By Robert R. Westerfield
University of Georgia
It's time for last-minute pruning. Prune roses and most other nonspring-blooming plants before their new flush. Prune plants that bloom in early spring right after they bloom if they need a trim.
Spring is also an ideal time to fertilize your shrubs. Apply a slow-release fertilizer in late March or early April to give your plants a supply of energy for the growing season. Be careful. Don't overdo it. Too much fertilizer will cause excess growth and harm the environment, too.
Flower bedsEarly spring is great for preparing annual and perennial flower beds. It may be too early to plant some tender annuals, but you can get ready by tilling the bed and adding rich compost or topsoil.
Be sure to check that the bed has good drainage so plants' roots will develop well. You can safely add other shrubs to your landscape now, too. Remember to provide ample space for plants. Allow for the size the shrub or flower will be at maturity.
Weed control is critical in the spring. As the ground begins to warm, many weeds are just waiting to germinate. Applying a registered preemergent herbicide or adding a landscape fabric or mulch will go a long way to preventing weeds' disruption of the flower garden.
Houseplants can go back outside when daytime temperatures climb back above 50 degrees. It's a good idea to bring plants back in, however, if the nighttime temperature is going to dip much lower than 50 degrees.
Fern aidClean up ferns by removing old, crumpled foliage. Repot any houseplants that have become rootbound. Begin to get back on the regular watering and fertilizing schedule as the days get warmer.
Don't forget about your equipment. If you haven't already done it, drain and change the oil in your rotary tillers, string trimmers and mowers. Be sure all nuts, bolts and belts are tight and blades are sharp.
Check hand tools such as shovels, hoes and rakes for cracked or dry handles. Treat them with linseed oil or paint them to protect them and extend their life.
Spring is a time of anticipation and outdoor fun. By doing a few outdoor chores early, we can look for a landscape that should provide us beauty and enjoyment throughout the season.
(Bob Westerfield is the Cooperative Extension consumer horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)