Weeds are your lawn's cry for help!

Correct lawn problems, and the weeds may simply move on

Hello, friends!

Got weeds? Many of us do. But if we took better care of our lawns and soil, they might not be a problem. Listen to your weeds; their mere presence is your lawn's cry for help. Think of them as symptoms, not diseases. So put away the herbicide and correct the underlying cause; that way, the weeds will fade away naturally.

Here are some common lawn weeds and what your lawn is trying to tell you. Respond to its needs and your unwelcome guests just might go away.

^Black medic. Cause: Low nitrogen. Cure: Check soil nutrients and fertilize accordingly.

^Buckhorn plantain. Cause: Compacted soil. Cure: Core aerate the soil in spring and/or fall.

^Clover. Cause: Low nitrogen or drought. Cure: Apply nitrogen fertilizer and water regularly.

^Knotgrass. Cause: Compacted soil in high-traffic area. Cure: Core aerate several times a year; incorporate compost.

^Mouse-ear chickweed. Cause: Shade. Cure: Cut back tree branches to allow more sunlight to reach soil.

^Oxalis. Cause: Dry soil. Cure: Water regularly.

^Common chickweed. Cause: Shade and cool weather. Cure: Cut back tree branches to allow more sunlight to reach soil.

^Dandelions. Cause: Thin, infertile turf. Cure: Fertilize. Sow seed for a fuller lawn.

^Plantain. Cause: Compact soil. Cure: Core aerate in spring and/or fall.


Do you need garden guidance?

If you're starting from scratch, I'll help you make sense of it all, from selecting plants that will thrive in your garden's conditions to placing them appropriately -- and everything in between.

If you're already established and just want to learn how to prune, propagate, divide, harvest, or manage pests and diseases, I've got you covered there, too.

I practice integrated pest management and will coach you on xeriscaping, native plants, vegetable gardening, deer-resistant, pollinator-friendly and other gardening methods.

And there's no long-term obligation: Grab an hour a week, a single session or a half-day garden evaluation and recommendation consult -- or once per month, season or year. Or get a group of friends together for a one-time course on a topic of interest. 

Visit jessicadamiano.com/services for more information and to determine if you need coaching or a consultation.

👉👉If you’re enjoying this newsletter, why not share it with a gardening friend? 


💡 If you do one thing this week…

Stay on top of weeds — don’t allow new sprouts to get a foothold and go to seed.

For more daily timely tips — 365 of them! — grab one of my gardening calendars.

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📬 Ask Jessica

DEAR JESSICA: We have a big lilac tree that keeps getting bigger but it is scarce and blooms only at the top. We would like to prune it but don’t know when or how. — Tom

DEAR TOM: Lilacs should be pruned right after the flowers fade. Don’t wait or you’ll end up cutting off buds that would bloom next year; do it immediately after flowering. Thin the thickest and oldest branches, and trim some inner ones if it seems they aren’t receiving enough sunlight.

Lilacs tend to bloom best on new growth so if it’s an old plant you might need to prune it more severely, cutting it nearly to the ground. If you do this, however, know that you’ll have to wait a couple of years for it to grow back and bloom again.

Lilacs also need full sun — at least six hours daily — or they won’t bloom as well. If a nearby tree has grown over the years and is shading it out, that could be the culprit. Consider pruning back any trees that are casting shade on the plant. Mulching and watering during heat waves and periods of drought also will help the plant retain vigor.

Another consideration is fertilizer. If you fertilized your lilac or fertilized a nearby lawn, that could explain its diminished blooming. Nitrogen forces a plant to direct its energy into growing larger, leaving little left for blooming. Good luck!

👏 Sunday shoutout

Reader Ed Martello shares this spring view of his Northport, NY, backyard, as seen from his deck. “I had just finished [spreading] two loads of woodchips that a tree company dropped off,” he said of the moment the picture was taken. Missing from the shot is a koi pond, which is off to the left at the bottom.

Before June 30, 2019, Martello said, there had been many large maples on the northwest side of the property. But on that day, “a storm called a microburst blew in from Connecticut, directly across the property” and took them down.

Send in a photo of your garden, and you might be featured next!

📧 Send me your feedback!

I welcome your comments and suggestions, so please send them along — as well as any topics you’d like to see covered and questions you’d like answered in the Ask Jessica section.

Until next week, stay safe. Be well. And always keep your mind in the dirt. —Jessica

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