Brian Panessa of Hilltop Farms shares some tips:
The crocuses have been up early this year, the air is warming up quickly, so what should you be doing to get your garden ready?
One of the easiest things to do while you're waiting for the ideal planting day is to clear any leaves or debris that have gathered in drainage areas over the winter. Seedlings always do better in soil that drains well so now is the best time to clear specific areas before bushes and trees begin to sprout. You can use any decaying material for composting.
Early spring is an excellent time to rake the lawn and begin to introduce light and air into the soil for stronger grass growth. Add lime to your soil if it has a pH below 6.2 as it should be added several weeks before planting. Re-seed areas that need it by using a metal rake to break up the hard bare areas and give the seeds ample opportunity to grow and be sure to water often.
Start looking for, and removing, early spring weeds. Roots are shallow now so they are easier to pull. It is also a good time to mulch in any bed areas that are bare to minimize the growth of weeds. Be sure to spread to a thickness of 3-4 inches. Some gardeners use this time to put down plastic sheeting to reduce weed growth, then mulch on top. Remember to keep mulch a few inches away from young trunks to reduce the possibility of rot that could occur around small trees and shrubs.
While we had a mild winter this year, we were hit with that ferocious October snow storm last year and many trees and shrubs suffered broken limbs and trunk damage. Now is a good time to assess the damage and properly deal with any branches or bushes that have experienced a break of some kind.
If you have an established bed, don't dig; you could disturb a complex ecosystem which is already functioning well. Instead add nutrients from the top and let them work their way down into the soil. If you have perennials in that garden however, this is a good time to split or divide them while roots are still short.
Early spring gardening can go a long way to ensuring you have a healthier and more robust landscape this year.
Brian Panessa is the owner of Hilltop Farms in Croton on Hudson which offers landscape design, native and exotic plants and has a café and retail store on premises featuring unique gardening gifts. They offer special events all year long. For more information visit www.hilltopfarmsmarket.com.
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