Gardening through all four seasons
- Remove tree wrap and evergreen boughs and mulch from roses and perennials.
- Prune dead branches from trees and shrubs. Many shrubs also benefit from pruning each spring before they leaf out – don’t prune flowering shrubs that bloom on last year’s growth unless you can tolerate not having blooms this year.
- Divide perennials, if necessary. Cut dead foliage back to the ground to make room for new growth.
- Apply new mulch, if necessary. (2-3” on flower beds – cocoa bean/rice hull mix; 3-4” on tree and shrub beds – hardwood shredded bark.
- Fertilize as soon as there are signs of new growth.
- Apply pre-emergent for crabgrass on lawns and to prevent weed seeds from germinating in your garden areas.
- Refill all baskets, planters an window boxes with new soil before planting.
- Plant hardy annuals as soon as ground can be worked in spring.
- Maintenance and weed control are the top priority.
- Continue planting trees, shrubs and perennials (as long as you can supplement water during dryer periods).
- Deadhead: Encourages reblooming and stops plants from reseeding. Aids in disease prevention.
- Pinch-Back: To promote a bushier, fuller plant. Refers mostly to late summer or fall bloomers. Pinch back every few weeks until about mid-July.
- Disease, Insect and Critter Control: Identifying a problem right away is the easiest way to control it.
- Fertilizing: Annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs all require different fertilizing schedules.
- o Annuals – fertilize once a week with a balanced, water soluble or granular formula (20-20-20) unless blooming is poor, then a blooming formula (10-50-10) should be used alternate weeks.
- o Fertilize trees, shrubs, roses and perennials (which were fertilized in the spring) a second and final time in mid-July. An organic, slow-release granular formula designed specifically for these plants should be used. Don’t fertilize after August 1st.
- Watering: Newly planted plants should be watered at least once a week, more if rain is lacking. Water thoroughly and from underneath, if possible. Don’t over-water. Know your plants and their water requirements. Established beds need less water than new beds, but both need careful monitoring. Dividing/Transplanting: Try to avoid doing this in mid-summer. It creates a tremendous amount of stress on the plant.
- Weed Control: Keep up with the weeds! They steal moisture and nutrients from your plants and they harbor many diseases and insects.
- Annuals: Pull and remove as soon as they wither after the first frost or freeze. Many can be dug up and repotted and brought inside as houseplants. Lift dahlia and gladioli to store over winter. Trim back foliage and clean off excess soil and any dead or dying material; leave on a try to dry for a few weeks then pack loosely, roots downward, in vermiculite. Keep in a dry, frost free place. Don’t forget to label them!
- Perennials: Non-woody perennials can be cut back to the ground as soon as they brown and go dormant. Allow newly planted perennials stand until spring before cutting back and mulch these to help alleviate the heaving soil that occurs with the freezing/thawing cycles each spring.
- o Evergreen boughs can be applied after we’ve had several hard frosts and up until we’ve had snow cover. Most times, you can wait until after Christmas, when you can then remove the branches from your trees and “recycle” them back into your garden.
- Woody perennials (Butterfly Bush, Russian Sage, etc.) should be left alone until spring.
- Some perennials don’t need to be cut back at all. They are self-cleaning and break down quickly (coral bells) unless disease is present. Some also provide winter interest and may attract seed-eating birds.
- Bed Cleanup and Prep: Remove as much excess debris as possible because this can harbor insects and disease. Rake your mulch to improve air circulation. Top-dress your bed with soil supplements, if needed. Bone meal, blood meal, gypsum, etc. can all be used to organically improve your soil conditions.
- Divide overgrown perennials
- Plan for next year: good time to prepare new beds or look for bare spots and plant those perennials now that are on sale at your garden center.
- Plant bulbs now.
- Divide your Iris by the end of September.
- Trees and shrubs can be pruned after they go dormant in late fall, unless they are spring blooming. Protect trees and shrubs from critters over the winter. When food is scarce, rabbits and deer can become a problem to your plants. You may need to protect them with fencing and deterrents. You can also spray a dormant oil mixture in late fall in order to suffocate any existing insect egg masses or fungal spores.
- Keep watch for animal damage.
- Dream of spring!