Spring Gardening Chores

12 June 2024

We are transitioning from spring into summer and there are a few things that you can do to help your garden look its best.



A spring bloomer, the iris flowers will start to decline.  Use clean, sharp pruners and cut the flower stalk, but be sure to allow the leaves to remain.  These leaves will help the root system and aid as the plant continues to grow and be healthy.  In mid July or early August, you can decide if they are too crowded.  That will be the time to dig up and divide.  If you divide the plants now, they may not be as robust next year and possibly won’t bloom.

If the leaves develop brown spots, you can remove those leaves and throw them away.  Do not put them in your compost pile.


Spring-Flowering Bulbs

Tulips, jonquils, etc. are so cheerful in the early spring.  After they have bloomed, allow the leaves to remain until those green leaves die back.  Then you can remove them.  Letting the leaves be helps the plant produce enough energy to provide even better blooms next year.  If you remove the leaves too soon, it affects the amount of nutrition the plant has to produce flowers next year.

If you need to thin out your group, this is the time to relocate them.



Over time soil can become tight, dense, and compacted.  That makes the ground harder to dig into and can cause the roots of your plants (flowers, grass, vegetables) to stunt in their growth.  If the root system is not solid, the plant will die.  Then you are left with an unsightly bare spot that will eventually cause the ground to erode.

What causes compaction?  The composition of the soil could have too much clay, heavy or excessive rain, traffic (vehicles, mowers, kids or adults walking over the area consistently), or trying to plant or dig in the dirt when it is too wet.

To find out if the soil is too wet to work in, dig to a depth that you will need to put the plant in.  Scoop out about a handful.  If you squeeze the dirt and it stays in that ball shape, the soil is too wet.  You need to allow it to dry more before putting your plants in the ground.

Try to avoid walking over the areas where you want to plant, rolling carts, or leaving the mower in the same spot.  In the fall, you can add a layer of compost and let it remain through the winter, which will help next year.  This will not only enrich the soil for planting, but it will loosen the ground.

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For many people, they put a tree, shrub, flower, or other plant in the ground and believe that is it.  Unfortunately, that can create a great deal of loss.  Plants, like people, need food and water to survive and thrive.

There are a number of issues to consider when watering.

  • If you plant at the bottom of a slope, realize that the item will get a significant amount of water from runoff.
  • Wind increases the amount of water loss and you need to adjust your schedule accordingly.
  • Be sure to design your landscape so that those plants with similar water requirements are together. Choose drought tolerant plants for south or west facing areas where there is maximum sun.

Water deeply but no further than the root zone.  Loosen the soil and add mulch to increase absorption.  If you use an irrigation system, check for leaks and malfunctions.  One inch of water, either rainfall or your hose, per week is a good rule of thumb.



Read the directions!  Use fertilizer as it is recommended by the manufacturer.

Side dressing is a valid method to feed your plants, especially vegetables, that are already growing.  Sprinkle the fertilizer along the sides of the rows and then water it in.



This is the time of year when we relocate some of our houseplants outdoors.  When the night temperature is regularly above 60, it is safe to move your plants.  Start with them in a protected area usually close to the house where they will have some shelter from winds and heat from the sun.

It is actually a good idea to move your plants outdoors to give them a respite from the dimmer light, even in a south window.  All indoor plants should be in pots that have drainage holes.  However, some of the decorative versions do not.  Be very aware of this during a rainy time so that the roots don’t get waterlogged and rot.  Conversely, being outdoors, these pots may need more water than when they are inside.

They are also likely to attract insects, particularly mosquitoes in sitting water.  If you decide to re-house, be sure to use a pesticide before bringing them indoors.

With the better growing conditions, your plants may get gangly and you will need to prune back.  Or, you may need to consider re-potting or splitting into new pots.

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