1.) It's time to uncover your rose bushes and remove the winter protection
you put around them last fall. If you used soil, mulch or compost, just spread
it around the plant for additional root protection when the heat of summer arrives
and to help control weeds later.
2.) Its time to prune back your bush type roses and clean them of dead, broken,
or weak branches. Cut them back to 18 to 24 inches from the ground, and be sure
to remove all small shoots that developed on the plant; also remove all suckering
branches that developed at the base of the plant. Where you pruned the plant,
spray with Wilt-Pruf or Wilt Stop to seal in the moisture and help protect it
from the cold spring winds.
3.) Climbing roses should also be cleaned and cut back to get ready for a
more productive year. Remove all winter damage branches to the nearest crotch
or dormant bud. Tie all branches to your fence or arbor and be sure that part
of that branch is tied down and growing in a horizontal position. Horizontal-growing
branches will encourage more branches to develop and that means more flowers.
4.) Removing all suckers that develop just below the graft will keep the plant
more productive with flowers and eliminate excess foliage. Once the plant is
cleaned, fertilize with a granular rose food like Dr. Earth Rose food with microbes.
5.) If you have potted roses growing in containers, now is the time to bring
them out of the winter storage building like your garage or tool shed. Also any
evergreens grown in containers that you store this way need to come out now so
they can begin to develop naturally.
6.) The bird bath and your fountains can now be set up; just be sure to clean
them well, and remove any green algae that might have formed during the winter.
Once cleaned, be sure to rinse well to remove any cleaning product residue. Just
the sound of running water will help cheer you up with this cold weather.
7.) Gazing balls will redirect the sunlight in your yard. Along with all your garden statuary,
this will help to bring your garden alive even though not many plants have begun to develop yet.
8.) Bring out all your garden and patio containers like whiskey barrels, Earth Boxes, window boxes, and planters.
While you have time, let's recondition the soil in them and prepare them for planting.
Use this time wisely and then when you're ready to plant, your containers will be ready also.
When your local garden center has pansies available, stick a few plants in them for a bit of color now.
You can transplant the pansies to your garden later when you plant your containers with your summer flowers.
9.) If you have a fish pond or garden pool that has been turned off all winter
long, let's clean out the winter debris and get the water clean and moving. Water
movement at this time of the year will help get you moving and thinking of the
plants around the water.
10.) Sweep your front steps, the walkways, the patio, the deck, and even the
driveway. This will make you FEEL better and it's more fun that shoveling snow
on those same areas. While you're cleaning, think about what you could do to
these areas to make them more beautiful, like a container of flowers or vegetables
or even plantings along them this spring.
11.) Check out your wooden fence and gates to see how they handled the winter;
check for any broken or rotting post or rails. While the weather is cool, let's
do some of the hard work so we can sit back this summer and relax. If you're
going to paint, be sure to check about painting and outside temperatures, or
your hard work could all peel off the fence if it's too cold now to paint.
12.) Look at your flag pole and inspect the rope for strength. Does the
pole need to be painted? How about the gold ball on top--does it need a good
shine? How about the flags-- do they need to be replaced or it could be time
to add a new flag to your collection? Opening day is Saturday and no better time
to get out your favorite team flag out--mine is "The Boston RED SOX." Go
team!! If your American flag is worn and tattered, give it to your local Boy
Scout troop and they will take care of it for you.
13.) If the ground can be worked, how about starting to edge your flower and
garden beds. Garden beds look much better with a straight edge on them and it
will make mowing along them much easier if you do it now, while you have time.
If you have long beds, use string to make a straight line or (like me) you will
cut the edge wrong. If you are removing large pieces of green grass in some areas
while edging those beds save the grass and use it to fill in bare spots in your
14.) If you are going to use a lot of bark mulch this spring, it is much cheaper
to purchase it by the yard or in bulk than by the bag. It will take nine 3 cubic
foot bags of bark mulch to equal one yard of bulk mulch. Compare the price before
you buy all those bags. One yard of bark mulch will cover an area 100 square
feet (10' X10') three inches deep, or at 1.5" thick 10'X20'. If there is
still bark mulch in the beds from last year just add an inch of new mulch to
bring back the color. Year old bark mulch does not "go bad," so do
not remove it.
15.) This is the BEST time to spread mulch on perennial beds or shrub beds
that contain bulbs, as the plants are dormant and all you have to do is rake
it in. Once the plants begin to develop you will have to do a lot of "hand
work" and your labor will be much more time consuming.
16.) April traditionally brings us much rain, so get the rain barrel in place
to collect the water for your garden later. I have a rain barrel and use it often
during the heat of summer to water the containers on the front walkway and on
the porch; it beats dragging out the hose every day.
17.) How about bringing out the patio furniture and getting the back deck or
patio set up early? The nice days are coming and on the next nice Sunday morning,
bring out the radio and a cup of coffee and listen to the garden show outside so
you can see and plan what you have to do in your garden.
18.) Now is a good time to repair all that patio furniture or even paint it
if necessary. If you need to replace to cushions, measure them and post it on
the refrigerator door and that way when they go on sale you will be ready to
grab them. If the furniture needs to be replaced, it's better to know now than
when you need it later; get ready for the sales yet to come.
19.) Now is also time to uncover and remove the winter protection from the
hydrangeas. Do not prune them now but you can remove any branches that were damaged
during the winter. You can add aluminum sulfate fertilizer around them to help
increase the blue color intensity of the flower. Pruning is done when the buds
begin to swell and become more visible.
20.) Have you noticed that the tool shed is now beginning to look empty and
you now have room to move around in there? How about taking out the garden hose
and attaching it to the faucet so it's ready to use? Maybe the kids will want
to use it and wash the car for you. (You can hope!)
21.) Might want to look for the sprinkler and nozzle at the same time and
see if they still work. Bring out the watering cans, and the watering wands for
the hanging baskets.
22.) Take a big pad of paper and write down the names of all of your garden
chemicals and organic products you have in your tool shed or garage. Leave a
good inch of space between each product so you can write down what you use them
for. If you have products and forgot what they are for or when to use them, let's
take that list to the nursery to find out what you have and how to best use it.
Also write down how much you have of each; that way you will know if you need
more while you're out.
23.) If you have a brick, cobblestone, or concrete paver, walkway or patio,
this is the perfect time to add additional stone dust to entirely fill in the
cracks in between them; these have formed during the past winter. If you can
fill these spaces with stone dust or sand you will have less of a weed problem
24.) If you want new birds in your bird houses, they must be cleaned each
spring before they will be occupied. The more unique birds are fussier about
where they will live and will not reside in unclean bird houses. If you often
wonder why you have so many grackles in your bird houses, all they want is a
roof over their heads.
25.) Tape this list on your tool shed wall and as you finish one of the things to do, cross it off the list.
It's not all work when you garden and you must take time to enjoy what you have accomplished, so do as my Dad and I would often do:
take a cold can of beer out of the refrigerator, sit in the garden, and toast to all you have done!
Enjoy the moment; I am glad I did when I had my Dad in the garden with me!
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