Spring Work In The Garden
Not much actual work can be done in the garden, at the north, before the
middle of April. But a good deal can be done toward getting ready for
active work as soon as conditions become favorable.
Right here let me say that
it is a most excellent plan to do all that
can be done to advantage as early in the season as possible, for the
reason that when the weather becomes warm, work will come with a rush,
and in the hurry of it quite likely some of it will be slighted. Always
aim to keep ahead of your work.
I believe, as I have several times said, in planning things. Your garden
may be small--so small that you do not think it worth while to give much
consideration to it in the way of making plans for it--but it will pay
you to think over the arrangement of it in advance. "Making garden"
doesn't consist simply in spading up a bed, and putting seed into the
ground. Thought should be given to the location and arrangement of each
kind of flower you make use of. The haphazard location of any plant is
likely to do it injustice, and the whole garden suffers in consequence.
Make a mental picture of your garden as you would like to have it, and
then take an inventory of the material you have to work with, and see
how near you can come to the garden you have in mind. Try to find the
proper place for every flower. Study up on habit, and color, and season
of bloom, and you will not be likely to get things into the wrong place
as you will be almost sure to do if you do not give considerable thought
to this matter. There should be orderliness and system in the garden as
well as in the house, and this can only come by knowing your plants, and
so locating them that each one of them will have the opportunity of
making the most of itself.
Beds can be spaded as soon as the frost is out of the ground, as advised
in the chapter on The Garden of Annuals, but, as was said in that
chapter, it is not advisable to do more with them at that time. If the
ground is worked over when wet, the only result is that you get a good
many small clods to take the place of large ones. Nothing is gained by
being in a hurry with this part of the work. Pulverization of the soil
can only be accomplished successfully after it has parted with the
excessive moisture consequent on melting snows and spring rains.
Therefore let it lie as thrown up by the spade until it is in a
condition to crumble readily under the application of hoe or rake.
Shrubs can be reset as soon as frost is out of the ground. Remove all
defective roots when this is done. Make the soil in which you plant them
quite rich, and follow the instruction given in the chapter on Shrubs as
carefully as possible, in the work of resetting.
If any changes are to be made in the border, plan for them now. Decide
just what you want to do. Don't allow any guesswork about it. If you
"think out" these things the home grounds will improve year by year, and
you will have a place to be proud of. But the planless system which so
many follow never gives satisfactory results. It gives one the
impression of something that started for somewhere but never arrived at
Old border plants which have received little or no attention for years
will be greatly benefited by transplanting at this season. Cut away all
the older roots, and make use of none that are not strong and healthy.
Give them a rich soil. Most of them will have renewed themselves by
If you do not care to take up the old plants, cut about them with a
sharp knife, and remove as many of the old roots as possible. This is
often almost as effective as transplanting, and it does not involve as
The lawn should be given attention at this season. Rake off all
unsightly refuse that may have collected on it during winter. Give it an
application of some good fertilizer. It is quite important that this
should be done early in the season, as grass begins to grow almost as
soon as frost is out of the ground, and the sward should have something
to feed on as soon as it is ready for work.
Go over all the shrubs and see if any need attention in the way of
pruning. But don't touch them with the pruning knife unless they really
need it. Cut out old wood and weak branches, if there are any, and thin,
if too thick, but leave the bush to train itself. It knows more about
this than you do!
Get racks and trellises ready for summer use. These are generally made
on the spur of the moment, out of whatever material comes handiest at
the time they are needed. Such hurriedly constructed things are pretty
sure to prove eyesores. The gardener who takes pride in his work and his
garden will not be satisfied with makeshifts, but will see that
whatever is needed, along this line, is well made, and looks so well
that he has no reason to be ashamed of it. It should be painted a dark
green or some other neutral color.
Rake the mulch away from the plants that were given protection in fall
as soon as the weather gets warm enough to start them to growing. Or it
can be dug into the soil about them to act as a fertilizer. Get it out
of sight, for it always gives the garden an untidy effect if left about
Go over the border plants and uproot all grass that has secured a
foothold there. A space of a foot should be left about all shrubs and
perennials in which nothing should be allowed to grow.
If any plants seem out of place, take them up and put them where they
belong. If you cannot find a place where they seem to fit in, discard
them. The garden will be better off without them, no matter how
desirable they are, than with them if their presence creates
Peonies can be moved to advantage now. If you cut about the old clump
and lift a good deal of earth with it, and do not interfere with its
roots, no harm will be done. But if you mutilate its roots, or expose
them, you need not expect any flowers from the plant for a season or
Get stakes ready for the Dahlias. These should be painted some
unobtrusive color. If this is done, and they are taken proper care of in
fall, they will last for years. This is true of racks and trellises.
Provide yourself with a hoe, an iron-toothed rake, a weeding-hook, a
trowel for transplanting, a wheel-barrow, a spade, and a watering-pot.
See that the latter is made from galvanized iron if you want it to last.
Tin pots will rust out in a short time.
Take your watering-pot to the tinsmith and have him fit it out with an
extension spout--one that can be slipped on to the end of the spout that
comes with the pot. Let this be at least two feet in length. This will
enable you to apply water to the roots of plants standing well back in
the border, or across beds, and get it just where it will do the most
good, but a short-spouted plant will not do this unless you take a good
many unnecessary steps in making the application.
Be sure to send in your orders for seed and plants early in the season.
Have everything on hand, ready for putting into the ground when the
proper time comes to do this.
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