Growing Home Ep. 9 - Spring Pruning: The Do's & Don'ts - Terry Therrien & Len Giddix
"This is the year! We're going to work on the yard and have it ready for Memorial Day Weekend." "Wait, should I prune that? Should I plant this? Do I lime first?" Taking our gardening gloves off the shelf every Spring we meet a perfect storm of enthusiasm and confusion. But have no worries, Len & Terry will help you get off to a great start as they share their expertise and their 'learning experiences.'
Hosts Len & Terry
Spring Landscape Maintenance: Dos and Don’ts
If you’re ready to get to work on your landscape for the spring and summer, Terry and Len have some advice for you to get started. Some gardening is better done earlier, and some is better done later. Just remember, it’s better to garden a little every day, rather than trying to get all the work done at once.
Prune before you mulch, so you can cover the trimmings with mulch. Also, the trimmings will break down and provide nutrients.
Don’t prune in the summer, since it’s too dry. Also, don’t prune after September, as new growth may not harden in time for winter.
Prune spring flowers, like Rhododendron and Azealia after they flower. Prune summer flowers, like Spirea and Rose of Sharon, in early spring.
You can prune Roses in early spring. Don’t prune Roses in the winter to avoid dieback.
Many hydrangeas, including, climbing hydrangeas and Annabelle, can be pruned now. However, don’t prune Macrophylla variety hydrangeas in the fall because the new buds will have already started growing. Fully cover the plants to protect them for the winter.
Prune shrubs, berry bushes, and fruit trees in late winter.
Apply mulch some time from late winter to early spring. Mulch maintains moisture in the soil, beautifies the garden, and keeps weeds from growing. If you put down 3 or 4 inches of mulch, it should last at least two years.
Len recommends getting cedar and pine bark mulches. Low quality mulches may break down without giving your plants nutrients. Also, they can develop unsightly, though harmless, fungi that spread and can even grow on your house.
Cedar mulch also repels insects and rodents due to its scent. Click here for Cedar mulch options: http://bit.ly/2GrPDBK
“If the soil is squishy, then its mighty risky”. For example, if you plant something early in damp soil, a freeze could push the plant out of the ground.
Pansies can be planted early and are hardy enough to handle the cold temperatures and most frosts.
If the temperature is still cold, then it’s ok to keep your garden plants in the house for a week or two.
Last killing frost in CT is around May 15th.
Many vegetables, including tomatoes and peppers, needs to be around 55F.
Use a meat probe to test soil temperature.
Ocean temperatures can also be a good indicator for soil temp.
Buy plants from local growers, as those plants will be acclimated to the climate and will stand up better to the seasonal conditions.
Perennials and annuals can be planted almost as soon as they appear for sale
You have to consider what conditions a plant likes. Just because you like the look, doesn’t mean that the plant will look that good. For example, if you don’t have a sunny, well-drained spot to plant, then it might not be a good idea to get roses.
When buying plants, take notes about the part of the garden you’d like to plant, including location, soil and sunlight. Then consult knowledgeable nursery staff, including those at Mackey’s, to see what plants can be successful in that part.
You may not want to rake the lawn in the Spring as it will disturb the soil, and will encourage weed growth.
Thatch indicates that there’s a dead area of the lawn, since insects and microorganisms should be breaking down the thatch material.
Len uses a mulching mower so the clippings are cut down to a powder, and can be used as fertilizer
Use soil conditioners to warm up micro-organisms, improve soil aeration, and allow more water to flow.
Use a fast-acting lime product to help regulate the soil. If the soil is too acidic, nutrients won’t be as available for the grass plants to absorb.
If there are patchy spots, you can plant annual rye grass early in the season to cover up the patch quickly, and make sure weeds don’t take it over. In the fall, you can plant a perennial rye grass to permanently fill up the patch. Using annual, fast germinating rye grass is a natural method for deterring weed growth in the spring.
Len also likes to add clover to his lawn. It will grow where grasses don’t and attracts pollinators to your garden. Clover can also be used to cover areas of the lawn you don’t want to take the time to care for. Planting clover will also provide an additional source of nitrogen, enabling you to use less fertilizer.