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Rookie gardener or veteran? Here are some spring tips to help you succeed!

Wahoo!! Bring on Spring! But as soon as you finish your happy dance, check out these do’s and don’ts that can make a very big difference in the gardening season just ahead.

I stopped by Dick’s Corner at Tagawa Gardens recently. That’s where our Garden Advisors spend their days answering questions and offering ideas on how to make your gardening efforts pay off.

Below you’ll find a list of their spring gardening tips and tricks. ‘ll just bet at least some of them will apply to you!

Ornamental Grasses

One of the best ways to enjoy ornamental grasses is to leave them standing over the winter, unless and until they’ve been damaged by heavy snow.  But don’t try to hold onto them too long.

Marge, one of Tagawa’s Garden Advisors, wasted no words in saying now is the time to cut these grasses back!

The green shoots emerging this spring can hide inside the old growth. If you wait too long to cut back last’s year’s dead stems and you risk cutting off a lot of this year’s new shoots.

A good buddy (Keith Funk, co-host of “The Garden Guys” radio show,) says tying up the old-growth into a tight bundle before cutting it down can be a big help. Clever guy!

Daffodils, tulips, and such

These long-awaited signs of spring can take a good bit of cold, but if the forecast calls for temps well below freezing, give the emerging leaves and buds a bit of TLC.

Why risk damaging these beautiful flowers when we’ve waited so long to enjoy them!  Marge also says once the flowers are well up, be ready to keep them from being smashed under heavy snow. Protection might include overturned flower pots, tubs, inverted wastebasket, and buckets.  I’ve frequently set a laundry basket over my first round of daffodils. At this point, it’s not so much about keeping them warm. It’s about not letting the wet spring snow break or flatten them.

Garden Advisor Ron says while you’re at it, have materials ready to use to protect tender flowers and veggies from a late spring frost. You’ll be ahead of the game if you’re not scrambling at the last minute to find what you need.

This one may surprise you

Kristi, another Tagawa Garden Advisor, says don’t wait long to put out your queen traps for yellowjackets. I know it seems early, but my husband, Skip, actually had a yellowjacket cruising our yard during a warm spell last week!

In the world of yellowjackets, the queens emerge early to create a nest and lay eggs to create a colony of hundreds of females. Once her workforce is strong enough, the queen focuses only on creating more yellowjackets…  lots more!  

By trapping the queens before they’ve established a colony, you can dramatically reduce the number of mature yellowjackets that will be plaguing your summer picnics.

This one is a biggie!

Linda, yet another Garden Advisor at Dick’s Corner, says never work your garden soil when it’s wet!  If you feel like getting a head start on prepping your beds even if they’re wet, as my brother used to say, “Just sit down ’til the feeling goes away.”

Colorado’s clay soils will easily (and it seems almost permanently!) turn into adobe clods when they’re tilled, dug up, or even walked on if they’re wet. Once all the air in the soil has been pressed out, it can take years to make that soil root friendly again.

Another spring chore that shouldn’t be rushed

Garden Advisor Kristi cautions people not to prune their roses too early.  Wait until you see a good bit of new growth before grabbing the pruners.

Once the likelihood of overnight freezing temperatures has passed, often around Mother’s Day, sharpen and clean those pruners and then go to work.

Tagawa Gardens is well-known for bringing in thousands of roses every season. (More on that in next week’s blog.)  Accordingly, we have lots of free handouts on selecting and caring for roses available in our rose department.

We love our lawns!  

Questions about lawns get a lot of attention at Dick’s Corner this time of year.  Our longer days, warming temperatures and spring moisture trigger bluegrass lawns to green up almost overnight.

One consistent tip from all of our Garden Advisors? Aerate!

A deep core aeration in spring (I actually aerate in the fall, too…) helps our lawns in so many ways!  It opens up pathways for air to get down to the lawn’s roots. That increased air circulation is critical in creating a healthy ecosystem for the roots grow in.

Aeration also lets water, fertilizer, and over-seeding be far more effective. Adding amendments such as Lawn Topdressing and Revive soil conditioner also works better on aerated turf.  Just make sure the lawn has been very well-watered just before the aeration begins so the machine can pull out long, intact plugs, leaving plenty of deep holes behind.

If you’re planning on using a pre-emergent to help prevent weeds, be sure to apply it after an aeration, not before. And don’t use a pre-emergent if you’re planning on over-seeding a thin lawn.

And remember that grass seed needs a soil temperature of around 55* to germinate.  If the air temp is balmy but the soil is still cold, hold off sowing the seed until things warm up.  Unless, of course, you want to feed the mice and the birds…

One last thought…

Linda has already been getting questions about sowing seeds and setting out transplants into outdoor beds and pots.  Her advice?  Wait!

Some cold-hardy plants can go out now.  But she says that all too often, people seem to (understandably) get impatient and want to get things into the soil too soon.

Just as with lawn grass seed that needs warming soil to germinate, many young plants will go into shock in cold.  Bean seeds and others will actually rot if the soil is too cold and wet.

Sit tight!  Spring gardening really is on the way!

Have questions?  Dick’s Corner has answers!

We encourage you to bring your questions and smartphone pictures to our crew of Garden Advisors at Dick’s Corner.  We’re confident they can help!

And check the Tagawa website at tagawagardens.com for updates on all the wonderful plants pouring into our garden center.  If you need a hit of spring, Tagawa Gardens is the place for you!