Somehow, spring always sneaks up on me when I am busy doing other things. It’s not like I don’t know it’s coming. I do. It’s just that the window of opportunity it provides to gardeners is short and disappears as quickly as it came. Being prepared by making a list of spring gardening tasks keeps me on track and gets the job down before it is too late.
Although many perennials can be divided successfully in both spring and fall, Karen Russ from the Clemson Cooperative Extension recommends dividing fall-blooming perennials in the spring. Those that bloom in spring and early summer are best divided in the fall. This assures that plants can devote all their energy to developing a strong root system – instead of trying to bloom.
Once your perennials have begun to emerge, it is time to remove mulch or protective covering from winter. Rake gently to avoid damaging tender plants. Organic mulch, such as straw or leaves, are ideal for adding to the compost bin.
Fertilize existing perennials and shrubs in the spring to give them a boost of nutrients. I prefer an all-purpose mixture like Miracle-Gro, as it is easy to mix and apply – but if you prefer granular fertilizer that’s okay too. Work into the soil with a hoe, but use caution not to contact roots or other plant parts.
Now is the time to take any corrective measures your soil needs. If your garden bed is anything like mine, you’ve probably noticed that some areas don’t do as well as others. This is often due to the composition of the soil. Adding organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure improves soil composition – promoting good drainage and improving aeration. If lifting the plants is not an option, do your best to add organic matter around the base and work it into the top six inches of soil.
Prune Trees and Shrubs
Spring provides the perfect opportunity to prune away dead or diseased branches from your shrubs and trees. Use sharp sterilized garden shears to remove old wood or water sprouts – those that grow at right angles to the branch. Cut suckers – shoots that emerge from the base of the bush – back to the ground level. Selectively remove excess wood and branches that cross the center of the shrub. Overgrown shrubs may benefit from removing approximately 1/3 of the branches to open up the center of the shrub.
Stakes and Trellises
Erect plant stakes or trellises now. Plants grow quickly once the weather warms making it difficult to add stakes or trellises without damaging the foliage. Doing it now ensures your plants will have the support they need to thrive.