The temperatures are rising, the birds are singing and the sun is shining- Spring is here!
The weather, rather than the calendar, dictate when to start working in your garden. Wait for the ground to dry out a bit before you start working outdoors. To test the soil, simply pick up a handful and squeeze. If the soil stays in a ball after you open your fist, it’s too early. Working in the garden too soon can lead to soil compaction issues, especially with clay soil.
Ideally, the soil should be loose and crumble from the ball shape when you open your fist.
The vibrant yellow bloom of the Forsythia bush is a sure sign of Spring. Forsythia tells you when it’s time to handle a variety of gardening activities, including applying the first application of lawn fertilizer with crabgrass preventer and removing winter protection on your shrubs and roses.
April is also a great time to sharpen or replace your tools, including spades and shovels; and tune equipment, such as lawnmowers, tillers, edgers, weeders, and leaf blowers.
First step to a beautiful lawn is raking to remove thatch and debris. Make sure the grass is dry so you don’t do damage. Raking loosens the turf and soil to allows moisture, air and fertilizer to get to the roots. Watch our video on Spring Lawn Care
Next, fertilize and apply weed controls. A convenient approach is a 4-step lawn fertilizer program like Scotts Best Season Long Program. Step one should be applied to a dry lawn in April to provide nutrients as the grass is just starting to grow. This step also prevents crabgrass.
To maximize the effectiveness of the lawn fertilizer, use Mag-i-cal from Jonathan Green early in the season to adjust your soil pH. Watch our video Lawn Fertilizinging 101
Before you start working on your garden this season, get a soil test. English Gardens experts will evaluate the PH levels and recommend amendments to correct them.
Prepare beds by raking soil and removing any perennial weeds and loose debris. Mix in lots of good organic matter, like compost, manure or soil conditioner. Add some early-spring color with pansies, primrose, cabbage and kale.
If the ground is too wet, containers are a great option.
Cool-season fruits and vegetables like peas, carrots, radishes and leafy greens as well as blueberries and strawberries can be planted as conditions permit. Sow seeds directly into the ground, or plant transplants for a head start.
Perennials will begin to emerge from the ground. Remove mulch and winter protection from the crowns of the plants. Make note of any perennials that may need to be moved or divided this spring.
Cut back ornamental grasses, sedums, rudbeckia or any other perennials that were left intact for the winter. Watch out video Gardening 101
The first sign of Spring are blooms of crocus, daffodils, tulips and hyacinths. For gorgeous blooms year to year, fertilize with Bulb-tone when you first see green tips breaking through the ground. Continue fertilizing until the foliage dies back after blooming.
If you want to move any bulbs around this spring, be sure to mark them so that you can find them after they’ve gone dormant. If you failed to plant bulbs last fall, check out our new line of already-sprouted tulips, hyacinths and daffodils. They’re pre-chilled and ready to plant.
Apply the first treatment for black spots when the forsythia blooms. Spray both the rose canes and the ground about one inch around the plant. Prune roses so that all canes and stems are headed towards the outside of the plant. Branches pointed towards the inside or crossing branches should be pruned out. Canes should be pruned to green growth or to pencil thickness, whichever is closer to the ground. Help protect your plants against rose cane borer by sealing the pruning cuts.
This is the time to prune shrubs that bloom in June or later. Removing ¼ to 1/3 of the plant each year will give you a nice compact plant with more blooms and stronger stems.
Summer-blooming shrubs, such as spirea and potentilla, bloom on this year’s new growth and a well-done spring pruning promotes more new growth. An application of Espoma Flower or Plant tone will give shrubs to great start
Leave the spring-flowering shrubs, such as lilacs and azaleas, to be pruned after they’ve finished blooming. Pruning now will remove the flower buds.
Prepare your spring dormant oil or Lime Sulfur treatment as your spring flowering trees are breaking dormancy. Weeping Cherry and Flowering Crabapple will benefit from a well-timed early application. Stop Apple Scab on your crabapple and Shothole Blight on your Weeping Cherry this year before your leaves get ugly. When pruning trees, remember to cut back to the branch collar, the slight swelling where the branch meets the tree, for best healing. Healing is delayed if you leave stubs or cut back flush to the tree.
Prune summer-flowering clematis back to two or three big fat healthy buds per stem. Leave your spring-flowering clematis alone for now.
The best way to rejuvenate other vines is to take off 1/3 of the older growth. Give vines an application of Espoma Flower Tone fertilizer for a healthy start.
The days are getting longer so you can start feeding your houseplants more frequently. Remember to give them a quarter turn each week so that they grow evenly. When we have a nice day above 55º that’s not too windy, bring your plants outside and give them a good cleaning. It’s a bit early, however, to move them outside overnight. Once outside, an application of a systemic insecticide every six weeks will keep bugs at bay. Watch our video Enjoying House Plants Outdoors
For more tips on getting your garden ready for Spring, come by any English Gardens location and talk with an expert.