Spring brings the anticipation of two things: preparing the garden and preparing taxes. The former I tend to get excited about too early. The latter I tend to put off until the last minute. Though we surely have a few cool days ahead of us, it’s clear that spring is quickly approaching. Here are some dos and don’ts to put a ‘spring’ into your gardening step!
DO start weeding! Weeds are some of the first plants to emerge in spring. Get them now to help control them later.
DO use local plants. Use what you have nearby instead of importing expensive exotics. There’s a reason certain plants grow well in your area and planting those will mean less work in the long run.
DO revitalize the soil. Your soil is likely dried out and packed after winter so it’s time to add moisture. Add organic material like compost.
DO trim old plants. Plants that survived the winter will need to be pruned so they’ll grow anew in the spring. Make sure to wait until mid-April in case there’s an unexpected freeze.
DO add mulch. In addition to fertilizers and organic materials, you should think about adding mulch to your flower beds and garden. One to three inches of mulch helps to prevent weeds and diseases. It also keeps the moisture in the garden and maintains the temperature.
DO plant new flowers and plants. Once you’ve gotten the garden in shape and handled all of the old plants, it’s time to turn your attention to new plants. You should lean towards planting more perennials rather than annuals because annuals must be replaced every year.
DON’T overcrowd plants. Repeat that until you believe it. We all want to ignore spacing recommendations to avoid bare spots when planting a garden. If you do, your garden beds will soon be too crowded forcing you to pull out plants you paid for not so long ago. It’s OK to see bare spots, especially in early spring.
DON’T forget to choose a serene color palette. When you’re designing a planting scheme, pick a limited palette and stick to it. Silver, blue, and purple plants harmonize beautifully, for instance. While rainbow colors in full bloom look utterly tempting at the nursery, they can be as jarring as a slash of too-red lipstick after you get them home.
DON’T overlook the importance of foliage. You probably shouldn’t buy plants for their flowers. Buy plants for their leaves—texture, shape, color—because their leaves are what you are going to see most of the year.
DON’T mow, fertilize or treat the lawn yet. Let grass grow for a few weeks before you work on it. Wait until mid- to late April to apply pre-emergent herbicides that aim to prevent crabgrass.
Most importantly, DON’T stay inside! DO enjoy the outdoors! Early spring is the time to make your action plan for the gardening season and when those few warm days hit, get outside and make your plans happen!