These articles are written to apply to the northeastern
corner of Illinois. Problems and timing may not apply outside of this
Memorial Day Weekend
in the Lawn and Garden
May 21, 1998
For many, the upcoming Memorial Day weekend means summer and the gardening
season have arrived. There are many things that can be done in the yard
and garden now.
Planting vegetables and annual flowers is on the agenda for many this
weekend. From a weather standpoint, it should be "safe" for about all
annuals and vegetable plants to be planted, whether seed or transplants.
Match site conditions with the requirements of the plant, especially full-sun
and shade needs. Have a plan, or at least a list of needs, before going
to buy plants or seed.
Pruning is another activity to consider putting on the agenda. Pruning
methods and timing vary from plant to plant. Spring blooming shrubs, for
example, should be pruned right after flowering. Cut out older, less productive
wood close to ground level. Make heading-back cuts on stems growing too
tall or getting out of shape.
Most shade trees can be pruned over the next few weeks, but wait with
oaks until next fall due to the threat of oak wilt. Prune out dead or
weak wood. Concentrate on developing a good strong framework on younger
trees. With pines, wait until new growth (candles) appear, and then "pinch"
them back if a bushier or more compact pine is desired.
Probably the main activity for lawns right now is keeping up with the
mowing! Try not to remove more than one-third of the leaf blade each mowing.
As we advance toward June, consider raising the mowing height to close
to 3 inches for the summer. A higher cut helps reduce stress problems
and weed invasions in lawns.
Memorial Day can also be a good time for planting a variety
of trees and shrubs. Dig holes so plants are set at the same depth as
growing in the nursery and wide enough so plants can easily be put inside.
Remove containers prior to placing in the hole. Remember to cut away twine
and remove as much burlap as possible from balled and burlapped plants
after placing in the hole. Water new plantings on a regular basis, but
be careful not to overwater them.
Finally, as discussed last week, newly planted gardens and landscape
beds look great, but weeds are likely to invade cultivated soil areas.
Mulches are a great way to prevent many weeds, conserve soil moisture,
and increase attractiveness of plantings. In addition, organic mulches
gradually breakdown to add soil organic matter.