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Prep Course

Tips from the pros to get your garden ready for spring

Earthscape- Peonies

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With spring just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about the toll the winter has had on our garden and how to make sure your garden blossoms to its fullest potential.

Start with cleaning up the debris the winter has left behind. “What’s important is to assess what has happened in the winter. Walk your garden and clean up the debris that has accumulated and make sure that it’s not a place where disease can fester and collect,” says Brandon Jones, the director of design at the Glen Gate Company. Once your lawn is clear of debris, get ready to fertilize—but be sure to wait until the ground temperature is warm and that the grass starts to grow before you do. Scott Jamison, owner of Oliver Nurseries, said the best time to start is late April or early May. “You don’t want to fertilize too early because it won’t do too much good,” Jamison said, “We use a product called ‘Sustane,’ an organic, natural, turkey-based fertilizer, which is pretty amazing.”  

Jim Waters, president of Earthscapes Inc., said, “A balanced fertilizing program throughout the growing season is the best approach to care for a lawn…Adding nutrients throughout the year will net the best results.”

Make sure you avoid the common pitfalls of garden prep. Scott Fawcett, branch manager of Hoffman Landscapes, says that the biggest mistakes homeowners make with their garden are overwatering and mowing lawns too short. Fawcett explained that homeowners should water in the early morning to prevent stress and fungal disease, and that deep, infrequent watering that mimics Mother Nature is better than a few minutes a day. As far as cutting your grass—cutting at 3.5 or 4 inches instead of 2.5 means cooler soil, which will help your grass grow taller and healthier.

Before you start to plant, make sure there is no longer a chance of frost. “Wait until mid-May to plant annuals, they will be damaged if you plant them too early,” Jamison said. Jones suggests following the Mother’s Day mark as the rule of thumb.

“Everyone has a different tolerance of what they consider to be low-maintenance. We consider a lot of perennials and shrubs that really only require maintenance once or twice a year to be low-maintenance. There really is no plant that isn’t ‘no maintenance’ though,” Eva Chiamulera, landscape architect at Austin Ganim Landscape Design, said.