Who's ready for spring?
I looked around my yard on a recent nice day in search of tasks I could check off my spring gardening list. Then I remembered, it's only February. Now that we're into March and we have some mild temps ahead, you might be tempted to dive into your garden to-dos.
Instead, stay out of your garden and enjoy the unseasonably warm weather in other ways, like grabbing a drink at the terrace, visiting Olbrich or Allen Centennial Gardens, or people-watching on State Street. When it comes to your garden on 60 degree February and March days, use the following as your guide:
Leave leaf litter & debris.
This organic matter is protecting delicate growth of plants that were tricked into coming out of dormancy. Uncover them and they'll get nipped by future freezes. It's also providing awesome nutrients for your garden as it breaks down over the next couple months.
Don't prune evergreens.
Are your unruly boxwoods calling for attention? Shearing or pruning them will encourage tender new growth that will likely be destroyed by the next cold snap.
Stay out of wet beds.
Resist the urge to take a stroll into your gardens at this point. You'll be compacting the soil, which is especially detrimental to existing perennial roots and areas where you plan to plant seedlings in the spring. Compacted soil is hard for delicate roots to grow through!
Leave your spring-blooming shrubs be.
Lilacs, forsythia and magnolias, for example. Many of these guys flower on the new growth they've been diligently working on all winter, so pruning them now will make for a sad spring display.
If you just can't resist the gravitational pull to your garden beds, there ARE a couple things you can do.
- Prune trees, especially birch since summer is less than ideal with the chance of contracting birch borer.
- Prune any non-spring blooming shrubs like dogwood and pussy willow. Bonus-- use these for spring decor!
- Cut back any perennials that were missed in fall clean-up. Try to stick to the ones you can reach from the bed edge so you're not stepping in the wet soil!