Rafed English

10 Easy Garden Chores for Early Spring

There still may be snow on the ground but it's never too early to get a jump on your summer gardening chores. While gardening season doesn't start for most of us until April or May, the end of winter is a great time to tackle those little chores and tasks that will make summer gardening easier. Here are 10 little "early bird" gardening tasks that you can do now.

Spray your fruit trees. To prevent bugs and bores from chomping away at your orchard fruits, coat your fruit trees with dormant oil spray. Dormant oil spray smothers fungi along with insects and their eggs, and should be applied before your fruit trees bud.

Repair plant supports and beds. If you grow raspberries or blackberries, climbing roses, or other trellising plants, now is the time to check out the condition of your plant supports and make repairs as needed. Early spring is also a good time to reinforce your raised beds and repair broken fence pickets.

Apply a pre-emergent. Did quack grass and crab grass overtake your lawn last summer? Fighting these invaders starts in the spring by applying a pre-emergent lawn-care treatment as soon as weather permits.

Sharpen the lawnmower blade. Instead of waiting until May to bring your mower in for sharpening, do it now before the repair shops become overwhelmed with work.

Prune roses. Where I live, local folklore means pruning back the roses and cutting away dead canes "when the forsythia blooms." For us, this is sometime in early March.

Clean out the garden plots. Once the snow has melted, take a sweep through your beds to clear out winter debris. This should include things like broken twigs, vegetable plant skeletons, string, paper, and all those other items that don't belong in your garden.

Weed. You can also get an early jump on spring weeds that start emerging in early March. The shallow root system of these pesky plants makes weeding a snap.

Apply top dressing. For beds that you won't be tilling under, apply a top dressing of compost or aged manure.

Move transplants now. Do you have shrubs or young trees you'd like to move? These too should be moved before they begin to bud. You'll find that the soft soil conditions of early spring will make transplanting these plants a breeze.

Reapply missing mulch. If your mulch took a beating over the winter, now is the time to fill those bare areas. Putting down mulch in February or March will keep down both spring and summer weeds.

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