What to do now - Jobs in the Garden by Season

Seven gardening tasks to do before the spring thaw

Bundle up and cross these essential chores, from pruning to pest control, off your list

Pest control

  • Collect blackspot-affected leaves from around roses before spring rains reintroduce disease spores.
  • Collect leaves infected with apple scab from under crabapple trees to avoid a new outbreak.
  • Before leaf buds break, spray still-dormant roses, magnolias and woody shrubs (except yews, and Japanese and sugar maples) with dormant oil to smother scale insects. Apply spray in the morning when a very cold night is not expected.

Pre-summer lawn care

  • As soon as the earth is firm, use a leaf rake to remove light thatch and leaf debris from all lawn areas. For areas of deep thatch, use a special prong-type thatch rake. Put the removed organic material under shrubs and hedges as a mulch to conserve moisture and insulate the roots from summer heat.
  • Once soil is no longer waterlogged, aerate lawns with a core aerator machine that removes five-centimetre-long plugs of soil to improve oxygen access to the root zone.
  • Top-dress lawns before they begin growing with a mixture of aged manure, peat moss, shredded leaves (if available) or purchased triple mix in a 2.5-centimetre layer.

Tools and equipment basics

  • Take lawn mower blades to a professional sharpening service. Dull blades make ragged cuts and invite turfgrass diseases. Also sharpen snub-nosed spades and round shovels.
  • Check tires of wheelbarrows and repair wheel punctures, add air to flat tires and tighten nuts and bolts.
  • Clean the cutting blades of pruners with steel wool to remove dried sap.
  • Test the pond pump in a bucket of water to be sure it works properly after winter storage.
  • Brush out clinging soil from containers and terra-cotta pots, then soak them for 30 minutes in a solution of one part chlorine bleach to nine parts water to eliminate pathogens.

Read more in What to do now and Jobs in the Garden by Season

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