Garden News

Using All-Purpose Milorganite

Milorganite is an all-purpose slow-release nitrogen fertilizer that can be used safely on lawns, flowers, vegetables, shrubs, and trees, as well as a carrier when spreading grass seed.

  • Milorganite has been proven effective for over 90 years
  • Composed of heat-dried microbes
  • Won't burn your lawn or garden
  • It's a slow-release fertilizer that feeds for up to 10 weeks
  • Regulated by the EPA and complies with its most stringent requirements

Milorganite’s slow-release formula provides even growth and better root development over a longer period of time

Slow-release is also good for the environment; Milorganite’s nutrients release at a rate that plants can use making it less likely to leach into groundwater.

Is Your Lawn Struggling this Summer?

A combination of excessive heat and humidity in the summertime is the leading cause of fungus to emerge on the lawn. The fungus often occurs in times of stress, such as drought, long rainy periods, and overwatering. It usually develops because the water stays on the leaf surface far too long and is then spread from foot-traffic and mowing while still wet.

Signs of lawn fungus will appear as:

  • Brown or "dead" looking spots on grass blades
  • Dead or dry looking spots on your lawn (despite regular irrigation)
  • Discolored patches that grow in size
  • Threadlike or powdery coatings on grass blades

Red Thread (note the light red hue to the damaged grass blades) is a cool-season turf disease that thrives in undernourished lawns.

Dollar Spot appears as small circles of dead or dry grass on lawns. They often look sunken and can be alone or in clusters. This fungus thrives in hot, humid summer weather.

Brown Patch often appears in roughly circular or irregular patches that look dry or dead. It thrives in hot, humid summer weather. Brown Patch often forms as a circle of dry brown grass with a narrow darker ring around it.

Will the fungus go away?

Unfortunately, it will not go away on its own. You must treat it and then start implementing the following best practices to prevent it from coming back in the future.

  • Water the lawn in the morning will allow the grass to absorb the water and then dry off throughout the day.
  • Sharpen and clean mower blades regularly.
  • When mowing, do not remove more than ⅓ of the grass blade.
  • Remove thatch in the fall.
  • Apply Jonathan Green Love Your Soil to reduce soil compaction and increase airflow.
  • If your grass lacks calcium, apply Jonathan Green's line of Mag-I-Cal in the spring to build strong cell walls, to promote disease resistance, and to enable the grass to utilize nutrients in the soil.
  • Applying a fungicide should be your last line of defense.

If your lawn currently has or has had fungus in the past, it is best to apply Jonathan Green Lawn Fungus Control. This product will both treat and prevent lawn fungus.

Please note that if you apply the same fungicide many times, your lawn can build up a resistance to the active ingredients. Due to this resistance, the fungus may appear in your grass even if you put down a preventative treatment.

Let’s Talk About Crape Myrtles

Zaino’s Nursery & Garden Center has a fabulous selection of Crape Myrtles that are just perfect in every landscape. A favorite of ours is the Dynamite® Crape Myrtle, an attractive ornamental small tree with smooth, peeling bark. Enjoy Showy, fiery red flowers in late summer followed by vibrant orange-red foliage in the fall. This tree is an excellent choice as a specimen plant or plant in groups for an explosion of color in the landscape and year-round interest.

Zone: 6 to 10

Height: Moderate growing; reaches 15 to 20 ft. tall

Width: 10 to 15 ft. wide

Light: Full sun

Water: Once established, water occasionally; more in extreme heat or containers

Soil: Thrives in average, well-drained soil.

An Important Message from Zaino’s Nursery & Garden Center

The coronavirus (COVID-19) creates a great deal of fear and uncertainty that has impacted our lives in so many ways.

During these challenging times, Zaino's Nursery & Garden Center is taking the necessary actions recommended by the Nassau County Dept of Health and the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

We have taken the following measures to ensure we keep you, our staff members, and our community healthy and safe when shopping at the Nursery.

The office support staff will be working remotely from home.

We have increased both the frequency and the degree of cleaning and sanitizing common surfaces, which include checkout counters, credit card terminals, restrooms, door handles, and phones.

We update staff members on the latest guidelines. They are encouraged to wash their hands often and to stay home when they are not feeling well.

We are working closely with our partners to make sure that our Garden Nursery is fully stocked, with healthy, gorgeous trees, shrubs, annuals, perennials and tropical plants for the entire 2020 planting season.

The outdoors remains a vital part of all our lives, especially in moments like these. With more of our customers planning to stay home for vacation this year, a backyard living space becomes a sanctuary for family and friends to gather and enjoy the spring and summer seasons together. Our staff is here to answer your questions and to help you beautify your home and garden. Together we can plan for a fantastic spring season that seamlessly transitions into summer and fall.

From all of us at Zaino’s Nursery & Garden Center, be well, take care of one another, and enjoy the warmth and comfort that Spring brings to us all.

Let’s Talk About How to Care for that Live Christmas Tree

Follow these tips to keep your real Christmas tree as fresh as possible. If you are unable to set up your tree when you get home, store it in a cool sheltered area like the Northside house, away from the wind and sun.

  1. Before you bring the tree into your home and place it in a stand, re-cut the trunk at least one inch from the bottom just before putting it in the tree stand.
  2. Heat sources like heat registers, space heaters, fireplaces, woodburning stove, televisions, computer monitors, etc. speed up evaporation and moisture loss of the tree. It is best to place your live tree away from these heat sources.
  3. After making the fresh-cut, place the tree in a large capacity stand. Secure the tree in the stand and fill the reservoir with warm water. The tree stand you use should hold at least one gallon of water.
  4. Check the tree stand every morning and do not allow the water level to drop below the fresh cut, or the stem will reseal and be unable to take up water.
  5. It is not unusual for a tree to drink 2 gallons of water the first day it is the stand.

Let’s Talk About the Importance of Potassium for the Lawn

Potassium (K), the last number of the N-P-K fertilizer analysis, is a vital “vitamin” for the grass that helps it ward-off diseases during cold, harsh winters. Accordingly, when grasses are deficient in potassium, they are susceptible to temperature changes. Potassium also helps lawns absorb more nutrients in the soil. The grass uses potassium to effectively make proteins and starches to store for the winter.  

Apply Jonathan Green's Winter Survival as your last fall fertilization of the season. Winter Survival’s high-K formulation (10-0-20) is ideal for the lawn as the winter approaches. Some competitive fall fertilizers have high amounts of nitrogen in them. Too much nitrogen applied in the fall encourages lawns to keep growing into the winter, a time where it should be dormant. This excessive “winter” growth will foster spring diseases, like red thread and snow mold.

Let’s Talk About Second Chances

All too often this hot and dry summer season, customers have returned dying plants to Zaino’s Nursery and Garden Center due to lack of proper watering. Watering is a simple yet essential daily part of caring for trees and shrubs that unfortunately goes unchecked once planted in the ground.

The following is an example of how proper watering can make all the difference in the health of a new shrub.

In July, a customer returned two hydrangeas for store credit. A Zaino’s Associate took one look at the plants and knew they were not dead and that the shriveled leaves were due to insufficient water.

The Associate took one hydrangea under her care. She pruned out all the dead leaves and blooms, gave it a thorough watering, and crossed her fingers.

She took the plant home and watered it regularly in its original container for weeks. Notice all the healthy new growth.

In September, she gave the hydrangea a new home in her garden bed.

Let’s Talk about Over-seeding an Existing Lawn

Lawn Seeding Guide, Why, When, and What Products to Use for Best Long-term Results


Over-seeding, planting grass over an existing lawn, helps to correct turf that is damaged and thin from environmental stresses which can include:

  • Nutrient deficiency
  • Low pH
  • Temperature extremes
  • Over- or under-watering
  • Faulty irrigation system
  • Watering during the wrong time of day
  • Soil problems
  • Prolonged exposure to shade or traffic


If your lawn looks and feels worn-out, the cooler temperatures at the end of summer, and the beginning of fall lend themselves to the perfect time to over-seed and feed the lawn. The seed will germinate better when temperatures are cooler, rainwater is plentiful, the ground is still warm, and weeds are less active and competing for water and nutrient.


Now that you have decided to over-seed, the next important step is to select a grass seed that will fill bare stops quickly and create a green and healthy lawn in the future. Zaino’s Nursery and Garden Center is proud to carry Jonathan Green Black Beauty Grass Seed products and recommends Black Beauty Fall Magic.

Black Beauty varieties:

  • Include beneficial endophytes, which help to make the grass naturally resistant to insect damage
  • Are drought- and disease-tolerant
  • Have an incredible dark-green color
  • Need far less water and fertilizer than competitive cultivars

Your lawn’s pH should be between 6.2 and 7.  If you are uncertain of the pH level, stop by Zaino’s and pick up a pH test kit. If your pH is low (below 6.2), then be sure to grab a bag of Mag-I-Cal to adjust it. 

Adding Jonathan Green Love Your Soil helps to loosen soil that is hard and compacted. Growing a lawn under these conditions is difficult because water and air will not be able to penetrate the root zone.  Without grassroots turf has very little ability to take up water and nutrients. An application of Love Your Soil will help to correct the problem.

Giving your lawn an extra boost of nutrients to store up for those winter months will give your grass a jump-start in the spring. Green-Up for Seeding and Sodding is rich in potassium, an essential nutrient needed for the root development of grass seed and newly cut sod.  Use Green-Up for Seeding and Sodding ON THE SAME DAY that you seed or sod.  Of course, if you have a soil problem (pH or compaction), then you will use Mag-I-Cal and or Love Your Soil ON THE SAME DAY, as well.

If you have additional questions about the use of any of these products, please stop by Zaino’s Nursery and speak to a Zaino’s Associate. We are here to help!

Watering Tips During Periods of High Heat

With the summer heat firing up, it is essential that we spend the extra time watering the plants new to the garden and those that have been in the landscape over the years. 

When should you water?
The best time to water your garden is from 6 am to 10 am. Watering early in the morning gives your plants plenty of time to drink up the water and any moisture on the leaves to dry off before nightfall. If that isn’t possible, the next best time is from 4 pm to 7 pm.
Try to avoid watering at night, as cool and wet conditions could encourage fungi and bacteria to develop and slugs, snails, earwigs, and other pests to appear.

Can you rely on sprinklers and irrigation systems to get the job done?
Unfortunately, NO, just like people, plants need thorough hydration during times of excess heat. New plantings that haven’t yet established their roots and flowering containers are certainly more vulnerable during excessively high temperatures.

Newly planted trees, shrub, annuals, and perennials in the ground benefit from a long, deep soaking up to three times a week and may need more during stressful heatwaves. Watering by hand with a garden hose at the base of the plant allows the water to penetrate slowly and fully into the soil. A good rule of thumb is to water slowly, to a depth of at least 6 inches for approximately 20 minutes. We know that may seem like a long time; however, the roots of your plants will be encouraged to grow deeper and stronger, and the extra moisture will protect them from the hot soil surface.

Container plants are more susceptible to drying out than their in-ground counterparts. During those hot summer days, these potted plants need special attention and may require watering every day or even twice a day. It may also be helpful to move them to a partially shaded area in the afternoon.

Is mulching helpful?
Absolutely! Organic mulch like shredded bark or wood chips conserves moisture, smothers weeds, regulates soil temperature to keep plant roots cool in summer, and adds small amounts of nutrients to the soil through decomposition. It also prevents soil (and whatever fungi and bacteria are lingering in the ground) from splashing up on the leaves while watering, which reduces the spread of disease.

Water your plants, but hold back on fertilizing, why?
Very high soil temperatures (above 85°F) can cause plants to go semi-dormant, so they use very few nutrients while they’re in survival mode and aren’t prepared to make use of them. Withhold the fertilizers (or apply a weaker diluted solution) until the weather cools off a bit and your plants have a chance to recover. 

Let’s Talk About How to Control Lawn Disease

Lawn fungal diseases take on a variety of forms – from dead-looking brown patches to highly visible spots, threads, rings, or slimes that can be challenging to treat. A lawn disease targets specific lawn types, at certain times of the year, under certain conditions.
For example:

  • Brown patch strikes during hot, humid weather.
  • Fusarium blight prefers hot, drought conditions.
  • Dollar spot tends to surface when nights are cool, and dew is heavy.

How to Control and Treat Lawn Fungus

The fungus is seen most often at temperatures above 80°F when humidity levels are very high. It spreads through mycelia, which travel from leaf to leaf. Mycelia use water and moisture as a “highway” to move throughout the lawn. Therefore, it’s vital to water in the morning and NOT at night to ensure that water doesn’t stay on the grass leaves too long. Mycelia look like spider webs on the lawn, which appear before damage occurs. If you see these “webs” on the turf, Zaino’s Nursery and Garden Center recommends applying Jonathan Green Lawn Fungus Control, a systemic fungicide used for preventative and curative treatments or Bonides, Infuse Lawn and Landscape, a powerful systemic product that prevents and cures lawn fungus.

Jonathan Green Lawn Fungus Control
Bonide, Infuse Lawn & Garden

Zaino’s Nursery also recommends applying Mag-I-Cal PLUS or Love Your Soil on the same day to increase water penetration into the soil and will limit the “driving” of mycelia. These products work hand-in-hand to control lawn fungus diseases and promote a healthy lawn all summer long.

Tips for a Healthy Lawn

Follow these steps to help take control of fungal diseases in your lawn:

When and How to Water Your Lawn:
Water early in the morning, to allow the grass blades to dry during the day. Give your lawn one inch of water per week, and use a rain gauge to keep track. Water deeply, but less frequently, to encourage stronger roots and to allow the water to absorb properly.

Proper Mowing Height and More:
Mowing at the proper height stimulates a healthy growing lawn to resist fungus. The lawn should not be cut lower than 3". Low cuts and dull mower blades will scalp the leaves and create wounds in the tissue. Such wounds limit the natural ability of grass to resist infection.

Mow your lawn when the grass is dry, particularly if you already have a fungal disease. Keep the mower blades sharp. As stated above, a dull blade inhibits the grass to ward off fungus. Sharp blades, on the other hand, cut cleanly and allow the plant to heal and recover quickly. If you have fungus, try to mow the affected areas last to avoid spreading it.

Aeration is Important:
A layer of compacted soil just 1/4 to 1/2 inches thick can make a significant difference in the health and beauty of your lawn. Aeration creates holes down into the soil to alleviate compaction so air, water, and nutrients can reach grass roots and can be done every year or two.

Apply and rake in a layer of rich, organic top-dressing to improve the soil, increase drainage, and help combat disease.

Remove thick buildups of thatch in your lawn to allow the soil to breathe. Moisture trapped in the thatch layer promotes fungus. If your thatch layer is more than ½ inch thick, de-thatch your lawn in the fall.

Plant Proper Grass Type:
Rather than fighting nature to have an exotic lawn, choose a grass type that’s suited for your climate, soil, and light conditions. Well-chosen lawn types are stronger and able to fight off the normal fungal spore’s native to the area.

Air Circulation:
Many lawn fungi develop under moist, still conditions. Thin out trees and shrubs to allow air to circulate all over your lawn, and plant shade-tolerant grasses under trees.

Avoid walking on or compacting snow in your yard during the winter, since heavy snow layers can breed snow molds that emerge in spring.