What To Do This Month in the Garden
- Clean and sharpen garden tools and lawn mower blades to prepare for spring.
- Check perennials for frost heave; tamp and mulch if needed.
- Remove snow from branches of shrubs and trees before freezing, to prevent breakage. Click here for more info.
- Clean bird houses if not occupied.
- Take a soil sample from growing area in your yard. Follow recommendations when applying amendments.
- Water stressed foundation shrubs and plants if little rain.
- Remove leaves and debris from perennial beds and shrub borders.
- Apply thin layer of compost to shrubs after slow-release fertilizer.
- Cut back ornamental grasses and liriope.
- Remove suckers, crossing branches and dead branches from crepe myrtles. Resist the temptation to commit “crepe murder” by topping the tree.
- Prune Abelia, Alder, Arborvitae, Beautyberry, Boxwood, Butterfly bush, Chastetree (Vitex), Cherrylaurel (Prunus), Summersweet (Clethra), deciduous and evergreen Cotoneaster, Crepe Myrtle, Redtwig Dogwood, Thorny Eleagnus, deciduous and evergreen Euonymus, Gardenia, Rose-of-Sharon (Hibiscus), deciduous and evergreen Holly, summer-blooming Hydrangea, St. Johnswort (Hypericum), Juniper, Nandina, Osmanthus, Photinia, Pittosporum, deciduous and evergreen Privet, Potentilla, Rose, Smoke Tree, summer-blooming Spirea, Sumac, Yew, Atlas Cedar, Deodar Cedar, Chamaecyparis, Fir, Leyland Cyprus, Southern Magnolia and Live Oak. (Note that many evergreens seldom need pruning except to remove multiple leaders & dead and broken branches.) For a guide to pruning deciduous trees, go to https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/pubs_ext_vt_edu/en/430/430-456/430-456.html For a guide to pruning evergreens, go to https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/pubs_ext_vt_edu/en/430/430-457/430-457.html
- Continue to plant cool-season crops, like broccoli, snap peas and lettuce
- De-thatch and aerate warm-season grasses (Bermuda, Zoysia).
- Prune spring-flowering shrubs after they bloom, if needed. (Refer to Shrub pruning calendar and Shrub pruning guide.)
- Apply broadleaf weed control to cool-season grass lawn, but do not fertilize.
- Apply slow-release or organic fertilizer, if needed.
- Put up hummingbird feeder.
- Care for roses by deadheading, fertilizing and watering with a soaker hose to prevent water getting on leaves which can cause disease.
- Begin planting warm-season vegetables (tomatoes, squash, peppers and cucumbers) about mid-month.
- Design and plant containers for your deck, or patio.
- Dig and divide spring-flowering bulbs after leaves yellow and wilt. Immediately replant or store in a cool place for fall planting
- Look for brown patch in lawn and treat.
- Fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after blooming, if needed.
- Manage pests like lace bugs on azaleas, black spot on roses and bag worms on evergreens. Always follow expert recommendations and hand pick pests when possible.
- Watch out for squash vine borer.
- Deadhead summer-blooming plants.
- Remove water sprouts and suckers from the base of crape myrtles and fruit trees.
- Water plants and lawns deeply if less than 1″ rain per week.
- Inspect plants for pests and disease; treat as needed.
- Mow lawn at 3″ height and leave grass clippings on lawn as a fertilizer.
- Monitor your yard for invasive vines like ivy, wisteria and periwinkle. Prevent spread into neighboring woodlands or fields
- Empty standing water sources in gutters, bird baths and pots to reduce mosquito breeding.
- Inspect plants for fungal problems, pests and other disease; treat as needed.
- Plant vegetables for fall harvest. Click here for more info.
- Add compost to gardens before fall planting.
- Plant cool-season vegetables (broccoli, kale, cabbage, lettuce, arugula, spinach, cauliflower). Click here for more info on what to plant.
- Aerate, fertilize and over-seed cool-season lawns, or start new cool-season lawn from seed. Click here for more info on lawn aeration.
- Divide perennials like hostas, liriope and daylilies, if desired.
- Fall is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs!
- Plant spring-blooming bulbs at the end of the month.
- Save seeds of heirloom or non-hybridized vegetables or flowers. Label them and store in cool, dry place.
- Cut peonies, phlox and other herbaceous perennials to the ground at first frost.
- Apply fertilizer to cool-season grasses like fescue. Click here for more info.
- Replenish mulch (2″-3″ deep) around tender plants.
- Keep leaves off the lawn to prevent smothering the grass. Mulch leaves and use around trees and shrubs. Click here for more info.
- Start winter feeding of birds and put a specialized heater into your bird bath.
- Store pesticides and herbicides safely.
- Plant garlic. Click here for more info.
- Leave live Christmas trees in container for display up to two weeks. Water only when dry and plant outside after the holidays
- Cut fresh greenery and berries for indoor use in decorations during the holidays. Click here for more info.
- Decorate with festive holiday plants. Click here for a horticulture expert’s tips on caring for holiday plants.
- Take care to avoid spreading devastating boxwood blight during holiday season. Click here for more info.
- Drain and store hoses at the end of the month.
- Remove snow from branches before freezing, to prevent breakage. Click here for more info.