Preparing to bloom
Editor’s Note: Stacey Kay Helm is nursery manager at SHC Nursery and Landscaping in Edwards, and has a B.S. in Landscape Horticulture from Colorado State University.Despite our recent winter-like conditions, our calendars have determined it is springtime. Even with her occasional bout of snow, mother nature is ushering in spring full on. The grass is beginning to green up, the forsythia and crabapples are trying to show off their flowers and my aspen trees hint at the fact that they may have leaves in the next few days.For us in the high country, Mother’s Day means it is time to get prepped up and excited about garden and yard work. The last frost isn’t until June 9 or 10, but, not to worry, there is plenty to keep you busy outside until then. If you forgot to do prep work last fall, now is the time to cut your herbaceous perennials back to the ground so they have plenty of room to come up again this year.The moist spring air is perfect for turning the soil in your existing beds or digging out an area to put a new bed in.I recommend tilling soil to a depth of 8 to 10 inches in most cases, unless you are installing deeper rooted species such as peonies or bearded irises. As you till the soil, consider aiding your garden by amending the soil with a standard compost or (my favorite) a Yum-yum mix. Soils in Colorado can be very heavy and amendments to its composition can allow better drainage and higher nutrient acquisition for your plants.As you are digging, be careful to note if you have lost any plants and make sure to include bare areas in your new planting plan. Start thinking about what you will need to fill in and better coordinate your garden. Spring is the ideal time to start planning. When you are planning, keep in mind seasonal focal points to create year-round interest.Stagger the bloom periods of flowers throughout the summer and try to choose a few plants to add fall color and winter texture. If you are planning on installing trees, shrubs, rocks or other hardscapes, now is an excellent time to call and book your local landscaper before the mad rush of summer begins. In addition to planning perennial areas, visualize where you are going to place your annual containers. Flip through gardening books and catalogs to get an idea of what themes you might use for your new pots. If you are planning on having your containers custom planted, now is the time to get your pots ordered. When you talk to your grower, make sure to inform them if the pot is sun or shade or located in a highly exposed or windy area. Also, if you have a special request, such as low water usage or low maintenance, make sure you inform the grower of that as well.With all the wonderful moisture we’ve had in the last few weeks, my lawn is growing gang-busters and though I enjoy my garden, the thought of mowing my lawn nauseates me. If you’re a new home-owner like me, you had better start thinking about contacting a lawn care service or hiring the neighborhood kid to mow your lawn because, before you know it, the grass will be eight inches tall. Don’t let your lawn get to that point. Try to follow the two-thirds rule: don’t take more than two-thirds of the length off your lawn, or you can end up with close-cut, brown grass, that will take several weeks to regrow.Now’s a good time for you to aerate your lawn, too, and machines can be rented at your local shops.Now that you have the basics for spring, go get geared up for gardening! Happy Spring!– Stacey Kay Helm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by SHC in Edwards.