The experienced gardener tends to eye any newly sprouting green in the touch-and-go months of March and April with caution: one never knows when winter can lob a final freeze. But as soon as your spidey senses tell you that the warmth is here to stay, do these four, simple things in your garden to enjoy its bounty right out of the gate .
1. Give Your Bulbs Some Backup
Those of you who plant bulbs in the fall (crossing fingers that pesky vermin don’t devour them) want to enjoy seeing the beauties emerge, green and youthful, from under the rubble of mulch and winter debris. What can beat the sight of a healthy crocus, daffodil or tulip emerging in the spring? A simple gardening act that can help is gently hand-raking the brown matter from around the plant. Now, don’t fret if this doesn’t get completed, or if you don’t do it thoroughly: bulbs are strong, they yearn for the light and they will fight their way out of the darkness. (My crocuses don’t always get the hand-rake treatment and I still see their cheery heads peeking up from the mulch ever year.) Still, it’s worth the effort — consider it a final, small top-off investment for all that hard autumn labour.Hyacinths emerging (photo by Jennifer Tibbitt)
2. Go Slowly
Don’t rush into super-clean mode on the first nice day or weekend. Relax. Breathe. Stretch like a cat. Enjoy the sunshine. Taking care of a garden is a seasonal act of patience. Check the weather forecast regularly, keeping aware of future temperature changes and rainfall (and, yes, possible flurries). Bear in mind, though, that predicting the weather can be as unreliable as betting on a horserace. Which is all the more reason to, as suggested, proceed slowly.
Tulips and daffodils, early flowering (photo by Jennifer Tibbitt)
3. Rake and Weed
Rake up those leaves, but leave some around the base of more sensitive perennials and shrubs. Weed, weed, and weed again, any time the ground can be walked on (i.e., it doesn’t feel like a squishy sponge). Not sure whether a plant is a beloved perennial or a pesky weed? Leave it alone. You’ll figure it out later in the season, as weeds are very prolific. Know thine enemy!
Early red tulips, with grass background (photo by Jennifer Tibbitt)
4. Brown Bag It!
From shrubs to flowers to ornamental grasses, remove anything that is dead, diseased or damaged. Especially maple leaves with big black polka-dots — not a funky fashion statement, but a leaf blight that’s not healthy for your garden. Brown bag it all up and put it on the curb for collection. Now: Dust off your hands, place said hands on hips, and survey your outdoor domain with pride. Another job well done — and just the beginning of another wonderful, fulfilling green season.