Get your garden ready for spring

Spring at last... almost! The official first day of spring is March 21, but in many parts of the country, it is beginning to feel like spring is already in the air.
For some reason, outdoor jobs that must be done in the spring become enjoyable activities while they're simply chores at other times of the year. Perhaps it is the anticipation of a new season about to begin and visions of colorful, fragrant blooms that are soon to appear.
So let's get outside and see what we can do.
Look at that lawn! It might be a bit of a sorry sight after the winter, but with a bit of TLC, you can coax it back to verdant life. If you can see a fair amount of thatch (the dead, straw-like stuff that is often tangled near the grass roots) you will need to rake it out before you attempt any other lawn care projects. The reason? Anything you add, such as new seed or fertilizer will simply sit on the thatch, rather than getting down into the soil, unless it is removed. Once you have de-thatched your lawn, you can add a fertilizer. Most garden centers carry a variety of lawn fertilizers. If you're uncertain, describe your lawn conditions to the manager at the garden center and ask him or her to recommend a particular type of fertilizer. If that doesn't help, you can always drop an e-mail to snipped-for-privacy@landsteward.org and I'll try to help. Above all, when using fertilizer, be sure to read the instructions thoroughly!
If you need to re-seed (sometimes called overseeding), that's the final step after any de-thatching or fertilizing that your lawn needed.
Plant and transplant March is a good time to plant those new roses, berries, fruit trees and most deciduous plants. If you're still not sure what to plant, there's still time to go online and do some research but don't leave it too long. As for transplanting existing plants from one spot to another, time is running out, so do it as soon as you can because many plants are already starting their annual spring growth.
Pruning If you need to prune ornamental trees and shrubs, the best time to do so is before growth starts. The exceptions to that rule are spring- flowering shrubs. For those, you need to wait until after they finish flowering. This would be a good time to prune roses if they look like they need a trim. Again, I'm happy to advise on any specific pruning questions you might have.
Weeding Probably everyone's least-favorite garden activity, perhaps because it feels destructive rather than constructive, and it can be backbreaking work. As I've said before, do a little at a time, interspersed with more enjoyable garden activities, and it will seem less of a pain in the, uh, knees. If you're using a cultivator as part of your spring gardening project, don't be tempted to use it in bulb beds. Remove the weeds by hand or you'll risk injuring the delicate root systems.
Pick your perennials Even if it is still too early to plant perennials in your area, take a look around your landscape and decide if you can brighten the place up with a few new "faces." Gardening books and magazines and online Web sites should give you plenty of ideas, once you determine the amount of sunlight and the soil conditions affecting that part of your landscape. Buying perennials that have already experienced at least one full growing season is worth the additional cost as they will probably be sturdier and more likely to thrive than smaller, cheaper options.
I like to think of perennial plants as the backbone of the flower garden because they're the plants with staying power. Their leaves die back as winter approaches, but with luck, the following spring, they come back. Some plants are short-lived, but old favorites like daylilies, and hostas can thrive for decades.
Get outside, breathe in that fresh (almost) spring air and learn why you love your landscape all over again!
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to snipped-for-privacy@landsteward.org and for resources and additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org
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What the heck are you talking about? There is over 2 inches of ice covering everything up!
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You can come to SC. My roses are blooming and several of the hydrangeas are starting leaf growth.
--
Tara


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The grape and other fragrant hyacinths are blooming here. Also the daffodils are starting. The squills are up, will soon bloom blue flowers. It's low 60s today.
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It was 82 yesterday, and today the same. I suppose it depends on where you live. Me, Texas.
Salvia's are coming up, Bishops hat, Salvia coccinea, ruellia, peach blooms almost pink, etc. I garden every day for a few hours. Today I unearthed my brugmansia collection and all made it through winter. For us in Central Texas it was a cold winter. Several frosts, no real heavy frost.
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On 2/28/07 12:09 PM, in article es4d0p$mg8$ snipped-for-privacy@aioe.org, "OhioGuy"

And I have a storm headed my way!
Cheryl
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On Feb 28, 8:56 am, " snipped-for-privacy@Greenwoodnursery.com"

Yes, it's weed spring time here in Los Angeles, as well!
Recognizing that this place is more like a desert with a big ocean breeze most of the year, the spring season is marked by new weeds sprouting up from exposed soil after an occasional rain in January or February. We don't have snow or ice that has to thaw. The undeveloped hills around the city turn brown in the summer and remain a dull brown or beige until the new rainy season, such as it may be. So spring is when brown hills turn green. Hard to explain if you've never lived out here.
But, since millions of people do live in similar climates, we need to clamor about the fun and work of spring! This includes the work of weeding, of course. When the ground is still moist after the rain, this is the best time to pull or twist out your sprouting weeds with a weed puller or weed twister. Many of these tools are very precise and even with a long handle can protect your bulbs, as long as you are careful. The long handle will also protect your back!
I personally don't see gardening as requiring hard work. Hard work would be like weeding strawberry fields hours a day in the sun by hand! Even the strawberry growers today are learning to use new hand tools to make the job much easier on the workers.
Yes, the strawberry fields in So. Cal. look very green this time of year!
If we have weeds to pull this time of year, we should consider it a blessing!
Ray
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