There are three chores that gardeners must complete in March.
1. Fertilize everything in the garden this month with 7-4-4 All Purpose Plant Food. At the same time I apply an equal amount of 'Soil Sulfur' to reduce soil pH of all my gardens, raised beds, and native trees.
2. Add fresh potting soil to your raised beds and containers. Soil gets used up by plants and needs to be replaced or refreshened each year. Add a 2-3-inch layer to raised beds, and replace the top 8 inches of the soil in containers before replanting them.
3. Important Notice– Pinyon Pine scale and bark beetle are bad this spring. Treat the evergreens in your yard with Watters 'Plant Protector'. Simply apply this solution directly around the bases of trees. This uncomplicated task eliminates the expense of a costly arborist bill. Apply it during the next few weeks of March.
A reader wrote, “It's winter, and there peeking through a bit of snow on my drive is spring- green grass! Why does grass grow better in the driveway than in my lawn?”
Come summer folks will be puzzling over grass growing in asphalt driveways at 100+ degrees! That “grass in the cracks” is teaching us lessons in microclimates.
Driveway and sidewalk cracks retain a surprising amount of soil and organic matter, creating the perfect beds for grass and weed seeds. Moisture that seeps into these cracks remains a lot longer than in other parts of the landscape. A driveway's surface can contain moisture the same way mulch does.
Some grasses and weeds thrive in heat. A good example is crabgrass; it's a warm season grass that flourishes in driveway and patio cracks. In cold weather, a dark-colored asphalt driveway absorbs sunlight, keeping the soil underneath it warmer than the surrounding landscape.
As for the salts in ice melt products, some grasses and weeds can tolerate them! Fescue is a cool-season grass that is salt-tolerant, so has a good chance of surviving in a winter driveway. Then there are the cold-happy weeds, like chickweed, that seem to scoff at temperatures that would have caused other plants to have disappeared.
Home Remedies to Drive Off Broadleaf Weeds & Grasses
To discourage grass in driveway, patio, and sidewalk cracks, here are some home remedies to drive off broadleaf weeds and grasses:
Boiling water. Pour boiling left-over cooking water on weeds rather than down the drain. Don't worry if there's salt in the water; salt helps kill many weeds. Avoid using water with oil or meat residue leftover from cooking. After a few douses of boiling water most broadleaf weeds and grasses give up.
Kitchen vinegar concoction. A mixture of 1 cup salt dissolved in one gallon of white vinegar will kill most weeds and grasses. To make it even more caustic, add 1 cup of lemon juice and 2-tablespoons of dish soap.
Horticultural vinegar. This kind of vinegar is 20% acetic acid that's hard to find in local stores, but is easily found online. Mix it with orange oil and a bit of phosphate-free dishwashing soap. Acetic acid burns the plant's top growth, depriving it of the ability to photosynthesize. Don't forget protection for the applicant's hands and eyes! Weeds may come back, primarily those perennial weeds that have strong roots. As there may be lots of weed seeds waiting in the cracks, be prepared to apply this mixture more than once. Use the same solution to kill moss in sidewalk and patio cracks, too.
CAUTION! Limit salt mixtures to hardscape areas. Do NOT allow them to run onto lawns and flower gardens.
Watters' once-and-done special mixture of weed death. Weeds really like to grow under our greenhouses, between the pavers, and under the tree racks because those areas are perfect growing environments. But we have perfected the solution to keep pesky weeds under control! This stuff also works on rock lawns where you don't want anything to grow . . . ever.
In a pressure sprayer blend Hi-Yield 'Killzall', but replace one gallon of water with Bonide 'Vegetation Killer'. Spray the mixture directly onto weeds and watch them melt away, with nothing growing back for up to a year! This trick really cuts down on back-breaking weeding. Be careful not to get close to desirable plants, and don't spray under the canopies of trees and shrubs.
Garden Announcement - The colors of spring are bursting for Watters 56th Spring Open House. Come and talk directly with our farmers as they show off the newest flowers and brightest evergreens. Friday, March 16, we will have free shamrocks with purchases of evergreen trees. Saturday and Sunday, March 17 & 18, visitors can enjoy impromptu gardening classes, sidewalk art, corn hole contests, and drawings.
Please consider this your personal invitation to the garden fun at Watters Garden Center's 56thSpring Open House Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 16-18.
Until next issue, I'll be here at the garden center helping locals win their wars against weeds!
Gardening Classes sure to make you a better gardener
March 10 - Fragrant & Vibrant Mountain Roses – We believe in roses that smell like a rose! Roses add so much life to any garden with their timeless beauty and intoxicating scents. Not only will you know which are the most fragrant, but you’ll have all the insider tips on how to keep your roses and disease and pest free while keeping them blooming all season long. Bring your notepads and questions for Watters’ Garden Experts.
March 17 – Watters' 56th Spring Open House – Meet the Watters growers, talk directly to the professionals, and experience many of this spring's new plant introductions available only here at Watters Garden Center.
March 24 – Trees of Spring
Spectacular blooming trees are the talk of the town every spring in northern Arizona! You will be an expert on the best ornamental bloomers for our mountain climate. Learn which trees are fast-growing, give the best shade, and are the most low maintenance varieties. Watters’ garden experts will give you the scoop on all their local favorites, and how you can pick the best trees to fit your space and your style in your home landscape.
March 31 – Advanced Container Design
The right container with the right plants can bring a space in the landscape from so-so to stunning. Lisa Lain, owner of Watters Garden Center, has been creating container designs for decades. Her 3-step program puts the floral style back into your garden. The class is free to onlookers, but the first 12 students to sign up can create their own design with Lisa’s professional guidance for a $35 fee (pots provided). Come ready to get your hands dirty and your containers beautified!
April 7 - Drip Irrigation Design and Installation
April is time to get that irrigation system back up and running. Learn the benefits of drip irrigation, new technologies, and how to set a system up or add a plant to it. With the right irrigation, you can save water and have healthier plants all at the same time. Don’t know how to install and run an irrigation clock? We’ll teach you! Watters’ irrigation parts bins will be full in preparation for this class. Come early and bring a lawn chair; over 100 students attended this class last time it was offered.
April 14 - Planting Advice that Works
Ready to start your garden, but just want a little extra help? This class will take an in-depth look at how to be successful when planting your personal paradise. We’ll discuss techniques for brighter, more beautiful gardens, and how to keep them healthy. Learn how to troubleshoot and combat problems like poor soil conditions, pests, and diseases that can frustrate any gardener from a master to a novice. Bring your notepad!
April 21 - Go Native and Low, Low Maintenance
Go native! Native plants add unique appeal to our arid climate landscapes while giving gardeners a break with their low maintenance habits. Learn which Arizona and southwestern native plants are best for your garden, along with a host of other LOW, LOW water use plants that once established require little to no water and even less care. No other nursery has so many native and low care plants in the region with a horticulturist to help you plant it right. This class coincides with our annual native plant sale.
April 28 - Growing Your Own Groceries – Ladybug Release Weekend
This fun-filled class has everything edible for the garden this spring! We’ll cover the best heirloom varieties to local favorites, and highlight soil preparation, best foods, and care. It’s the start of planting season, and this class arms participants with advice to prepare the garden for a great harvest of fresh veggies and herbs. The nursery is loaded with hundreds of non-GMO vegetable starts and organic herbs this weekend. Let’s get ready to plant!
After the class, our Annual Ladybug Release is a fun event for young and old alike.
Open this link to see all of Watters classes this spring.