off the trees and shrubs now, and you can clearly see their shapes. But, as a rule, you shouldn’t prune most spring bloomers before they bloom, or you may not see a good show of flowers. Prune plants like forsythia, flowering crabapple, lilac, magnolia, rhododendron and weigela in late spring, after the blooms fade. Right now, you can prune crape myrtles, hydrangea peegee, redbuds, butterfly bush and wisteria. If in doubt, look up the particular plant. For example, you can prune spirea now, except for bridal wreath spirea which should be pruned in late spring/early summer.
February is the ideal time to transplant. When a tree or shrub is dormant, it’s a good time to move it if you are so inclined. Dig the hole where you’ll be planting it before you dig up the plant – be sure the hole is as deep as the root ball and at least twice as wide. When you dig up the plant, make sure the roots don’t dry out. If roots are torn, or ragged, snip them off cleanly. Don’t put anything in the hole except the plant and the soil that came out of the hole. Don’t put fertilizer in there, because the roots need to be established before they can absorb it. Keep it well-watered (deep watering twice per week) for 2 summers.
For more info on transplanting or planting trees and shrubs, Clemson University offers excellent step-by-step instructions in “Transplanting Established Trees and Shrubs.” For info on regular planting, OSU has a great fact sheet “Planting Trees and Shrubs.”
Don’t seed fescue in the spring unless you have some bare areas you absolutely can’t live with! For full details, please see my previous blog, Seeding Fescue Grass in Tulsa, or our Fall Seeding Fescue & Rye page.
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