Spring Mulching

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Are the plants in your yard beginning to leaf out or swell with buds yet? If they're not, they certainly will be soon. Maybe you're wondering about when to fertilize. Well, it depends.

A good layer of aged compost, aged manure or bark mulch can be placed around the base of your plants now. Create a ring around the plants that is 2 to 4 inches deep extending approximately 18 to 24 inches from the trunk of the plant. Be sure to leave a welled area at the base of the plant of roughly 3 inches wide around the trunk of the plant so the mulch doesn't touch the bark. This welled area is to direct water to the root system and for air circulation.

Once your trees and shrubs have leafed out, you can apply a timed-release fertilizer. Unless you have tested your soil and know where the soil's nutrients are lacking, a basic fertilizer can be used such as a 10-10-10. Fertilize is used to balance out the lacking or low level nutrients in your soil's pH. Here is a link to a page that will explain how to read the fertilize label and the best way to distribute it. For more fertilizing information - click here.

Part of a parterre in an English garden. Photo...


Hi, For years I have been battling these vines that keep growing in certain areas of my garden. Not sure what they are have tried digging them up and spraying roundup etc. with no luck. These vines crawl up through anything i plant and choke that plant quickly. Do you know if Preen would work or something else. Hope you can help Joe

Hi Joe - weedy vines and briars are so annoying. If Roundup use hasn't stunted their growth, it's not likely that Preen or other herbicides will either. Be cautious as Roundup can splash on other garden plants causing damage or even worse. Plus it is high in salt. Excessive use of salt in/around the soil can poison nearby plants. Should you be up to the task, right now try to pull up and remove as much of the vines roots as possible. Then continuing on through spring and the rest of the growing season, cut them back to the ground on a regular basis occasionally (maybe every few weeks) pouring some of the Roundup onto the cut part. Cutting the vines to the ground on a weekly basis and applying Roundup every few weeks may just wear them down to the point that they begin to die off. Over the off season (fall/winter) apply a good thick (around 3 inches) of shredded bark mulch or aged compost mix to this area. It will decompose and help build the nutrient value of the soil which will also help to limit annoying weedy plants, too.