Garden Dates for Next Season

Home Grown  by Keith Reed
With last week’s hard freeze, we can officially put the garden season of 2017 to rest. With the chores mostly completed, now is a good time to begin looking forward to next year. A great way to do that is by noting some key dates on the calendar.

I mention this because one of my primary roles in the extension office is to advise clients in dealing with landscape pests, be they disease, insect, or weed. In many (dare I say most) cases, by the time the client walks in, the damage is done and a simple, effective solution is beyond reach. Being proactive with timely reminders can pay big dividends in stopping pest outbreaks before they become problems.

There is nothing magical about the following calendar days, they are just close approximations based on our historical weather patterns. Please note I did not use the word “normal” related to the weather! Space does not permit an adequate explanation for some of these tasks. We will try to address specifics over the winter months.
  • January and February. Anytime the weather is over 50 and sunny with light winds is a good opportunity to make a post emergent weed control application for those pesky weeds that create mowing issues in the spring. If you hire your lawn care professionally, this is referred to as a “winter weed control” treatment.
  • February 15. Cutting back or hard pruning of early growing hardy perennials like ornamental grasses, liriope, and peonies. This is also a great time to make dormant oil applications if you have fruit trees that typically have insect or disease issues.
  • March 15. Prune roses as they begin to break bloom. Do some research on rose rosette disease if have not already done so. See OSU Fact Sheet #EPP-7329 Rose Rosette Disease (PDF/Mobile). This is a good time for first fertilization of cool season turfgrasses like tall fescue.
  • March 10-20. Crabgrass pre-emergent needs to be applied and activated (i.e. watered in). This date has been bumped back a few days earlier than our long-term norm. Any late freezes kill crabgrass but if we don’t get one, crabgrass can sure germinate and take off in March. Early germination has led to some failures the last few years.
  • April 7. Average last freeze date. Average means virtually nothing here with freezes possible into early May. Proceed with caution with early plantings.
  • April 15-20. Generally safe to plant frost sensitive crops. This is also a good time to begin preventative spray programs for disease sensitive ornamentals and fruit trees. A better option might be to replace these plants with disease resistant options.
  • April 20-May 7. First fertilization of warm season turf grasses like bermuda and zoysia.
For a more extensive list of gardening tasks, see OSU Fact Sheet HLA-6408 Landscape Maintenance Calendar (PDF/Mobile) available at the Payne County Extension Office or online at

For more information on this or any other horticultural topic, you can contact Keith Reed, the Horticulturist in the Payne County Extension office. Keith can be reached via email at, phone at 405-747-8320, or in person at the Payne County Extension office, located at 315 W. 6th in Stillwater.

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