Early spring landscaping... ideas and tips!
End of the Winter Blahs! (3-2-13)
-Sharpen and clean your tools. Using wire brush and steel wool, clean the rust off any of your spades, shovels, etc. Remember to wash off the soil after every single use!!
- Spread compost or organically rich material (Chicken/ cow manure, great topsoil) on your vegetable beds. Yes, it should have been put on last season. BUT it will still help your garden soil!
- Establish where you will mulch and add soil this spring. Measure out the length and width of the beds (multiply this = it is the area of the bed). Then take that square footage (length x width) and multiply it by the DEPTH of soil or mulch you want to add. 3” of mulch is NOT multiplying by 3—it is ¼ of 1 foot. So you multiply by .25 for the cubic feet. Then divide by 27 for cubic yards. This cubic yards is how much you purchase. Got it?? Same process for both soil and mulch.
Think about adding Early Spring Ephemerals to your gardens:
Early spring ephmerals are those harbingers of spring that assure us that the season is, in fact, changing. Ephemeral means they don’t stay around long- they bloom and usually just keep moving on. They give us hope and inspire us to garden or landscape, yet again. Even in the face of uncertain odds, bad weather and certain drought, these little plants give us hope!!
The crocuses will start to peek out, with their strappy, grass-like leaves. Expect this in about a week- really! The galanthus or snow drop pictured above left is likely to poke its little head up IN the snow (thus the name).
Already my daffodils have greened up and are pushing up. This is a prime time to fertilize- I use a bulb-specific fertilizer that is all natural not chemical. Try Bulb-Tone by Espoma; works great for garlic and all tubers as well (hello potatoes!). I follow instructions per the square footage for the correct amount.
It’s important to remember that ephemerals are not enough to make a landscape or garden interesting. They are a design element and a gardener’s pleasure because they are perfectly timed to make us smile and sigh and keep going. They are not shrubs or trees. They aren’t permanent (I mean they are perennial) but their foliage yellows and must remain to give nutrients back to the plant for next year. Interplant them with great ground cover like lamium or pachysandra. Use them at the base of trees. Leave their foliage on for 6 weeks if you want to see them next year. Either using a professional designer or when you are DIY, remember the bulbs. You will be rewarded!
Trees and shrubs that offer great early spring POW:
All of the trees and shrubs I mention below are available at the Lawrence Landscape Tree Farm. Go here for more info on our tree farm!
Redbud, Whitebud- 20’ H x 25’ W.
Forsythia- 5’-7’ H x W. Can require LOTS of pruning to keep tidy. So plant it away from your house- its vibrant color will inspire you on early, grey spring days!
Blooming Quince- 4-6’ H X W. Amazing coral red color and thorny shape, very Asian. Great border shrub (on the alley, property line, etc).
Star Magnollia shrub- 4-6’ H xW. Early spring bloomer will astound you with its glorious, southern, frilly white blooms. It blooms before it leafs out and has a nice shrubby/ small tree stature. Under used! Old fashioned.
Tips: don’t try to shake or beat the snow off of your trees or shrubs. You may do way more damage. If you have a small tree (like my blue arrow junipers that are 5’ tall, conical), I can gently shake them. You don’t want to uproot smaller shrubs or knick, break larger ones. The snow won’t really damage a healthy tree!
Does this snow mean we are out of the drought? Sadly, no. The ratio is variable so it’s hard to nail it down. But 10” of powdery snow equals about 1” of rain. If the snow is wetter is can be a 1:4 or 5 ratio. However, if the ground is very solid and the snow is iced over, most of the water will run off and not be absorbed. I don’t think this is an issue in our case, due to the warm winter and soft ground. But we probably only will get a couple inches (maybe 3?) out of this snow.