These articles are written to apply to the northeastern corner of Illinois. Problems and timing may not apply outside of this area.
Yard and Garden Resolutions for 2001
December 28, 2000
With the arrival of the New Year, it's once again time to think about resolutions. In the case of the yard and garden, focus on a few main points for each type of planting.
For all areas of gardening, resolve to make sound decisions when choosing plant material in 2001. This applies to vegetables, fruit crops, flowers, shade trees, shrubs, and lawns. Match the plant to the site conditions, such as sunlight or shade, or wet or dry soil. Only use plants hardy for our area (landscape plantings) and adapted to our growing season length (fruit and vegetables). No matter how great a plant looks in the catalog, it will probably fail if used under the wrong growing conditions.
Pruning is an essential gardening practice. If your yard includes shrubs, shade trees, fruit trees, or raspberries, pruning is needed on a regular basis. Plants will look, grow, and produce more flowers and fruit if pruned properly on a regular basis. Make plans to prune as needed in 2001. This starts with the apple trees in February and March.
Key resolution areas for lawns include mowing, fertilizing, and improving rooting. Don't mow too short. Mowing between 2 and 3 inches will help the roots, in addition to discourage crabgrass. Consider having your lawn core aerated in 2001. Aerating helps roots by improving soil conditions and also degrading thatch. Finally, fertilize in moderation, using controlled-release nitrogen; and avoid heavy spring applications of fertilizer.
If growing vegetables in 2001, two resolutions for avoiding many problems would be to choose varieties wisely and to mulch the garden. A key feature to look for in the 2001 catalogs is disease resistant varieties. Mulching helps conserve moisture and reduce weed problems.
Certainly pests and problems will most likely show up somewhere in the yard or garden in 2001, so resolve to manage them wisely. Start by identifying the problem. Once identified, control measures can be evaluated and a plan of action taken. University of Illinois Extension is available to help with yard and garden problems during the season.
Finally, if pesticides are to be used, be sure to read and understand all labels before purchasing and using them. Make sure to have the correct product for the plant problem you are experiencing. Use care when handling any pesticide, whether spraying dandelions in the lawn, ants under the porch, or in the backyard orchard.
Stay tuned for more yard and garden information in this column each week in 2001. Happy New Year!