You’ve survived the brutal winter so far without moving to Miami. What next?
Whether it’s a rooftop, backyard, window box or pocket garden, there are many things to consider now that spring is around the corner. Some gardeners, especially with icy Northern exposures, may have to wait longer than others to begin digging in the soil. It’s helpful to keep in mind that the snow which created havoc for our daily routines also created a protective blanket while adding beneficial moisture to the soil. Since every urban gardener has different needs and aesthetic interests I have compiled a general to-do list. Some suggestions will be more relevant than others.
• Remove dead plant material and excess mulch.
• Consider experimenting with new annuals and perennials, especially those that attract bees and butterflies.
• Clean out your drains.
• Run water through your planter boxes and pots to see if they are draining properly. One of the main reasons why plants die throughout the season is because of poor drainage.
• If you have any outdoor electrical lines check to see if the wiring needs to be repaired or replaced.
• If you have perennials that were not cut back in the fall, they should be pruned once you see new growth at the base of the plant. Prune them back to ground level for the healthiest spring growth.
• In most cases your soil has been depleted of major nutrients during the previous season. It’s a great idea to work organic compost into the soil for the new growing season.
• Check all masonry and stone work for cracks.
• Most perennials can be divided and transplanted now. Generally, dividing perennials in the spring is relatively easy, and will result in more vigorous and healthier plants. Divided hostas can make great gifts.
• If you enjoy spending time in your garden for entertaining, meals or personal time and you haven’t any lighting, now is a great time to consider a few strategically placed LED lights. The quality of LED lights has improved dramatically and they are cost efficient. I do not recommend solar lights since their output is nominal.
• For shade gardens that are prone to slippery algae build-up on stonework you should consider giving it a power washing. Walking through your garden will be safer.
• Organize your gardening tools, fertilizers etc. Sharpen your pruners! Replace or repair any materials that are outdated or no longer function well. Consider a storage bin to protect these things and decrease visual distractions.
• Many hoses in urban gardens tend to be stored willy-nilly. Why not invest a few dollars in a hose bowl or a simple hose hanger? They both come in an assortment of colors, designs and materials.
• Check for leaks in the irrigation lines
• Consider repainting and restoring furniture or investing in new furniture that moves you. You want to be comfortable while relaxing in your garden.
• Try to keep your garden as simple as possible since it doesn’t require much to be successful.
Regardless of your garden’s size or aesthetic it’s good to remember that it evolves in different directions depending on the level of maintenance, weather, pests and other variables. Also remember that in gardening there are no serious mistakes. The process should be an enjoyable appreciation for nature and the pleasure it provides.
Dan Silverstein owns and manages GreenZone Landscape Design, LLC. He focuses primarily on Manhattan and Brooklyn gardens of all shapes and sizes. His philosophy is that any space can be wonderfully transformed regardless of aesthetic tastes and budget.