Springwater shares spring gardening tips

Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Jessica Crabtree/Democrat-News

With spring in full bloom, tending to gardens and landscaping begins as the temperatures continue to climb.

Sheri Hacker, co-owner of Springwater Greenhouse & Landscaping in Marshall, shared spring gardening tips for everyone from the novice, or beginning gardener, to master growers.

One of the most important tips included cleaning up the landscape or garden area. Cleaning or blowing leaves from landscaping areas allows easier access to removing any weeds that have already began to grow.

“Early weeds like the henbit has been running rampant, which is the little purple (blooms),” Hacker described.

Spring fertilization for shrubs and perennials (plants with a life cycle lasting more than two years) is also on the to-do list, using bone meal or fertilizer that is low in nitrogen.

Hacker suggested trimming some plants, like roses and knockout roses, especially if they were not trimmed in the fall. Evergreens can also be trimmed, but plants that bloom in the spring such as forsythia and hydrangeas should not be trimmed because of the risk of cutting off blooms.

Re-mulching is another important step that can be done in the spring.

“For mulch, we’d like for it to be about three to four inches thick,” Hacker said. “Probably every four or five years, you need to go in there and see how thick the mulch is, and you may need to clean out that mulch and put new mulch over the top.”

Cleaning out mulch doesn’t need to happen often, she added, because the mulch does decompose and break down, so most years, beds will just need a top layer.

Even replenishing rock, if applicable, can help freshen up the landscape, along with good maintenance by looking around the area for anything that looks unordinary.

The spring is also a great time to plant trees so they have time to establish in the summer. Hacker said some of the more popular tree varieties include maple, crabapple and dogwood.

Planting some flowers, such as pansies, are acceptable for the early spring because they can handle cool temperatures. Most trees, shrubs and perennials can also be planted in the spring. For some annual flowers, such as geraniums and lantana, they should be planted in a container that can be taken inside in case of cold weather. Hydrangeas and hostas may also need cover in colder temperatures.

In terms of vegetable gardens, cold crops can be planted, such as onions, potatoes, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Radish and lettuce seeds can also be planted in the early spring.

“I feel it’s a little early for tomatoes and peppers,” Hacker said. “I like the ground soil to be a little warmer than this.”

For those who are novice gardeners, Hacker suggested little henry sweetspire or candy store phlox. Little henry sweetspire is a smaller shrub that grows to be about two feet tall and has white blooms and red foliage in the fall. Candy store phlox is a perennial that grows upright to a height of approximately 18 inches, blooms in the summer, and comes in a variety of colors. Hacker also recommends lantana or dipladenia, annual plants, because they can withstand the heat of the summer very well.

For those who have trouble remembering to water plants, dipladenia, mandevilla and lantana all withstand heat well and daily watering is not required. Hacker also recommended succulents and air plants.

“The great thing about them is neglect is best,” she said. “They like to run really dry, you know, so every 14 days (water them).”

If considering building a new landscape or replacing a landscape, now is the time to begin planning and “getting a game plan,” Hacker said. “Now’s a great time to either do some planning on your own, or contact a professional to give you a plan to look at.”

Springwater’s services include “full service,” in which they draw up and complete a landscape. Another service they provide is drawing up a plan for the customer to follow through with later. Other times, customers have brought in photos and measurements of their space, and a plan is drawn at the greenhouse.

“Sometimes just having an overall kind of vision of what you need, with a little help from someone who can answer questions ... I think that’s the main thing, is making sure you’re getting some help and some knowledge,” Hacker said.

Even calling a professional if plants are showing signs of problems is important.

“I think most independent garden centers strive to make sure that people get that information to make sure that you are successful,” she said. “The last thing we want is you to leave here and not have a great turn out, and then you don’t ever (garden) again for several years.”