Gardening with Laurie: Prepare your lawn and landscape for summer

By Laurie Garretson
March 22, 2012 at midnight
Updated March 21, 2012 at 10:22 p.m.

Rarely a day goes by without someone telling me how bad their lawn looks. As I drive around town, I also notice lawns all over the area that appear to be stressed. And unfortunately, it's not just lawns that are stressed. In many cases it's entire landscapes that are in need of help.

Last summer really did take a toll on so many things. But it's to be expected when temperatures stay so hot for so long, and you don't have rain. All living things will suffer in those prolonged conditions.

The time is now to help get our stressed landscapes healthier before it's time for summer conditions again. The powers-that-be predict another several years of severe drought and higher-than-normal summer temperatures for our area.

So far, this spring, we have been fortunate to get some rain. This rain is wonderful, but we can't depend on the showers we're getting now to help us come July and August.

Our lawns, flowerbeds, trees, vegetable gardens, orchards and anything else that grows in soil, all need nutrients now to help make it through this next summer. Using organic fertilizers along with compost will help to build the health of your soil. Remember, a healthy living soil will be the key to your healthy landscape.

Many fruit trees are finishing their blooming cycles this month. This means it's time to do some thinning. Most gardeners don't like thinning out fruit, but they know it's to their advantage to do so. Thinning, along with fertilizing, is very helpful for growing healthy productive trees that produce large juicy fruits.

The best time to thin fruit trees is when the fruit is about the size of a quarter. Thin your pears and apples to one fruit per cluster. It's suggested to thin plums to four inches apart and peaches to every six inches apart.

Take some time now to spread several inches of a native mulch under all your fruit trees, shrubs and other woody ornamental plants. Spring is a great time to replenish the mulch in all gardens, flowerbeds and around trees.

Mulch not only deters weeds and prevents some pest problems, it also helps to keep roots cooler, holds in moisture, and as it breaks down, it feeds the roots. An even better idea would be to spread a half inch of compost on the soil before mulching.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.



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