How-To

Count Down to Spring

TulipsIt finally feels like spring, and slowly but surely the sun’s gentle warmth is awakening the earth. If you are itching to get your garden going, here’s a checklist of spring gardening tasks to get you going:

Early Spring

  • Clean and sharpen your pruners and shovels.
  • Check your lawnmower and replace the blade if it is dull.
  • Now is a good time to re-pot houseplants root bound houseplants.
  • Take a photo of your garden as it is now when you can see the silhouettes of trees and shrubs. Did you have enough winter colour this year? You may want to add trees or shrubs that produce winter colour with berries colour as well as providing food for birds that visit the garden in winter.
  • Now is the time to start seeds indoors, such as tomatoes, peppers, ageratum, alyssum and marigolds.
  • Prune fruit trees before new growth begins.
  • To control overwintering insects, apply dormant oil sprays to woody plants and fruit trees while the buds are swelling, but before the leaves open out.
  • Remove the protective winter covers from trees and shrubs.
  • You can plant vegetable and flower seeds that germinate in cool spring weather. For example, carrots, parsley, lettuce, spinach, dill peas, bachelor’s buttons and poppies. Make sure you follow the instructions on the seed packages.

Late Spring

  • Re–settle those plants that have heaved out of the soil during the winter.
  • Fertilize established trees and shrubs.
  • Remove winter protection from roses and prune them before they start to leaf out.
  • Repair fencing, decks, and trellis or lattice work.
  • Rake leaves and other winter debris.
  • Cut back ornamental grasses and the dead stalks from last season’s plants.
  • Once the soil is workable, plant new trees and shrubs.
  • Start weeding flower beds and lawns.
  • Lift and split clumps of large perennials (like hostas) before they leaf out. Cut through the root ball with a sharp shovel. Be sure each piece has a few shoots. Replant divisions.
  • Build up any low spots in your lawn with soil.
  • Re-seed or over-seed damaged lawn areas.
  • De–thatch and aerate your lawn if required.
  • Apply a slow–release fertilizer to your lawn.
  • Some plants like pansies, snapdragons and dianthus (pinks) can be planted now.
  • Prune shrubs that bloom in summer and fall on new wood. For example, buddleia (butterfly bush). Wait to prune early flowering shrubs such as forsythia and lilac until after they have bloomed or you will cut off the potential blossoms.
  • Place supports around perennials that have a tendency to fall over. For example, peonies and baby’s breath.
  • Apply fertilizer to perennials when you see a couple inches of new growth.
  • Water newly planted trees and shrubs if rainfall is scarce.
  • Visit your local garden centres and find out what’s new.

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