I absolutely love everything about spring. The smells, the extending hours of daylight and the incredible unfurling of buds, leaves and vines that appear to happen overnight. There's a light, naive, freshness to spring gardens that unburdens my mind. Living in the greater NYC area on the east coast, usually means being stuck inside for days at a time over the dark, arctic winter months. The cold, snow and bareness of the winter season has it's draw backs although, it's not all doom and gloom. After all, winter does have it's own appealing beauty.
Nevertheless, the awakenings of spring are like no other! Gardens and plants have spent months in dormancy, likewise for our pollinators and wildlife. The seasonal cycle has done them good and played it's part but now it is time for rejuvenation and renewal. Along with the shifting of the seasonal guard comes a time of cleaning up and clearing out.
In like a lion out like a lamb
Spring Gardens can be divided into two parts, early spring and late spring. Starting out early when the weather is still crisp, is essential to get the most out of the spring season. Without delving too far into garden design, early spring perennial bloomers for your garden zone, should have been planted in the previous Autumn.
Seeds may be started in or outdoors, depending on the type of seed. There are seeds that in order to germinate need to be sown outside in the colder temperatures of spring. Nursery bought cold weather plants that can take a bit of frost notably, can be safely planted. Newly purchased evergreens can be added to a gardenscape, once the soil is warm enough and workable.
Spring Gardens Clean Up
Mother nature's plan is much grander than any spring clean up with this in mind, it's best to wait a week or two into spring before cleaning up garden debris. As a result, any pollinators waking up out of hibernation, hiding under leaves or hanging out under trees, have time to casually jump into action.
Once spring has kicked in for a few weeks, pick up all remaining dead leaves, twigs and garden brown debris. Place most of these in an outdoor open air or contained compost pile. Anything that wont fit in a compost pile, either grind it or cut it up and place around the garden as mulch. Once the ground is cleaned up, trim back any dead stems and leaves off perennial plants.
classic spring blooms
SRrING GARDENS CLEAn out
On completion of the clean up, it's time for the clean out. Dispose of any tree branches that were damaged during the colder winter months and any garden debris you could not use as mulch. Throw out any excess regular trash that may be lying around such as, broken pots, old furniture or rusty tools. Let the rain wash away, or manually wash down any hardscape areas to a light gleam.
I Moved the euonymus from front to back, moved hydrangea tree to the back, added evergreen boxwood in front, slow growing aborvitae to middle layer, and added florals to container plants
Spring Gardens Tips
1. For backyard gardens and container gardens, take inventory and plan soil requirements. How much soil, what type of soil, how much compost or natural fertilizers such as worm castings are needed. Is it available to you to buy raw materials and make your own soil mix or mixes?
2. Start any seedlings edible or ornamental, that can be started indoors about 6 - 8 weeks before the last frost date.
3. Clean up all debris. Throw out any broken pots and pieces and any furniture, lights, watering cans, hoses or garden mediums that no longer serve you. Check all used buy dates on organic fertilizer packets, seed packets, left over mulch bags and soil bags that are stored away.
4. Measure your space metrically and mentally. Where can you utilize more ground for more plants or surface area for more pots. Where can you use vertical accents. What colors do you what to incorporate in this years landscape. Did you harvest enough edible and cut flowers last year? If not where and how can you improve on that.
5. Revamp any existing pieces of furniture, pots or ornaments with a coat of paint. Get a little garden mad and take a few risks here.
6. Add an arbor, trellis or pergola, to create a top canopy layer to your garden space. Nothing beats a living natural shade cover.
7. Trim back trees, creepers or shrubbery to create a different look and open up the sundial.
8. Create a window box or two, adding annual seasonal color and plants to a landscape that is waking up from winter dormancy.
9. Checkout new naturalized exotics available on the market to add a accent to your garden terrain. You can always overwinter for next year.
10. Refresh lawns with a good hoe and water frequently if it rains short in the spring. Let the grass grow a little longer before cutting back this will inhibit weeds by blocking the sunlight. Leave clovers and dandelions in lawns for emerging foraging wildlife after their long winter dormancy. Honey Bees love a good feed on clover flowers.
11. Take a look at photos in garden magazines and add inspirations from these to your garden.
12. Plant more evergreens in borders, along fences and walls, to create a strong eye catching foundation to your garden all year round. Some examples of evergreens are : Lily turf; Holly; Boxwood; Mountain Laurel; Euonymus fortunei; English Ivy and Firs, just to name a few.
13. Bring out any over wintered plants after the night time weather is warmer than 50 degrees Fahrenheit - 10 degrees Celsius. Remember, the days are warmer and the nights are still cooler in spring. Timing is imperative here.
14. Devote one section of your garden to wildlife. Add a native wildflower patch for Honey Bees, Bumble Bees and Monarch butterflies. Make your own Bumble Bee nest box for emerging Queen Bumble Bees, who are looking for somewhere to call home in early spring. Plant lots of sunflowers for birds or a fennel patch for ladybugs and Swallowtail butterflies.
15. Last but not least, plan your first garden guest of the season and enjoy the initial sensations of Spring.
spring gardens resources
Growing from seed can be so rewarding, especially if you love organic and heirlooms seeds and/or something different that's not available in stores. I like Johnny Seeds for their select edibles and Baker Creek for their catalog of rare and heirloom seeds. Furthermore, I highly recommend Prairie Nursery for all native plants. All of these select growers and distributors offer a money back guarantee along with a great customer service team, available to answer any questions. I do hope this helps you get into the swing of Spring and as always, Happy Gardening!