Spring Chores

Q. What are some spring chores that should be on a gardening to-do list?

A.

Lawns, vegetable gardens, flower gardens and shrubs all have varying needs in the spring. Here are some basics to consider:

  • Lawn care:

    Note tips from the Sky Sox groundskeeper. In general, aerate and fertilize. Pre-emergent herbicides can control weeds by preventing seeds such as crabgrass from sprouting.

    Apply them before you see any weeds growing, because they kill the seeds only as they begin to grow. If weeds have already poked above the ground, try a post-emergent herbicide.

  • Soil amendments:

    Use decomposed compost or aged barnyard manure. Never apply fresh manure to a vegetable garden! Sphagnum peat moss is also a good, if more expensive, soil amendment. If you aren't sure what to do for your soil, early spring can be a good time to have your soil tested.
  • Fertilize:

    Fertilizer amounts can vary, depending on what you plan to grow. Vegetables need plenty of nitrogen, although too much can affect the fruiting rates of some plants, including tomatoes, cucumbers, melons and squash. On the other hand, some native flowering plants may need little or no fertilizer. Spring is a good time to work fertilizer into your soil at the same time you add soil amendments.
  • Plan your plantings:

    For vegetable gardens, first consider planting what your family likes to eat. Then consider the best times to plant: Some vegetable require a warm growing season and others require cool conditions.

    Also consider the plants' growing habits - how much space they'll need and whether they'll require staking. Tomatoes, for example, need staking; squash and pumpkins need a lot of space. If planning a new vegetable or flower bed, consider raised-bed gardening. Raised beds are small and easy to maintain, and the denser plantings common in raised beds can help reduce weeds.

  • Clean-up:

    Remove dead leaves and twigs from flower beds, and apply fresh layers of mulch where needed. Prune shrubs and trees, and remove broken limbs. Also consider whether trees and shrubs need renewal pruning to promote a healthier plant. Most pruning is done in late winter or early spring.