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NDSU Offers Tips on Repairing Flooded Landscapes

It is a new year and spring is here, so it’s time to get landscapes back into shape.

The flood of 2011 devastated many landscapes. However, it is a new year and spring is here, so it’s time to get landscapes back into shape.

Bare spots in the lawn can be reseeded or resodded when the ground is dry enough to work.

“Prepare a smooth seedbed and apply a starter fertilizer,” says Tom Kalb, North Dakota State University Extension Service horticulturist. “Usually we wait until mid-April or later after the ground warms up and the risk of bitter cold temperatures are over.”

A blend of hardy varieties is best. In sunny areas, look for a seed mix with Kentucky bluegrass as a dominant seed. Fine fescues will do better in shady areas. A minor amount (around 20 percent) of perennial ryegrass is valued in all seed mixes because it germinates quickly and will stabilize the exposed ground. Crested wheatgrass and blue grama grass are better suited to low-maintenance, rural landscapes.

Many people apply crabgrass preventer on the lawn. However, the most common crabgrass- killing chemical (pendimethalin) will prevent all grass seeds from germinating. If you are sowing lawn grass seed this spring, select an alternative crabgrass killer, such as siduron, or just forget about using a crabgrass killer. Crabgrass populations are expected to be low this year because of the flooding and cool weather of last summer.

“When it comes to fertilizing, many of us can’t wait to feed the lawn in early spring,” Kalb says. “Thin lawns will benefit from fertilization, especially if you did not fertilize last fall. In the future, focus on fertilizing the lawn in the fall, which will contribute more to root development.”

Trees and shrubs can be planted in early spring as soon as the ground is dry. The lack of snow this winter will allow people to establish these plants earlier than in most years.

Although it seems like spring, it’s too early to plant vegetable seeds in the garden. Most of the state is susceptible to frost damage at least until mid to late May. Many frost-tolerant vegetables, such as radish, spinach, peas and broccoli, are planted in mid to late April.

Although it’s too early to plant your garden, you can use this nice weather as a time to improve your garden soil. One or 2 inches of compost, peat moss or rotted manure can be mixed into the topsoil. This organic matter will improve the drainage, fertility and overall structure of the soil. For these reasons, it’s also a good idea to enrich the soil of flowerbeds with organic matter now.

“The harmful effects of last year’s floods on the garden should be over,” Kalb says. “Any raw sewage deposited by floodwaters has had eight or more months to decompose. Organic growers often use six months as the recommended span between applying fresh manure and growing vegetables. However, it is recommended that gardeners thoroughly wash their vegetables after harvesting.”

For more information, see the NDSU publications "Home Lawn Establishment" at, “Helping Flooded Trees and Shrubs at, “Lawn and Garden Care After a Flood” at and “Annual and Perennial Flower Selections For North Dakota” at

NDSU Agriculture Communication – March 21, 2012

Source:Tom Kalb, (701) 221-6865,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
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