EARLY SPRING LAWN CARE
Bare spots? Thin spots? Ground torn up by construction? Now is the perfect time to sow fresh grass seed. Amend your soil with compost then let us help you select one of the nine Colorado and Wyoming grown grass mixtures we carry. Going with native varieties? We have blue grama seed in stock, as well as Tagawa’s Custom Colorado Native Grass mix that grows to 12 to 18 inches.
Water the seed in, then cover lightly with finely sifted compost (EKO Lawn Top Dressing works well for this,) or straw in the more informal areas. Newly seeded grass doesn’t need fertilizing until it been mown three to four times.
For existing lawns, Soil Activator will help your lawn decompose thatch and improve water uptake. A balanced fertilizer such as a Pro-Rich 14-2-5 or Richlawn’s Organic formulations will get your lawn off to a good start. Colorado’s Own Premium Lawn Food is rated 20-10-5 and includes slow release nitrogen, iron and sulfur.
Fertilizers are described by three numbers that describe the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium content by percent of volume. 5-10-5, a well-balanced all- purpose formulation for food crops as well as perennials, is 5% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus and 5% potassium. A simple guide is that nitrogen promotes leafy growth, phosphorus supports root growth and blossoming and potassium is an important nutrient for general vitality. Annuals, (plants that complete their life cycle in a single growing season) can be kept in constant bloom by using high-phosphorus fertilizers that would be over-kill for longer lived perennials and shrubs. Mile Hi Rose Feed, a popular local organic product, is 7% nitrogen, 8% phosphorus and 4% potash for potassium; because it is organically based, it is gentle and releases its nutrients gradually. Your perennials won’t mind at all that it’s labeled for roses! Note for tomato enthusiasts: if your plants are growing like gangbusters but not setting buds, check your fertilizer—they may be getting too much nitrogen and too little phosphorus. Don’t forget about calcium to prevent blossom end rot on tomatoes.
Replacing your planting mix each year is highly recommended to avoid over-wintering insect pests and fungal spores. Adding moistened sphagnum peat or angel moss to a soilless mixture will improve water retention, but Colorado gardeners know that planted containers will need frequent watering during summer heat. Frequent watering means leaching of nutrients, so be sure to fertilize regularly, or use a slow-release fertilizer such as Osmocote—mix in at planting time, and you’re done for the season!
ARE YOUR PETUNIAS IN TATTERS?
The likely culprit is geranium budworm, which adores petunias as much as its namesake geraniums. Luckily, spinosad-based products are effective against budworms and a wide variety of other larvae and caterpillars—and spinosad is organic, too. Spray in the evening or very early in the morning when pollinating insects are absent. Look for Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew or Green Light’s Lawn & Garden Spray with Spinosad. Another approach is to use a systemic insecticide on your non- food annuals. Systemic Insect Control by Bonide will knock back budworms, leafminers and thrips.
CAN’T KEEP UP WITH THE BINDWEED IN YOUR LAWN?
Bind weed may look dainty, but it stands up to Colorado weather and poor soils with ease, so a lawn environment is heaven for it. We recommend Fertilome’s WeedFree Zone or Ortho Weed B Gon MAX, which will not hurt your lawn while it attacks bindweed’s root system. More than one application may well be needed.
Are you at your wits’ end with mosquitoes in your yard? The first line of defense is to eliminate any standing water. If you have a fish pond, your koi and goldfish may be eating the larvae, but you may well want to add Bacillus Thuringensis v. israelensis (Bt) to your pond or water feature. All those syllables identify a natural microorganism that will prevent the larvae from maturing—and it’s not toxic to fish, birds or plants! We carry Mosquito Beater Bt in small, handy water soluble pouches to toss in you small pond, and Mosquito Dunks, which is Bt in a donut form.
If you’ve got mosquito breeding grounds in the area that you can’t control, (irrigation ditches, reservoirs and the like) and you want to control the adult mosquitoes on your property, Bonide Mosquito Beater hose-end spray is a permethrin-based product. Be sure to spray in the evening or very early in the morning when bees and other beneficial insects are absent. A non-toxic alternative is Mosquito Beater/Garden Naturals repellant in granular form. Its active ingredients are citronella, garlic, geranium, cedar and lemongrass oils.
LEAF-CUTTER BEES & ROSES
Summer is high season for your roses, and also for leaf-cutter bee colonies busily rearing the next generation. You will know these beneficial insects have visited you roses by the tell-tale, neat, dime-size holes suddenly appearing on your rose foliage, although it’s unlikely you'll ever see the culprit in the act. This is a garden ‘pest’ we think of as a garden ‘pet’! Pollinating bees of many species are under great stress in the West, so Tagawa hopes you'll let these shy industrious bees go about their lives unharmed. Do take a close look at your rose leaves—these bees take a tidy bite and leave the rest of the leaf untouched, so it can continue to nourish your rose.