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Spring In The Garden

We’ve had enough winter. If you’re like most gardeners and lawnophiles, you’re getting antsy to get out and get your hands dirty. That’s fine, but don’t push it. Don’t try to work in mud.

After the snow melts, wait for the soil to firm up enough to support you when you step on it. Take a small handful of soil, roll it into a ball and squeeze it. If water comes out of it like a wrung-out sponge, go back into the house and enjoy looking out the window at your landscape.

Don’t be in a hurry to remove the extra mulch you spread at the beginning of winter. Wait for the soil to rise above freezing and stay there. Then start removing it gradually to let plants acclimate to the spring temperatures without that extra “coat.” Most of us don’t just remove our winter coat and jump into tee shirts and shorts. We change clothing gradually to acclimate to the changing seasons. Plants like to do the same. It’s better to remove mulch late than early.

If you see plants in your planting beds whose roots have heaved out of the soil, push them back into the soil. Don’t be rough with them. If they resist being pushed, take a trowel and pull the soil around the roots back, reset the plant and backfill.

This is also a good time to divide and transplant summer blooming perennials. Either spread them around your yard or share them with a friend. There’s enough color for everyone’s enjoyment. Just dig up a perennial, split the root into four sections. Put one section back into the hole from which it came and plant the other three elsewhere.

Arguably, weeding is the most unpleasant spring task, but one that has to be done. Weeding while dormant reduces the number of weeds that will spring to life, flower and overrun your landscape. Pulling weeds is considered the most effective control. So, start the season with clean beds.

Spring is also the time to cut back your ornamental grasses. You enjoyed their tan color and fuzzy seedheads sticking up above the snow and swaying in the wind. Now they have done their job and its time to cut them back so they can grow anew and provide the same pleasure next winter.

Springtime is also a good time to prune your roses.

Finally, when your spring flowers have finished blooming, it’s OK to cut off the spent flowers but not the green leaves. These have to make food through photosynthesis. This food is stored in the roots so the plants will bloom next year. The leaves will let you know when they are through making food by turning yellow. Then you can cut them back.

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