Asses Your Yard
First thing to do is to check out and assess the trees. Take note of tree limbs that should be removed or cabled, especially those that overhang structures. For large trees, it is best to hire an arborist for maintenance. Next, assess and cut down last year's perennial foliage. Don’t throw it yet because you can toss it into the compost pile. Then, the ground plane: Rake mulch from beds planted with bulbs before foliage appears, and refresh mulch in other planting areas after soil warms. Lastly, check the fences, steps, and pathways for disrepair caused by freezing and thawing.
Tune Up Your Gardening Tools
Your gardening tools have been stuck since the winter. It’s important to tune them up so they're in good shape when it's time to use them. Bypass pruners benefit from a sharpening. Wooden handles benefit from being cleaned, sanded, and massaged with linseed oil. Have a checklist and take note of what is missing, and order tools for the new growing season.
Pruning is a very important step to give your spring garden a fresh start. Pruning before new growth and warm weather helps keep shrubs and trees from being susceptible to diseases. Remove dead, damaged, and diseased branches from woody plants. Thin and trim summer-blooming shrubs such as butterfly bush, hydrangea, and most roses, except for old-fashioned once bloomers. Prune spring-blooming shrubs and trees after flowering. Also, prune non-spring blooming shrubs and trees. You’ll also be getting rid of the old, unsightly branches and blooms from last year and preparing for the fresh, beautiful blooms of the New Year.
Prepare New Beds
With new spring growth already emerging, it needs to see the daylight. What's most important is to dig the soil, adding oxygen and relieving compaction. Gently remove leaves and all unwanted debris that has filled your beds over the last few months. After cleaning, add amendments-like compost. Put all organic waste in your compost pile to turn it into a valuable, nutrient-rich living soil.
Plant Container-Grown Plants
You can transplant container garden plants anytime during the growing season except during the heat of midsummer. Make sure to water them thoroughly before and after they go in the ground. Early spring crops include seeds of cool-season flowers like sweet peas, poppies, and calendula, and vegetables such as lettuce, parsley, and spinach.
Your garden is growing and it needs a little fuel. Remember to apply balanced fertilizer (the numbers on the container should read 6-6-6 or 8-8-8) or fish emulsion around trees and shrubs when new growth appears. Spread high-acid fertilizer and pine-needle mulch around acid-loving shrubs like azaleas, camellias, blueberries, or citrus. Begin fertilizing perennials when active growth resumes.
Build a Compost Pile
Start a compost pile by collecting plant debris and leaves raked up from the garden. Find equal amounts "brown" (carbon-rich) materials like dried leaves and straw and "green" (nitrogen-rich) materials like grass clippings and weeds. Chop these up first to speed decomposition. If you have a compost bin, turn the pile and add some water to dampen it. Turn it regularly to quicken the composting process. A composting bin will provide a great place for your raked leaves—organically recycling their nutrients and keep them out of the landfill.
Clean out the shed and feed the birds
Begin the new growing season by cleaning out the
shed or area where you keep all your gardening materials and utensils.
Again, get rid of the old and prepare for the new. Throw out or repurpose
broken utensils and start a wish list of new utensils and materials. Go
ahead and add bird seed to the bird feeders – they are just as ready for
spring as you and your flowers.
Apply Pest Control
You can choose either a natural or synthetic pest treatment. It’s important to apply pest control now to keep out the critters from the beginning. If the weather is getting warmer, you better believe the pests are out and ready to attack! Follow the manufacturer’s instructions accordingly and with caution. Always wash your hands after using it and keep pets and children away from the treated area.
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