Get ready to garden

March 6, 2011 6:45:00 AM PST
It's not too early to think about planting season. Spring is almost here. So, now is the time to get your garden ready.

Tara Heibel with Sprout Home visited the ABC7 studio to give general spring cleanup tips to prep your garden and get your dirt fix.

By having clean tools you can prevent disease and bacteria from spreading to your plants. It's time to get your favorite tools out and give them a good cleaning and sharpening. Removing any rust and debris and giving them a good scrub down. After sharpening, give them a little coat of oil on the mechanical parts.

Remove any dead annual plants that remained over winter. Herbaceous Perennials will die back to the ground during winter. Remove winter mulch and prune them down to ground level once you start to see activity.

Don't be scared if they look 'woody,' most woody perennials will only bloom on new growth, so a cutback is needed. In most, you will start to see activity in the form of buds, a sign that they are ready for the cutback.

There are some evergreen and semi-evergreen perennials that will only need cleanup by removing tattered leaves to encourage new growth. Now is also a good time to divide and transplant perennials before they start moving out of dormancy.

Most ornamental grasses need a hard cutback. Cut them back to a couple of inches from the ground as soon as possible.

Health pruning time. Remove any winter damaged wood from shrubs and trees. If you are trying to shape this time of year, be aware that spring blooming trees and shrubs set their flower buds in the summer or fall of last year. So by removing live wood to shape, you might loose the bloom. If you do have a Spring bloomer, go ahead and prune the dead wood; but wait to do any shaping until after bloom.

This a great time to attend to your vines. Remove any dead wood and cut back if needed. Each vine has specific needs in regards to pruning so make sure you understand your vines pruning preferences.

Many evergreens require little pruning, unless you want to control their size or improve their fullness. Otherwise pruning is limited to removing dead branches. The new growth or "candles" can be cut back halfway, before the needles unfold, which will keep the tree more compact. Don't try to prune once the needles have opened fully.

After cleaning up all debris in the bed, you want to check your soil with a quick soil test to see if any amending in necessary. If you have good soil health, use a fresh layer of mulch to stunt any pre-emerging weeds. Keep the mulch from piling up against the emerging perennials and areas in which you will be starting seeds.