Spring Gardening

Spring Gardening

Gardening season is finally here!! Now is an excellent time to prep, divide, and plant perennials in your garden.

garden clean up, but not so fast

I know we all want to rush into our gardens when nice weather appears in the spring, but can you resist the urge to clean up the stems and leaves until mid-May? If so, you will be doing a great service to all the wonderful pollinator insects that are so beneficial to our gardens.

I use my leaves as mulch for my flowerbeds and plant directly in them. If you don't like the look, you can add natural, un-dyed woodchips on top of the leaves to give it a more manicured appearance. This year, I plan to add mushroom manure mixed with some topsoil to really give my perennials a boost. 

When gathering sticks from the next big wind storm, instead of throwing them away, you can place them in a pile along the edges of your yard or add them to your bonfire.

Before planting, help suppress weeds by adding a layer of cardboard or newspaper before you mulch or add dirt to your garden. Cardboard does a better job at keeping out weeds than landscaping fabric, which the weeds grow right on top of anyways. Landscaping fabric takes a long time to biodegrade and can leave the soil waterlogged.

What to plant right now 

Spring is the best time to plant perennials, trees and shrubs, and late blooming corms and tubers, such as gladiolas and dahlias. This is also an opportune time to plan out what annual seeds you'd like to direct sow in the soil, but wait a little bit longer, so that the danger of frost has past. 

I highly recommend finding a local nursery that has a lot of native perennials in stock. There are also amazing plant sales from the Penn State Master Gardeners and local garden clubs that are worth the trip. You will find awesome deals and knowledgeable volunteers to guide your plant purchases. Check out these options below:

Allegheny Penn State Master Gardeners Plant Sale in South Park

Washington County Penn State Master Gardeners Plant Sale


Beechview Farms Nature Preserve

Pleasant Hills Garden Club 

Highland Park Garden Club

Oakmont Garden Club

Tips for planting

Make sure you find the right spot for your new garden addition. Be aware of how much light is received, is the spot dry or damp, how big the plants will be at maturity, and where utility lines are located. Proper siting of a plant will help ensure future success and longevity. 

When you are ready to place your new plants in the ground, give them a drink of water and then gently remove them from their pots. Dig a hole that is as deep as the root ball and 2 times as wide as the plant. Be sure not to bury the crown of the plant or root flare of a tree, as this can cause rot. Place new potting mixture into the hole and/or backfill with the dirt that was removed. Lightly tamp down around the base of the plant and water. Be sure to water every few days if it doesn't rain. 

We hope you will benefit from these helpful tips to get you growing this season. Happy Gardening!

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