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Southeast Gardening: Planning Improvements in the Garden

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

From preventing weeds to dealing with animal grazing, Lowe’s Southeast gardening contributor shares some ways of improving the garden in the year ahead.

sugar maple leaf

By Glenn DiNella

Gardening is a learning process. I’m always gaining knowledge—trying to remember the things I learned—and promising myself I’ll do better the next time around. Based on my experiences in 2013, there are a few things I plan to do in 2014.

Spread pre-emergent weed granules on my lawn three times per year in 2014. It’s much easier to prevent weeds from sprouting in the lawn than it is to battle them after they grow and scatter their seeds everywhere.

Pre-emergent granules dissolve to form an invisible blanket that prevents weeds from sprouting, or causes them to wither and die soon after sprouting. Unfortunately pre-emergents last only a few months or less, and in the Southeast weeds sprout all year long.

I used to spread pre-emergent only once per year—in spring—to keep down crabgrass and other summer weeds. But in 2014 I plan to apply it in late winter to cut down on spring weeds, then again in early fall to prevent winter weeds.

animal repellent

The same day I plant any veggies in my garden, I spray them with Liquid Fence. I just started using this stuff. It smells terrible, but it seems to prevent a resident wild rabbit from eating my winter crop of onions, Swiss chard, and broccoli. Unfortunately I did not use the spray when I first set out the broccoli, so that same rabbit nibbled a dozen plants down to nubs.

sugar maple by road

Plant a sugar maple tree (Acer saccharum) somewhere in my yard. I planted one in the front of my old house, and I miss it—especially in fall, when the leaves shift from green to buttery yellow to neon orangey-red. When backlit by the sun, sugar maples look like they must be plugged into an electric outlet.

New England does not have a patent on sugar maples. With little pruning, sugar maples naturally tend to form nice oval shapes. I even think the individual leaves have pleasant shapes.

See more Southeast Gardening Articles.