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Garden Prep - Do's and Don'ts

April is finally here, so let’s take advantage of the few sunny days that mother nature decides to give us and get a little prep work done in the garden.

First things first, let’s take an inventory of our pots and containers. Get rid of any broken and cracked pots, and clean out the old dirt from last year’s plants. Old dirt can harbor bacteria and fungus. Scrub out old dirt with a stiff brush, rinse thoroughly and let the pots dry in the sun. Your tools should also be cleaned and sharpened. Tools can also harbor diseases, even through the winter. Clean all your tools with a solution of 9 parts water to 1 part bleach. Remove all the rust and dirt, rinsing thoroughly and dry completely.

Make a list of items you need to replace and plan a trip to your garden center to get new pots, tools and stock up on potting soil and fertilizers now. Every gardener should have a good pair of bypass pruners, a hand trowel, garden fork, and pruning shears. Larger tools should include a rake, a good spade, a garden hoe, loppers and a lawn edger.

Now that that’s done, there are some things you can do in the garden to get ahead of the game. Roses,

flowering shrubs and all evergreens can be pruned late winter or early spring - before they are growing.

Do not prune any shrubs that have already set buds. These plants include Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Lilacs, Weigela, Viburnums and Forsythia. These plants should only be pruned after they are done blooming. There are a few plants that will bloom later in the season like Oakleaf Hydrangea, Big Leaf and Climbing Hydrangea and Climbing Roses. These plants will bloom in summer, so be careful not to prune before they are done blooming! Leave newly planted shrubs alone for a couple of years so they may get established before any pruning is done.

If you’re not sure which plants can be pruned in the early spring, call or stop in and visit with one of our

Garden Specialists, and they can help you with any questions or concerns.

If the ground is not frozen and workable, rake out any debris, sticks and leaves from last year. Work a thin layer of compost into the soil of your garden and top dress with a fresh layer of mulch. This is a great way to burn off some of that energy from being inside all winter!

Visit our garden shop at Iowa Outdoor Products and stock up on pots, garden tools, soil amendments in bulk or bags, and everything you need to prepare your garden for spring.

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