THE GARDNER’S CALENDAR When to do what for better gardens
January Take care of your lawn. Make every effort to avoid walking on your lawn when frost is present, damage will show later. Mowing should not often be needed during this month. Fertilization with high nitrogen fertilizers like Turf Royale tm. Is appropriate now. Prune deciduous trees and shrubs. Best done in January. The plants are fully dormant. Thin out congested tops, remove crossing branches and broken, damaged or diseased wood. Make sure the types of plant are deciduous meaning that they normally drop all of there leaves this time of year and not because of frost damage. Prune Roses. Winter temperatures are rarely cold enough or long enough to put roses into a dormant state. They need a dormant period to produce properly in spring. Now is the time to make that happen. Dormant spray fruit trees and roses. Prevent spring pest and disease problems with applications of dormant disease control and dormant oil sprays. The treatment will prevent fungal spores and destroy over wintering insect eggs. Also this will prevent aphids, powdery mildew, peach leaf curl and other problems common to fruit trees and roses. It’s important to spray early before the buds swell. DO NOT USE DORMANT OR SULFUR SPRAYS ON APRICOT TREES. Continue to plant roses, dormant pot roses, and fruit trees. This is a prime planting time for spring and summer production. Remember roses to best with afternoon shade.
February Watch out for strong winds. Spring often comes early to the Desert Southwest. Winds can stress new plantings and burn young leaves. Water deeply and make sure all new trees are STAKED PROPERLY. Use multiple poles and soft ties (wire and hose, green tree tie) to keep trees from breaking or blowing over. “Wake up” established roses. About three weeks after pruning, get roses ready for the spring blooming period with a good rose fertilizer. (Arizona’s Best) is a good product. Fertilize fruit trees and grapes early in the month. The greatest need for nitrogen is about 6 weeks before and after bloom. Proper feeding during this period helps ensure the highest quality of fruit. The use of gypsum for soil alkalinity can substantially enhance your plants uptake of nutrients from the soil and fertilizer. Arizona’s Best is a well-balanced food for fruit trees. Frost damages plants. If damaged by a freeze or hard frost, leave plants unpruned and undisturbed until later spring. Pruning or transplanting after such damage may further weaken or kill the plant. When new growth emerges, you will see where to prune it. Prevent spring lawn weeds through application of a pre-emergent weed control like AMAZE granules or a pre-emergent spray gives excellent control in tree wells, shrub and flower beds.
March Prune desert plants. Now is a good time to do light pruning on low water use plants and reduce stress from overgrown foliage and seedpods. Be careful not to expose tender trunks to full sun if they have been well shaded previously. Reset sprinkler clocks to match warm weather conditions. Inspect irrigation system for correct water delivery to all plants. Fertilize your trees and shrubs. Your plants are stirring and will benefit from a feeding of balanced or complete fertilizer like Arizona’s Best Tree and Shrub Fertilizer. This will condition your soil while getting plants ready for the tough weather ahead. Feed desert plants and cacti. You can use a cactus fertilizer and soil sulfur. This will promote vigorous growth in the coming months. Survey your yard. Clean debris, tune your irrigation system and replace parts as necessary. Fertilize lawns. Consider replacements for unattractive, ugly, nonproductive or diseased plants.
April Brighten up your yard. Plant all kinds of annual and perennial flowers for spring and summer color. Set out ground covers. Iceplant, Lantana, Myoporum are some good choices. After planting, use a pre-emergent weed control. See sales person for details. Pretty but destructive. Watch for skeletonizers on grape leaves. Adults are purple moths and the attractive caterpillars are striped blue and yellow (with stinging , irritating hairs). Untreated they will strip all the green from the leaves very quickly. Several generations a season may weaken or kill your vines. Treat with Dipel Dust which contains Bacillus Thuringensis which will kill all kinds of caterpillars but won’t hurt anything else. Apply mulches on the surface of your vegetable and flower beds and around trees and shrubs. It keeps the soil cool and helps moisture retention. Forest Magic Mulch is an excellent choice for all mulching needs. Give lawns a workout to prepare them for the hot summer months. Fertilize lawns also what is beneficial is to add gypsum and much to the lawn also. Vegetable tips. Mulch tomatoes to conserve soil moisture and water deeply, but not every day, to encourage deep rooting and discourage blossom drop. Plant warm season vegetables like squash, peppers, beans, and melons. Plant hot season tomatoes like heat wave which will continue to produce as temperatures climb. Feed monthly with a tomato and vegetable food or Black Gold Earthworm Castings.
May Reset sprinkler clocks to increase watering length due to increased temperatures. The best time to water is between the hours of 6am-10am. Inspect your irrigation system for correct water delivery to all plants. Control wild unwanted Bermuda by fertilizing and watering it until it is lush (this will make the plant more vulnerable), then treat with a non-selective grass killer like Finale or the Remuda from the Monterey line. Several treatments may be necessary for effective control. An alternative is to cultivate the Bermuda. It makes a dense, water efficient turf when properly contained and cared for. Treated areas can be replanted or re-seeded after dead turf is removed. Aggressively manage insect pests with insecticides and organic controls. Paint fruit tree trunks with the white or brown tree paint to protect from sunburn and helps prevent borer infestation. Refresh potted plants by adding new potting soil or shifting overgrown house or patio plants to larger containers with fresh soil. Water long and slow to leach buildup of fertilizer and water soluble salts. Apply a mild fertilizer like Miracle Gro. Be picky about fertilizer. Most ornamentals will benefit from a mild feeding of a complete, packaged fertilizer like Arizona’s Best Tree and Shrub Food or the Arizona’s Best All Purpose Fertilizer. Fertilize lawns before the end of the month to get them through the first heat wave. Renew mulches as necessary. Continue to plant heat loving flowers like Vinca, Celosia, Portulaca, Zinnias, and Lisianthus. Amend soil thoroughly with mulch, bone meal and gypsum.
June, July, and August Second application of Pre-emergent weed control. Depending on the amount and timing of your first application, it may have become ineffective by now. Weeds will continue to start from seed throughout the warm season (especially with the summer rains). Do NOT fertilize your regular (non-palms) plants with high nitrogen (over 5%) now! Fertilize palms 2-3 times during this period with Arizona’s Best Palm Tree Food to provide the special nutrients needed for vigorous growth and rich, green color. More is not always better! Resist the temptation to water everything to death in the heat. Just because a plant “looks dry” does not mean it needs more water. If the soil is too often watered, the plant cannot breathe, and cannot take up the water in its soil. Always check the soil. It should be nice and moist to the point one can crumble it in their hands. If your making mud balls its way too wet. If watering grass more than once a day, space the watering’s at least one hour apart. With the exception of new lawns, never water between the hours of 11AM to 4PM the water will evaporate before it can penetrate the soil and night water encourages fungal diseases. Deep, infrequent water and surface mulches keep your trees and shrubs healthy through this stressful time. Prevent and control Spider Mites on evergreens, like cypress, juniper and pines by using a high pressure hose to wash the foliage every 2-3 weeks. Do this in the early AM or late PM not during the heat of the day. Symptoms include a dusty off color or rust colored appearance and fine webbing on the foliage. Apply miticide like Malathion if infestation becomes severe. Keep your lawn healthy without excessive growth by using a balanced, high iron fertilizer like Ironite. Watch for summer weeds like dandelions and spurge. Pull by hand or spot spray with a broadleaf weed killer. Don’t spray your whole lawn. Herbicide-temperature interaction could cause damage. Control insect pests like roaches, ants, black widows, earwigs, and sow bugs with chemical or pyrethrin based insecticides. When using any pesticide, read complete instructions and follow package directions exactly!
September Reset sprinkler clocks depending on weather conditions and also inspect your irrigation system for correct water delivery to all plants. Cool season vegetables. Turn your vegetable beds and amend with organic material like Forest Magic Mulch, Bone Meal, and Gypsum. Start by planting your vegetable seeds like carrots, radishes, lettuce, peas, spinach, onions. Kill unwanted Bermuda grass that has appeared this summer. Use Finale or Remuda for effective control. It’s your last chance to control before the dormant period sets in. Once dormant, Bermuda is unaffected by herbicides. Give Trees a final feeding to help them recover from summer stress and get ready for the winter. Clean and feed roses to bring them from the summer blahs to the fall color show. Prune dead wood, spindly twigs and lightly shape the bush. Remove and discard all old leaves and other debris to prevent insect and disease problems. Feed with Arizona’s Best Rose Food. And enjoy the blooms.
October Irrigate fruit trees less often. Water deeply, but further apart to encourage dormancy and spur fruit production. Watch for increased insect activity as the weather cools. Aphids and caterpillars are once again very active this time of year. Control caterpillars with Bacillus Thuringensis. There are many chemical and pyrethrin based insecticides that provide effective control for aphids. Decorate your patio and yard with fall color and vegetables. Now is the ideal time to plant cool season flowers like pansies, petunias, snap dragons, stock. They’re great in pots and beds and will give continuous color through the fall and winter. Fall is for planting all kinds of trees and shrubs, especially deciduous plants. Get them in now. They’ll establish good roots through the winter and perform beautifully next spring. Remove thatch from lawn and over seed now for beautiful, weed free grass next spring. Thatch prevents grass from utilizing water and fertilizer properly. Remove every 2 years with a power rake. Top dress lawns with Steer Manure, Forest Magic Mulch to condition soil for over seeding Bermuda lawns with annual or perennial ryegrass.
November Reset sprinkler clocks depending on weather conditions. Inspect irrigations system for correct water delivery to all plants. Your first watering should not be earlier than 8am due too cooler nights. Continue to plant fall and winter flowers and vegetables. Watch for frost as early as the 10th. Have burlap or frost cloth ready for young tender plants, citrus, ficus in case of sudden freeze. Do not prune deciduous plants until after Jan. 15. Consider a living Christmas Tree for the coming holiday season. Make it a permanent addition to your yard or donate it to a school or city park.
December Plant protection and watering: Frost is likely throughout the month. Continue to cover tender plants. Great place for you to tell a story and let your users know a little more about you.