Spring is here!  The days are getting longer and warmer.  It’s time to get your gardens and landscape ready for optimum growth this season.

Assess your garden.  Is your landscape how you want it to be?  Ask yourself a few questions.  Is the look what I want to see (structure, color, texture) now and through the season.  Are the plants healthy?  What do I need to do now to give the plants the best start?

Start with the ground up.  Test your pH.  The ideal pH is 6.0 to 6.5. Neutral pH is 7.  Having soil slightly acidic allows for optimum uptake of nutrients. If your soil is 7 or higher sprinkle Sulphur (Pro Holly or Holly Tone also has some Sulphur in the mix and could be used as an alternative).  If your soil is 5.5 or lower sprinkle lime on the soil.  For overall fertilizer, I like to use North Country Organics Pro Gro.  Plant Tone could also be used.  These are organic fertilizers that are better for the environment and build up healthy soil.

Prune to shape your shrubs and not more than 1/3 of the shrub or tree enabling it to recover from the open cuts.  The rule of thumb for most shrubs is to prune after they have flowered.  Examples of shrubs to prune in Spring: Panicle Hydrangeas, Rose of Sharon, Euonymous, Ilex (Holly), boxwood, and any dead foliage or broken branches.

Cut back perennials to 3 to 4 “. Remove leaves and debris covering perennials or at the base of a trunk (this will increase airflow and create healthier plants).

Mulch to keep down weeds through the season.  My favorite technique is laying down 1 to 2 sheets of newspaper overlapping (stops weed seeds from germinating) then 2” of a weed-free compost (I have had great luck with Booths Blend or Season Supply compost).  Compost feeds the plants and creates healthier soil to plant in.  

Assess the bloom times in your garden, add color with annuals or perennials to give color through the season or possibly a new shrub (a few of my favorites are Fine Wine Weigela, Little Devil Ninebark, and Little Lime Hydrangea). 

A garden or landscape is continuously changing as it grows.  It is ok to move plants or divide to create a better structure.  Planting tips: dig the hole twice as big as the root ball, tuck in to remove any air gaps, and water in well.  You will need to check the watering daily or weekly as to not overwater or underwater.

Have a happy and healthy gardening season!