Time's right to tend to garden

With the weather warming and Masters Week approaching, the season is prime for weekend gardeners trying to have a well-manicured yard on display for visitors by April.


Before you rush to the nursery, however, there are a couple of steps that will help you out along the way, said Sid Mullis, the director of the University of Georgia Extension Service in Richmond County.

A soil sample should be the first thing done before planting, he said.

Acid levels in Augusta-area soil can inhibit plant growth. For $8, the extension service will test the soil for you and show what essential nutrients are lacking.

Lime is a good way to resolve this problem, Mr. Mullis said. And if in doubt about how much is needed, just put more, he said. "It's hard to put too much lime out."

Also, Mr. Mullis advises developing a plan of what plants you want and where you will plant them in the yard.

For example, spray paint spots where you're going to plant, and mark off any areas that you will use for garden beds and planters, he said.

Shade trees, shrubs and cool-weather vegetables such as carrots and peppers are good to plant right now, Mr. Mullis said.

Flowers such as azaleas also are safe to plant, said Shuford Stephens, of Nurseries Caroliniana in North Augusta.

But don't waste time and money on fertilizer yet for your lawn.

For fertilizer to be effective, soil temperature needs to be at about 65 degrees, Mr. Mullis said. Right now, it's only about 50 degrees, according to the Georgia Automated Environmental Network.

March is the right time to rid the yard of winter weeds and spray chemicals that will prevent weeds from growing later in the season, Mr. Mullis said.

Reach Justin Boron at (706) 823-3215 or justin.boron@augustachronicle.com.


- Avoid fertilizing grass until about April

- To have soil tested for $8, contact the University of Georgia Extension Service in Richmond County at (706) 821-2350.

- To check soil temperature, visit www.griffin.uga.edu/aemn/


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