Some landscape activities may start, but for most gardening waiting still in order
LINCOLN, Neb. – As temperatures increase, snow melts and the calendar shows spring is now here, green-thumb types soon will be itching to get into the garden.
As soon as the soggy weather dries up, some garden chores can begin, said University of Nebraska-Lincoln landscape horticulture specialist Kim Todd.
“It’s tough because people want to get out and clean up,” Todd said.
When the ground, grass and foliage dry out people can start to clean up parts of their landscape, she said. The most important thing to do now, however, is try to stay off wet grass to prevent damage.
The especially harsh winter with its extended snow cover has contributed to gray snow mold in turf, said Roch Gaussoin, extension turfgrass specialist. The pathogen, which he called rampant in this region, leaves white patches in the turf.
“In many areas of the region, snow cover exceeded 80 days, resulting in ideal conditions for gray snow mold expression,” he said.
A light application of quick release nitrogen will help turf recover as temperatures rise, enhancing healing, he said.
When the ground is dry, go ahead and get out the pruning shears.
“This is a perfect time to prune the deciduous trees and shrubs,” Todd said.
Privet, most spirea and cotoneaster shrubs can be pruned early. Early blooming shrubs like lilacs and forsythia should not be pruned to protect those blooms.
It also is too early to prune butterfly bushes and roses, as low temperatures that still may come can freeze the stems.
This is a good time to assess winter damage, particularly damage from rabbits and voles, but gardeners should not do any major pruning on the damage until they see how the foliage grows.
Tree planting is an activity that can occur in early spring and is strongly encouraged as an energy-saving measure, Todd said. “Backyard Farmer,” the NET show which Todd hosts, will promote tree planting this year.
Gardeners wanting to plant should wait a little while longer. It still is a bit early to plant vegetable seeds, unless they are started inside, as the soil temperature should be a little higher.
“They can be planted as soon as the ground can be worked. We’re not there yet but we’re not far,” she said.