Thwarting Social Distancing Blues with Spring Time Chores—Outside!

Spring has always been my favorite time of year.

Daylight savings is over and sunshine abounds until late into the evening. Mother Nature pulls herself out of the recesses of winter, and is reborn by way of the flowering forsythia, redbuds, dogwoods, and saucer magnolias. Sure, the loblollies will be casting pollen clouds thick enough to affect doppler lidar, but I see the yellow coating left behind as a sign of new life yet to come. Besides, the April showers will wash it all away, and the colors of the May flowers will make us forget it ever existed.



This spring is different though. It seems as though the world has shut down over the Corona virus, justifiably so. Hopefully, we are all practicing social distancing, and many states, including my home state of South Carolina, have begun enforcing shelter at home, a term most of us probably never heard of until recently. As we begin to work from home, and shelter ourselves inside, reports are beginning to come out about the mental health effects of the government mandate. There are warnings of depression and overall gloominess becoming more widespread, and this may be linked to more than just the panic and fear of the current pandemic.

Sunlight, as is turns out, may very well be essential to our happiness. We know sunlight is essential to the plants that many us maintain and whose beauty we bask in, but it also plays chemical roles in our own bodies. As light from the sun in the form of UVB rays hits cholesterol in our skin cells, it provides the energy needed for vitamin D synthesis to occur. Vitamin D has been linked to mood in the brain, and studies have shown that people who are deficient in vitamin D are up to 11 times more likely to be depressed. So, let’s get outside and soak in the sun for our own wellbeing, and while we’re at it, let’s get a few spring time chores done.



If you haven’t seen your forsythia bloom yet, it’s time to put out preemerge herbicides to keep those stubborn weeds like crabgrass at bay during the summer. As soil temperatures reach near 55 degrees, weeds will start germinating, so you need to have your preemerge out before that occurs. Options for residential yards are limited to mostly prodiamine or dithiopyr, both sold under many trade names. Either product works well, but if you’re late getting it out, I’d recommend dithiopyr because it does have a little bit of postemerge activity on some weeds. Keep track of what you use though—there is no one “better” preemerge here, and it important to rotate the use of these herbicides to avoid weeds building resistance to them. There are also preemerge herbicides such as Snapshot or Treflan for your landscape beds. Always consult the label on any of these products, and if you’re unsure how to use them, consult a professional.


The warmer spring weather also means landscaping projects!

I have poured too many hours of labor to count landscaping the homes I’ve lived in. Hopefully in our forever-home finally, I’ve had a project going on for several weekends now—that picture is where it stands at the time of writing this. Old shrubs yanked out, retaining walls from a previous homeowner rebuilt properly, lots of new soil brought in and tamped down, new flower beds, and soon, new shrubs and mulch to finish it off.



Most plant material will flush out in the spring, and growth becomes much more substantial than in the winter months. This is a great time for transplanting as the plants will have less stresses on them than they would in the hot, summer months. That doesn’t mean it’s easy on a plant to go from a pot to the ground. To reduce the transplant shock in my flower beds, I’ve incorporated Hydretain QD granular. This will help with moisture management allowing me more flexibility with my watering, less worry about root rot diseases from overwatering, will delay wilt, and increase the life of the flowers. It will also help the flowers use nutrients more efficiently. That’s going to be very beneficial in the coming months as I feed the flowers with BioPro Bloomplex, a liquid fertilizer with the analysis of 8-16-5 with a full micronutrient package that increases rooting, promotes rapid establishment, contains phosphite to increase the plants’ natural defenses, and like the Hydretain I added, improves stress tolerances. Hydretain will be used about every 3 months, and I’ll go out at low doses of BloomPlex monthly all the way until I’m ready to change out the begonias to pansies this fall, and then I’ll start over on them.


Flowers are one thing, but transplanting shrubbery and trees can really take a toll on the health of the plant.

I’ve seen many, many plants die in my life before they even got going in the ground. If you do it right though, you should be able to say goodbye to failures. The first thing to take into account is the direction the landscape is facing. That will tell you how much sun it’s going to get, and therefore what the right plants for the area will be. I can’t stress how important starting with the right plants is going to be for your success. I would say spacing may be number two. If you buy plants that recommend a 4-foot spacing, and you space them 1 foot away, they are going to compete with each other and struggle because of it forever.



Your landscape generally should look full in years, once the plants have matured, not the moment you plant them. So, what about that transplant shock then? I have my plant species picked out mostly—I’m going with some camelia sasanqua, lorapetulum, double knock-out roses, and something else in those dots (still working on the right plant for the sun and spacing I have)—and I want to make sure they handle going from a nursery to my landscape. After planting, they will receive a heavy watering including NutriRoot. NutriRoot contains a multitude of beneficial ingredients for transplanting. Nutrients including both N-P-K and micronutrients, humectants for water management, seaweed extracts for root growth, humic acids and surfactants are all included in NutriRoot. Combined, it’s a stress reducing recipe for growing new roots for those new plantings. Even if you’re not installing new plants, I’d recommend drenching your existing plants with NutriRoot to increase the spring growth, health, vigor, and most of all aesthetics of your landscape.

You say you don’t want to go through all the work of landscape project or don’t have the need for one? That’s ok. There is always something to do in the spring. Pressure wash the driveway, paint the fence, walk the property, check out your current plants, look up at your trees. Look for things that seem out of place like dead limbs, sawdust around the base of the tree, or holes in the trunks. These things are likely a sign you need a professional assessment and treatments for pests or diseases. We can even help you find a reputable company for that. You may very well be able to save yourself thousands of dollars in tree removal costs just by walking around, breathing in the fresh air, and soaking in the vitamin D while the world around you is locked inside.


Stay safe and enjoy the sun!

Eric Steffensen – Arborjet’s Eastern Regional Sales Manager
Golf, Sport Turf, and Nursery Markets