We get quite a few emails every year about what you can do for your yard before spring. Actually, there are a number of things you can do, especially if your area has no snow or is experiencing a thaw, as we are in the Northeast as I write this.
Three Things You Can Do to Prepare Your Garden for Spring:
Seed Thin Spots. This is the lazy way (my way) of thickening up the lawn. Just toss the seed right over any thin spots in the lawn. Don't bother with peat moss or fertilizer. The freezing and thawing of the soil, along with more snow or rain, will work the seeds into the soil and they will sprout in mid-spring.
Apply Aerify PLUS. If you have compacted or clay soil you will get a lot of benefit from putting some Aerify PLUS on now, including faster drainage of the wet areas of the lawn. And some of the benefits of the seaweed and humates will improve growth and health once the weather warms up. If your hose has been put away for the winter you can apply with a pump or backpack sprayer, or even a watering can. And don't forget your garden beds.
Dormant Feed Shrubs, Trees, and Bushes. Late in the fall we talked about feeding your trees and shrubs after the leaves started dropping and the plants go dormant above ground for the winter. This fertilizing can be done anytime throughout the winter and before buds form, but it is better to do it when the soil is not frozen. During this dormant period, the roots are still active and they will absorb fertilizer and that will get them off to a great start in the spring. You will also see an increase in blooms on flowering plants and more fruiting on those types of trees.
Forcing Branches for Winter Color
Late February and early March are great times to bring in a few branches from outdoor plants and "force" them into flowering or leafing out. There are plenty of plants that you can use for some color while you're dreaming of spring.
You can try this with many different types of trees and shrubs. Some may form green leaf buds without flowers, but bright green leaves alone are often as beautiful to see as a flower, especially after a long winter. For an added boost of blossoms, consider adding a few drops of Garden Hero to the water.
Some of our favorite plants for forcing are forsythia, cherry and purple sand cherry, apple, and spirea. Here is an excellent article for you to read if you have any interest in trying to force some branches from your own garden. It lists many plants that can be forced successfully.
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By Kimberly Toscano, Encore Azaleas,
Photographs courtesy of Encore Azaleas
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