Free gardening labor must be supervised when dealing with weeds in a perennial garden.
We were going to host a wedding at our house and the groom had a couple of teenage sons who wanted to help out. We were weeding, edging, and mulching like crazy. When I saw what was being wheeled to the woods, I spotted some familiar foliage...
Quite a few coneflowers and rudbeckias made it to the compost heap. It wasn’t until the next week that I realized I was missing a clematis vine as well (though it has grown back).
This story led to me to write down a couple of tips to avoid spring lawn and landscaping mistakes! Pulling the wrong plant is understandable since many beautiful perennials start off their spring looking very much like a weed. Working directly with a gardening newbie is definitely a safer bet with less chance of heartache.
Always do a little research on how big the plant you desire really gets.
Don’t just set out the plants in a nice little arrangement. What looks good now is surely going to grow. That 4 foot tall Blue Spruce 4-6 feet from the corner of the house does a nice job blocking the gas meter right now, but in 10 years, 20 years? When it’s 30 feet tall with a 24” trunk, it’s too late to move.
All shrubs should be a minimum of 30” from the foundation. Three feet is even better, especially if it means getting them out from under the eaves where they can enjoy some free watering. Read the label and add a foot or 2 for the maximum size. Better to be safe than sorry.
Don’t try moving or transplanting plants that have already started leafing out.
Plants have a much better chance of surviving a move if it happens while they are dormant. When a plant is not actively growing, it’s water needs are much less than when the plumbing is in full suction, pushing out all those new leaves and flowers that were stored in the buds.
When you cut roots on an actively growing plant, you are removing all the turgor pressure that those roots are producing, so essentially you are cutting off the water pressure. Hence, heavy wilting and many times, even death.
Label your garden with a permanent marker.
But onto happier activities... you’ve ordered lots of seeds during the winter for special annuals, biennials, and even some heirloom varieties of vegetables. You’ve made up little labels to mark where everything is and you plant row after row of seeds. Make sure before you go any further, that you used a permanent marker to make your tags. It would haunt you for years to have to guess which of those tomatoes you loved.
Don’t apply weed and feed if you’re planning a lawn renovation (including new grass).
All weed prevention treatments contain pre-emergent herbicides. This product prevents the germination, sprouting, and/or emergence of fun plants like chickweed, henbit, and crabgrass. It has the same effect on Fescue, Rye, and Bluegrass seed as well.
The very best time for lawn renovation is in the fall. The temperatures are cooler, weeds are slowing way down, and a professionally seeded lawn gets to make lots of deep roots before the summer heat comes. The turf specialists at Dowco can help you with that with an aeration and overseeding to thicken up your turf.
If you are moving into a home with existing gardens in the spring, don’t get too jumpy about starting any huge renovations right away.
A lot of very interesting, historical, rare, unusual, and beautiful plants can be hidden below the surface. As temperatures warm, it can be very surprising what can emerge: peonies, crocuses, daffodils, flowering vines, 6 foot tall Joe Pye Weed and perennials that you’re not sure if they’re good flowers or weeds.