March 25, 2019

8 Spring Home Gardening Tips for Beginners

Here we go!  Spring has sprung and the blooming has already begun in Charleston.  I hate to admit it but I’m just a little behind in being prepared for it.  With a wedding in the family and plenty of out of town company being here over the last few weeks, lots of chores are calling out for my attention.  So today, armed with pen and paper, I sat down to make a list of what needs to be done and made a plan to carry it out.

Here’s my list of 8 spring gardening tips that need to be done around my garden over the next couple of weeks.  I thought it might be helpful to those of you who are just beginning to garden and have not yet established a routine to figure out what needs to be done in preparation of spring gardening.  There are plenty of others, however this is the list of what I need to do and beginners will appreciate the time savings of doing these things now as well.

Organize an area to keep everything as this will help you get everything ready and allow you to have an inventory of what you have and what you will need to invest in this year to make your work easier.  I also keep a wish list going for things that might not be in my budget this year but that I would like to have such as a new gas powered trimmer and a blower.  I’m really sick of the batteries always running down before I am finished trimming and using a  push broom!

1.  Prepare Gardening Tools

  • Get the lawnmower tuned up and the blades sharpened.
  • Clean and sharpen all tools.
  • Apply linseed oil to all wooden handles.
  • Replace weak or broken handles or purchase new ones.
  • Take an inventory of my tools and make a list of new tools I’d like to buy and old ones I need to replace.

2.   Cut Perennials

Cut perennial foliage to the ground, with a few exceptions.  Do NOT prune salvia, Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), creeping verbena (verbena Canadensis), or artermesia until they start showing growth on last year’s stems.  Then prune just above the emerging foliage.

Wait until sprigs of green growth appear on ornamental grasses, then cut back to the new growth. Prune butterfly bushes (Buddleia davidil) just as they begin to show new growth or when the last average frost date for your area has passed.  Butterfly lovers wanting a butterfly habitat see this.  If evergreen foliage of perennials such as Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis) is tattered from winter’s wear, remove blemished foliage to the ground: fresh, new foliage will quickly return.  Trim the evergreen foliage of sedge (Carex sppl), liriope, and evergreen ferns.

3.  Prune Shrubs and Trees

Start out by removing dead branches from woody plants and then remove any cross over branches that compete for sunlight.  Selectively prune to open up the canopy of trees and remove older, less vigorous wood.  If in doubt about removing a limb, be conservative…You can’t glue the branches back once they are cut.  Over the next few days, observe the shrubs and trees.  After a week, (I swear I am not just procrastinating!), decide whether it looks fine or whether I need to prune other branches.  The goal is to allow the plant to take its natural form with discreet pruning.  After several years of this, very little running is necessary.  The shrubs and trees will be on their way to becoming beautiful specimens.  However, IF a shrub or tree has been neglected for several years, it will take three or four years to return it to a healthy, beautiful specimen again.   One exception for late winter/early spring pruning is spring-blooming shrubs such as spirea, forsythia, and weigela.  Don’t prune anthing except dead branches until these plants finish blooming.  It’s OK to prune summer-blooming shrubs such as crepe myrtle, vitex, and caryopteris now.

4.  Apply Organic Insect Control

Once temperatures are staying above freezing is the best time to apply horticultural oil sprays.  These oils are a safe and effective way to control insects and allow us to get a jump on possible infestations.  When applied according to the instructions, the oils reduce populations of insect and pests such as bagworms, mites, aphids, and mealybugs.  If you had problems with these pests last year, it’s likely they will return again this year.

5.  Take a good look around

Spend 15-20 minutes once or twice a week wandering in my garden looking for trouble.  I mean the kind of trouble I can get avoid with a little prevention.  I’m looking for things like insects and diseases.  I’ll collect damaged leaves and fruits for disposal.  These kinds of problems will require less aggressive treatment if I spot them early.   To get a really good look, it’s best to get down to the plants level and inspect the lower leaves and work your way up.  Most diseases start on the lower leaves and work their way up.  Don’t overlook the underside of leaves too as insects usually prefer young tender foliage and often hide on the undersides of the leaves.  Dispose of rotten vegetables and fruits lying on the ground and hanging on the plants, remember, insects and diseases are more common when you have last years rotting left overs on the ground.

6.  Test the Soil

It’s a good idea to take some soil samples and send them to your local cooperative extension agent if you had some plants that didn’t do well last year.  If you can’t do that, at least move those plants to a different location.

7.  Update Garden Records

If you haven’t started yet, make a commitment to keep a garden journal this year.  You can make journal entries daily if you have time but weekly is just fine too.  The journal will help you look back to see what bloomed in the past on what date or remember plants that provided timely foliage color.  It will also be a good reminder of what didn’t work, what sunlight is in what areas at what time of day and be a great resource for what is planted and what you need to add over the coming year.  I keep plant care, tags that came with the plants, fertilizer dates, and other pertinent information I wouldn’t remember otherwise in there as well.

8.  Garden Decorative Items

Clean all birdfeeders and repair or replace any with rotting wood, peeling paint, or other disrepair.

Wash and rinse hummingbird feeders and put out!  I just saw the first hummingbird two days ago and no feeder up in my yard!

Clean the bird baths with a bleach solution and rinse well to remove algae.

Once this is all done, I’ll feel ready to start enjoying my garden and I truly look forward to sitting in my sunroom and enjoying coffee in the morning with my ready to go backyard and my bird feeders and bird baths in place.

Bring on the hummingbirds!

P.S. I’d love to have you visit my little shop where I offer great pricing on quality garden decorative items.  If there is something specific you are looking for and can’t find, let me know and I’ll try to find it for you.  You can visit the shop here: Garden Decorative Items

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Comments

  1. great post as usual!

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