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Spring's yard warriors prepare for summer

POSTED: March 21, 2012 9:17 a.m.
Photo by Randy C. Murray/

Gardening enthusiast Dot Moss transplants a young fig tree Monday in her Midway garden. Moss grows many types of fruit trees, including cherry, grapefruit and blood orange trees.

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Spring is here, and Liberty County residents are busy preparing their yards and flower gardens for a long, hot summer.

A variety of azaleas already are in full bloom along with dogwood trees, wisteria and Bradford pear trees. Lawns too are turning green, many already requiring the first mowing of the year.

Some local yard warriors will pay landscape architects and yard maintenance specialists to do the work for them.
Most, however, will do it themselves — fertilizing and treating their lawn for pests like moles, fire ants and other insects; aerating the soil; planting ornamental trees and shrubs; and getting their sprinkler systems in proper working order.

Many of these do-it-yourselfers will seek the advice of Lowe’s nursery specialist Donna Carter on how best to get started and what plants and shrubs grow best in Coastal Georgia.

“You want to put down a good weed and feed (fertilizer) this time of year,” she said. “The best way to treat your lawn for moles is to use something that gets them above and below the ground. If you want to get rid of fire ants, be sure to get an insecticide that’s specifically made for fire ants — Ortho, Spectracide, Amdro or Terro, to name a few.”

Carter said many people wind up disappointed when they try to plant dogwoods and other ornamental trees.

“Dogwoods can be very temperamental,” she said. “They grow wild just about anywhere in Georgia, but they don’t always do so well when you try to plant them in your yard. Magnolias and crepe myrtles do well, but a tree I like is the banana shrub. It doesn’t look like much when you first plant it, but when it blossoms, it’s incredible.”

According to Floridata.com, the banana shrub can grow to a height of 15 feet. Its blossoms have a fragrance much like fresh bananas, but it is not related to the banana tree family.

Midway resident Dot Moss is one of the community’s most enthusiastic yard warriors. Her yard is a haven of native and not-so-native shrubs and trees, all of which she planted herself. Many of her “babies,” as she calls them, were “rescued” from the side of the road and transplanted in her yard.

“It’s just a hobby with me,” Moss said, admitting she has no special training in horticulture. “In the 19 years I’ve lived here, I’ve given away hundreds of plants, and I’ve also sold that many at local yard sales. I plan on taking a trailer load to Woodland Lake on April 21.”

On Monday, Moss walked around her yard and inspected each of her plants and trees to see how well they’re growing, including a variety of fig trees, dogwoods, a buckeye tree, a parasol tree, mulberry bushes, banana shrubs, indigo trees, plum trees, royal empress trees, wisteria, kumquats, a blood orange tree, a grapefruit tree, wild cherry trees, chestnut trees, oleander, persimmons, grapes and wild blueberries.

“No matter where I go, if I see something blooming along the roadside, I write down the location and later in the summer I go back and collect the seeds,” she explained. “I have fun sharing them with my neighbors and friends. I always recommend native species. They require no more care than they would in the wild.”

One of Moss’ neighbors is friend Paula Wolfe. Both ladies delight in talking about their plants and looking for space for something else. They, like most yard warriors, love the spring season and take great joy in seeing and sometimes eating the fruit of their labors.

For those unsure of their gardening skills, those physically unable to do the work and those who prefer to let the experts do it, lawn-maintenance companies provide a variety of services, including installing sod and sprinkler systems; controlling weeds and pests; planting and trimming ornamental shrubs and trees; and of course, mowing lawns.

 

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