As the rain keeps falling and the sun peaks out (sometimes), we get the itch to work in the garden.
Before you buy plants to fill the voids, let’s talk about what you should do first.
In my years of gardening, I was fortunate enough to get to work in a nursery. While working there I got to help people buy plants for their yards and they always asked the same question -- "will this plant that I like work for me?"
I bring this up because it is so important to understand how a plant grows before planting. In some of the yards I care for, when contractors built the house, many times they just plopped plants in the ground without thinking of the future. Now, 10 years down the road the plants have outgrow the space.
Because of that, homeowners have to drastically prune or even take out lots of plants. Garden books help me better understand each plant. Select a good garden book and do some studying. Get a first-hand look at what to grow as well as what not to grow.
Take a walk around your yard, note pad in hand, and observe what elements you have, such as what weeds are growing, to figure out what soil you might have. It’s not too late to get a soil sample and have it analyzed.
Then ask yourself, "What kind of sun or shade do I have?" That's the first step in having a healthy yard.
When you arrive at the nursery, study the plant tags to see how big the plant will grow. Ask questions. And, of course, be careful. It is so easy to buy too many plants.
Think about the spaces you have to fill. Bring a list with you to the nursery. That way you won't over buy.
As for your lawn, right now would be a good time to thatch and top dress the lawn with a nice compost to feed the soil microbes. Have your mower blades sharp and recycle your lawn clippings.
I had a client ask me if leaving the clippings would create thatch. The answer to that is no. Thatch is the buildup of old leaf crowns not grass.I was thatching a yard the other day and noticed old fertilizer pellets on the ground. They never reached the soil surface. It is so important to thatch regularly and aerate.
A healthy lawn takes patience and dedication. You will have a lush green weed-free lawn down the road if you take the right steps now.
Q. How can I tell if my plant is still alive coming out of winter?
A. I like to use the thumb scratch trick. Take your thumb nail and nick the bark a little, if it is green it is alive. If it is brown and, of course bridle, it may be time to take it out and go shopping.
Happy Gardening!Gardener Joe