Mid-Atlantic

March, 2005
Regional Report

Patch Lawn Early

To repair or patch small areas of lawn, loosen the soil and work in some good quality compost, sprinkle grass seed, rake lightly, and tamp to assure good seed-to-soil contact. Mulch with thin layer of straw. Water as needed to keep the soil evenly moist (not sopping wet) until the grass grows.

Avoid Working Wet Soil

If you need to prepare a planting area, wait until the soil is thawed and not too wet from melting snow or rain. Digging wet soil, especially clay, will cause it to form hard, brick-like clods when it dries. If soil sticks to your blade or shovel, it is too wet; wait a day or two and try again.

Try No-Dig Gardening

Gardeners who use a sheet composting system or the intensive square-foot method should not need to turn over the soil each spring. Simply add a bit of good-quality compost as you plant your seeds or set out your transplants, and continue mulching with an organic mulch.

Transplant Seedlings

Set out your hardened-off, early transplants, such as broccoli and spinach, on a mild, cloudy day or late in the day. Try to avoid an especially windy or hot spell; a drizzly day is great. Set your plants, firm the soil around the roots, and water them in thoroughly.

Prune Die-Back Shrubs

The so-called cut-back or die-back shrubs, such as butterfly bush, vitex, caryopteris, and subshrub perovskia, can be pruned back quite short now. Remove any winter-damaged stems, cutting them close to the ground. They will regrow and bloom on the new growth later this summer.

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