Spring Garden Tips

Crisp lines in the landscape can make or break a design. Now is a great time to use shovels and an edger to clean up grass and bed lines. An old trick I think is great is to use half-inch thin-wall PVC connected together to lay out the lines. They come in 20-foot  pieces and have a connector built in. Unlike a garden hose, PVC will not bend too hard, making a nice sweeping line that is easy for the eye to follow. Lay the pipe on the ground and move it to your liking, and then do your edging accordingly.

Preemergence for your lawn and flower beds: If you are not sowing grass or flower seeds, this is a must to keep a new crop of weeds at bay. 0-0-7 Crabgrass Preventer from big-box stores is good to use. Amaze and Preen are great in the flower beds, too.

Refresh pine straw and mulch. If the mulch hasn’t been cleaned out in a long time, remove the old and put in new. If you use hardwood or pine mulch, keep the mulch away from the trunk or stem of the plant – 8 to 12 inches is sufficient. Not much will put a plant into decline more than dirt or mulch trapping moisture on the base of that plant. Remember, the mulch is there to keep root moist, and the feeder roots are going away from the plant.

If you have oaks that shed in the spring, wait until they are done with their mess so you can have good clean beds when the golf fans arrive.

When grasses begin to come out of dormancy (greenup), they are susceptible to harm from weed-control chemicals. We can be warm in the spring, so our grasses can start getting green as early as mid-March. Avoid the temptation to control the weeds that have established themselves in your lawn over winter. An herbicide application can spell death to a yard if applied at the wrong time. It is best to just let the heat kill the weeds and just keep the grass mowed nicely.

As tempting as it is to use a “weed and feed,” don’t do it. Most of these products are very high in nitrogen and will give a growth boost to your lawn when the grass needs to move slowly. This feeding can damage the grass severely when we get another hard frost or freeze on tender new growth.

Evergreen pruning is a good idea for plants that are about to bloom. If your camellias have finished blooming, trim them to open the plant up for a bird to be able to fly through. Tea olive, boxwood, holly, ligustrum and cleyera are ready to be manicured or, if need be, heavily pruned. Don’t cut back azaleas, gardenias or most viburnums, or you will likely cut off the flowers that are about to emerge.

Add some color to your landscape. Late-winter and early-spring landscapes can still have some dull winter feel. Add containers with annuals like pansies, violas, kale, cabbage, carrot and snapdragons. Landscapes are desperately needing some flare, so let these cool-temperature annuals add what is needed.

If you have some bare area in your lawn, don’t be afraid to add annual or perennial ryegrass. Perennial rye is prettier than annual rye but is a good bit more expensive. This late in the season, with some warm days, this ryegrass seed should germinate nicely. Just be careful not to overseed zoysia, St. Augustine and centipede lawns with rye, or you will regret it in the long run.

Prettying up your garden at this time of year can have big dividends monetarily and aesthetically.

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By Campbell Vaughn Photo by Ole Schoener/Shutterstock.com

Appears in the February/March 2020 issue of Augusta Magazine.

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