Spring Gardening Tips
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The perfect time to get your garden running is when the first warm rays of the springtime sun begin to heat the soil. Start spring off right by doing a few chores to enhance the health of your garden and buying a few plants to give it a fresh look. Ideal Home Garden spoke with several experts on how to make this spring’s garden your best yet.
Spring Gardening Chores
The best way to help plants weather the scorching summer months is to amend the soil with compost and fertilize the plants.
“Adding compost to the soil in the spring is the best fertilizer you can do for healthy spring plants,” explained Melissa McGinn, a horticulturalist with In Harmony Sustainable Landscapes (InHarmony.com). “A good compost includes all the nutrients a plant needs to stay healthy.”
McGinn added, “If you want to add extra fertilizer for blooming plants… the best time is when you first see the plants start to bud, usually late February to early March.”
“Once you have the right soil, get mulch,” recommended Dianne Venetta, a garden blogger at BloominThyme.com. “This can be hay, newspaper, pine straw or pine bark. Even paper lining purchased from your garden store. Mulch helps plants during the stress of summer by conserving moisture.”
“Check your water supply,” added Venetta. “You'll want to be sure it's in proper working order or the above tips will be for not.”
Buying Spring Flowers
In springtime, the garden centers are ablaze in color. How do you find a healthy plant in this mass of shape, size and hue?
“I always encourage my clients to pop the pot,” said Kathy Kimbrough, a master gardener and owner of Garden Scentsations (gardenscentsations.blogspot.com). “Look closely at the roots. Don't buy plants that are root bound or have dark or weak looking roots.”
Kimbrough also gave these tips for purchasing plants:
- Don’t buy plants that are in full bloom.
- Look for healthy buds and foliage.
- Check tree trunks carefully for damage.
Water-Wise Garden Plants
Gardens in desert areas perform best with plants that thrive in hot, dry and sunny climates with alkaline soils.
“My favorites are English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), hyssop (Agastache rupestris) and the lovely spring blooming groundcover Turkish veronica,” said Kimbrough.
These plants are water-wise, hardy to zone 5 and bloom for an extended period. All can be planted in the spring and begin to bloom in mid-summer.
Plants for Cool and Wet Climates
Areas with cool and rainy spring weather benefit from plants that are highly pest resistant. Melissa McGinn enjoys these trouble-free plants:
- Cornus alba, red twig dogwood, adds color in the landscape.
- Osmanthus is great for walkways and blooms in early spring.
- Styrax japonicas, Japanese snowbell, is a medium-size tree with dangling white flowers.
Easy Landscape Fixes
If your landscape needs a new look, consider adding character with plants. It only takes a few well placed plants to give a garden a face lift.
“Ornamental grasses can blur the edges of a stream or pond adding a very natural look to a man made element,” said Mike Brown, a landscape designer at Olive Branch Integrated Outdoor (OliveBranchOutdoor.com).
Brown’s favorite ornamental grass is prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis). Brown also likes to use character evergreens, such as weeping pines or spruces, and creeping ground covers, such as golden moneywort, in the landscape.
“I like the character evergreens for the vertical element they provide and their ability to overhang a pond or stream,” Brown explained. “Creeping ground covers soften hard edges and add bright color.”