Gardening Checklist

Gardens start to come alive this time of year, and if the weather cooperates, it’s a time to plant, water everything, and take care of the lawn. In some areas, spring brings the first signs of winter’s end; in others, it’s the gateway to warm weather. But in most climates, it’s the magical month when gardens start to come to life. Remember to adjust gardening tips to fit your own growing season—but most important of all, wait until the last frost date to put tender plants in the ground. 

Greenhouses: here comes the sun, which means that greenhouses are starting to heat up. On warm days, be sure your greenhouse is well ventilated. Give more regular care to greenhouse plants by stepping up your watering and fertilizing schedule. Also make sure to check your greenhouse thoroughly for pests.

Container gardens: even beginning gardeners can brighten up a terrace, patio, deck, or windowsill with containers tumbling with flowers.

  • Use hanging baskets, pots of all sizes and planter boxes—or paint old pails or coffee cans—for clusters of colour.
  • Fill containers with bulbs and bedding plants to be transplanted in warmer weather, or make permanent plantings.
  • Spark up potted shrubs and trees by surrounding them with dashes of perennial colour.
  • Group cactus plants of different heights, shapes, or try your hand at a container bonsai garden.
  • Apartment dwellers, if you haven’t made a windowsill herb garden, what are you waiting for?

Watering: don’t let your garden dry out before it’s fully-grown. Get into the routine of watering regularly early in the season to ensure happy, healthy plants.

  • Set up a watering system to minimize the work of regularly watering your garden beds. Make sure a hose or watering can is accessible in areas that you will water often throughout the growing season.
  • In container gardens, make sure that your geraniums; pansies, and other plants are getting enough water.
  • This is an ideal time to check on the moisture of plantings at the base of evergreens or under eaves. These are often left parched, even in rainy climates.

Lawn care: want the greenest lawn on the block? Well, start now and the result will be a less-than-luscious lawn.

  • Between now and the end of May or beginning of June, after grass is well established, give the lawn a light raking before fertilizing.
  • Choose a spring fertilizer that contains moss killer if moss is a problem.
  • You can now over seed your lawn (using about one per 300 square feet) to help fill the bald patches and fight the return of weeds and moss.
  • If your lawn has begun growing in earnest, you can aerate it now, making it more absorbent and reducing summer water needs.
  • Start cranking up your mowing schedule and use your grass clippings. Adjust your mower to cut only one third the length of its blades, then leave the clippings on the lawn. They’ll feed the growing grass much needed nitrogen as they break down.
  • Make sure the new grass is getting enough moisture.

Planting trees & flowers: in some areas, the time has passed for transplanting large trees and shrubs, but in other climates you can still plant deciduous and evergreen trees, shrubs, perennials, hardy annuals, and rock-garden perennials such as yarrow, rock jasmine and small dianthus.

  • Geraniums and fuchsias that have spent the winter in hiding should be repotted for a fresh start.
  • Mid-spring is also a good time for planting dahlias, most lilies, and gladioluses for summer blooms, but hold off a bit longer on sensitive canna lilies and tuberous begonias.
  • If you haven’t planted or set out berries yet—blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries—now’s your chance. Just be sure they have plenty of water.

Vegetables: in most area, it is time to start your outdoor vegetable garden, especially perennials such as asparagus, although it’s probably still not warm enough to plant heat loving crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash.

  • Wait until the end of the month to plant vegetables such as corn and beans, but you can plant vegetables like potatoes, onions, radishes, and other root crops. Before transplanting, start hardening off cool loving greens and root crop seedlings such as cabbage, lettuces, carrots, chard, spinach etc.
  • Place planters of root vegetables in shady, wind protected areas, move them daily for more sun and exposure.
  • Until a few days before planting time, bring the planters indoors at night.
  • If it’s warm enough at the end of the month, start sowing seeds directly into the soil.

Shearing, pruning & grooming: from now until late spring, the time is ripe for shearing and pruning evergreens of all kinds.

  • Cut only in the green foliage areas to ensure that branches will regrow, and maintain that nice draped evergreen shape by keeping the top smaller so that bottom branches will receive needed sunlight.
  • Stop pruning roses and buddleias, and prune fuchsias late in the month.
  • After rhododendrons bloom, remove the spent flower clusters with clippers or snap them off by hand.

Mulch & compost: don’t neglect the soil in which your garden grows. Mulch and compost add nutrients and protection from heat and prevent your plants from drying out.

  • Even in areas you haven’t yet planted, but especially around shrubs and perennials, add a light layer of mulch to help summer water absorption.
  • Mature trees, climbers, and roses (now that you’ve stopped pruning) should also be mulched now.
  • Start turning your compost over, and mix old and new compost together with a high nitrogen fertilizer.

Pests: don’t let pest enjoy your garden. Take precautions early and throughout the growing season to keep your plants healthy and edible.

  • Treat newly planted fruit trees for pests after the first buds appear on branches.
  • Keep protecting new shrubs and fruit trees from unexpected frost.


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Hans Taal

Hans Taal

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CENTURY 21 Miller Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage*
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