seed starter with seedlings

Early Spring Garden Tips!

We’ve finally seen the signs of spring here in Greater Boston and many of us are getting excited to start digging in the dirt and preparing our landscapes/properties for the warmer seasons ahead. Be smart about it though and check out our tips for lawn and garden care in April.

 

1. Monitor damage from winter, insects, and drought

winter damaged tree

Winter:

  • Inspect landscape lighting to make sure nothing was knocked over by snow. Lights that have been installed for a few years may need to be re-aimed, or to have nearby plants pruned if they are obscuring the light. Our crews can prune, aim landscape lighting fixtures, and replace burnt out lamps as part of our regular spring clean-up services.
  • As underground ice swells during winter, it can disrupt plant roots and patio or walkway pavers; this is known as “frost heaving”. Replant and mulch any disrupted plants and repair disturbed pavers.
  • Look around your property to see where snow melts into your lawn or garden beds. Salt used in de-icing can damage your plants, so leach these areas with water.
winter moth caterpillar eating leaf
Winter Moth Caterpillar Eats Leaf

Insects:

  • Fluctuations in temperature this winter mean you can expect an overpopulation of insects (like the infamous winter moth caterpillar) in 2017. Trees and shrubs that have experienced insect damage before will need protection from a plant healthcare program, as well as supplemental water. Thus, you’ll need to continue watering throughout the 2017 growing season.

Drought:

  • Much of MA is still considered “abnormally dry”. Be patient with plants recovering from desiccation, or the drying out of plants. According to UMass Amherst’s Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment, “possible drought injury symptoms that may arise this spring include: fewer and/or smaller leaves, shorter branches, dieback, reduced flowers and/or fruit set, browning of evergreen leaves and needles, and loss of branches.” Trees and shrubs stressed by the past year’s drought may require corrective pruning this spring to remove  deadwood and keep them looking healthy. Just be sure only to prune when necessary.

 

2. Prepare your lawn

fresh edges around garden bed

  • In late April, once your lawn starts turning green and at a time when it’s dry enough to walk on, you can inspect the areas that haven’t recovered from the winter and gently rake those out. Be sure not to rake too intensely as you’ll disturb the soil, turf roots, and increase the chance of weeds. And use a plastic rake (not bamboo or metal) to minimize the chance of damaging the soil. The only leaves you need to remove are those piles that are compacting the soil and preventing it from soaking in water and light. Simply pick up any sticks and lightly rake the remaining twigs and leaves.

 

 

3. Planting

  • Your first step should be to get a soil test to determine if you need to add anything to the soil to improve its quality. If you’re growing perennials in beds, add about 2” of organic compost to make the soil more nutritious for your plants and top it off with some leaf mulch to minimize weed growth.
  • If you’re planting flowers, April is a good time to plant cold-tolerant flowers like pansies, petunias, and snapdragons.

purple pansy

  • April is also the time to sow cool-season vegetable seeds like lettuce, peas, chard, kale, arugula, spinach, carrot, radish, beet and turnips. Get a head start on the rest of your perennials by sowing seeds in indoor seed starters.
  • Did you know that trees can add value to your home and lower your heating costs, among other benefits? April 28th is Arbor day. Celebrate by planting a tree!