By MIKE COURSON
Great Bend Post
The groundhog may have called for six more weeks of winter, but that was three weeks ago. Area temperatures pushing 70 degrees this week are a better indication that spring is just around the corner. Alicia Boor, agriculture and natural resources agent in the Cottonwood District for K-State Research and Extension, said now is the time to begin prepping the yard for spring.
"Trimming your trees right now, if you haven't already done it, you can see the branches and what you need to trim," she said, "and the wounds close up a lot quicker right now than they would in the fall time because it's actively growing."
Because of the dry conditions, watering trees and grass is extra important heading into spring. Boor suggested using sprinklers and soaker hoses in the yard to water grass about six inches down. That will help it grow once it comes out of dormancy. For trees, especially large ones, she suggests slow soaks of up to 12 inches all the way out to the drip line, or area located directly underneath the canopy, if possible.
"You can use a dowel rod or a long screwdriver, poke it into the ground," she said. "When you hit hard resistance, that's where the dry soil is, so you should be able to test and see, as you're watering it, how far you're getting down."
Using a soaker hose will help saturate the ground, but Boor said a 5-gallon bucket with holes in the bottom can also be used to evenly distribute water. Refilling the bucket 10-12 times would give the tree 50-60 gallons of much-appreciated water.
There are a few yard activities that can wait. Insects hiding in leaves in the vegetable garden will later be beneficial, so leave those alone, but now is a good time to collect soil for testing to determine how much fertilizer is needed. The Extension Office can have that soil tested for a fee. Also, wait just a little before spraying the entire yard for weeds.
"Any broadleaf weeds you don't want, just spot-treat them," Boor said. "You want to treat crabgrass by waiting until you see the trees on Broadway bloom. When they're at full bloom in about a month to six weeks, that's when you would treat for crabgrass and some of your other grassy weeds in your lawn."
Boor also suggested visiting the website kansashealthyyards.org. The gardening calendar in the top right corner provides monthly suggestions to keep yards and gardens healthy.