University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
PRUNING GRASSES AND OTHER APRIL
Nardozzi, Horticulturist and
Perry, UVM Extension Horticulturist
back ornamental grasses, getting patio containers ready for
starting dahlias indoors are some of the gardening activities for
left your ornamental grasses intact last fall for their fall and
and for seeds for birds, you can go ahead and prune them back to a
about 6 to 12 inches. If you remove the old growth before new growth
don’t cut back too close to the ground, you won't risk damaging new
when they emerge with warm weather later in spring. Add prunings to
the compost pile, but the
thick stems of some grasses should be shredded or cut up first so
decompose more quickly.
planting large containers for the deck or patio, save on soil by
false bottom. Most of the plants you'll use don't need more than
about a foot
of soil depth for their roots, so put some empty plastic soda or
in the very bottom, then cover with landscape fabric or a piece of
cut to fit to keep the soil from eroding.
Plastic pots turned upside down also work, as do coarse and
shavings. Some use those Styrofoam
packing “peanuts” (put in plastic bags so they’re easily handled and
annual weeds in the lawn, spread corn gluten meal with your lawn
forsythia are blooming. That's when many weed seeds, such as
germinating. It's a safe, organic option for preventing the
weeds, and it provides a small dose (maybe 9 percent) of nitrogen
fertilizer. The best controls for weeds, however, remain
a good soil conducive to growing grass, and proper lawn culture.
While safe and environmentally friendly, corn gluten
products can be expensive with such a demand now for corn-derived
corn syrup to ethanol. A 20 to 25 pound
bag, depending on product, may treat 1000 square feet of lawn or
beds, and cost
around $30. This means to treat a
quarter acre lawn, you may need to spend $300 or so. Like all
“pre-emergent” weed killers, corn
gluten will keep seeds from germinating.
So make sure any desirable flowers or vegetables have germinated,
have “true” leaves, before applying around them.
sooner on dahlias by potting up tubers and growing them indoors
until it's warm
enough to plant them outside. Pinch the growing tips when they get 6
tall to keep the growth short and stocky for easier transplanting
garden. Keep them in a cool place, such
as garage, so they don’t grow too fast.
To get a
head-start on fresh greens, sow seeds in a large, shallow container.
container outside during the day and bring it in at night if the
dip below freezing, or protect it in a cold frame. A window box with
greens is not only ornamental, but makes for easy picking and
perennials differ in the way they should be cut back in spring. If
bush has died to the ground, cut the dead stems to the ground.
shorten them by about one third. Cut back Russian sage, rue, and
about 8 to 12 inches from the ground. Don't prune lavender until new
appears, and then just shorten the stems by about one-third. Heather
lightly pruned to remove the old flowers and the tips of the shoots,
cut back to brown wood, stay in the green.
Wait until rose shoots and leaves emerge to prune, in order to know
stems died and which are living.
(Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally known horticulturist,
author, gardening consultant, and garden coach; CharlieNardozzi.com).