Spring Gardens

Spring Gardens

It seems that everybody likes spring. I can’t recall anyone ever mentioning, that they dislike spring. There’s the warmth, the longer daylight hours, the visible new buds forming on spring bloomers. Viscerally, spring is as refreshing as much as it is comforting. The relief I feel in early spring once winter has said it’s final farewell, is an absolute welcomed sense of well being, kind of like the way you feel after a holiday.

I plan my garden long before the first sightings of spring at least 2 months before the due date. I gather my thoughts on what worked last gardening season and what could have been done differently. I search new color palates, study new plants and add to my flower repertoire. I examine soil conditions, design ideas and better ways to conduct my gardening work overall. I research new garden suppliers and newly designed hybrid plants. Overall, I do my homework for the anticipated work season.

Spring is not the time to rest on your laurels and wait for the warmest weather to start planting. You should be up and running with all your major planting, even if it is still in the design phase. If you are prepared, implementing the work as soon as you can work the soil, extends the growing season. If you are growing from seed, there are seeds that are cold tolerant and be started outdoors before the last frost date. Research what will work started from seed indoors and what is better started outdoors.

Swallowtail Butterfly

Honey Bee on Clover

Spring Garden Clean Up

One of the first things I do when the weather turns for the best, is to rake up and clean up. Firstly, pick up all the 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 heap, 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. Next, dispose of any tree branches that were damaged during the colder winter months. To finish up, 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.

Spring Garden Plan

Once the cleaning is done the garden can start to take shape for the coming growing season. Start by measuring your space properly. Evaluate whether the walls and fences will be part of your garden plan. Once the metrics have been recorded, draw or design a map on a computer outlining where plants, trees, furniture, pots, storage, pergolas, arbor's, trellis's and lights will go. You may want to leave some space for a film projector screen, barbecue or some art work, mark these on the map too. If you are using the ground, planting in containers or a combination of both, measure how much fresh soil, mulch and organic fertilizers you will need. If you have an established under story such as a lawn, or ground cover that can take light foot traffic or wildflowers, decide what improvements can be made here. Choose colors and stains for any furniture and pots that are in the need of a good ZSHOSH. Make a list of plants that you want to replace or add to your garden. Have any buildings sprung up over the winter or trees grown a little larger that are now blocking light?  If so, check your sundial and make planting and  pot placement adjustments accordingly. To examine garden design using garden maps as a guide, download my  garden design map guide.

Grape Hyacinth

Honeybee on Raspberry

Spring Garden 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 a arbor, trellis or pergola, to create a top canopy layer to your garden space.
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 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.

Spring Garden Tips Continued

10. Refresh lawns with a bit of a hoe and water frequently if it rains a bit short in the spring. Let the grass grow a little longer before cutting back to 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 weather is warmer than 50 degrees Fahrenheit, ( 10 degrees Celsius) at night. Remember, the days are warmer and the night 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.

 

Bumble Bee on Hyssop

Monarch Butterfly