After a long and difficult winter, the signs of renewal come as a welcome relief. The late snows kept things hiding, but hellebores and witch hazels, magnolias and cherries are all visible now…along with early bulbs like daffodils and grape muscari.
While it’s exciting to see new life pushing up through the earth, there are important tasks that also need your attention now.
TURN ON OUTSIDE WATER
Remember to turn on outside water lines. You’ll be needing them if you haven’t already, and if you have hired any professionals to do landscape work, that’s the first thing they will be looking for.
CHECK LEADERS AND GUTTERS
You did this in the fall, now it’s time to check leaders and gutters again. Keep them free from debris and leaf accumulation to avoid clogging that can drown plantings in too much water.
SPRING CLEAN UP
After removing dead plants, branches and leaves from your lawns and beds, prune away dead and damaged branches from woody trees and shrubs. Many shrubs that didn’t get hard pruned in the fall can be pruned at this time (hydrangea, butterfly bush, caryopteris). Prune back any perennials that were left in the fall such as grasses and others that remained for winter ornamental reasons.
CULTIVATE THE SOIL
Lightly turn the soil over with a cultivating tool. Soil can become compressed over time and opening it up lightly aerates root systems and permits water and fertilizers to penetrate more easily. It also looks really nice to see freshly cultivated dirt.
Add a layer of mulch to your beds if you didn’t last fall. Mulch adds protection, keeping soil temperatures even and preventing water evaporation. As it breaks down mulch also supplies nutrients and organic matter that replenish the soil. For perennial areas, I recommend something lighter such as a layer of compost or composted manure, lightly cultivated it into the soil base.
GROW THROUGHS AND STAKING
If you get to this chore early, you’ll save yourself heartache later when the foliage is too tall to manage. Set stakes or ‘grow-throughs’ around or over plants that get tall and split: peonies, daisies, salvias and veronica are common selections. Most plants look better with a little light support…but don’t make it too obvious….it’s an art to keep it subtle and not make plants look girdled, but it’s worth the time to keep perennials at their best. Staking can also be done naturalistically with twigs and small branches set carefully in-between plant foliage. This is more time consuming, but a very appealing way to invisibly make plants look perfect all season.
Please contact Mierop Design for assistance with any of these horticultural maintenance chores. Our Landscape Guild Master Gardening Crews are happy to help! www.mieropdesign.com 973.744.1758