May Lawn & Garden Care
Hopefully you have applied the only application of fertilizer your lawn is going to need all year. Now it’s up to you or your lawn service to maintain your grass with a mowing every single week. Keep St. Augustine grass groomed to a height of 2 ½ to 3 inches tall. Other grasses have their own recommended cutting height. How do you tell your cutting height? Take a ruler to your grass just after mowing. Why so long? You want to retain water provided by nature (ha!) and from your once-a-week irrigation. Do allow your lawn clippings to fall back onto your lawn as they provide nutrients and also act as beneficial mulch.
It’s time to feed all spring-blooming shrubs now that they have completed their show of color. You can use a 3-1-2 ratio fertilizer on most. Also shrubs like quince, azaleas and Texas mountain laurels could stand a light pruning to give them a better shape.
Feed your crapes with ½ cup per square yard of 3-1-2 ratio fertilizer beneath their branch spread. If powdery mildew moves in on your crapes, there are numerous fungicides, both natural and synthetic, that are available to control the white blight. Care should be observed when using any fungicide. Natural fungicides such as Neem oil extract and Potassium bicarbonate has been shown to be effective when used correctly.
It’s still a bad time to consider pruning any oaks on your property. The danger of introducing oak wilt is not over until the peak heat of summer, so if you must prune oaks, it is only safe to start in July.
Climbing roses and other roses that are one-time bloomers may be pruned after they have put on their show. Hopefully you already have all your roses on a feeding schedule of once every five to six weeks. That same good 3-1-2 ratio fertilizer that you used on your lawn and shrubs will fit the bill for roses too.
Watch for aphids, thrips, red spider mites, caterpillars (may get a lot this spring!), white fly, leaf rollers and scale. Before resorting to a chemical spray to eliminate pests found on plants, fill a spray bottle with the ratio of 2 tablespoons liquid dish soap (not Dawn, but Ivory) to 1 gallon of
water. Shake well and spray the mixture onto leaves from above and especially from below. If this first organic method does not eliminate your pests, then you may have to resort to a commercial product.
May is a good time to plant caladium bulbs or nursery-started caladiums. The soil is finally warm enough for them. Caladiums will do well in the shade and away from where deer might discover them. Annuals like begonias, impatiens, and coleus may all be planted in the shade. If you already have chrysanthemums and fall asters in your garden, start pinching them back for bushier plants and more blooms in the fall.
It’s getting to that time of year to repot crowded houseplants. You may even wish for many of them to go out onto your deck or patio under a shade tree for the summer. Don’t subject them to a full blast of the Texas sun as they probably won’t handle it.