Gardens & Conservatory

Plants & Collections

Checklist Guides the Spring Gardener

By Tom Brinda and Lynn Kirk, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Published March 2010 in the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Homeowners and gardeners are itching to get back outdoors—but with so much to do, where should they begin? Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden prepared a checklist of springtime chores to simplify the process.

Early Spring
* Prepare power equipment by refueling, changing oil and replacing spark plugs.
* Sharpen hand tool blades, replace worn equipment, and re-string edgers and trimmers.
* Clean up debris, and rake fallen and matted leaves.
* Remove winter weeds and edge plant beds
* Divide perennials before spring growth commences and lightly re-mulch.
* Cut back ornamental grasses to a height of 4-6 inches.
* Last opportunity to prune evergreens, fruit trees and crape myrtles before buds begin (unless pruned during winter, which is preferable).
* Cut spent plants left for winter interest.
* Start seeds indoors or begin purchasing seedlings.

Mid Spring
* Amend soil by adding organic fertilizer and compost.
* Plant cold-hardy vegetables and herbs, such as onions, potatoes, peas, lettuce, rosemary, oregano and thyme.
* Water fall-planted trees and shrubs once new growth appears.
* Watch for infestation of insects and/or disease since an early response may reduce the impact.

Late Spring (after final frost)
* Plant cold-sensitive vegetables and herbs, such as tomatoes, dill and basil.
* Prune spring-flowering shrubs following final blossoms.
* Plant annuals and mulch to retain moisture and retard weed growth.
* Deadhead blossoms of spring-flowering bulbs, but avoid cutting foliage since a natural die-back feeds next year’s flowers.

For more information, visit the Lora E. Robins Library at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.