Spring break at the Lains’ casa is a chance to wrap up spring gardening tasks and to kick off the first planting season. These are things I do every spring to get ready for the growing season, and they don’t take that long to knock out with the help of my resident high schoolers on spring break. My goal is for all tasks, related here in order of importance, to be completed by the end of March.
Essential #1 – Finish pruning everything in the yard including roses, fruit trees, and summer blooming shrubs. Then rake up old leaves, cut back dead growth on perennials, and remove leftover annuals and vegetables from beds and containers.
Essential #2 – Apply “Weed & Grass Preventer” before the next weather system hits. This granular seed killer will keep the worst of the early spring foxtails, dandelions, and horehound from emerging in rock lawns and flowerbeds. Preventer must be applied before the weeds emerge or it will be too late to be effective. A bag covers 5000 sqft so one for the backyard and one for the front usually cover my yard.
Essential #3 – Watch for aphids on willows, aspens, and apple trees. These pests are easily eliminated with an application of liquid ‘All Season Spray Oil’. All fruit trees should be sprayed before their spring bloom. I spray my roses at the same time, and anything else that had aphid issues last fall will get oil- drenched while I have the hose end sprayer in hand.
Essential #4 – Feed everything in the landscape. Although Fruit & Berry Food, Tomato & Veggie Food and my new Flower Power 54 liquid plant food have been designed specifically for our local plants, I depend on one fertilizer over all others. “All Purpose Plant Food” is my go-to food for most things in the yard. For proprietary reasons I can’t give out the exact formulation, but I can tell you this all-natural plant food contains cottonseed meal, bird guano, sulfur, iron, and a little magic kick that will make for the brightest landscapes and the most abundant flowers. Even my native pine and junipers are treated to this hearty meal.
At the same time that the garden gets fed, administer Soil Sulfur. This magic mineral greens up evergreens and enhances the fragrance of the early spring bloomers such as lilac. If you’re uncertain about what, when, and how to feed your garden, ask for the free handout of my “4-Step Program to Feeding the Landscape”.
Essential #5 – Top dress flowerbeds and shrub and tree roots with a 2” layer of premium composted mulch. A springtime layer of mulch will insulate the roots from cold nights and the drying effects of our spring winds. This simple act keeps weeds at bay and encourages better root formation.
Essential #6 – Lawns wake with vigor in two simple steps: An ASAP application of “Soil Activator” to green up existing grass, encourage deeper root formation, and reduce dead thatch build up. Then, in two weeks follow up with a generous feeding of ‘All Purpose Plant Food” and you will have the nicest, lushest lawn in the neighborhood. Every year neighbors are amazed at how nice the grass is at the Lain house. That gorgeous lawn is the result of these two uncomplicated applications.
Essential #7 – Native pine scale has already begun its dastardly assault and will take over its victims by the end of March. Watch for signs, then treat and eliminate this pest with my strategically designed ‘Plant Protector’. One liquid treatment serves for the entire year and it doesn’t take an arborist to do the work. A bottle of Plant Protector and a two gallon watering can is all that is needed. The product takes 30 days to be completely absorbed so early treatment is important.
Essential #8 — Go ahead and plant early spring flowers and vegetables as soon as the soil is ready. Cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower plants, garlic, and onion sets already have arrived at the garden center. Pansies, violas, dusty miller, English primroses, poppies, and early spring blooming perennials also are ready to be planted. All of these plants thrive in the warm days and chilly nights of spring.
That’s my list. If all goes as planned, my potatoes, garlic, broccoli, and onions will be planted along with some early spring pansies and kale to spruce up those empty flowers beds and containers. Favor your garden with these minimal maintenance tasks and you’ll find your spring flowers brighter, the evergreens greener, and your spring growth more exciting than ever!
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This week’s Plant-of-the-week is a fun one to grow. The Show Off Forsythia is new standout with very large, very bright, solar yellow flowers that adorn the plant from head to toe. You can relax about choosing this beauty for your garden because this showoff needs no pruning . . . ever. Your hedge will be tight and compact the way you want it without the need of loppers or pruning shears . . . ever.
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My garden center hosts free gardening classes at 9:30 a.m. every Saturday. This week the class topic is ‘Gardening for Newcomers”, and many tips will be taught in detail. Then, on March 17th Brad DeKruyter, the best landscape designer I’ve ever had the privilege to know, will teach the finer points of “Landscape Designs Made Easy’. Join the fun and learn gardening tips guaranteed to make your plants fall in love with you.
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Look for the 30 second plant of the day videos featured on my YouTube Channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/wattersgardencenter/videos . If you are a fan on Facebook you can watch the garden tutorials at: https://www.facebook.com/watters1815 .
Until next week, I’ll see you in the garden center.