This weekend marks that start of spring break for many schools, and at the Lains’ house a chance to wrap up spring garden tasks and to kick off the planting season. These are things I do every spring to get ready for the growing season, and they don’t take long to knock out with the help of my resident teenagers on their spring break. This years goal is for all tasks, related here in order of importance, to be completed by the end of March. Here we go with this springs top seven task for a successful landscape.
#1 Prune– 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.
#2 Prevent Weeds – Apply “Crabgrass & Weed Preventer” before the next weather system hits. This granular seed killer will keep the worst of the early spring foxtails, dandelions, horehound and crabgrass 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 5200 sq ft so one for the backyard and one for the front usually cover my yard.
#3 Kill Bugs – Aphids were really bad last fall and still hibernating in you landscape waiting for spring. These pests are easily eliminated with an application of liquid ‘All Season Spray Oil’. All fruit trees should be sprayed before their spring bloom. Roses are sprayed at the same time, and anything else that had aphid issues last fall will get oil-drenched while the hose end sprayer is in hand.
#4 Feed Plants– “All Purpose Plant Food” 7-4-4 is my go-to food for most things in the yard. For proprietary reasons I can’t give out the exact formulation, but 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 the native pine and junipers are treated to this hearty meal.
The same time garden beds are fed, administer ‘Soil Sulfur’. This magic mineral greens up evergreens and enhances the fragrance of the early spring bloomers such as lilac. If you are uncertain about what, when, and how to feed your garden, ask for the free handout of my “4-Step Program to Feeding the Landscape”.
#5 Dress Beds– 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.
#6 Kill Scale– 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 better.
#7 Plant Flowers & Veggies– 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 garden centers. 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!