When the first warm days of this long awaited spring arrive, it will be pure joy to go outside and work in our gardens! With the continuous snow melt and warmer temperatures it will be important to check the status of your plants — gradually uncover the winter debris to reveal emerging growth. The abundant mounds of snow that covered our gardens all winter may prove to be the best insulation for plants during those bitter cold days in February.
Things to Remember
- Avoid working in the garden too early as stepping on the soil may compact it, causing structural damage to the soil particles.
- It is important to let the ground thaw and dry out for a week or so before venturing out — the sun along with good spring air circulation will provide the perfect medium to get your plants stimulated and revived after this winter.
Perennial Garden Care
When the final snows melt and the ground does not have standing water, you can start to gently rake away the winter debris — avoid using heavy metal rakes that may damage emerging plants. A small hand rake works best in early spring, along with hand removal of leaves and debris. Once the crowns of your perennials about 2″ high, you can cut away the dead stems from last season.
When the plants are all up a few inches and the garden starts to look more defined, you can apply an organic slow release fertilizer that should be topped off with a generous handful of good compost around the base of each perennial.
Plants thrive and respond quickly to the addition of this combination. Spring rains will gradually wash these beneficial amendments into the roots of the plants right where they are needed.
Compost is the perfect addition to your existing soil. Not only does it provide food for plants but it also enlivens your soil with macro and micro-nutrients that may be missing. Compost helps to neutralize both acid and alkaline soils. By elevating the pH of your soil to an optimum range, plants are able to take up beneficial nutrients. Boosting the nutrient content in the soil increases fertility. Rich, fertile soil means strong healthy plants with greater water retention ability, which means less watering this summer. Compost reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers as it naturally feeds the plants. Maintaining and enriching your soil with compost is the best way to provide for a healthy, disease free garden.
Spring Maintenance Steps
Gently rake dead debris away from the base of perennials
Cut back old foliage to new emerging green growth
Scatter an organic slow-release fertilizer around the crown of each plant
Top dress with several handfuls of compost