That one sunny day this past weekend inspired many a Vermonter to break out the gardening gloves and the hoe; despite the fact that we all know it will surely snow again within the next few weeks, the birds are working on their nests, the bugs are timidly crawling back out, and we’re getting out there to do lawn chores with our happy faces.
Jeff Haddock, owner of Gardenside Nursery in Shelburne, cautions that although the enthusiasm is there, the ideal ground conditions for planting aren’t quite there yet. “Right now, you have to go around and clean up,” he said. “For the most part, there may still be some frost in the ground.”
He suggests checking around for and repairing damage from snow plows, heavy snow, and ice; getting the cleanup done now clears the way for doing efficient planting and maintenance once the ground is fully thawed.
“Remember, a week ago, we still had snow on the ground,” Haddock said. “Think about putting down bark mulch, once you get some cleanup done and the beds ready you can start putting new mulch down.” He reminded gardeners about the mulch: “Just because a little mulch is good, it doesn’t mean a lot is better.”
If the nice weather holds and there isn’t a freak storm, shrubs and other similar hearty plants can be planted soon enough. If you just can’t wait, he said, the nursery will have peonies in a couple weeks, and those can go in the ground as soon as they’re available.
Vanessa Crowley from Mow! Mow! Mow! in Charlotte recommends a thorough plow cleanup, including sweeping gravel from grass and covering tire damage. She said, “Add topsoil, add some grass seed, and with rain and warm weather the grass will come right up.” She also recommends “freshening up with rake every now and then.” Crowley said now is also a good time to clean up gutters and mark plants and trees that will need special care when the real landscaping work begins.