Spring Care 101
- After the snow melts, begin by removing all loose material from your lawn and plant beds.
- For lawns, use a stiff flexible metal rake that will help stand up the grass plants and aerate the surface. This will allow oxygen and water to get through to the roots and discourage matting and dead spots. Caution: using leaf blowers for this crucial step will cause problems later in the year. Raking is THE way to begin a healthy lawn care program.
- In flower beds and perennial beds, clean carefully with a rake and remove all loose debris. Be mindful that rhododendrons and other evergreen plants prefer to have their roots covered with a layer of their own leaves, so leave some around the drip edge of those plants.
Perennials & Annuals
- Begin perennial and annual maintenance: deadhead, weed, cultivate and water (approx. 1″ weekly).
- Watch carefully for plants in need of staking.
- Spray for pests and diseases as needed.
- Water as necessary (approx. 2″ weekly), one application is best.
- Mulch beds with 2-3″ of peat moss or any other organic medium or compost.
- Watch for infection and remove damaged shoots and leaves as soon as they appear.
- Fertilize beds with 100% organic 5-10-3 at the end of the month (2 handfuls per bush), cultivate into soil, and water.
Trees & Shrubs
- First hedge pruning of Privet and Taxus (Yew). Privet hedges may need 1 or 2 more prunings throughout the season, Taxus should only need 1 per season.
Debunking Five Gardening Myths:
Myth One: At the first sign of aphids or other insects, immediately use pesticides.
Aphids. These little green pests will gather atop developing rosebuds and parts of other plants in order to extract sap. Contrary to popular belief, the key to treating this problem is not to kill these bugs with harsh pesticides. These chemicals may kill both the aphids as well as any beneficial insect in your garden. Ladybugs love to snack on aphids, so it is best to simply wait for them to do their job.
Myth Two: You should water frequently so that the soil is constantly moist.
The optimal amount of water as well as the most effective method for watering depends on the plant. There are many types of houseplants and vegetables that prefer their soil to dry out in between waterings. Some plants, like air plants and other epiphytes, do not even need soil to live. Air plants actually prefer to dry out completely in between mistings.
Myth Three: If a plant is wilting, it needs more water.
Although a wilted plant can certainly be correctly explained by a lack of water, wilting can also be a symptom of other stresses such as too much heat. A Begonia, for instance, can easily wilt and will eventually rot from being watered too much.
Myth Four: An unhealthy plant looks nothing like a healthy plant.
There are subtleties within the way some plants grow that can indicate that the plant is under stress that are invisible to the untrained eye. A Dieffenbachia plant, for example, will only produce large variegated leaves if it is growing under optimal conditions. Otherwise its leaves will be smaller, mostly green, and more oblong.
Myth Five: Mulching is the most efficient way to landscape a garden.
Bark mulch can be useful for preventing weeds. However, it should be applied with caution. Bark mulch changes the chemistry of the soil beneath it. The soil becomes more acidic, which is potentially detrimental for rose bushes or other plants that require a PH closer to neutral. Bark mulch also traps moisture that would otherwise go towards the plants within the garden. Lastly, the mulch provides a safe haven for problematic insects and grubs, which can destroy the roots, foliage, and buds of perennials and annuals.