Gardening Checklist - Spring


  • Trees and shrubs can be planted as soon as the ground thaws.
  • Prune winter-damaged and cracked branches from trees and shrubs. If these branches are left to hang, they can further tear and harm or even kill your plant. Branches left to heal on their own will leave your plant susceptible to insects and disease. The best Rx is to prune. Do not use a pruning sealant.
  • If you did not tend your garden tools this past fall, take a few minutes to get them in shape for the planting season. Sand handles to shovels and rakes to keep splinters at bay. Sharpen clippers and shovels so spring chores will be easier on plants and you.
  • Wash green algae from walkways, siding, and furniture. Use a mild solution of bleach and water. Scrub well and rinse. Be careful to keep bleach water away from plants.
  • Examine trellises, arbors, and fences for necessary repairs. Clean birdbaths and garden statuary.
  • Fertilize roses.
  • Plant pansies for early-spring cheerfulness. Plant outdoor containers with a Spring Bouquet.
  • During the second week of March, plant spinach. On March 17th plant potatoes and transplant cabbage. Plant bare-rooted asparagus and peas.
  • Cut ornamental grasses back to 4-6" and liriope back to 1-2" in early March, before new growth appears.
  • Now is the perfect time to apply pre-emergent weed control. The plan is to catch over-wintering weed seeds before they sprout. Do not use pre-emergent on newly seeded lawns. Fertilize established lawns if you did not do so last fall. Test soil to see if lime application is needed. Begin cutting your grass when it is 3" tall. Use a sharp lawnmower blade so grass will be cut, not torn.
  • Trim and repot houseplants. Use pots that are only one size larger than the pot your plant is in now. Check plants for insects. Use insecticidal soaps (non-toxic) to control aphids, whiteflies and mites (always consult label before spraying). Start fertilizing every 2 weeks with a liquid (water soluble) fertilizer.
  • Spring blooming bulbs like tulips and daffodils are planted in the fall. Use this spring to gather information, visiting gardens in bloom, and make a record of varieties you’d like to try. Also, note areas in your yard that could use a little more spring color and plan to plant bulbs in these places in the fall.
  • Start seeds indoors for setting out at the end of April.
  • Generally it is ideal to divide fall blooming perennials in the spring. Spring and summer bloomers are best divided in the fall. If you must do them now, divide perennials when new growth reaches 3-4".
  • Put out plant supports for peonies, lilies, delphiniums and other tall growing perennials.
  • Weed, mulch and edge garden beds.


  • Our average frost-free date is April 20. Spring temperatures can be erratic, however, so it’s a good idea to check the weather report each evening for frost warnings. Remember, it can be hot and sunny during the day and still drop below freezing that night!
  • If you need to cover tender plants on nights when temperatures drop, do not cover them with plastic. Plastic does not let plants breathe and the heat from the early morning sun will cook the very plants you are trying to save. It is best to use old sheets, towels, newspaper or burlap. Secure the covering so that it will not blow away (bricks work well), and remove it first thing in the morning. If the plants look droopy, give them some water.
  • Prune and fertilize rhododendrons and azaleas immediately after they bloom with holly-tone or cottonseed meal. Fertilize all other spring blooming shrubs after they bloom with 10-10-10- fertilizer.
  • Slugs can be a big problem to tender, young plants. Slugs feed mainly at night and you can wake up to a denuded garden. There are several easy steps to controlling these garden pests. First, keep the garden and surrounding areas clear of debris, such as lumber, rocks and litter. Slugs need moist places in which to live. Next, handpick this pest from the garden. Use gloves and a jar with a lid. In the evening when slugs are active, pick them off your plants, place them in the jar and throw them away. Finally sprinkle Slug Magic around the base of the plants. This slug killer is safe for pets and wildlife and remains effective even after it rains. Birds love to eat slugs and can actually help diminish their populations in your garden. Toads and frogs also eat these garden pests.
  • Continue to sow cool weather vegetables such as lettuce, peas, radishes and spinach every two weeks.
  • Deadhead spring blooming bulbs but leave the foliage until it turns yellow and dies back. The foliage is gathering food for the bulb and next year’s blooms depend on this nourishment. To hide this foliage, plant annuals that will grow around and conceal the yellowing. Do not tie up the dying foliage as this interferes with process of returning the energy back to the bulb.
  • Apply Merit granular insecticide to your lawn to control Japanese beetle grubs. Follow package directions carefully.


  • Sow heat tolerant lettuce and spinach seeds every other week to keep a fresh supply of these vegetables on hand. Weed out plants that have "bolted", grown tall to set flowers and seeds.
  • If you are bringing seedlings outside for the first time remember to harden them off. Strong spring sunlight will burn young plants and changing temperatures will shock them. They must be gradually brought out into the sun and allowed to stay out longer and longer each day.
  • Plant heat-loving vegetables such as peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, and basil. Remember to water them in as you transplant.
  • Continue to plant perennials and shrubs but do not forget to water. Spring in this area has a tendency to be cool and dry.
  • Do not bring houseplants outside until nighttime temperatures stabilize at 55-degrees. Houseplants will need to be hardened off to keep the strong sun from burning them. Keep these plants in the shade.
  • Fertilize annuals every two weeks. Annuals in pots and baskets will need to be fertilized every week. If time does not permit regular feedings, use Osmocote fertilizer when you plant. Osmocote will feed your plants for an entire season.
  • Stake tomatoes early and keep soft, cloth strips near the garden to tie your plants to their stakes.
  • A mailbox mounted on a post in the garden is a great storage place for a trowel, clippers and small supplies such as strips of cloth. Having these things within easy reach will promote their use.

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