So much to do, such beauty to see: How to do it all!

In this season everything needs doing at once:
Pull that weed -- is that a weed?
Admire that flower -- what flower is that?
Stroke lush new tree leaves -- is it growing okay, should I be doing anything?
Start a new garden -- can I do it without over-doing?

We all need answers but there's not a minute to spare.

Brief is beautiful

Below, a list of our best and briefest spring tips... interrupted by beautiful distractions, because this article is just like being "out there" in spring!

The tips run along the left side of this article, beauty on the right. All our tips are in order as they came to us in the thick of the spring rush.


This emerging bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is being
cuddled by it's own leaf and an old solomon seal leaf.

1. Garden science is right: Don't walk on wet soil!
Yet time flies in spring. Out early, we wear snowshoes
to cut down butterfly bush & rake.



Squiill (Scilla sibirica) contains every shade of blue.
Such a beauty!



2. One cut a year keeps a bush small, healthy, colorful:
In early spring cut so it's 6-12" smaller than you want it.
Clip out thick bare stubs.





Even a thug like Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) can be
beautiful in spring. Admire it, briefly, then dig it OUT!

3. Fertilizer's a must for lawn. Aeration's a must for most,
too. Can't afford both? Core aerate -- lawn responds to it
as if fertilized.


 Box elder (Acer negundo) is considered a weedy,
messy tree. Nonetheless, it's impressive in spring.

4. Fertilizer is like vitamins: Can't cause growth,
just strengthen it. It's most needed during growth
spurts. Houseplants need it in April! 




5. Clear the lawn but in all beds: Leave the leaves!
Even inches deep.
Must move them? After, put them back.
May be most important spring act.



The sun highlights this beech (Fagus grandifolia). Ahh!

6. It's Instant-answer Saturday, 4/26/14
from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at
Send ?s, photos. Get an answer right back.
Join us. Tell your friends.


The lusicious foliage of spring isn't just for us to view...
 some chew!


Some things improve with age:
Maiden grass (
Miscanthus) seeds...


...and a cattail harboring maple seeds.


7. Starting seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before plant-out time?
You need a grow light for 3-5 weeks.
Any fluorescent lamp will do, 3" above plants.

8. Snow plows are tough on irrigation systems.
Check now. Repair them early
when the digging is less disruptive to plants.


Are the earliest tulips (here, a Kaufmaniana) prettier?

9. Liquid fertilizer and weed control
are wasted on cold soil. Stop - or fire!-
the lawn care company that sprays icy lawn.


Jewel-like dew in the center of this lupine leaf (above).
  A drop seems to swirl around in the tulip foliage (below).


10. Soil's still wet, feels cold? Don't walk on lawn or garden.
Wait a bit, stay in: Sow seeds. Clean tools. Cut back and FERTILIZE houseplants.

Small early, beautiful bulbs. Puschkinia (above)
glory of the snow (Chionodoxa) below.



11. Planting trees is about hope, not blind faith.
You can judge by growth rate how a new tree is doing.
We show you: Search CHECK TREE



12. Prefer leaf-free planting beds? For pete's sake
don't use a blower. That can thwart tender spring growth's one mission: To fill with water!

Ajuga 'Tricolor'

13. Voles, moles: two different varmints. V for
vegetarian! Killing grubs won't discourage voles.
Spring is worst time to kill grubs, anyway!

Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas), small tree,
large shrub, earlier and perhaps more
dependable than a forsythia.

14. Sharp clippers are worth the price. Dull and gap jawed
means more effort, more hand injuries, slower work,
mauled wood. Buy better. Sharpen.


15. When it's time to cut down bushes and ornamental
grasses, first wrap them tight with strong, biodegradable cord:
Pre-bundle, then cut!

Right: Lenten rose (Helleborus hybrid)




16. Spring: Always weed the edges first. Ignore big weeds in middle of beds. Chase roots that have run into the garden. All weeds start on edge.
17. Going to yank tops off of weeds? As much good to tether a goat to graze there! Get a fork, instead, to loosen the soil to remove all the roots.

Plain old lilac: captivating as it breaks bud.

18. No matter how careful you are, building a deck,
fence or walk can ruin nearby plantings. Always do
hard structure work first, plant later.


19. Want garden in every inch? Sure! But don't undermine driveway, patio, pavers or road: Stop digging 12" away from the edge. Let plants lap.


Above: Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris).
Below: Piqsqueak leaf (Bergenia cordifolia).


20. Lawns love air even more than fertilizer.
Golf shoe aerators are worthless. Spend the money to
chip in with neighbors, rent a core aerator.
...or aerate with a garden fork.


More photos coming each day of April. Perhaps you've seen this article a-building on Facebook GardenAtoZ!

21. New tree with cracks or slow/small growth? Sorry! Too many strikes against. Plant new. Unwrap the roots and set the flare at ground level.


22. Younger perennials are faster, sturdier, better blooming, resist disease/insects. Divide to renew. Replant only 25%. Never replant old bits.


23. Grubs are old, don't die easily, and their damage is done by spring. Beef up lawn rather than buy grub killer in spring. Late summer is kill time!


24. Design for leaf, then flower. Even before bloom and in lulls red foliage is great near green or gray, and ferniness a joy near big and bold.

As much glory in a rotted ash stump
as in a bloodroot flower (
Sanguisorba canadensis).