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Around the Yard

April 22, 1999|ROBERT SMAUS

Things to do this week:

* Stake flowers. If those early April rains toppled delphiniums, snapdragons, foxgloves, alstroemerias or other tall flowers, you now know the value of garden stakes. While spring and summer flowers rarely have to deal with rain in the Southland, sprinklers are always a threat, the droplets weighting down the stalks to the breaking, or at least bending, point.

The best time to stake is at planting time, so you damage few roots, but if you miss that opportunity, stake as soon as flowers begin blooming. Tie plants loosely to stakes with a figure-eight loop so the stem does not rub against the stake.

* Prune shrubs. When they finish blooming, prune camellias, azaleas and other spring-blooming shrubs if they require it, although pruning is not necessary to elicit future blooms.

Camellias can be thinned and opened up; azaleas thrive when dense and bushy. Even azaleas pruned into a ball will bloom next spring if not pruned again in summer or fall. Both benefit if fertilized with something like cottonseed meal in summer.

* Mow low. If you overseeded Bermuda grass with annual rye, begin mowing the lawn lower than in winter. Mowing about an inch high will encourage the Bermuda, which is coming out of its dormancy.

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