Important Garden Dates

Home Grown  by Keith Reed
What a wonderful rain we had Monday! According to the Oklahoma Mesonet (oklahomamesonet.org), everyone in the county received well in excess of an inch! Even though drought issues tend to drift from our minds as the temperatures cool, rainfall is no less important this time of year. This rain should go a long way towards helping our landscape plants settle in for the winter ahead.

With the garden chores mostly completed for the season, 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. 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.

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 next several weeks.
  • 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.
  • February 15. Cutting back or hard pruning of early growing hardy perennials like ornamental grasses and liriope. This is also a great time to make dormant oil applications if needed.
  • March 15. Prune roses as they begin to break bloom. First fertilization of cool season turfgrasses like tall fescue.
  • March 15-25. Crabgrass pre-emergent needs to go down.
  • April 7. Average last freeze date. Average means virtually nothing here! Proceed with caution!
  • 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.
  • 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 available at the Payne County Extension Office or online at osufacts.okstate.edu.

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
keith.reed@okstate.edu, 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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