Spring is knocking on my front door here in Florida and I couldn’t be happier! Like I wrote in my last blog post, I am a crazy plant lady. But I’m very selective about which plants I add to my garden as I strive for a low-maintenance garden wherever possible.
One of the most important things in gardening is how you prepare for the spring. Setting your garden up for success is easier than most people think. And, when you set yourself up for success (in any area of life), the job becomes much easier and enjoyable than if you did not take those precautionary steps early on.
Is it too cliché to insert the early worm gets the worm reference? Okay too soon, too soon.
I thought I’d share with you my early spring gardening care and maintenance tips to help make gardening as much fun for you as it is for me!
Transplant Troubled Plants
Exactly one year ago I planted a row of six Tonto Crepe Myrtles. They were beautiful. However, there were a few problems when it came to mowing around them due to their (still) short size and their proximity to the property line. Whoops. Even with lots of research, gardeners can sometimes make mistakes. But we gardeners are always willing to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. Mistakes happen; we fix them. No biggie.
Early spring is the perfect time to transplant shrubs and plants. The cool temperatures allow the roots to transition to their new location before the dog days of summer. Be sure to have your wheelbarrow nearby to hold the dirt as you dig the new hole. It will make filling the hole with dirt infinitely easier.
Prune with Prudence
If are lucky enough to have crepe myrtles in your yard, now is the time to prune them. Crepe myrtles are one of those shrubs that should be pruned in the spring. Never prune hydrangeas in the spring as you might be cutting of the current year’s blooms. Better Homes and Gardens has a great guide on when to prune particular shrubs and trees during the growing season.
Assess Needs and Trouble Areas
Pictured above are my baby Podocarpus plants purchased this past weekend at “Jax Digs Trees“, an event that aims to plant, protect and preserve trees in Jacksonville. These will be forming a living privacy fence between my house and my neighbor’s house. I can’t wait until it fills out and up, as it will be a perfect backdrop for future family pictures. Also, living privacy fences are a cost-effective solution to expensive fences while helping the environment. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Because Florida sometimes receives sporadic summer monsoons, this area next to my house is prone to water puddles and, eventually, water run-off that creates erosion in the yard.
Some of my lawn areas most affected by erosion suffer from bare dirt patches. Grass just can’t fight erosion here because it’s also a shady spot. For that reason I decided to plant ground cover to stop the erosion from worsening. Creeping junipers are a great ground cover plant that is evergreen and provides a gorgeous structure and texture to your yard. They only grow 6″ to 12″ high but spread laterally (sometimes 6 feet wide). I love them.
Add fresh mulch to the flowerbeds
Your plants and water bill will thank you for this small act of service. Mulch not only looks nice, but it helps the soil retain water, prevents evaporation, and keeps your flowers’ roots nice and cool during summer. I add fresh mulch in both spring and fall.
Also some plants, like holly, hydrangeas, and azaleas prefer acidic soil. Mini pine nuggets naturally break down into acidic soil so it’s a great way to control soil pH for these plants.
Sharpen Mower Blades
This is a big one. Your mower’s blades should be sharp and clean prior to the lawn-mowing season. Dull blades will wreak havoc on your grass blades. The jagged rips on the grass blades can lead to disease and fungus. This is also a good time to change the oil, spark plugs and filters if necessary.
Apply fertilizer and weed control to your lawn
In addition to feeding your lawn to replenish needed nutrients, it’s important to also treat and prevent weeds. Crabgrass and other weeds are ready to pounce once the warmer temperatures arrive. Applying pre-emergent herbicides are a must when fertilizing your lawn. Since we live in Florida, this has to happen a little sooner than our friends in the North.
A green, lush lawn will always be the envy of any neighbor. The easiest way to achieve a lush green lawn in the South is with Scotts® Turf Builder® Bonus® S Southern Weed & Feed as it kills dollarweed, clover and other listed lawn weeds. You can find Bonus S at Walmart stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas. Our large yard requires two bags so I invested in the Scotts® Turf Builder® Edgeguard® broadcast spreader and it makes spreading the fertilizer a breeze.
Looking for specific information for how Bonus S can help solve your lawn problems? Click here to sign up for the Scotts’ email reminder service to receive specific tips and information for your area!
Last, but not least, clean! All of this work is for naught if your home has mildew from the winter. Use a pressure washer to clean the outside your home. We pressure wash our stucco walls, walkways and our driveway. The really stubborn mildew on the white-painted stucco needs a manual scrubbing down with magic erasers.