Its chore time. Stepping back into the garden after a long, harsh winter can be overwhelming, but it is also a time of relief. Even with a winter chill still in the air, there are plenty of tasks to start handling now if you want to get your garden in party-ready shape by the time the temperatures rise. Spring is a fabulous time to assess damage from winter, fix tools, fill in holes in the landscape, tend to your lawn, perform essential pruning, make new beds, plant from bare-root or container-grown plants, feed everything, if all is healthy begin composting, be kind to the birds, add a layer of mulch and tune up your drip system.

1. Survey your yard: Check trees for dead branches, cut down last years perennial foliage and toss it into the compost pile. Rake and refresh mulch under trees. Check hardscape for disrepair caused by freezing and thawing. Do not clean beds until after April 15 in west central Nebraska we are zone 5 and prune roses back after April 25. Keep in mind the average frost-free date is around May 12.

2. Tune up tools: In case you didnt get this done before winter. Wooden handles benefit from being cleaned, sanded, and massaged with linseed oil. Sharpen and disinfect pruners. Make sure garden tools are in working order or replace them.

3. Refresh the lawnmower: The mower and leaf blower need to be serviced. Sharpen mower blades, refill mower with oil, install fresh spark plugs and lubricate moving parts. Clear the lawn of winter debris and look for areas that need reseeding before mowing.

4. Prune shrubs: Remove dead, damaged and diseased branches from woody plants. Summer blooming shrubs like butterfly bush and Russian sage should not be cut back too early, wait for these plants to have spring growth, then trim. Prune spring-flowering shrubs and trees after flowering.

5. Check soil quality: Through a soil test at a registered laboratory, do a soil quality check and check soil temperatures before planting vegetable crops.

6. Fertilize: Your garden is waking up, dont get in a hurry to apply fertilizer. Begin fertilizing perennials, shrubs, lawn and trees after there is growth.

7. Clean bird feeders and baths: If you have already made a home and feeding station for your feathered friends, now is a good time to clean, disinfect them with a weak bleach solution.

8. Mulch: When in doubt, mulching is possibly the single easiest thing you can do from both a functional and aesthetic point of view to give the garden a fresh layer. A 2 to 3 inch layer of your favorite mulch, wood chips, shredded cedar or finished compost, gives everything a clean, tidied up look, while helping to suppress weeds and retain moisture.

9. Know when the right time to plant is: Plant garden bedding plants and potted perennials two weeks outside before planting, after the frost free date. Bare root perennials, shrubs and trees can be planted earlier. Put all of your gardening information in a notebook. List what you plant in the garden, including names of companies, plant name, variety, planting date and harvest date. During the growing season, keep notes on how the plant performs. If the variety is susceptible to disease, record what was used to treat any problems. This helps to plan future gardens.

10. Monitor sprinkler system: Youll want inspect and repair your sprinkler system, and monitor your sprinkler water by zone for proper function. Use drip irrigation wherever possible to preserve our precious natural resource.

For additional information or questions and the Master Gardener Program classes and projects, please contact Nebraska Extension, West Central Research and Extension Center at 308-532-2683.

See the article here:
Jacobson: Spring back into the garden with these early season tips - North Platte Telegraph

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