Cindy Mayhle, Maintenance Manager for AAA Landscape
We hope that you will find this month’s tips helpful for keeping your trees, shrubs, flowers, and plants healthy.
* Ryegrass should be watered about once or twice a week depending on the weather. Bermuda grass needs water about once a month.
* If you are planning for new Bermuda turf, while sod can be installed at any time, it will establish best when actual Bermuda weather arrives in May. It is best to spend the time preparing a good, deeply tilled sod bed with adequate organic matter, sulphur, and ammonium phosphate, prior to laying sod, so that the roots establish deeply into the soil.
* When nighttime temperatures are above 60 degrees for at least five days in a row, mow winter turf progressively lower, to about 3/4-inch, to encourage spring transition back to Bermuda grass.
* Spray or hand pick weeds now, or they will be problematic later. If killed or removed before they flower at the end of their life cycle, you will have less weed seeds in the soil to germinate next season. In rock areas, most weeds can be controlled with pre-emergence herbicides.
* Keep spent blooms from winter annuals picked off.
Trees and Shrubs
* Prune back hedges and shrubs that have become overgrown and dense.
* Fertilize deciduous fruit trees with nitrogen when they leaf out.
* Thin deciduous fruit to 6-inch spacing. The earlier this is done after fruit set, the more size response will be expected in fruit remaining on the tree.
* While pruning frost damaged plants, wait and prune after new growth has started. Prune frost sensitive citrus after mid-March, after they begin to leaf out with new spring growth.
* Now is the time to plant trees and shrubs, including citrus trees. The earlier you get them in the ground, the more time the plants will have to get their roots established before the hot weather starts sucking the moisture out of the leaves.
* Two to five-year-old citrus trees transplant most successfully. Larger, older trees are more costly, harder to transplant, and suffer more from transplant shock. It will generally be three years after transplant before fruit production, and that is the same whether you plant a 2-year-old tree or a 10-year-old tree.
* Plant Seeds: beans (lima and snap), beets, carrots, corn, cucumbers, jicama, melons (cantaloupe, muskmelon, watermelon), okra, green onions, peanuts, pumpkins, radishes, squash, and sunflowers.
* Plant Transplants: artichokes, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes.
* Place shade cloth over tomatoes to keep leaf hoppers away.
* Cut back old and dead growth in the herb garden. Herbs to plant are mint, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme.
* Prepare your soil for a spring/summer garden. Organic matter, mulch, manure, or compost is very important.
* Fertilize producing vegetable gardens.
March Monthly To-Do List
Even though it is warmer in March, we can still have an occasional frost. Don’t forget that local weather forecasts are generally quoted from Tucson International Airport, and many outlying areas can be up to 10°F colder than that at night. Be prepared to cover tender plants if we have some chilly nights.
Bug and critter talk: With warm weather, expect to see more aphids on vegetables, shrubs, fruit, and shade trees. Spritzing them with water with a few drops of dish soap added from a spray bottle can be very effective, especially if they are on your vegetable crops. Your seedlings may look like tasty treats to local birds. Cover with chicken wire, or protect young plants with row covers.
Your Desert Garden Monthly Don’t List for March
* When pruning, never remove more than 1/4 of the total plant unless you are doing renovation pruning. Always use sharp, quality pruning tools. Use hand pruners for cuts up to 1/2-inch, loppers for cuts up to 3/4-inch, and saws for cuts over 3/4-inch.
* Don’t cheat on soil preparation for flowers and vegetables. Bone meal and blood meal are great organic amendments to add to the soil. Be sure to include a granular fertilizer that contains at least 20% phosphorus to help with root establishment.
* Don’t plant roses with western exposure because of the afternoon summer heat.
* Too much fertilizer can cause salt burn and too little can cause nutrient deficiency problems. Water both the day before and immediately after applying granular fertilizers.
* Don’t fertilize mature trees near the trunk. Fertilize the outer two-thirds of the ground of the leaf canopy where the most active roots are.
* Don’t water grass at night when the temperatures are coolest, as this fosters the growth of fungal diseases.
* Don’t delay on weed control. Spray weeds while they are young, tender, and easy to kill.
* Don’t use a pre-emergent in an area where you are going to plant veggies and flowers from seed. It will prevent seeds from germination. It will not affect transplants.