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Springtime cleanup

Chicago gardeners, the weather is changing. With Daylight Saving Time, our days are longer. Maybe you’ve even seen signs of spring. It’s time to garden.

Springtime in the Chicago area
Photo by Elaine C. Shigley

With your Chicago Garden Notebook in hand, examine your trees, shrubs and planting beds. Take notes about their condition and what repairs they may need after our harsh winter. Then, examine your notes and plan your spring activities. You can also list the supplies you’ll need from the garden store.

It’s time to begin the actual gardening. Prune the dead wood and damaged growth from trees and shrubs. Renovate old, overgrown shrubs that have green shoots coming from their foundations by cutting them to a height of 12-18 inches. Choose the sturdiest shoots and cut out all the rest. Replace or add mulch if necessary.

Now, you’re ready to clean up your grass and planting beds by removing leaves, branches and trash that collected over the winter. When your garden is clean, rake your lawn and add a good quality weed and feed product to give your grass a healthy start.

It’s okay to plant if the conditions are favorable. If you plant too early, you need to protect your planting beds from damage by covering them. If the low temperatures remain above 40° F. for a couple of weeks and the soil temperature is the same, it should be safe to plant seeds outdoors

Inspect the soil in your planting beds. It should be moist and crumbly like cake before you attempt to plant it. You need to wait for planting if the soil is soggy. Chicago soils often contain high amounts of clay. These tough soils need to be amended with sand and compost and thoroughly tilled before planting.

Live long and well—garden.

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