Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Spring Garden Honey-dos

An dry ornamental grass cut down in front of a brook

Hello fellow readers,

Indeed, it feels like spring has arrived early but don’t let Mother Nature fool you into starting seeds too early in the garden. Check seed packs for when to start them outside. It’s time to start seeds indoors though; the rule of thumb is 8 weeks before the last predicted frost which is May 15th here.

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog,Northern New Jersey Landscape Designer. Spring Cleanup

Ellie is a pooped pup from Spring Clean-up.

Of course, there are plenty of outside chores to be done. My dear Curt and nephew Josh are scheduled to work together on Saturday so here are my spring garden honey-dos wishlist items boys.

Go ahead and cut down the ornamental grasses and butterfly bushes I leave standing for winter interest. It’s okay to use your chainsaw; I know how much you love power equipment. Cut the grasses just above ground level and the butterfly bushes to about 8 inches above the ground. Please don’t confuse them with the hydrangea you mowed down last year as I haven’t recovered from the shock. They hydrangea have though, and maybe with some luck, they’ll bloom this year.

I know, Mr. Fastidious, that you’d love to use your spiffy backpack blower on the decaying leaves in the gardens, but they provide nutrients and help suppress weeds. I promise they aren’t so thick and matted that the perennials won’t come up. Surely you are concerned about that.

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Seems Curt is pooped too after Spring To-dos.

I understand your fantasy of a baseball field lawn like your brothers with stripes and everything. But I’m afraid synthetic chemicals are a no-go here. You can spread some corn gluten in the lawn which is an organic pre-emergent. It won’t kill the weeds that are there but will prevent new weeds seeds from propagating. Weeds don’t bother me as you know. They’re as green as grass.

Please cut back the dry perennials I left standing to encourage self-seeding and because they look nice dusted with snow. While you’re at it, if you don’t mind, you can snag the seed heads that didn’t drop and put each kind separately in clean paper cups. No need to the label what’s what, unless you’re dying to brag about all you’ve learned since being with me.

One more thing if you don’t mind. The stone patio has patches of algae. I know I said green is good, but algae’s slippery when wet and I’m concerned for a certain someone that tends to be a tad clumsy. I’d say power wash the patio, but it’s tricky not to blow out the wonderful sedum rooted in the nooks and crannies. I heard that 1/3 cup white vinegar mixed with 2/3 cup water sprayed on the algae may do the trick. Perhaps after you spray, you could scrub each stone individually (keeping away from the joints) then hose off. You’re the best!

In case I forgot to mention if you could forgo the chainsaw on the hydrangea and stay clear of the beauty bush too that would be great. Happy almost spring! Garden dilemmas?

Link to the previous columns:

Starting Veggie & Perennial Seeds Indoors

Vinegar Beyond Salad



Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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