There is something so poetic when the forsythia bloom. For me, it signifies that spring has arrived. And there is plenty of work to do around the homestead. Here is my spring garden maintenance checklist. Add yours as well in the comments below.
#1 Remove Grass from your Beds.
Remove grass from your beds. I swear grass grows where you don’t want it to grow. My perennials haven’t reared their heads yet, but the grass in the beds are flourishing. Since the ground is soft from the winter, it is so much easier to pull out the grass.
#2 Time to Prune Lavender
Time to prune! When the forsythia blooms all hard frost have past. If I had pruned my lavender in the winter, it could kill the plants.
If you don’t prune your lavender, it will get woody faster than a plant that was pruned. Yes, you can’t stop lavender from getting woody.
If the plant gets too woody, you will no longer have blooms.
Learn HERE how to prune lavender. In a nutshell, you want to prune about a 1/3rd of the lavender plant to at least 3 nodes from the bottom of the plants. You don’t want to cut into the old wood. You are looking for green wood.
Last year, someone was helping me prune and cut my plants down to about 2 inches. You can’t imagine how unhappy I was. I thought for sure the plants had died. Low and behold, the lavender started growing from the bottom of the plant. The plant goddess heard my cries.
Even though the plant came back, I am afraid to cut the rest of lavender to the ground.
#3 Shape Up those Rose Bushes
In addition to pruning my lavender, I also prune my roses. I have double knock out roses, miniature tea roses, and damask roses. My damask roses are only 1 year old so I won’t prune them this year.
Just an FYI, I decided to purchase damask roses to make rose water after learning about the various roses at the New York Botanical Gardens. I was a rose neophyte–all I knew about was knock out roses since that is the only roses my local nursery carry. They are quite hardy and don’t require much fuss. Plus, they bloom in the spring and the fall.
Once I saw Damask roses, I was hooked. I can’t wait until my damask roses grow up and flourish.
Sorry to digress. Roses are simply outstanding.
If you are like me, you probably have double knock out roses. You need to trim the dead wood and shape it if you want. The rule of thumb is to cut it 2 feet lower than the desired height.
See HERE about pruning other type of roses.
#4 Corn Gluten the Crabgrass
Get out the GMO-free corn gluten to reduce crabgrass. For years, we used corn gluten to control our crabgrass. Over time, it will diminish your crabgrass. Patience is a virtue in this case.
Corn gluten is also a fertilizer so on one hand it minimizes crabgrass but all the other resistant weeds flourish.
Much to my dismay, corn gluten doesn’t work in the garden beds–only the grass. Finally, there is a source of GMO-free corn gluten.
Applying corn gluten is time sensitive. You need to apply it just as the forsythia bloom. Once they have stopped blooming, corn gluten applied to your lawn will solely be a fertilizer.
#5 Plant Bulbs
Plant bulbs that are cold tolerant such as lilies, irises and my newest love, Crososmias. (It blooms in July rather than the spring.)
Just the other day, I planted stargazer lilies. They are stunning!
All other bulbs such as gladiolas and dahlias should be planted after frost date. (Learn when is your frost date.)
#6 Clean up the Perennials
Herbaceous perennials grow from the bottom. (Read HERE since there are different types of perennials before you get cut happy. Not all perennials need to be trimmed.)
If you left up the stems from last year, it is time to cut them back. Believe me, it is so much harder to do this when the plant is blooming.
I used a hedge trimmer this year since I have over a half an acre of perennials.
If you have a few, simply cut back the stems then put them in your compost. (If they have seeds or had a disease dispose of them somewhere other than your compost.) Make sure you have an alternating layer of greens for your stems.
A landscaper once told me to get a small chipper and chip up the stems since they make good mulch. I don’t know if the stems would clog a chipper. So that idea is still floating around in my head but I am not sure I will act on it.
What do you think? Chip or compost?
#7 Divide Perennials
If you forgot to divide your daylillies or irises, this would be the time to divide them. Read HERE when you should divide your plants.
Honestly, I didn’t know you should divide some of the plants that are on Better Homes and Gardens’ list. More plants for me!
Don’t forget the rest of your house. Follow these spring household tips to help your home recover from the winter.
Join the Conversation:
What are your must “to-dos” in the garden when spring arrives?
Photo by John Stratford