It is time to start thinking of those Spring & Summer gardens. Although it is not time to plant them yet there are several things that a good gardener does during this time of the year. With this Winter being so unpredictable, and wonderful Spring like days, I repeat do not plant yet. Just prepare for those gardens and your landscaping will look fabulous in the days to come.
Most fruit trees (or those that flower) benefit from being thinned every year, this also includes Butterfly bushes. This encourages a more open habit that keeps the trees healthy and makes it easier to harvest fruit when they produce. The best time to prune is before new growth develops and after the threat of a hard freeze is gone.
Prune your roses just as or before new growth emerges from the canes. Cutting your roses back encourages strong, healthy shoots that will produce lots of blooms. A trim also gives the plants a more open habit, which helps them resist diseases such as black spot. It is also a good time to fertilize them.
Pull Back Winter Mulch
If you spread a layer of winter mulch to protect your plants from the winter, you’ll want to remove it when plants begin to grow and danger of a hard freeze is past.
Test Garden Tip: Keep mulch or some type of covering handy to protect your plants in the case of an unseasonably late arctic blast. Or a bed sheet will work equally as well.
Plant Trees and Shrubs
Spring’s cool, moist conditions make it the perfect time to add trees and shrubs to your yard. There are many reasons to grow trees and shrubs: They add value and beauty to your property. They can shade your home, reducing your summer energy bill.
The most common mistake when planting trees and shrubs is planting them too deeply. The root flare, where the roots meet the trunk, should be at or just above the soil level.
Cut Back Ornamental Grasses
Cut back ornamental grasses to about 4 inches tall before or just as they put out new growth. This is also the time to divide ornamental grasses, if you wish to do so.
Divide Overgrown Perennials
Give older perennials new life by dividing them. Dig up varieties (such as iris, black eye Susan, bee balm, aster, spider grass, and many hostas) that form dense clumps and split them apart. They’ll bloom better when they’re not crowding each other out. Find a friend or neighbor and swap varieties to enhance both of your gardens.
Grow Early Vegetables
While tomatoes, peppers, and squash love hot summer weather, you can plant carrots, radishes, spinach, and other cool-season varieties while there’s still a bit of frost in the air. They’ll withstand light freezes easily, but need to be covered if the temperature drops into the low 20s.
Stop Weeds When They’re Small
Weeding is usually voted gardening’s most dreaded task, and as such, it’s often put off. But it is a necessary evil so get down there and pull them by hand, use a hoe, or otherwise remove weeds while they’re little, and you’ll make the job considerably easier later in the season when it is sweltering hot. Small root systems are less work to pull, and if you get them before they go to seed, you’ll have fewer weeds in the future.
When the soil has warmed up and dried out in spring, spread a 2-inch-deep layer of mulch (such as shredded wood, pine needles, or compost) over the soil surface to discourage weeds in your planting beds and hold moisture once hot summer days arrive. I would wait until all of the flowing trees discard their flowers and wing dings for a clean look.
Source – Clemson University, Farmer Almanac, BHG