TODAY   |  March 30, 2013

Tips for spring garden success

Most people make the mistake of watering gardens often, but not for long periods of time. With spring warming things up, it’s the perfect time to whip the lawn into shape and help plants absorb as much water and nutrients as possible. The Home Depot’s Mike Cartozzo is interviewed by TODAY’s Erica Hill.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> now can last us well into the summer. here to help us do that, michael, nice to see you.

>> nice to see you.

>> i am excited about this because for the first time in years i have a lawn.

>> we're ready.

>> one of most important things to do is start watering now.

>> yes. well, watering in general is important because of all the things that your lawn needs. water is probably the most important thing and the mistake most people make is they water often but not for long periods of time. what that means is the water tends to gather at the top of the soil. the roots are going to go where the water is.

>> okay.

>> you don't want that.

>> because then you're --

>> it's not as resilient. just not as healthy. you want really deep roots. so the deep ert waer the water goes the more incentive there is for the roots to go down to get the water.

>> you say about an inch of water a week.

>> generally an arch of water a week and in the summer a little more. you can do a lot of different things to measure the water with cans in the yard. the easiest thing is to know most sprinklers water about a quarter inch an hour. so to get that inch you would need to water for four hours.

>> good enough.

>> if you forget timers are great. these are really inexpensive. hook it to the spigot, and you can program that all different ways to water whenever you need it.

>> this is good too. you get the water you need but you don't waste the water which is important in a lot of areas with the drought. and fertilizing also key. we should start doing that now. you say one type we should use now and another in two months.

>> it depends on where you live but in general fertilizer does something for the grass . it's not a food source. a lot of people think it is. photosynthesis is where the grass gets its food from but the fertilizer provides the nutrients it needs. nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium. that enables the grass to do what it needs to do. do this in the spring regardless of where you live. if you live in a warmer climate focus on the spring and summer when the grass is really stressed. in a cooler climate the spring and the fall is when that grass tends to grow.

>> i know you recommend starting now with fertilizer that also has weed control in it.

>> yes.

>> mulching cannot only make things look a little better but also serves an important purpose.

>> it's functional. it will lock in water. once you water it'll keep the water locked in. it prevents weeds from growing. it's also decorative. we have different types. this is red. there are browns and blacks. lots of colors. there are different sizes. this is good for a large area.

>> and also you can use the old leaves.

>> organic, straw, grass .

>> what is this?

>> this is actually rubber mulch . this is made from recycled tires so it's functional. it does what all the other mulches do but it keeps literally tons of tires out of landfills and always put weed block under it to help with the weeds.

>> i like it. if you're doing a little planting now is a good time to start loosening up the soil.

>> the more compact the soil is the harder it is for nutrients and water to get down to the roots where they're needed. use all kinds of cultivating tools to do that. the same thing is important for your lawn. you want to aerate to loosen the soil and allow nutrients in. you want to add amendments. you can add peat moss , compost to help the soil and make it more robust.

>> weeds, sort of everybody's favorite word if gardening. we need to stay on top of them and pull them out. what else? you also recommend some chemicals?

>> the key to weeding is to get ahead of it. the more healthy your grass is the less likely you'll have a weed problem. use a preemerge ent to keep the weeds from growing in the first place. once they get out of hand obviously there are a lot of things you can do to attack those. the key is get ahead of them early.

>> before you start mowing your lawn, change your oil, change the fuel, give the lawn mower a check.

>> and sharpen the blade.

>> very nice. thanks again.