Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spring Gardening Tips

Cox Arboretum Dayton Ohio 2010

Survey the YardMake note of tree limbs that should be removed or cabled, especially those that overhang structures. Hire an arborist to maintain large trees.Cut down last year's perennial foliage, and toss it into the compost pile. Rake mulch from beds planted with bulbs before foliage appears, and refresh mulch in other planting areas after soil warms. Check fences, steps, and pathways for disrepair caused by freezing and thawing.

Order Tools and PlantsTune up tools so everything is ready when things start growing. Make note of what is missing, and order tools for the new growing season. Choose new plants for the garden. Order perennials, trees, and shrubs for spring planting.

Get Ready to MowSend the mower and leaf blower for servicing, or if you have the right tools, sharpen the mower blades yourself. Refill your mower with oil, install fresh spark plugs, and lubricate moving parts if necessary. Clear the lawn of winter debris, and look for areas that need reseeding before mowing.

Prune Trees and ShrubsRemove dead, damaged, and diseased branches from woody plants. Thin and trim summer-blooming shrubs such as butterfly bush, hydrangea, and most roses, except for old-fashioned once bloomers. Prune cold-damaged wood after plants resume spring growth. Prune spring-blooming shrubs and trees after flowering.

Take a Soil TestCheck soil pH with a home soil- test kit, taking several samples from different planting areas for an accurate reading. Enrich soil as necessary: Add  lime to raise the pH or elemental sulfur to lower the pH.

Prepare New BedsClear the planting area as soon as soil can be worked, removing sod or weeds and debris. Spread a 4-inch layer of compost or well-rotted manure and any amendments over soil, and cultivate it to a depth of 10 to 12 inches with a spading fork.

PlantPlant bare-root trees, shrubs, and perennials such as hostas and daylilies by early spring. Choose a cool, cloudy day if possible. Transplant container-grown plants anytime during the growing season except midsummer; be sure to water them thoroughly. Sow seeds of cool-season flowers like sweet peas, poppies, and calendula, and vegetables such as lettuce, parsley, and spinach.

FertilizeApply balanced fertilizer (6-6-6 or 8-8-8), fish emulsion, or other soil amendments recommended by soil-test results around trees and shrubs when new growth appears. Spread high-acid fertilizer and pine-needle mulch around acid-loving shrubs like azaleas and camellias. Begin fertilizing perennials when active growth resumes.

Start a Compost PileStart a compost pile, or use a compost bin, if you don't have one already. Begin by collecting plant debris and leaves raked up from the garden. Chop these up first to speed decomposition. Add equal amounts "brown" (carbon-rich) materials like dried leaves and straw and "green" (nitrogen-rich) materials like grass clippings and weeds in even layers with water and a compost bioactivator. Turn regularly. Continue adding to the pile throughout the season for rich, homemade compost next spring.

Clean Bird Feeders and Baths
Disinfect the feeders by scrubbing with weak bleach solution (1/4 cup bleach: 2 gallons warm water). Rinse and dry the feeders thoroughly before refilling them.Scrub birdbaths with bleach solution, then rinse them thoroughly and refill, changing water weekly. Clean birdbaths and feeders regularly throughout the season.


  1. I am also into gardening but some plants are does not grow that well in our Malaysia climate and really difficult to take care also.

  2. I need to give this list to my husband, since he is the gardener in the family...I just love spring, don't you?

  3. I'm so excited to be planting this weekend. I'm not the best gardener but I sure try hard. I really love your blog and left you a little something over at my place.

  4. I've been waiting to start my garden because of lack of space but I am really excited to start container gardening soon! Thanks for the tips!