Every year when spring returns hearts race a bit faster for every gardener and landscaper. The return of spring brings warmer temperatures, longer days and a time for a fresh start. This year, while more normal than last year, may be a bit more interesting than typical years due to last year’s drought. Proof that Mother Nature can always throw us a curveball.
While the weather has seemed to be slow in warming up this year, spring is still a time of renewal. Whether it’s planting new plants, cleaning up after winter, planning for the vegetable garden or simply making preparations for the new growing season, spring is the time to refresh your landscape and vegetable garden for the year ahead.
This spring we will be doing the normal tasks and projects in our landscapes and gardens, the major issue we all will face is reacting to last year’s drought and preparing for a potential repeat this year. Depending on your specific situation that could mean repairing damage to a lawn through seeding or sodding, accomplishing additional waterings to weakened plant material early this spring or simply by getting on a voluntary watering schedule this spring that follows any potential mandatory watering restrictions we may face later this summer. Suffice it to say while we all hope this year will be different from last year, it is always better to plan for the worst and hope for the best.
While our thoughts may be focused on the drought there are a number of standard projects we should consider this spring as we do most years. First of all, while many first think of spring and planting, there is definitely some cleanup work in your landscape that can make your planting, and ultimately the entire growing season, more productive. Rake up any final leaves from winter, cut back any perennials, including ornamental grasses left up for winter interest and do any light trimming as needed to remove dead branches.
Then add a good dose of pre-emergent weed preventer and thicken your mulch to at least 2” to 3” to fight future weeds in your landscape beds. By cleaning your landscape you help prevent diseases and weeds, and you are giving your plants the opportunity to look their best, as well as grow their best. In addition, the mulch layer will also help keep valuable moisture where it can do the most good – in the root zone of our plants.
Once your landscape beds are looking their best, it’s time to consider new plants. Whether it’s a new shade tree for the yard, a few new perennials, or a brand new landscape bed, spring is a great time to establish new plant material for the future and replace any plants lost last year.
Some standard questions to consider include:
- Is it time to add additional shade to make your deck or patio more enjoyable?
- Do you want to add color and interest to an existing landscape bed?
- Do you have trouble with insects, diseases or the drought and it’s time to change out some plants?
All of these questions and more can guide your planting this spring. And if you are unsure of what to plant then getting assistance from the experts at your local garden center may make your spring a lot easier.
Once you’ve made plans for what you want to plant – the only thing left is to get them installed. Whether you pick out great plants from a garden center to plant yourself or work with an experienced landscape designer, there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction once the plants are planted.
And don’t forget about properly preparing your planting areas before planting and to care for your plants after planting. Many times, besides buying good quality plant material, the preparation before and the care after planting are the most important parts of achieving success.
One final note about the effects we may face from last year’s drought this year, many are calling us at Campbell’s worried that we may see issues with plants as they wake up from winter with either damage showing or worry that the plants have been damaged by the drought. Only time will tell for sure whether you will end up having plants or lawn you need to replace or if the plants are just stressed and will recover with some watering and care.
While the odds are higher than normal for issues this spring, in general Mother Nature has given our plants the ability to thrive and survive even with weather like drought. Do keep an eye on your plants and talk to a nursery professional for the best recommendations for your specific situation; but with some care and watering this spring, hopefully your recovery from the drought may be less troublesome than it may first appear.
Overall, remember that spring is a time to welcome the new growing season, enjoy the warmth of the days and the beauty of your landscape Even if we do have issues from the drought and worry it will repeat this summer, there’s nothing quite like a beautiful spring after a long Nebraska winter. Especially this year.
Andy Campbell is manager of Campbell’s Nurseries Landscape Department, a Lancaster County Farm Bureau Member. Campbell’s, a family owned Nebraska business since 1912, offers assistance for all your landscaping and gardening needs at either of their two Lincoln garden centers or through their landscape design office. www.campbellsnursery.com or follow them on Facebook.