Once the snow starts to melt and the chill is out of the wind, you know that spring isn't far away. Before the leaves start to sprout on your flowers, there are a few chores to do in your garden that will help ensure a garden full of beauty. You may want to start buy purchasing an Gardening Shoe and some chore gloves.
Get Out the Tire Pump and Tool Sharpeners!
Obviously, sharp tools and wheel-barrows / lawn carts with inflated tires will make your spring cleaning jobs go much smoother. This is one of those chores that is easy to forget.. so this is just a reminder!
Get Out the Rake!
The best way to prevent leaf diseases in the garden is by cleaning up last years' leaves from your gardens. The leaves may have spores on them from any blackspot and powdery mildew that you may have had the previous year. These spores survive the winter on last years' leaves -- no matter how cold it gets.
And, as soon as the first spring rains come, they'll be ready to re-infect your flowers again. So, by removing those leaves, you greatly reduce the chance of getting leaf diseases in your garden this year.
Get Out the Mulch!
An alternative to raking up all those leaves, is to just cover them up with mulch! By placing a two or three-inch layer of shredded bark or other mulch on top of last years' leaves, you also cover up any disease spores. These spores move around in the air, and if they're covered up, they can't get on your other flowers.
Not much will clean up a garden better than a new layer of mulch. It makes everything look fresh and clean. You'd be surprised at how quickly mulch breaks down anyway, so your garden may need a new layer of mulch every spring. It's a spring chore with great results.
Get Out the Sprayer!
Early spring is a great time to knock down disease spores and insects. You can easily do this by spraying your roses and the surrounding soil or mulch with a fungicide or horticultural oil.
Try: Plant Starter
There are organic and nonorganic fungicides available that work equally as well in killing off wintering over fungus spores. These kill only the fungus spores and not beneficial insects, like ladybugs. And, they don't harm you, your kids or your pets.
Chemical or nonorganic fungicides do the job of killing off fungus spores, but can also harm you if you don't wear a respirator, goggles and protective clothing.
Horticultural oils work by smothering the fungus or pest. Be careful when using dormant oils because they are heavier and can cause damage to sensitive new growth.
When spraying your dormant flowers, cover them completely with spray, and also spray the mulch or soil around the base of the flower.
Get Out the Pruners!
In early spring, it's a good idea to assess your garden to see what Mother Nature has done during the winter months and to administer first aid for any damaged plants and shrubs.
We usually wait until late March to get our pruning done, by then, most of the severe cold is gone. A pruning wound is much more susceptible to freeze damage -- that's why we wait until it has warmed up a bit.
So, what do you prune? Here's a quick list:
Broken or damaged stems.
Really old stems that just don't produce many blossoms anymore.
Flower stems that are crossing or rubbing against each other -- prune out the smaller one(s).
Wayward flower stems -- ones that just aren't growing where you want them to.
A bad pruning job is like a bad haircut -- it takes about four weeks to fix it. Which means, the roses are forgiving and will recover if you prune the wrong cane.
Last, but not Least!
While you're out doing spring chores, I'm sure many of you will hear familiar songs of migrating birds returning for the summer. If you have bird houses or feeders, don't forget to clean them out. This is one little spring cleaning chore that your resident birds will greatly appreciate!
Enjoy the spring!