Knowing when to fertilize, water, mow, and deal with weeds and pests depends on where you live. In Massachusetts (and throughout the northeast), lawn care and maintenance in late August–September should focus on:
•Dethatching and aerating with a core aerator. The ground should be good and soft for aerating to break up any areas where soil may be getting compacted from heavy summer foot traffic. Now that your turf has bore the brunt of summer activity (think cookouts, frisbee games, excessive sun and stifling heat), it's a good idea to remove thatch that may have built up and aerate compacted areas of your grass.
•Fertilizing and seeding. Apply a slow-release, organic fertilizer to the outer edges of your lawn, followed by the middle. Because you're feeding nutrients to your grass via fertilizer at a time of rapid growth, you may have to mow more frequently afterward. This is also a good time to overseed your lawn.
•Spreading weed-and-feed over your entire lawn or spot-spraying weeds. Weed-and-feed products combine fertilizer and herbicides to do two jobs at once. You may run the risk of over fertilizing if you use excessive weed-and-feed and fertilize your entire lawn as well. If you have only a few weeds, try pulling them or spot spraying with an herbicide or lime juice and vinegar.
Because many homeowners are tending to their summer gardens by weeding, feeding and cutting blooms for their vases, we've had a lot of questions from customers as well as friends about pruning. Should they cut back - prune - their flowering shrubs like hydrangeas or rose-of-Sharon?
Now? Later? Ever?
Should I prune?
Because flowering shrubs generally thrive year after year without much attention, many homeowners don't consider pruning until they're overgrown and interfering in some way. But pruning promotes the growth of the shrub and helps you maintain the size and shape you want for the plant. Also, when you take just a few minutes each year to prune, you'll see an increase in the number of blooms during flowering season. And isn't that the reason we plant shrubs to being with? Anyone can prune and annual pruning should take less than ten minutes for each shrub.
When do I prune?
The ideal time to prune is determined by when the shrub forms its flower buds and when those buds open. Flowering shrubs are either spring-blooming plants or summer-blooming plants.
Spring-blooming shrubs (think lilac) develop flower buds in summer that don't actually open until the following year's spring. Prune these immediately after flowering, because if you prune too late you'll risk removing some (of all!) of those buds for next year.
Summer-flowering shrubs, like rose-of-Sharon and hydrangea, develop buds in the spring that bloom into flowers that summer. These shrubs should be pruned in late winter or early spring, before the buds begin to show.
What are my goals?
Before you start cutting away with those pruning shears, think of what your goal is. Your intent with pruning flowering shrubs should be to maintain the health of the plant and to enhance its natural form and beauty - its shape, size and flowers - by selectively pruning branches. Remove dead and damaged branches and prune branches that are getting intertwined with each other. Be sure to cut back to the ground (or a live bud or branch if there is one).
It shouldn't be terribly obvious that you just cut your shrubs. In fact, when done really well, maintenance pruning isn't apparent at all but you will preserve the health of your shrubs and see more flowers next season!
If you have any questions about improving your garden or landscape, give us a call at
Gardenin' Angels, 774-284-1171.
Rodrigo Dos Anjos