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Gardening Tips

Gardening Tips Regions

Re-pot houseplants so they will grow well during spring and summer.

Plant deciduous trees and shrubs as soon as the ground is workable.

Prune fruit trees until spring buds swell. Maple and birch should not be pruned until they leaf out. Choose a day above freezing if possible, as it is easier on you as well as on the tree.

Dormant spraying for fruit trees should be done before spring growth begins. Choose a calm day when temperatures are above 40 degrees F, and be sure to cover all sides of the branches.

Resist the temptation to uncover spring-flowering plants such as daffodils and tulips. Mulch may be loosened, but the shoots will still benefit from protection against cold, drying winds.

Be sure that flats and pots used for starting seed are perfectly clean. You can sterilize with a solution of 10 percent bleach and 90 percent water.

Water newly started seedlings carefully. A pitcher may let the water out too forcefully. A mist sprayer is gentle but can take a long time. Try using a meat basting syringe, which will dispense the water effectively without causing too much soil disruption.

Sow peas outdoors, even if it's snowy! The earlier they mature, the sweeter they'll be. Sow them as soon as the soil can be worked, but save some for a later planting as well. Choose a location that gets maximum sun.

Spread dark plastic intended for mulch out over the garden site to hasten the warming of the soil. This will provide for earlier and better germination.

Keep plastic milk jugs or other coverings on hand to protect the flowers of pansies, crocuses, and other early bloomers against the return of severe weather.

Start seedlings of annuals in flats -- aster, larkspur, alyssum, snapdragons, and petunias should be started now (or 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date in your area). If summer season is short, zinnias should be started now. They will need to be potted up in individual pots after 4 to 5 weeks.

Start some vegetables in flats inside under lights: Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, and lettuce are good choices. Use moistened seed-starting mix. Fertilize when two sets of leaves have grown.

A peck of March dust and a shower in May, Makes the corn green and the fields gay.

Start some vegetable seeds indoors, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. (See our Best Dates to Plant chart on

Prune trees and shrubs if they're susceptible to disease if pruned during warm weather. (Prune while they're dormant.)

Prune dormant fruit trees; the fruit will be larger if it has more room to grow.

Before planting outdoors, have your soil tested. Find your local cooperative extension on

Continue providing food and water for the birds and other wildlife.

Move potted plants to containers that are about 2 inches larger in diameter than their current pot.

Trees, shrubs, and perennials can be planted as soon as they are available at the nurseries.

Keep the roots of mail order plants from drying out and plant them as soon as conditions allow.

Sow some flower seeds indoors now, such as petunia, salviaa, snapdragon, and verbena.

Sow grass seed if weather allows.

Remove winter protection from roses.

Fertilize your perennial beds with a balanced fertilizer, such as 6-12-12, and your vegetable garden with 12-12-12.

Don't work the soil if it's too wet. It should feel like crumbly cake in your hands.

Towards the end of the month, it may be time to sow seeds of eggplant and pepper indoors. (See our Best Dates to Plant chart on

Apply a dormant oil spray to your fruit trees to help control insects.

Sow peas outdoors, even if it's snowy!

Remove mulch from established strawberries; remove dead leaves from asparagus and rhubarb.

Sidedress asparagus and rhubarb with nitrogen fertilizer.

Fertilize cool-season lawns, such as bluegrass and ryegrass. Do not fertilize warm-season lawn grasses yet.

Now is the time to plant almost every kind of landscape plant. Remember, the sooner you plant, the sooner your plants will become established.

Water lawns and gardens deeply once to twice a week, depending on the amount of rain. Do not overwater.

To help avoid weeds in your lawn, establish a regular mowing schedule now. Avoid mowing your lawn when it is wet, however, to prevent the spread of fungal problems.

Prune evergreen and summer-flowering trees and shrubs. Prune spring-flowering shrubs only after they finish blooming.

Divide and replant summer- and fall-blooming perennials.

Add new flowers to your garden, such as bee balm, black-eyed Susan, cosmos, marigold, sunflower, and zinnia.

Finish planting any cool-season vegetables, such as beets, carrots, cabbage, peas, and potatoes.

Summer vegetables can begin to be sown toward the end of the month: beans (lima and snap), corn, cucumbers, melons (cantaloupe, muskmelon, and watermelon), okra, green onions, peanuts, pumpkins, summer squashes, and sunflowers.

Plant transplants such as: artichokes, eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes.

Plant herbs such as: basil, chamomile, chives, lavender, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, sage, savory, thyme, and yarrow.

Apply mulch around the base of edibles and flowers to conserve moisture (and prevent weeds).

Fertilize deciduous fruit trees when they leaf out.

Once the fruit on your trees set, thin out the fruit to about 6 inches apart. This thinning encourages the fruit to grow bigger.

Prune frost-sensitive citrus trees after new spring growth. Plant new citrus trees.

Beware of pests that are attracted to new growth, such as aphids and cutworms.

Continue fertilizing established roses, watering the day before and after application.

Start seeds of some herbs in flats indoors, such as basil, parsley, sage, and thyme. Once the seeds germinate, place the plants under grow lights for 14 hours a day (timers make this easy) and keep soil moist.

Knowing when to start seeds in time for outdoor planting can be confusing. See packet instructions and also consult our Best Dates to Seed chart at

Ideally, seeds need 70 to 75 degrees F temperatures to germinate, and 60 to 65 degrees F temperatures to grow.

Plant seeds in a soil-less growing mix. Soil can cause disease.

Prune evergreen and summer-flowering trees and shrubs. Prune spring-flowering shrubs only after they finish blooming.

Remove any leaves and debris from your lawn.

Remove suckers from fruiting trees.

If you have roses, slowly unwrap and remove protective mulch to awaken them.

As soon as the soil is workable, add in manure or compost to prepare your garden for planting.

Did you test your soil? Make any necessary amendments, based on the results of your soil analysis.

The tomato season in the Northwest is about 120 days. Consider seeding indoors! You’ll want to seed at least 6 to 8 weeks before transplanting in late May (after hardening off plants).

Got compost? Check your compost bin, and you should have new material for spring mulching.

Plant trees and shrubs while it’s still cool and wet. Apply a mix of compost and mulch in the planting hole AND all around the plants to preserve water and feed the roots. Just keep mulch away from the base/bark to avoid pests.

Now is the time to plant more berry plants; consider planting disease-resistant varieties.

Spray trees and shrubs to prevent predatory insects and diseases.

Apply compost over your garden and landscape areas to help improve the soil. Mix 2 to 3 inches into new beds or 1 inch into established beds.

Spread 2 to 4 inches of organic mulch (course ground bark or wood chips) to keep weeds from germinating.

If soil temperature is above 40 degrees and dry enough, you may be able to plant cool-season crops, such as carrots, beets, broccoli, kale, lettuce, onions, peas, radishes, and spinach.

If you have transplants in the yard, be sure to protect them from any late spring frosts with a cover.

Divide hosta, daylilies, and mums.

Cut back ornamental grasses a few inches above the ground.

Prune your houseplants after they have finished blooming. Remember to fertilize and water them as well.

Remove leaves from your lawn to prevent any diseases.

Improve your lawn soil and turf! Core aerate, overseed, and top-dress with 1/4 inch of compost.

Mow your lawn to about 2 inches in height to help feed the roots and cut out weeds.

Fertilize your shrubs and trees if they need it. If they are established and healthy, this may not be necessary.

Test your hoses and sprinklers to make sure that they work.

Asparagus and rhubarb plants can be planted as soon as the soil is workable.

Consider building raised beds if you have drainage problems or want to help warm the soil more quickly for a jump-start on gardening.

Continue another planting hardy vegetable crops that mature quickly. Good choices are turnips, mustard, radishes, and spring onions.

Thin plants when they are 2 to 3 inches tall to give them room for growth.

Side-dress your early-planted crops with compost.

Once all danger of frost has passed, you can transplant tender vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers. Before planting, harden-off by placing containers outdoors in a sheltered area for a few days.

If danger of frost has passed, plant warm-season crops, such as beans, squash, and corn.

Remember to water your plants, especially any transplants.

Keep a look out for insects. Control aphids with soapy spray on leaves.

Dianthus and other cold-season annuals should flourish this month.

Plant bulbs for spring and summer flowers such as dahlia, canna, and gloriosa. Amend beds with organic matter and provide stakes for growth.

Plant warm-season annual flowers, such as asters, calendulas, cosmos, impatiens, phlox, salvia, and zinnias.

Continue pruning summer-flowering shrubs, such as althea, hibiscus, and oleander. Do not prune spring-flowering shrubs until the last flowers have faded (but before new buds set).

Prune trees and shrubs before the end of the dormant season.

Rake up any leaves from your lawn and fertilize it after all danger of frost has passed.

If you have not done so already, you can apply a pre-emergent herbicide to your lawn to help prevent any summer weeds.

Apply a layer of mulch around your newly planted shrubs, flowers, and vegetables.

Fertilize azaleas, camellias, ornamental shrubs, and palms, if needed. Use a fertilizer that has at least 30 percent of its nitrogen as slow-release.

You can plant lawn seeds now, if needed.

Mow your lawn at recommended heights (St. Augustine and Bahia: 3 to 4 inches; Centipede: 1.5 to 2 inches; Dwarf St. Augustine: 2.5 inches).

Fertilize lawns with a slow-release nitrogen after danger of frost is clearly passed.

Check sprinkler systems for any issues and fix, as needed.

Plan your perfect Garden