GARDEN COLUMN: Spring into the growing season | Home & Garden

By Melinda Myers

Spring bloomers and perennials fill our landscapes with colour. As your gardens spring to life this spring, take notes on necessary improvements and provide pollinators with some early-season color and nectar. This will keep your landscape looking its best all season long and for years to come.

Start a garden journal or photograph of your garden. Make notes or take photos of what is working in your landscape, plants that need removing, or areas that need more color or new plants. These notes will help you create a landscape filled with year-round beauty.

Make sure your plants get enough moisture. Watering is easy to overlook during the cool and often wet spring months. A rain gauge can help you monitor rainfall in your yard. Plants benefit from thorough watering that encourages deep drought and pest resistant roots. Check soil moisture and water when the top 4 to 6 inches are crumbling and beginning to dry. Established drought tolerant plants tolerate drier soils.

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Start pulling weeds as soon as they appear. Removing them when they are small will make them easier to remove and prevent them from flowering and producing seeds. That means fewer weeds to pull next year.

Disease- and pest-free leaves, evergreen needles, and other organic mulch covering the soil surface help suppress weeds, conserve moisture, and improve the soil as they decay. Leaves also provide a home for many insects, frogs and toads. You will reap many benefits from this one task.

Leave perennials until the daytime temperature is a constant 50 degrees. This allows hibernating eggs to hatch and insects to leave their winter quarters. If waiting isn’t an option, prune most of the stems back to the ground and stack them out of the way. This allows the insects to leave their winter quarters at the right time. Leave some stems 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm) above the ground for insects to make a new home. In mid-summer or fall, shred the removed plant matter to use as mulch in the garden or on the compost heap.

Watch out for animal damage and protect your plantings if necessary. Fresh new growth in the spring garden is a treat for rabbits, deer and other wildlife.

Many gardeners enlist the help of repellents to protect their landscape plants.

Always check the label for details on use, application amounts and timing. Research has proven that odor-based repellents like rain and snow resistant Plantskydd ( are more effective than other types of repellents. Also, this will cause wildlife to avoid plants rather than taking a bite before realizing they don’t like the taste.

Cover pathways to reach your landscape and important plants before the animals start feeding. It’s easier to keep them away before they find all those delicious plants growing in your garden.

Take photos of your landscape all year round. Note any challenges encountered and any adjustments needed in care. Include all errors; all gardeners have them. This is just another step towards a healthier and more beautiful garden.

Then take your time to enjoy the beauty of your landscape. Find a comfortable place to sit, relax, listen to the birds and enjoy all the wonders spring has to offer.

Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books including The Midwest Gardener’s Handbook, 2nd Edition and Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses DVD series How to Grow Anything and the national television and radio show Melinda’s Garden Moment. Myers is a columnist and editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was hired by Tree World Plant Care to write this article because of her expertise. Her website is


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