Best Companies

Early Spring Gardening

Stew Leonard's Early Spring Garden

Gardening in Late Winter and Very Early Spring
By Jeannie Mortensen, Stew Leonard’s Garden Specialist
Snow has covered the ground for months and this winter feels like it’s never going to end. I’m sure all of our shoppers will agree with me when I say that I can’t wait to see the daffodils peek out from the ground and show their bright colors!
But, if you look closely you can see that spring is right around the corner!  Just this past weekend, I saw that the buds on my Andromeda are beginning to turn red and swelling where the flowers bloom.  In a few more weeks, we will see them enlarge more and flower up.  Trees are also beginning to wake up and you can see the ends of the branches change colors some are turning red while others are showing a yellow color.
I promise you that spring will be here any day now.  To help you get started, here are a few tips and tricks to help get your lawn and garden in shape for the warmer weather. See you in the Garden Center! -Garden Jeannie

Early Spring Gardening Check List
  • Survey the property for broken branches that can be pruned.

  • Apply a dormant oil spray on plants to suffocate any eggs that were laid before any pest hatch. (We recommend Bonide All Season Spray Oil which works on a number or pests and is also safe for organic gardening).

  • Fertilize rhododendrons, azaleas, hollies and pieris (Andromeda). Even if there is still snow on the ground you can feed the shrubs with a fertilizer such as Hollytone. The melting snow will actually provide the moisture the fertilizer needs as it breaks down and penetrates into the ground.

  • Force forsythia by cutting some and bringing it in.  Once you see the bud terminals swelling and color changing, cut some and put the stems in a container of water and place the container in a cool place until the buds begin to open. Don’t forget to check out the water level and change the water as needed. Once the buds begin to open, set the container where you can enjoy a touch of spring inside the house.

  • Plan out your gardens and check out the catalogs for new ideas and order your seeds. Look at the magazines for new plants that are featured or go online for the latest annuals, perennials and shrubs.  Some of my favorites are: Proven Winners (,White Flower Farm Austin Roses ( Homes and Gardens (, and HGTV (

Questions for the Garden Jeannie!

Q: When can I get started on spring cleanup in the garden?
As soon as the snow melts it is time to get started with spring cleanup!  Clean up any debris left in the garden before winter and remove any pests that may have found a safe refuge.  Apply new mulch to areas where needed or just top dress the beds to refresh their look. Doing this step now will give you a jump to keeping the weeds down before they start.
Q: It looks like the deer damaged my garden this winter.  Is there anything I can do? 
Yes, there is!  Start to apply a deer or critter repellent now before more damage occurs.  Deer have a habit of moving in the same pathways, so later in the season make sure to plant only things deer don’t bother.  Continue to check your plants throughout the spring, especially when the buds begin to open!
Q: What can I do to get my trees in shape after this snowy winter? 
Take a good look at your trees: Are there any that need immediate attention from an arborist?  Do you need to trim some branches that cross over each other, creating a rubbing situation where the bark will start to abrade?  Now is time to prune trees and shrubs that bloom on new wood.  Fruit trees should also be pruned now before the sap begins to flow and the fruit sets.