“At last came the golden month of the wild folk—honey-sweet May, when the birds come back, and the flowers come out, and the air is full of the sunrise scents and songs of the dawning year.” — Samuel Scoville Jr. 

“The world’s favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May.” — Edwin Way Teale. 

“Step aside to a brand new day, in the month of May I feel, I can start again. Life is feeling new, This is hope, this is love, this is where we all won, if you call, I will hear, I will listen for you.” — Mychal Simka.

As the temps gradually rise each day, May continues to cruise right along. As the weather encourages more outdoor activities, perhaps you might consider this list of activities for maintenance in your lawn and landscape.

Annuals: Remove all faded blooms to prevent annuals from going to seed and consuming needed food reserves thus encouraging continued flowering. Remove all weeds which compete with annuals for space, light, air, moisture and nutrients. Inspect all beds and plants for any insect and disease activity. If detected, spray appropriate chemicals as per label directions.

Chrysanthemums (mums): Prune your mums to prevent unnecessary elongated growth. Pinch these plants back about four-inches, and continue to prune the new growth as it reaches three-inches in length. Stop pinching when flower buds begin to form and develop.

Fire ants: Fire ants are very obvious because of their mounding activities and fiery bite. Select appropriate chemicals of choice from local garden centers and follow label directions for use. Treatment may be mound applied or broadcast pending specific insecticide and severity of problem.

Gardenias: Inspect your gardenias for yellowing in the leaves, especially between the veins. This is usually a deficiency in iron which is termed iron chlorosis. Correct this issue by applying Epsom salt to the soil and iron chelate as a foliar spray.

Geraniums: When outdoor geraniums become leggy, make cuttings to root in pots for your patio, deck or terrace. Insert three six-inch cuttings in an eight-inch pot of peaty, well-drained soil or promix (or similar product). Keep moist, but not wet, until roots are formed and new growth is evident. Then, reduce watering to the amount needed only to prevent wilting. Continue to grow these plants into well-developed specimens for your curb appeal enjoyment.

Irrigation:  Inspect your irrigation system on a regular basis to ascertain proper function and uniformity in output with each head. Simply watching it cycle through the stations is a basic way for visual evaluation. Periodically place catchment containers in particular zones to measure actual output or flow rate. Do not over-water.

Lawn repair: Don’t postpone lawn repairs. If you re-seed, plug or lay new sod on eroded or damaged areas now, the new turf will have sufficient time to establish by the end of the growing season. Prepare the soil in the bare areas before seeding, plugging or sodding. Consider using sod to repair most areas of any significant size, and seed or plugs in smaller situations. The establishment rate with sod is rapid, thus restricting the opportunity for most weeds to establish and invade. Be sure to keep these areas moist to encourage survival and rapid establishment. Do not waste water but keep moist until established. If using herbicides to kill existing vegetation prior to sodding, wait 10-14 days after application to prepare the soil and lay the new sod.

Mole crickets: The mole crickets are becoming very active at this time. Chemicals are most effective during this part of the season because of the susceptibility of the young to pesticides. The mole cricket kills by eating the roots of turfgrasses and/or tunneling through the soil causing dessication and death. Choose a recommended chemical based upon identification and advisement.

Mulching: This is one of the most important steps in getting the landscape through the summer. Mulch creates positive curb appeal, discourages weeds, conserves moisture, and insulates the soil against excessive heat. The most readily available organic mulches are pine straw, wood chips, bark nuggets, peanut hulls, pecan hulls, grass clippings, shredded leaves, among others. To be most effective, the mulch should be distributed at a depth of 3 to 4 inches.

Perennials: Remove faded flowers for curb appeal, plant health, and aesthetically-pleasing landscape with new showy flowers. Be sure to prune those perennials that will grow too large for their site. Remove approximately one-third of the plant (leaving two-thirds) and the resulting plants will be more compact and floriferous. Remove all weeds which compete with perennials for space, light, air, moisture and nutrients. Inspect all beds and plants for any insect and disease activity. If detected, spray appropriate chemicals per label directions.

Shrubs: Many container-grown shrubs can be planted including gardenias and azaleas, provided you water them faithfully during the hot, dry weather of June, July and August. Another approach is to purchase plants now at reduced prices and plant them in decorative pots for use around the home. These potted plants will dry-out more frequently, so remember to adjust your watering program accordingly. Prune arborvitaes and junipers now for good structure since they are completing their main growth for the season.

Think in terms of native and sustainable plants in the landscape. May this bit of awareness stir your desire to learn and ask questions, encourage you to further apply your gained knowledge, and bring you to further realize that environmental stewardship and sustainability should be at the foundation of all your landscaping activities.

Many thanks to all who read this column which is an effort to provide each reader with timely and useful information. It is a small contribution on my part in “paying it forward” to my readers. In keeping with this thought, many of you know that we are planning our annual mission trip (discipleship journey) to the Peru in early June. We are currently raising funds to help finance this mission trip. If you feel led to do so and would like to donate to this cause, please make a check payable to Heritage Church and mail to Eddie Seagle, Peru Mission Team, 108 Tallokas Circle, Moultrie, GA 31788. We would appreciate your prayers for a safe journey as well, and many thanks to each of you.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” — Romans 12:12. 

“If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” — 2 Chronicles 7:14. 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the Peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:6-7.

Seagle is a Sustainability Verifier, Golf Environment Organization (Scotland), Agronomist and Horticulturalist, CSI: Seagle (Consulting Services International) LLC, Professor Emeritus and Honorary Alumnus (Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College), Distinguished Professor for Teaching and Learning (University System of Georgia) and Short Term Missionary (Heritage Church, Moultrie). Direct inquiries to csi_seagle @yahoo.com.

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