By Taylor Seale - 03/20/13 11:06 PM EDT
As the cherry blossom buds begin to show, they are a good reminder that it’s time to start preparing your home and garden for spring.
The warmer weather provides the best chance to plan out your garden and start the seeding process. Christine Moschetti, a garden expert at Frager’s Hardware, says that the end of the winter is the perfect time to “start seeds inside the home for vegetables, flowers, and herbs,” and notes that seeding can be a great task for children.
“Seeding is a good project until the threat of frost is over, which looks this year to be around mid-April,” she says.
These next few weeks are also a great time to focus on feeding and repotting indoor plants. As the days lengthen, houseplants will need more room to grow. Moschetti recommends going up about two inches in pot size — too much more, and the plants won’t grow properly. Keeping them properly watered and fed will allow them the best chance to develop as spring approaches.
Outside, the most important tasks are preparing the soil and planning out the garden. Moschetti suggests working in Leafgro, a brand of organic compost that aerates the soil, for flowerbeds. Preparing the soil is best done during dry weather — when the ground is too wet, it compacts the soil.
Planning out the garden is another essential step before breaking ground. Look at last year’s design and decide what needs to be added or changed, from moving around perennials to adding a vegetable plot. Having a set plan makes purchasing and planting a more streamlined task.
For many gardeners, getting ready for spring also means going green. Composting is a key way to not only use food waste to help plants, but also to save money on traditional fertilizers. From buying compost to digging your own holes, it can be a cost-effective way to keep your garden healthy.
Other eco-friendly actions include switching from chemical fertilizers and pest-controls to organic products. Sarah McLaughlin of OLD CITY Farm and Guild (formerly OLD CITY green) suggests that “instead of buying harsh sprays, it’s cheaper and better for the environment to make your own. A homemade blended spray can include things like cayenne pepper, garlic and onions.”
McLaughlin also stresses the importance of staying away from invasive plants when planning our your garden. She mentions English Ivy as one of the biggest offenders, noting that the vine “kills lots of the trees in the city, and can tear up a house’s foundation.” Choosing native plants can prevent dangerous overgrowth, and they are often easier to maintain.
Have tools or equipment that need to be fixed or replaced? Now is the best time to take a visit to your local hardware or garden store. Charles Lee of Frager’s recommends that “if you know what issues you’re having, the best time to come in is now. During spring, everyone gets busy with projects at the same time.” Testing equipment like the lawn mower or irrigation system can save you the trouble of having to deal with repairs later, when time is limited and help harder to find.
Lastly, McLaughlin says that it’s almost a good time to begin planting trees and shrubs. “They need a little more time before it gets hot to get used to the ground, so you’re able to plant them a little earlier.” So while you wait on warmer days to pull out the flowers, getting a jump-start now on some planning and planting will eventually save you time and stress.
For more gardening tips:
Frager’s Hardware, 1115 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, (202) 543-9048
OLD CITY Farm and Guild, reopening in April at 925 Rhode Island Ave. NW, (202) 412-2489