Middle South

April, 2007
Regional Report

Prune Forsythia

Once they're done blooming, it's time to cut back spring-blooming shrubs like forsythia. Be bold with this plant -- it's very durable. You can cut it back all the way to the ground and it will probably resprout. But ideally you'll prune it each spring to keep it managable and attractive.

Turn Compost

Compost piles will start heating up as the weather warms. Help the process along by turning the pile with a garden fork, mixing materials and incorporating air. Cover the pile and water as necessary to keep it about as moist as a wrung-out sponge. You'll soon have finished compost.

Mulch Potatoes

Mulch potatoes with a thick blanket of straw to keep the soil cool and moist. Once shoots reach 6 inches tall, surround them with mulch and repeat several times as the plants grow. The potatoes will form within the mulch, making harvesting easy.

Add a Shade Garden

Instead of struggling to grow grass in shade, make a shade garden. Along with the popular hostas, include bleeding hearts, woodland phlox, ferns, foamflower, lungwort, astilbes, and cranesbill. Mimic woodland soils by adding lots of organic matter before planting, and mulch with shredded bark to deter weeds and keep soil cool and moist.

Plant Lilies

Nothing surpasses lilies for exuberant color. Plant a mix of Asiatic, Oriental, tiger, turk's cap, and any other lilies you can find. All need excellent drainage; deep, fertile soil; and at least a half day of sun. Taller varieties may need staking in windy sites, so plan ahead and place supports around plants before they get too tall.

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