Just a month ago, I offered a word of caution in getting too excited about spring’s arrival—barely a month into winter, it hardly seemed appropriate to offer tips for spring work around the yard. As February is now more than half over, however, and with nary a sign of real winter weather in the forecast, you’re likely starting to look around the yard for things to do. Here’s my list of four must-do tasks in the garden this month.
First, it’s time to prune. As I’ve written about in previous months and years, now is not the time to prune some of your spring- and summer-blooming shrubs such as rhododendrons, azaleas, heather and certain hydrangeas. They bloom on the previous year’s growth and thus should be pruned only after they bloom. For many other plants in your yard, though, now is the time for a haircut.
While the best time to prune back rose bushes is usually later in February, if your plants look like mine, they’re well underway in waking up from winter dormancy and are starting to leaf out. Encourage vigorous, healthy growth this spring with a hard pruning and cut each branch as low as six to eight inches above the base of the plant.
Second, tackle moss growth in your lawn. Once again this year, our mild winter weather has provided ideal conditions for moss to grow, so kill it now to allow your lawn a healthy start to spring. Ferrous sulfate is my moss killer of choice—its potency is superior to any other moss killer I’ve found and the fine granules allow for more even distribution over your lawn than many other granular products. After you’ve killed the moss, follow up with a dose of Super Sweet fast-acting lime to improve your soil’s overall health and provide better conditions for grass to grow. At Vander Giessen’s, we carry both of these moss control products and can help you figure out how much you’ll need for your yard.
Third, plant some fruit trees. Late winter or early spring is an ideal time of year to transplant fruit trees into your yard, and now is the time of year they’re in stock at the nursery. With all things edible seeing a huge increase in popularity over the last several years (after all, it’s fun to enjoy the plants in your yard for more than just looks!) fruit trees have become popular as well. Lest you think your yard is too small for a fruit tree or you worry about what other tree or trees you’ll need to pollinate a fruit tree, worry not—with dwarf varieties now the norm and great options in self-pollinating or combination fruit trees, even a novice gardener with minimal space can enjoy the benefits of a fruit tree or two in the yard.
Fourth, spray for bugs and diseases. Unless we get a hard dose of winter later this month or next, which would do damage to a lot more than just insects, many of the plants around your yard may have overwintered insect eggs or fungus spores. Save yourself the headache of trying to undo the damage of an infestation later this spring by spraying now. For insect control for all your plants (including edibles), spray with liquid Sevin insecticide. To control diseases, use a copper dust or spray on your plants. Or, if you’re worried about both insects and diseases, use Bon-Neem, an all-in-one product safe for application on edibles and ornamental plants around your yard.
Barring a nasty late winter storm, we’re setting up for an early spring in the Pacific Northwest, so enjoy the onset of a new season and have fun getting started with the work around your yard!