Spring Time Means Getting Back into the Garden

forsythiabush.jpgBy Kathy Jentz


After this snowed-in winter, we’ve had. We are all ready to get out and garden! Here is a list of what you can tackle in the garden now, but don’t be intimidated. Just pick one or two you’d like to do each weekend and focus your efforts there.

  • Avoid walking on wet soil in the garden.
  • Prune grapevines.
  • Set out traps for mice, moles, and voles.
  • Get a soil test.
  • Soil preparation — add lime, compost, etc. as needed.
  • Mulch beds with a light hand.
  • Repot root-bound houseplants and start fertilizing them.
  • Clean leaves and debris from your water garden.
  • Do not be alarmed if your pond turns green from algae bloom, this is natural until your water plants fill the surface area. Add a barley ball to combat it for now.
  • Cut back ornamental grasses.
  • Water during dry spells.
  • Cut your Daffodils for indoor bouquets, but do not combine daffs with other flowers in one vase. They give off a toxic substance they may kill your other blooms off prematurely.
  • Weed by hand to avoid disturbing newly forming roots.
  • Walk your garden — look for early signs of fungal disease.
  • Divide perennials and herbs.
  • Fertilize new growth.
  • Plant and prune roses.
  • Transplants small trees and shrubs.
  • Buy or check on your stored summer bulbs (such as dahlias and caladiums). Pot them and start to water, if you want to give them an early start on the season.
  • If you started seeds last month, thin them and start the hardening off process.
  • Start some more seeds — especially try flowering annuals like impatiens and petunias.
  • Prune fruit trees as their buds are swelling. Check for dead and diseased wood to prune out. Cut a few branches for indoor forcing, if desired.
  • Build a raised bed for vegetables. Add lots of manure and compost.
  • Buy an indoor plant to liven up your office space. Try an orchid or African violet.
  • Cut back and clear out the last of your perennial beds.
  • Feed birds and provide nesting materials (try dryer lint) as well as houses for the start of their family season.
  • Plant a tree for Arbor Day. Arbor Day comes on different dates in different states. In our area it is the first Wednesday in April for Maryland, Virginia has it on the fourth Friday in April, and DC has it on the last Friday in April. In addition, many local groups and towns have their own celebrations.
  • Put suet out for birds.
  • Keep birdfeeders filled and provide a source of water.
  • Check outside plants and trees for animal (deer) damage.
  • Mist indoor plants and set up pebble trays to increase humidity.
  • Rejuvenate holly bushes with a hard pruning.
  • Check evergreens for sign of desiccation.
  • Plant peas, lettuce, and radish seeds directly in the soil. Also, cool season annuals like violas and alyssum can be direct-sowed now.
  • Prune any dead or diseased wood off trees and shrubs.
  • Fertilize trees, shrubs, and evergreens.
  • Prune roses.
  • Begin tilling beds (when the earth is dry enough to work – mot muddy) and work in compost.
  • Plant or transplant trees or shrubs including berries, roses, and evergreens.
  • Protect tender plants by covering them with some type of cloth material, if an unusually cold day or night is forecast. Be sure to uncover them as soon as it warms up.
  • Weed.
  • Trim ornamental grasses such as liriope, mondo, and pampas.
  • Dividing overgrown or crowded perennials such as daylily and shasta daisy.
  • Scan houseplants for insect activity.
  • Dust your house plants with a slightly damp cloth.
  • Clear out perennial beds of any dead plant parts and debris.
  • Clean and organize the garden shed.
  • Clean, sharpen, and oil the tools. If not done last Fall.
  • Check and tune-up power equipment (mowers and trimmers).
  • Build garden furniture.
  • Spread new gravel on paths.
  • Mulch bare areas.
  • Design new beds and gardens.
  • Pick up new gardening books and magazines.


Kathy is working her way through her own long garden to-do list including adding a new raised bed to grow more edibles this year. She is the editor of Washington Gardener magazine (www.WashingtonGardener.com) and a long-time DC area gardening enthusiast. Kathy can be reached at  washingtongardener@rcn.com and welcomes your gardening questions.


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About the Author

Kathy Jentz
Kathy Jentz is editor of Washington Gardener magazine and is a long-time DC area gardening enthusiast. Washington Gardener is all about gardening where you live. She can be reached at @WDCgardener on Twitter and welcomes your local DMV gardening questions.