Spring is a time of year most gardeners look forward to with joy. To ensure that your lawn and garden look their best, read on for month-by-month advice from outdoor power equipment manufacturer STIHL and garden expert P. Allen Smith, host of P. Allen Smith Gardens and P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home.
• It’s easy to get swept up in a plant buying frenzy during the first warm days in spring. But as we all know, the weather at that time of year is still unpredictable. If you plant too early, tender young plants could be lost or severely damaged. Determine the last average frost date for your area before planting. Local garden center staff and experienced fellow gardeners are both good sources.
• Shape up evergreens before new growth comes out. Do not top a pyramidal shaped evergreen. Side branches will develop, but often will not regenerate the central leading branch. An electric hedge trimmer like the STIHL HSE 60 is a good choice for this task, since it’s both lightweight and powerful.
• As temperatures begin to warm and plants emerge from dormancy, slowly remove protective mulches. Beware of removing mulches too soon since hard freezes are still possible.
• To repair bare spots in lawns, combine five shovels of sand, one shovel of sterilized topsoil, one shovel of grass seed and one cup of slow release fertilizer. Cover bare spots with this mixture, tamp down and water.
• Avoid planting in soil that is wet and cold. If time allows, wait for a cool, overcast day when the soil is relatively warm and workable, not soggy and cold.
• Feed peonies with a low nitrogen fertilizer when they are about 2 to 3 inches tall.
• After daffodil blooms have faded, snap off the blossoms before they go to seed, and make sure you leave the foliage for at least eight weeks to recharge the bulbs. Feed your flowers with an all-purpose granular fertilizer (5-10-5). Just sprinkle a tablespoon at the base of each daffodil, but avoid spreading it on the leaves of the plants.
• First year asparagus gardens should not be picked. Removing the spears weakens the plant while it is still trying to get established. So after the first year, harvest asparagus when it is about 3/8-inch thick and 6 to 8 inches high. Be sure to cut the spears below the soil line, about an inch, to prevent pests and disease.
• The best time to plant tomato seedlings is a few weeks after the last frost date in your area, when the soil has had a chance to warm up and night temperatures stay above 50 degrees F.
• After the flowers fade, fertilize and deadhead your repeat blooming roses to encourage a second round in early summer. When applying granular fertilizer, avoid getting it on foliage to prevent fertilizer burn.
• Test the shape of a new flower bed by cutting the outline in your lawn with an edger. I like the STIHL KombiSystem with an edger attachment.
• Check lawn watering systems, or lay out soaker hoses attached to water timers. Deep soak your lawn rather than lightly water. This encourages deeply rooted grass that can holds up to dry spells.