University of Illinois Extension
Bruce Spangeberg

These articles are written to apply to the northeastern corner of Illinois. Problems and timing may not apply outside of this area.

Stateline Yard & Garden

Memorial Day Weekend
in the Lawn and Garden

May 21, 1998

For many, the upcoming Memorial Day weekend means summer and the gardening season have arrived. There are many things that can be done in the yard and garden now.

Planting vegetables and annual flowers is on the agenda for many this weekend. From a weather standpoint, it should be "safe" for about all annuals and vegetable plants to be planted, whether seed or transplants. Match site conditions with the requirements of the plant, especially full-sun and shade needs. Have a plan, or at least a list of needs, before going to buy plants or seed.

Pruning is another activity to consider putting on the agenda. Pruning methods and timing vary from plant to plant. Spring blooming shrubs, for example, should be pruned right after flowering. Cut out older, less productive wood close to ground level. Make heading-back cuts on stems growing too tall or getting out of shape.

Most shade trees can be pruned over the next few weeks, but wait with oaks until next fall due to the threat of oak wilt. Prune out dead or weak wood. Concentrate on developing a good strong framework on younger trees. With pines, wait until new growth (candles) appear, and then "pinch" them back if a bushier or more compact pine is desired.

Probably the main activity for lawns right now is keeping up with the mowing! Try not to remove more than one-third of the leaf blade each mowing. As we advance toward June, consider raising the mowing height to close to 3 inches for the summer. A higher cut helps reduce stress problems and weed invasions in lawns.

Memorial Day can also be a good time for planting a variety of trees and shrubs. Dig holes so plants are set at the same depth as growing in the nursery and wide enough so plants can easily be put inside. Remove containers prior to placing in the hole. Remember to cut away twine and remove as much burlap as possible from balled and burlapped plants after placing in the hole. Water new plantings on a regular basis, but be careful not to overwater them.

Finally, as discussed last week, newly planted gardens and landscape beds look great, but weeds are likely to invade cultivated soil areas. Mulches are a great way to prevent many weeds, conserve soil moisture, and increase attractiveness of plantings. In addition, organic mulches gradually breakdown to add soil organic matter.


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