Is your green thumb itching? Are you having a tough time resisting the urge to get outside and start working on your landscape? Well, it’s too early for most landscaping tasks but there are a few you can do now.
As long as the ground’s thawed, you might start by dividing overgrown perennials, if you didn’t do it last fall. Dig up the whole plant and lay it down on a tarp. Remove the soil to expose the bare roots. To keep your lawn or planting bed clean, keep the soil on the tarp.
The next step is to cut the plant into quarters. First cut the root in half and then cut each half in half. The tool you choose depends on the size and thickness of the root. If it’s thin and hairy, you may be able to use sharp, ratchet pruning shears or loppers. A thick, woody root may require a saw. The best choices are a pruning saw or bow saw. I don’t recommend that any untrained person use a chainsaw.
When you have the plant quartered, replant one section back into the hole where the whole plant once lived. Backfill with the soil on the tarp, tamp down the backfill and water. Plant the other three sections in other beds in your yard or give them to family or friends. Charity plant sales might also appreciate your contributing the other sections to them.
Another early spring task is to remove the extra mulch you spread for the winter. Three or four inches were fine for winter but you should only have two or three inches in spring and summer. Spread the excess mulch in another bed or compost it if you have no other place for it.
If you have ambition left, this would be a good time to rake or blow any leaves you didn’t get to last fall into the compost bin. Two other tasks you can do now are to clean up debris that blew into your yard and check your trees and shrubs for visible signs of insect or disease activity.
Plants that look less than healthy may be suffering from nutrient deficiencies in the soil. A soil test will give you the answers. Most DIY soil test kits available at garden centers only measure the pH – the acidity or alkalinity of the soil. Our Plant Health Care (PHC) and lawn care professionals send soil samples to a professional lab, which also reports on all the elements present in your soil. Our professionals use this data to prescribe a fertilization program, if necessary. They can also apply fertilizer at just the right time.
While testing the soil, our PHC pros can also inspect your trees and shrubs for insect or disease activity and present you with a proposal for managing any pests they find.