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Jumpstart the Spring Garden - Gardening Tips for March & April

By: John Conti
If you're like me, you can't wait to get your hands into the soil. While you're holding out for higher temperatures, there's plenty you can do today to jumpstart the spring gardening season.

Sow Seeds Indoors

Take a trip to your local nursery or home store and buy seeds to start indoors. In March I like to start annual flowers for my pots and containers. Currently, I have Coleus, Zinnias, Impatiens, Petunias and Marigolds germinating. Follow the seed packet instructions and you'll get excellent results. Some plants will take longer than others to bloom or bear fruit, so plan accordingly. This is also a great time for starting culinary herbs and vegetables. If you're looking for something new this year, try moonflower vine or cathedral bells to climb your fence or trellis. Both can be started from seed. If you have children, get them involved. Many children have a natural affinity for gardening. It's a great quality to encourage and nurture in them.

Dust Off The Birdhouses

I put my birdhouses out in early March. Small birds like chickadees will be actively searching for appropriate homes to raise their families. Mine were up for less than 24 hours before the home tours began.

Give Your Garden Tools A Checkup

Take your pruning shears and other cutting tools to your local hardware store for cleaning, oiling and a good sharpening. On a warm day you may want to assess your lawnmower. Take it in for servicing or a tune up now-while you can. Many lawnmower repair centers are swamped shortly after the season starts. It's one tool you don't want to be without.

Get Inspired

Order your garden catalogs. Purchase your favorite garden magazines. Here in the northeast, there's nothing like winter time to remind me how valuable my summer garden space is. Create a wish list of new plants, design features and outdoor furniture. With a little planning, you won't be overwhelmed when May rolls around.

Seek Out Indoor Gardening Events

In March there are countless indoor garden, flower and landscaping expos. If you can't find anything in your local area, a day or weekend trip to a flower show might be just what you need. Look for a botanical garden or arboretum with indoor facilities. In my area we have Longwood Gardens. It has year round indoor gardens and the displays are fantastic.

Clean Out Your Beds

As soon as the snow has melted and the weather permits, you can clean out your beds. It's a good time to rake and clear your planting areas of dead branches, leaves and debris. I like to mulch as soon as possible in the spring, while there's still plenty of space between the emerging bedding plants.

Learn A Landscape Design Software Program

There are so many inexpensive landscaping software programs available today, many of them under $50.00US. During the winter months you'll have plenty of time to learn how to operate the system.

Create and sample new designs before digging. Take advantage of the overhead and 360 degree views. Many of the programs now offer a 3D walk through feature. It simulates the experience of walking through an actual garden. You can also advance the garden timeline into the future to see what it will look like when the plants and trees mature. It's a wonderful creative tool to beat the winter blues!

Call Your Landscaper Now

If you're planning to use a professional landscaper this year, make sure to schedule your work as far in advance as possible. When the ground is soft enough for digging, landscapers will be working overtime to keep up with the volume.

Book Your Garden Tours Now

Scour the internet for local and regional garden tours. Find out when tickets go on sale and plan ahead. I've often read announcement lists in the newspaper after I've already made other plans. There's nothing like visiting other people's gardens for encouragement and inspiration.

I hope these suggestions get you motivated to take action. The sooner you get started on your garden plans-the more time you'll have to enjoy the rest of the season. Happy Gardening!

© 2007 John Conti

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About The Author, John Conti

John Conti is a landscaper and publisher of Stellasyard.com | The Soulful Garden. Visit his web site for how to articles, advice and free design plans. Beginners are welcome.

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