It's Time to ...

If you're confident in your pruning skills, start repairing the damage from the winter's snow and ice. If not - call a pro.
If you're confident in your pruning skills, start repairing the damage from the winter's snow and ice. If not - call a pro. (istockphoto.com)
Posted: April 12, 2014

Deal with winter damage on trees and shrubs. Although the long, cold season of snow and ice is behind us, there are many reminders of just how tough we had it. Broken limbs may have caused wounds on tree trunks. Sections of shrubs that snapped off may have left plants misshapen. If you're confident about your skills, then trim off jagged edges on branches. Stand back from your impaired shrubs to size up the damage. Then, making sure to keep as much of the plant's natural form as possible, prune carefully. If you're not sure what to do with your trees and shrubs, then contact professionals to do the job. If branches remain bare, with leaf or flower buds slow to open, be patient. Remember that woody plants can be slow to recover. Hold off on declaring a tree or shrub dead until mid-June.

Remove leaves and mulch covering emerging perennials and bulbs. The protection provided by these natural materials actually can be too much of a good thing as the plants come out of dormancy. This organic layer is very moist from winter snows and recent rain, and as a result, the crowns of perennials could rot. Take your time, especially with bulbs, in case the foliage and flower stems have broken through the leaves. Performing this task can also help you take stock of which perennials and bulbs survived for another growing season.

Start leafy greens from seed. Although you can start these indoors, lettuce, kale, spinach, and Swiss chard tolerate cooler outdoor temperatures. Planting seed directly in the garden helps avoid "transplant shock" that delays growth or prevents the plant from thriving. Prepare the ground with two to three inches of compost on the soil surface. Use a pointed shovel to mix the organic matter into the soil, and rake to break up the clumps. Sow seed, following the instructions on the seed packets for spacing and depth.


Patricia Schrieber is director of education for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) ( www.phsonline.org), and co-owner of Valentine Gardens ( www.valentine-gardens.com).

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