You heard that right! Despite the late-season cold, spring is just around the corner. It’s time to grab your tools and get some dirt under your nails! To help you get a leg up on the work, here is your spring gardening checklist:
1. Time to Trim: Prune back winter-killed branches to make room for new growth. Cut back spent perennials and pull up old annuals if you didn’t get around to it last fall. Then look around. March is a good time to take stock of your yard and see if it’s time to thin out crowded beds or do some transplanting to fill in bare spots.
2. Check for Signs of Growth: Our winter has been warm, so some plants might have started without you.
3. Prep the Beds: Remove winter mulch or, if it has been well composted, work it into the top layer of the soil. Clear away any broken or damaged branches from winter storms. Rake out fallen leaves and dead foliage. Also, remove existing mulch to set the stage for a new layer once spring planting is done. Push heaved plants back into flower beds and borders. Spread a pelletized fertilizer tailored to existing plantings on the soil’s surface so that spring rains can carry it to the roots.
4. Prune Away Dead and Damaged Branches: Where tree or shrub branches have been damaged by cold, snow, and wind, prune back to live stems by using a handsaw for any larger than ½ inch in diameter. Shape hedges with hand pruners, rather than electric shears to be more precise.
5. Divide Perennials: Before plants have begun spring growth you should divide your perennials. Prune flowering perennials to a height of 4–5 inches and ornamental grasses to 2–3 inches to allow new growth to shoot up.
6. Fill in the Gaps: Where the soil has thawed, dig up perennials—such as Day Lilies and Hostas—to thin crowded beds. Divide them, leaving at least three stems per clump, and transplant them to fill in sparse areas. If you’re past the last date of frost, cut back winter-damaged rose canes to 1 inch below the blackened area.
7. Perform Basic Maintenance: Check stonework for frost heaves. Check and clean the deck now so you don’t have to do it later; make any repairs.
8. Start Seeds Indoors: Set your indoor seed planting now so they will be ready when the time is right.
9. Plant Veggies: Cold hardy vegetables—such as onions, potatoes, artichokes, and some lettuces—should be planted now, well before the weather truly warms up.