Early Spring Garden Chores

Monday, March 14th, 2011 by Jenny Watts
    • Plant strawberries now for delicious strawberry shortcake this summer.
    • Spray for peach leaf curl with copper sulfate. Peach and nectarine trees may suffer from this fungus disease without a protective spray.
    • Pluots are a cross between plums and apricots. Their meaty fruit has a wonderful flavor. Bare root trees can be planted now.
    • Flowering dogwoods and tulip magnolias can be planted now during the dormant season from balled & burlapped specimens.
    • Clematis that bloomed last summer can be pruned now. Wait on spring-blooming varieties until after they bloom.

Early Spring Garden Chores

Bulbs sprouting, buds swelling and the first colors of flowers let us know that spring is just around the corner. Now is a good time to tidy up the garden to get ready for the early show.

Most roses need to be pruned now. Consult a good rose book for how to trim your type of rose since timing and methods vary with individual cultivars. Floribunda, hybrid tea, climbers, shrub and miniature roses are all a little different. Roses that bloom early, like Climbing Cecile Brunner, should not be pruned now. Wait until all of its rose blossoms have started to fade before pruning this rose.

Fruit trees, evergreens, many deciduous trees, raspberry canes and grapevines can all be pruned before new growth begins. Check with your local nursery for specifics or invest in a good pruning book.

It’s time to clean up the perennial beds. Start cutting back the plants that you left standing for winter interest. By now the first green swirls of new growth are appearing on ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum, so you can cut off the spent flowers. The birds have picked clean the seeds from the purple coneflowers, so those attractive seed heads can be snipped off, too. As soon as the first new leaves appear on your butterfly bush, you can prune them back hard to keep the plants compact.

Wait to prune lilacs and wisteria and other spring-blooming shrubs. If you prune them now, you’ll be pruning off the blossoms.

Now is when you should cut back your ornamental grasses. Hand pruners do a good job on smaller clumps, but hedge trimmers are handy for larger clumps. Hold or tie the old growth with twine and cut the grass 4-6 inches from the ground. Compost the old growth and look for new, green shoots to appear in a few weeks.

It’s time to start seeds of spring vegetables. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, chard and spinach can all be started now. Many interesting varieties are available on local seed racks. Start the seeds indoors with bottom heat and bright light then transplant them into 6-packs where they can grow for a month before it’s time to set them out in the garden.

Set out bare-root plants of strawberries, asparagus and onions. The strawberries and onions will produce this year, but it takes two years before you can harvest asparagus. After that, they will produce every spring for the next twenty years.

Add some colorful pansies and primroses to garden paths and containers. These beauties will bloom through April, when it will be time to plant summer flowers. You can also plant larkspur and snapdragons now for early color.

Enjoy the nice days of February by tackling some of these garden chores.