March is here and this month is known for very unpredictable weather here in Maine. One day, your lawn and gardens can be covered with several inches of unexpected snow and then, a couple of days later, temperatures can warm up enough for flower and leaf buds to start to come to life. Still, there are several early Spring tasks that we can do to get a jump start on getting your property ready for summer.
Pruning: Remove burlap from trees and shrubs as the weather warms. Prune away winter-killed branches to make room for new growth. Any branches damaged by snow and ice can be pruned back to live wood. Make sure your pruners are very sharp be careful to make clean cuts that do not tear the bark. Summer flowering shrubs can be pruned to promote better blooms, but don’t prune too aggressively on spring flowing shrubs like Forsythia and Rhododendron or you will remove this year’s flower buds. Remove old, woody canes from roses to promote new growth. Look for an up coming blog post about pruning Hydrangeas, a topic I am asked about very often.
Transplanting: Early Spring is the time to transplant and divide perennials like Day Lilies and Hostas. Wait until the plant breaks dormancy and the new shoots are about 1 inch out of the ground. Dig up and divide the plants and use them to fill a bare spot in another area of the garden or share some with friends.
Hardscape: Just as your carpet requires cleaning and your wood floors require occasional polishing, hardscapes can require occasional maintenance to continue to look their best. Each season presents its own challenges and opportunities for hardscapes maintenance. Winter exposes our hardscape surfaces to water for long periods of time. This exposure to water can increase the likelihood of efflorescence appearing on the surface of your hardscape. Efflorescence is a chalky white film that can appear as water evaporates and brings salts and minerals to the surface of the stone. Efflorescence does not cause damage and will usually wear away naturally, however there are methods to remove efflorescence which can be performed this time of year. Spring is also a good time to sweep stone dust into any joints that may have washed or blown out or re-set any stones that have shifted due to frost heaves.
Lawn care: When it comes to early spring lawn care, don’t start too early. Allow the lawn to completely dry out and turn completely green before bringing out the mower. Getting started too early could damage the tender new shoots of grass and cause ruts in the soft ground. I would never bring a mower on a client’s lawn this early in the Spring as it would make a big mess! Check for signs of snow mold (as pictured), a fungus that occurs under snow cover and can damage grass as snow melts. The mold will appear as circular matted down patches of dead or rotting grass with white or pinkish mold. Repair dead spots and snow plow damage as the weather warms up. When is a good time for Mainers to sow grass seed in Spring?… Wait until after the Forsythia bloom.