Get Into the Garden!

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General Yard and Garden Tasks:

  • Before the grass cutting season gets underway, clean up sticks and stones in the yard so they do not become missiles when you do begin to mow.
  • If you haven’t already, clean out debris and old nests from birdhouses during March. Clean and fill birdbaths. Bird nesting will soon be in full swing. Be sure to provide plenty of bird seed and even some 3-inch long pieces of string or yarn mixed in with the seed to help with nest-building.
  • Check yard décor and hardscape. Any wobbly stepping stones? Reposition them, firming them up.
  • After all danger of freezing has passed, place a rain gauge in the garden. It can help you know when plants need to be watered.
  • Have you had your soils tested? The only way to know what, if anything, you need to add to your soil is to professionally test your soil. The Cooperative Extension Service in your county offers this service. Soil tests cost $4 up until April 1. (They are free from April 1 to after Thanksgiving.)

Know Your Hardiness Region:

Vegetable Gardens:

  • Avoid working garden soil if it is too wet. Doing so can lead to compaction, which can impede root penetration and cause poor drainage. To help you decide when your soil is ready to work, try the test described in this article from Purdue University:
  • Incorporate aged compost, commercial organic soil conditioner, PermaTill (if moles or voles are a problem), or any combination of these three before planting your spring garden.  and

Trees and Shrubs

  • Spring is a good time to plant shrubs, including berry-producing shrubs.
  • In April, remove and replace mulch around azaleas, roses, and camellias if you think disease or insects are a problem. Disease spores and insects may have overwintered in this material.
  • It is time to give attention to your fruit trees, such as pruning them and following a program to control disease and insects. Your local extension office can be a great source of information to help you with your fruit trees. Check out this publication from NC State University:

Flowering Plants…

  • After the flowers of spring-flowering bulbs begin to fade, cut back the stalks. However, do not cut back the foliage until it turns brown. Next year’s flowers depend on the energy the green leaves absorb from the sun.
  • Forsythias can be pruned after the flowers fade. Select older, larger branches to remove, cutting them back to the ground. This allows the shrub to maintain its graceful shape and its ability to “dance in the wind.”


Becky Garrett is an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.