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Show#2

Lawn Core Aeration

Compaction is a serious problem for our lawns here in the South. Whenever we put pressure on the soil surface it squeezes out the air in the soil and this stresses the root systems of our lawn. This also provides a competitive advantage for many of our weeds that can tolerate the low levels of oxygen in the soil. Core aeration is an excellent once a year activity that will give your lawn's roots fresh air and a real edge in competing with annoying weeds. Let's take a look at what you should be looking for when you select an aerator. The best way to go is to rent a core aerator that has hollow tubes or 'spoons'. These are open tines that are forced into the soil by the weight of the machine. When they are withdrawn, cores or plugs of soil are removed and placed on top of the soil surface. Key point, stay away from spike aerators. A Spike aerator punches a hole in the ground, sort of like a nail but does not remove any soil. You might have even seen the aerator shoes that declare you can aerify your lawn just by walking over it. They don't work! In fact the only thing that happens is that your feet get stuck in the ground! You see spiking doesn't work because as it enters the ground the soil is actually compressed around the hole. For an aerator to do its job and relieve soil compaction, the plugs must be removed and brought to the soil surface. As you core aerate, it is probably a good idea to go across your lawn in a North-South direction and then again in a east west direction. Don't be afraid of overdoing it. And remember, the deeper, the better. See these holes, they allow better penetration of air as well as water fertilizer and lime into the root zone. As your warm season grasses are greening up, it is a perfect time to rent the aerator. See if you have any neighbors that would like to go in with you to rent it and have an aerating party. By the way in the fall when you re-seed your cool season lawn, you really must core aerate for to allow the seeds to fall down into the holes and germinate. Never core aerate when the soil is excessively wet. That is the worst time to try to work with clay soil. In fact, it's best to stay off your lawn all together when it is wet. One last idea I borrowed from a golf course superintendent. If you really want how to create a superior lawn, immediately after you core aerate, top-dress it with a composted, fine-textured organic material such as cow manure or compost. Pour out the organic matter on top of the soil and take a hard rake, turn it over and layer about " over the entire surface of your lawn. Talk about babying your turf. You can't ask for a better way to start the season. If you're looking for the billiard green lawn that will be the envy of the neighborhood, this is a great way to start. Latana Lantana is one of the preeminent plants for the southern garden. It's fast growing and valued for a profuse show of color over the entire growing season. In relatively frost-free areas such as zone 8, 9 or 10, that's just about every month of the year! In those parts of the south, it can get as tall as 6 feet. Lantana is also a top performer for attracting butterflies and an excellent choice for growing near the beach. It's best not to plant Lantana too early in the season. Lantana loves the heat and full sun. It doesn't do well when the soil is cool or in shady situations. In fact, it tends to get mildew in shade or when you have prolonged overcast weather. Lantana is not a heavy feeder. Don't over fertilize it. Too much nitrogen or water will cause a lot of green foliage growth but few flowers. In the middle regions of the south, Lantana is treated as an annual unless you choose a particularly hardy variety. One is called 'Miss Huff' with small orange and pink flowers. Once it is established, it can take temperatures down to zero degrees. And another, newer variety is "Athens Rose" It is just as tough but puts on rich purple flowers. Lantana looks great with ornamental grasses and other upright forms in the garden. Give some a try, I think you'll be very happy with the results!

Planting Caladium's - It's spring, time to plant Caladium's

Hiding fading Daffodils - Don't cut back the plant after your Daffodils
bloom, they need the foliage for next years growth.

Fertilizing Bulbs - Too often we ignore the bulbs after blooming. Tips
on proper fertilization.

Flower Feature - Dr. Rick offers some timely advice.

Serious Pruning - Sometimes the only way to keep those bushes healthy is to cut them way back. Dr. Rick shows us how.

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By Karen Weir-Jimerson, Costa Farms, Photographs courtesy of Costa Farms

A Norfolk Island pine looks like a Christmas tree in miniature, so many people use these floor and tabletop plants as holiday trees. An interesting article, click here to read.


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