MEGAN FLEISCHER, Inniswood Horticulturist
Take advantage of energy you’ve stored after a long winter with these simple gardening tasks. By the time summer hits, you’ll be happy you completed these in the cooler temperatures of spring.
1. Edge your garden beds
Now is the time to put a crisp edge on your garden beds. Use a spade or gas-powered edger to keep unwanted weeds and turf from encroaching into your beds. Edging helps retain mulch in your gardens during heavy rainfall.
Once the soil starts to warm and perennial plants begin to emerge from the ground, it’s time to apply a thin (2″ deep) layer of mulch. By doing this in spring, your beds will look pristine. More importantly, mulching aids in moisture retention during the heat of summer. Mulch also serves as a barrier for weed growth. You can rest assured that your perennials that haven’t emerged from their winter slumber yet will still grow through this thin coating of mulch.
3. Prune shrubs that flower on new wood
As leaves begin to show on your flowering shrubs, you’ll easily be able to tell dead, decayed wood apart from live plant material. It’s important to remove dead wood and do any necessary pruning on shrubs, such as white-flowering hydrangeas and roses that flower on new wood, in order to have healthy, thriving plants.
4. Cut-back ornamental grasses and any other perennials remaining in the garden
If you haven’t gotten to this task yet, no worries, you still have time to cut back last year’s dead foliage from your ornamental grasses as well as any other perennials you might have left in your garden for winter-interest. I recommend cutting ornamental grasses down to 6″ to 1′ in height. The closer you can get the grasses sheared to the ground, the quicker you’ll see new growth emerge from the base of the plant. All perennials, like black-eyed Susan’s and coneflowers, die back to the ground in the winter and new growth emerges in spring.
5. Plan your garden!
During the growing season, it’s exciting to walk into local nurseries and see lush displays of plant material lining greenhouse aisles. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve purchased A LOT of plant material for my gardens at home based on their appearance in the greenhouse without giving much thought to where they will fit into my landscape design. Try to avoid this if you can!
Before you go plant shopping, observe the space where you want your garden. Is it a sunny spot that gets 6+ hours of sunlight? Or is it an area in the garden that gets a little bit of light in the morning or evening but otherwise is full-shade? Does the ground tend to stay wet? Dry? Having answers to these questions before you shop will ultimately aid in the success of your plant selections when shopping. Nothing knocks the wind out of a gardener’s sails more than spending money on beautiful plants that end up not working for your garden.
If you have questions on what plants will work best for certain sites, come check out the gardens at Inniswood and see what we’ve been successful with growing in sun, shade and everything in between!