Gardening Tips: February Question and Answer

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Q: When is the best time to put down a pre-emergent herbicide for crabgrass control?

A: The best way to control crabgrass and other summer annual weeds is by using what is called a pre-emergent herbicide. A pre-emergent herbicide prevents the weed seeds from germinating, effectively preventing them from coming up. This is the most effective way to control crabgrass because it is a very difficult weed to kill without damaging the lawn once it has come out of the ground. Timing of the herbicide application is very important, if you wait to long you’ll have poor coverage and if you start to soon it won’t last long enough into the summer. Usually the best time to apply in Halifax County is about the middle of March, during the bloom period of Forsythia. Herbicides containing the chemicals benefin, pendimethalin, and oryzalin are the best options for control. Many different herbicides made by a range of companies contain these chemicals, so look for something listed as a crabgrass preventer containing one of those chemicals. Follow all label directions of the product for application rate and method.

Q: When is the best time to apply lime?

A: Unlike fertilizer, which should only be applied at certain times of the year, depending on the plant it is being applied to, lime can be applied any time of year. Lime simply raises the pH of soil, making nutrients in the soil more available to plants, it does not actively encourage growth like fertilizer does. Therefore it is ok to add it now when plants are dormant, or in early spring as plants are beginning to grow, or any other time. Lime is also slow acting, so in many ways it is beneficial to add it early. For example, if you plan to have a vegetable garden this year, applying lime to the garden now means that the soil will likely be in better shape during the summer than if you were to wait to apply lime until June. The amount of lime you apply should be based on a soil test. Contact Cooperative Extension for directions on how to do a free soil test.

Q: I’ve heard a lot about the Master Gardener course. How often is the course offered?

A: Halifax County offers the Master Gardener course once a year, and the next one is scheduled to start on March 6th. We meet once a week, Thursdays from 1-5 p.m. at the Halifax Agricultural Center. Each week, we cover a topic related to gardening, including soil, fertilizer, pest management, pruning, fruits, vegetables, lawns, trees, shrubs, and more. The Master Gardener course is really a training session to become a Master Gardener volunteer. Volunteers are expected to give a minimum of 40 hours of time to educational gardening projects within Halifax County. These volunteer projects might include maintaining demonstration gardens, working with youth groups, or projects with partners like Habitat for Humanity or Sylvan Heights. The course costs $100, which includes the Master Gardener manual and all other class materials, as well as the cost of our field trip. There is still time to register for the class, although time is running out so contact me quickly if you are interested.

Matthew Stevens is the horticulture extension agent for Halifax County Cooperative Extension. If you have any questions about this article or other aspects of your home gardening, please contact Matthew at 583-5161 or

Written By

Matt Stevens, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionMatt StevensExtension Agent, Agriculture - Commercial and Consumer Horticulture Call Matt Email Matt N.C. Cooperative Extension, Nash County Center
Posted on Feb 12, 2015
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