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Around the Yard

May 11, 2000

Things to do this week:

* Stage summer color. As spring-blooming annual flowers finish up, you can plant those that bloom in summer, such as ageratum, alyssum, amaranthus, balsam, celosia, bedding dahlia, annual dianthus, gloriosa daisy, golden fleece, lobelia, marigold, petunia, summer phlox, portulaca, bedding salvia, verbena and zinnia.

In the shade, try bedding begonia, caladium, coleus, forget-me-not, mimulus, torenia, or plain old impatiens..

If you want to get more drama from your summer bedding plants, stage them like they were standing on bleachers--or posing for a class portrait--with tall kinds like gloriosa daisies in back, mid-sized plants like marigolds in the middle, and low-growing kinds like lobelia in front. Plant a variety of heights since plantings that are all the same height are about as exciting as an industrial park. Even in the shade you can mix taller-growing coleus with low mimulus and mid-size impatiens.

* Plant (or patch) warm-season lawns. If you want a warm-season lawn such as one of the Bermuda grasses, St. Augustine, zoysia or even buffalo grass, now is the time to sow seed or install sod. The grass will quickly sprout or take hold in the warming weather, just be prepared to water every day at first.

If existing warm-weather lawns have some bare spots that need patching, many nurseries order in sod for Saturday mornings, so homeowners can buy just a few square feet.

If warm-season lawns look thick and cushiony, or appear threadbare, they probably need a complete renovation, a big job that really should be done every few years on Bermuda and other warm-season turf. Machines called vertical mowers thin the grass and tear up rhizomes so grass grows better. You can rent the equipment, or hire a lawn care company. There are also special rakes that work in a similar fashion.

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