Can’t wait to get out in the garden? Heed these five tips and you’ll likely have an enjoyable experience:
1. Patience is a virtue
After winter, everyone is anxious to work in the garden. But take your time. Don’t plant flowers or vegetables too early or else your efforts could fail when a late frost occurs.
Gardening expert Roger B. Swain says: “I try not to plant seed in soil that I wouldn’t be comfortable lying down in.” (“The Anxious Gardener’s Book of Answers” by Teri Dunn Chace).
Wait until Mother’s Day to plant annuals. By then, the threat of cold temperatures usually is gone.
2. When to prune
Don’t assume all plants and shrubs can be cut back in spring. Remove dead or diseased branches from shrubbery, but lilac, forsythia and rhododendron bear flowers on wood formed the previous year.
Wait until after these have bloomed to prune them. It’s okay to prune plants that bloom later in the summer in early spring. But hydrangeas bloom on old wood so if you whack these in early spring, you’ll be cutting out the flower buds.
3. Feed the soil
When asked about fertilizing, a gardener friend said: “How would you like it if you didn’t get fed for a whole year?” That’s a good reminder that you just can’t put something in the ground and expect it to do well without assistance. That’s where fertilizing helps.
Spring is a good time to fertilize, because that’s when plants are growing. Don’t fertilize in the fall, because that will encourage growth at a time when plants should be slowing down. Once you fertilize, water the plant well to ensure the food gets to the roots.
4. Match the plant to sunlight conditions
A flower might look beautiful at a garden center, but how do you know whether it will thrive in your yard? Don’t place a plant that prefers part-shade in full sun or vice versa. Keep track of how much sun your yard gets daily. Does it get morning sun? Does it get at least six hours each day? Those observations will be beneficial when you select your plants.
5. Stick with one or two colors
When you’re mass planting, it’s smart to stick with one or two colors. Your planting (no matter the size) will have a better impact than trying five or six colors.