Monthly Garden Maintenance Tips
Our garden manager, Jeffrey Wuilliez, has a wealth of experiences tackling the coastal terrain. He brings to The Elizabethan Gardens 20 years of experience and knowledge. His work has appeared in Island Life and Real Life magazines as well as an episode of The Travel Channel’s “Epic Beach Houses” episode. He holds a Bachelor of Science with a major in Biology from George Mason University in which he completed coursework in plant biology, horticulture, ecology and vascular plant taxonomy. A resident of the Outer Banks since 1995, he worked as a biologist for Dare County, developing the state’s first surface water/ environmental monitoring program. In 1998 he moved to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia where he started a nursery business and Caribbean Botanical Designs, an international landscape design and consulting company. Since then he has worked throughout the Caribbean and Central America designing and installing landscapes for resorts and private residences.
Month-by-Month Tips from the Gardens Manager at The Elizabethan Gardens
- What to plant? January is a good month to plant woody shrubs and trees as most of them are by now dormant for the winter. Also, it is a great time to remove out grown and less desired landscape material and invasive plants from last year’s growing season, it’s a great time to come see us at the Elizabethan Gardens as we are now completing a lot of this kind of work. Note: look for upcoming workshops that address this points.
- When it comes to turf grass now is a good time to mow the now dormant warm growing/seasonal varieties. This removes dead growth and any leaf litter such as pine needles from the lawn which allows good aeration.
- Commonly known as the pruning month, February is a great time to get out and prune your trees, with exception to Maples, as many are dormant for the winter. When pruning large diameter branches always make the 1st cut from the bottom of the branch about 1-2in. away from the trunk, cut about ½ way through, then finish with a top cut that lines up with the bottom creating a collar which will allow for the cut to properly grow over. An added tip is to trim off as much of the branch as possible starting at the tip working your way back to the trunk in small pieces, this will ensure that the branch won’t rip at the trunk. Join us at the Elizabethan Gardens at one of our pruning workshops offered in February.
- Turf grass-now is a great time to deal with weeds. As our seasonal grass goes dormant the winter weeds become easy to identify to be hand pulled or sprayed with a post emergence herbicide. February is also a great time to force limbs of flowering shrubs to bloom for a burst of Spring color indoors.
- March is all about bulbs. Later in the month our highly anticipated Azaleas start to come into bloom. For a stunning impact in your garden plant Azaleas in masses of one color, it is fine to move them while they are blooming.
- Many of our seasonal turf grass is starting to green up. If you soil is acidic, as most are in this area, liming your grass is a good idea every couple years. The general rate of application is 15-20lbs/100sqft. As a tip use the pelletized type rather than the powdered.
- Since March is a shoulder month adding the more hardy varieties of annuals such as Snapdragons, Dusty Miller, and some varieties of Begonia will add a welcome burst of color. Look for our upcoming workshops both in the gardens and greenhouse here at the Elizabethan Gardens.
- Early April is the time to refresh your mulch.
- After the last chance of frost has past, we use the 15th as the safe date, it’s time to create some Spring magic with seasonal annuals. Vinca, Impatiens, Coleus, petunias, salvia, and marigolds just to name a few are great varieties that will provide colorful leaves and blooms through the Spring and Summer months. Make sure to recut all beds and mulch after planting to give that finished, professional look. The Elizabethan Gardens will be offering workshops on how to best utilize seasonal annuals to create maximum impact in your gardens.
- April is also the time to get the herb gardens back in shape. When planting culinary herbs the rule of thumb is to plant 2 times what you think is needed as it takes roughly twice as much fresh herbs as it does dried to achieve the equal flavoring, plus fresh herbs are so good. Join us at the Elizabethan Gardens for a workshop on both culinary, and medicinal herbs.
- It’s time to finish planting the seasonal annuals, make sure to tease out the roots a bit before planting so they may catch quickly.
- Once the turf grass has greened up it’s time to fertilize. The type of fertilize depends on the type of grass, most need a slightly higher amount of nitrogen, make sure to carefully read the information on the bag and to follow the application directions to avoid burning your grass.
- After woody shrubs and trees have leafed out it’s time to do a final pruning. Always dead wood back to live growth.
- May is the time to plant the Summer vegetable garden, also to bring those tropical out that have wintered over indoor or in cold frames. Remember to ease them into the sun, start them outside in an outdoor spot that they get morning sun but are protected from the harsh afternoon sun. Make sure to join us ate the Elizabethan Gardens for our Spring workshops.
- As we move into the warmer months of the year proper watering is necessary in maintaining vigorous growth. Hanging baskets and containers need special attention as they dry quickly. When watering the garden, it’s best at dawn and dusk to reduce water loss from evaporation.
- When tropical begin to show new growth fertilize them with a balance fertilizer (20-20-20).
- Any newly installed shrubs or trees should be mulched to reduce water loss and to protect new roots.
- As soon as the azaleas finish flowering it is time to prune. Next years flowers will be on this years growth, so prune as soon as possible after flowering, if you wait to prune later you will be cutting off next years flowers. Azaleas readily back bud so they can be hard pruned. The Elizabethan Gardens will be offering pruning workshops that focus on flowering shrubs such as Azaleas.
- Now that the Summer heat is upon us it’s time to adjust the deck height on your lawnmower. Lawns cut too close run the risk of root burn, also trimming the grass not as short reduces evaporation, and keeps the weeds down. Cut feeding back, and increase watering.
- Dead head annuals where needed to ensure a continuation of new flowers, and pinch off Coleus flowers and their growth tips to encourage back budding. Join us for Summer workshops at the Elizabethan Gardens which include pruning and container gardening.
- Early August is the best time to not garden, very high temperature and humidity make it a very unfavorable time for us and the plants.
- Late August is the time to start making divisions of tuberous, and rhizomatous perennials. Dig up the clumps of Iris, Day Lilly, and Hosta divide and replant. To ensure good rood growth to support next years flowers amend the soil with compost, and sphagnum moss.
- This is also the time to start winding down the Summer vegetable garden, and to prepare the soils for the Fall vegetable garden.
- Do not cut turf grass unless absolutely necessary. Make sure to join us for workshops on dividing perennials at The Elizabethan Gardens.
- As the first signs of a very anticipated Fall appear, it’s time to plant woody shrubs and trees. By planting them now they will have ample time to establish roots and transition into the garden.
- Plant fall vegetables.
- Time to begin reducing the watering as cooler weather approaches. Make sure to check the Elizabeth Gardens website for new, exciting workshops.
- Turf grass in October is starting to go dormant. To maintain a lush, green lawn through the Fall over seed with annual Ryegrass.
- Some Seasonal annuals are finished and should be removed.
- If planting Summer/Fall shoulder annuals, prepare the soil with slow-release granular fertilizer, and composted organic matter. Plant cooler annuals such as mums.
- October is also the time to plug or seed late fall vegetables and greens. Come and enjoy the Fall workshops that are offered at the Elizabethan Gardens.
- November is the Fall clean out month. If not already established, set up an out of the way spot to bring the leaf debris, mixing green and dead. Keep moist and turn often and enjoy the benefits next Spring.
- Finish plant cold weather annuals such as cabbage, kale, and violas.
- Feed turf grass with a high nitrogen granular fertilizer that will give your lawn a boost in the Spring. The Elizabethan gardens will be offering workshops on the proper techniques of composting, make sure to join us these are not to be missed!
- It’s time to winterize the irrigation.
- Trim back dead perennial leaves, ornamental grasses, and cut out dead wood.
- Apply lime to turf grass to give them a boost in the Spring.
- Cut and mulch perennial beds to protect their roots and to give clean look for winter. Look for the many holiday themed workshops offered at the Elizabethan Gardens.