Spring Gardening Tips
Gardeners, you know how it is: as we move into spring sunshine, you start eyeballing that winter-ravaged yard and craving fresh spring greenery. But watch out: most spring gardening tips may not be right for the Stanislaus County’s temperate spring weather!
So follow these local spring gardening tips to find the paradise in your yard.
Our warm spring weather makes perfect planting for most perennials, says Adria Afferino from The Greenery. It’s also time for hardier annuals like petunias, geraniums and summer veggies including tomatoes and lettuce. “Sensitive flowers like vincas, dahlias and impatiens should wait until temperatures stay above 55 at night.” Plant them too early, and sensitive plants could fail.
Cold nights can also threaten citrus, says Stephanie Boyd from Frantz Garden Center. “Even when it seems like spring has sprung, be careful to keep them protected from unexpected frost!” Even with cold nights, the valley’s summer heat makes it essential to get landscaping in the ground as early as possible, adds Boyd. “Get them planted before summer hits so they have time to establish good root systems.”
Don’t Forget Maintenance
Spring’s the time to clean up winter damage and make sure trees, shrubs and vines are in growing shape before budding begins. “Also be careful to remove all the dead leaves from around the bottom of your plants, as they can harbor harmful bacteria and disease,” adds Boyd.
Check features like fountains, ponds and feeders to ensure this year’s cold winter didn’t introduce cracks that need patching. Spring is also the time to tune up gardening equipment like mowers and trimmers.
Careful with that Lawn
If you keep a lawn, now’s the time to reseed, says Afferino. “As long as the days are over 55 consistently, you can start to plant lawn seed. The earlier you seed, the fewer weeds you’ll have to compete with during the summer.”
After reseeding, proper fertilization is key. “Be sure you fertilize before the heat, not during it. A lot of people use ammonium sulfate because it promotes instant green and instant growth, but it can overstimulate the lawn.” Afferino recommends an organic lawn fertilizer from Gardner & Bloome that encourages slow, steady growth.
“Lawns can also get bacteria that causes them to look sick,” warns Boyd. “If you do fertilize, over seed, and it still doesn’t look better, have a professional come and look at your yard. It may need to be sprayed
“There’s a misconception that a sprinkler system will take care of itself,” says Afferino. Sprinklers may take some of the hassle out of watering, but don’t just set the timer and forget about it. Afferino suggests adjusting the timer at least 3 or 4 times a year to account for varying temperatures and seasonal rainfall.
“In the summer, we can have wild temperature swings. It will get hotter and things will need to be watered more often and then we’ll have a cooler spell and you might run the risk of root rot.”
Healthy fruit and shade trees are a product of wise watering. The deep root systems of trees and established shrubs are best watered with a hose set on a slow trickle for many hours at a time, says Afferino, but not until summer. During the heat, well-established shade trees might need up to 12 hours of slow, steady water once every ten days for adequate penetration. Deep watering can also keep surface roots from causing problems (like upended sidewalks) in your yard.
Don’t rush to fertilize trees that have been stressed by too little water, says Afferino. Fertilizing a stressed tree can burn it even more. Fix the problem first and then wait to see an improvement in the tree before you start fertilizing again. “Most trees will recover if they’re established but if the stressing goes too far they won’t make it. Don’t let it get that far.”
The Greenery is located at 742 E. Olive in Turlock, Frantz Garden Center is located at 1287 Riverview Road in Hickman.