News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

The Canyon Gardener: Spring is coming! It’s time to get your yard in order

Linn County Master Gardener

Spring is coming. The earliest shrubs to bloom are showing some color. Forsythia, daphne, nut trees, flowering quince, pieris, and some early rhodies are trying to show off.  

Buds are forming on deciduous trees and shrubs, even on berry plants. They have hope. OSU Extension has monthly calendars of timely things to do in the garden. It might be more appropriate this year to check the March calendar instead of April at https://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/techniques/march-garden-calendar. 

If it is not flooded or too soggy, prepare garden soil for eventual planting. Create raised beds if there are drainage problems. Apply compost or fertilizer to established plants so they will have all they need to grow their best for you when they awake from the winter nap. Cover transplants when late frost is imminent. Use a lightweight fabric or other material to cut the cold wind. Clean up hiding places for slug; destroy clusters of little clear or white slug eggs if you see them.

In case of multiple days without rain, set the lawn mower blade at 1.5 to 2.5 inches. Better yet, plan a no-mow lawn of drought-hardy ground covers. 

Get rid of weeds before they start to bloom. Once they go to bud herbicides are less effective. Hit them with a hoe while they are small and weak. Roots are easily dislodged when the soil is saturated. Compost the weeds for later return to the garden soil.

If there are flowering food sources, it’s time to take some of the Mason bee cocoons out of the refrigerator to hatch because they are just waiting for 50-degree days, but wait on some until the fruit trees bloom so they can pollinate them. The males can forage while they are waiting for the females to hatch a couple of weeks later. ]

If you haven’t done your pruning yet, it’s not too late. Wait for summer for trees and shrubs that might put out water spouts in Spring. Spring-blooming shrubs should not be trimmed until the blossoms have faded. 

Assuming the tulips will bloom soon, avoid cutting the leaves back on bulbs until they  turn brown so the bulb will get enough energy stored to come back next year.

Don’t forget the houseplants. They have been cooped up inside all winter long and could probably use a makeover. Trim off dead foliage, wash the leaves, add fertilizer to the water, and possibly repot with fresh soil. Cuttings can be taken above a leaf bud to root more plants in a glass of water. 

If the plants are leggy, pale or weak-looking, put them in a bright window to get some light. If they suffered from fatal neglect and have little chance of recovery, treat yourself to some new plants. If you have totally bad luck with live houseplants, wash your plastic or silk ones in the bathtub or shower. Try pots of hardy herbs in the kitchen window where you might remember to water them.

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