Spring! For many, this is absolutely the best time of year. Harsh winter weather gives way to spring showers, sunshine, moderate temperatures, and new growth. And outdoor living begins to swing into step.
This is a great time to get your yard in shape for summer fun. Here are a few important projects that you can take care of now to make your yard and garden beautiful all summer.
Aphids and garden pests love spring growth. If you see curled or poorly formed leaves on certain plants and trees, such as roses, citrus, or fruit trees, this is a likely sign of aphids.
To get rid of them, wash plants frequently with a strong jet of water, blasting the aphids from foliage. Spraying with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil can help, too. A more natural measure that works is to release ladybugs at dusk this time of year. Pull snails and slugs out of your garden by hand or, if necessary, bait them. For more information, see Pest Control for the Garden.
Amend the soil of planting beds with organic matter. To do this, spread about 3 inches of compost across the surface; if the soil is sandy, work it in a little. Compost will help in several ways—it will keep weeds down, enrich the soil, help keep the soil at a constant temperature, and retain moisture around the plants. Hold the mulch back several inches from tree trunks.
The flowers, vegetables, and other plants that may be successfully planted in the spring will depend heavily upon your climate and local conditions. It’s best to consult a local garden center for specifics.
Generally, where warming weather allows, spring is a good time to plant summer veggies such as corn, beans, tomatoes, and melons, and to set-out summer annuals and summer-flowering bulbs. In colder climates, you can still plant cool-season vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and leafy greens. Even in cold Northeastern climates, you can plant bare-root roses; fertilize roses after each bloom cycle. For more about this, see Flower Care & Maintenance.
It’s best to prune evergreens and hedges early, when they begin new growth. Though pruning of most fruit trees is best in the winter when they are dormant, you can do some pruning to shape and strengthen mature trees in the spring and summer.
In most parts of the country, early spring is not too soon to begin major lawn improvements. After watering the lawn, dig out deeply rooted dandelions and similar weeds.
If lawn growth has slowed, apply fertilizer with nitrogen according to label directions—figure you will need 1 pound of nitrogen for every 1000 square feet of lawn. As the weather warms, gradually raise the blade on the lawn mower to cut the grass 1 1/2 to 2 inches tall so that the lawn will be more resistant to summer heat.
Water seedlings and small plants as necessary, but plan now for how you will manage your garden when heat and possible drought conditions of summer set in. For example, you may want to avoid planting an over-abundance of summer annuals, which require a lot of water.
Spring is a good time to take care of sprinkler system maintenance. For more about this, see Sprinklers.