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Early spring garden guide: Around the yard

Start winter cleanup of the lawn when the grass is no longer sopping wet and planting beds stop being a sea of mud. Rake your lawn to get rid of dead growth, stray leaves, twigs and winter debris and let light and air to the soil level, encouraging the grass to grow.

Re-seed bare or damaged patches of lawn. Scratch up the soil with a rake first. Mix a shovel of soil witha couple of scoops of grass seed and spread in the patch you're fixing. Rake level and keep well-watered until seeds germinate and the new grass establishes.

Remove tree guards or burlap winter protection from any young trees or shrubs. Try not to leave tree guards in place over the summer. They keep rabbits and mice from nibbling on tender bark over the winter, but trees don't need them in summer. They don't allow enough air movement around the base of the trunk and that can promote rot of the bark.

Transplant any existing shrubs you want to move before they begin to leaf out.

Weeds start growing vigorously early, so when you spot them, go to it. Getting on top of the weeding now means a lot less work later. Weeds are easier to pull out while their roots are still shallow in early spring.

Apply dormant oil spray to fruit trees, magnolias, crabapples and shrubs such as euonymus to control scale insects and other over wintering pests. Use this organic pest control method when the buds are swelling but the leaves haven't opened yet. Apply when temperatures are between 40 and 70 degrees F (4-21 degrees C).

Get your lawn mower checked and its blades sharpened if you didn't get the job done in late winter. Sharp blades cut better and leave your lawn grass healthier.

 

Early spring garden jobs: In the flower garden

Don't be in a rush to remove winter mulch or to cut back evergreen plants such as lavender until temperatures are reliably warm.

Freeze and thaw cycles over the winter may have heaved some of you bulbs and plants out of the ground. Replant any perennials that the frost has heaved out of the ground as soon as you can.

Cut back any remaining dead perennial foliage from last season (trimmings can go into the compost).

 

Cut back ornamental grasses.


Remove winter protection of mounded earth from roses. Prune rose bushes before they start to leaf out.


Resist the urge to start digging in your flower beds too early. You can damage the soil's structure. If you pick up a handful of soil, it should fall apart, not stick together like glue. When it's dry enough, you can start to dig beds and add compost or manure in preparation for planting.


Grass growth is vigorous in the early spring garden, so edge your flower beds with a sharp trench between them and the grass to keep it in bounds. Repeat this job a couple of times through the season or installing permanent edging goes a long way towards having a lower maintenance flower garden.