Spring tips for your landscape

In early spring, many beautiful spring flowering perennials, trees and shrubs begin to show off. Winter’s mid-point occurred Feb. 23, and by March 20 the length of daylight has increased by almost two full hours. So for the winter-weary souls, take heart; you will sense a greater amount of daylight as spring advances. With winter behind us, it is time to get your landscape services in place and think about what new native plants might spruce up your landscape.The weeds are coming! A pre-emergent weed control is something you may want to research. It is a great control for around your trees and flower beds. Pulling the weeds when they are small will be better than trying to pull them when they get out of control.

Shown is the fluffy white ball of a mature dandelion with the seeds ready to scatter and colonize disturbed soil

(photo by Dean Fosdick)

When the soil temperature reaches 40 degrees, fertilize the trees and shrubs before the new growth begins. Use an acid-type fertilizer to feed evergreen, conifers, rhododendrons, broad leaf evergreens, camellias, and azaleas. An all-purpose fertilizer is recommended for deciduous trees and shrubs. Recycle your coffee grounds around acid-loving plants such as blueberries, azaleas, camellias, gardenias, and rhododendrons.

Continue to clean up the landscape debris from the winter.

Give the ornamental grasses a tight haircut, so that the light can penetrate into the plant. It is recommended to trim them 2 to 4 inches above the soil level.

Finish pruning fruit trees before the buds swell. Make sure you do a little research before you prune all of the landscape shrubs so you are aware of the bloom times and whether the plant blooms on this year’s wood or last year’s wood. This information will tell you when to prune that particular plant. The rule of thumb on pruning is to prune directly after the plant or tree blooms.

If you have an edible landscape, it is time to plant strawberries, currants, blueberries, grapes, and fruit trees. Cool-weather vegetables can also be planted as soon as the soil is workable. Such veggies as lettuce, peas, broccoli, spinach and potatoes can be planted in March.

You can begin to mulch around your landscape. Make sure you arrange the mulch away from the base of the tree or shrub. NO MULCH VOLCANOES! Mulch resting on the trunks of trees will eventually rot them. The purpose of mulching your landscape is to help the soil retain moisture and stay cool as the weather heats up.

Don’t remove the foliage on the early blooming bulbs until it turns yellow or brown and lays flat to the ground. This process for the plant is called ripening. The foliage replenishes the bulbs’ nutrients needed for the next year’s blooms.

Be aware of emerging pests as the weather gets warmer (e.g., caterpillars, aphids and other flying insects.) Early detection can prevent later problems. Early infestations can often be removed manually, rendering insecticides unnecessary.

Finally, visit your local garden shows to learn about new plants and garden designs, and to talk to the experts about any garden problems you may be experiencing. They will be willing to help you.

Article by Dawne Howard, Master Gardener and FCFCDB member

Nature Note for 4/2/2017