Spring is in the air on Long Island and it’s finally time to get back in the garden. But before you can sit back and relax there are a few chores to do to wake your spring garden up from its long winter nap.
After months of winter neglect, it is time to clean up all the debris left on the lawn and in the plant beds. The leaf litter, downed branches, twigs and fruit are all breeding ground for insects and disease, (not to mention unsightly) so you want to do a good spring cleaning to get rid of those potential pests.
Spring is also a great time to cut a fresh edge on your plant beds and add a fresh layer of mulch. Mulching will help to suppress weeds and keep the root zone of your plants warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Adding a pre-emergent weed control such as corn gluten meal at this time will also help keep weeds from sprouting in your spring garden.
Feeding your shrubs with a dose of Holly-tone, or Plant-tone fertilizer in spring of will get the plant off to a good start providing the nutrients needed for healthy growth.
Speaking of weeds, the time to deal with crabgrass in your lawn is before it starts growing. Applying crabgrass control in the early spring (when the forsythia is blooming) will nip this problem BEFORE the bud. It is also a good time to add lime to your lawn to correct the pH of your soil. (Bring a small sample of dry soil to Hicks for a quick soil test to see if lime is needed first.) Although you can do spot seeding and touch up the lawn in the spring, fall is the best time for a complete lawn renovation.
Now is also time to get preparation started for your vegetable garden. You can start seeds indoor by a bright sunny window, or under a grow light. In the coming weeks it will be time to plant cool season vegetables such as radishes, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower outside. Keep your tomatoes and other tender crops inside until the chance of a late frost has passed (around Mother’s Day).
This is the optimum time for pruning many plants. Start by pruning out any deadwood or winter damage on your trees and shrubs. Ornamental grasses and perennials that were left for winter interest should be cut back to the ground now before any new growth begins. If you have old, large overgrown shrubs, they can be pruned back hard at this point to rejuvenate the plant. Just remember this type of hard pruning will eliminate the buds for this season’s flowers. This is why you want to wait to prune most flowering shrubs until AFTER they bloom.
Watch the Water
This spring has started out very wet as most on Long Island do, so too much water can be more of a problem then too little. Now is a good time to address any drainage issues that you have in your landscape. Re-grading or the installation of an underground drainage system can solve most drainage problems if done properly.
As soon as temperatures begin to warm and the weather begins to dry out, be sure your irrigation system is up and running correctly. Often sprinkler heads can get damaged over the winter and if left unchecked, you may not realize you have a problem until your plants start showing up dead later in the season.