Cheerful as is this harbinger of Spring, blooming forsythia always reminds me of chores to be done. It’s my signal every year to prune the rose bushes. I suppose I read that advice somewhere and I follow it every year, as if my life…well at least my roses…depend on it. There are other jobs that need to be done now, too. Here is the short list:
When the forsythia blooms, it’s time to:
1. Prune the aforementioned rose bushes. Cut stems as low as 4” – 6” on most varieties. Always cut at an angle just above an outward facing leaf bud. This assures that the new growth won’t be too dense in the center. Roses like good air circulation as they are prone to mildew and other fungi. Also be sure your pruners are clean. Some people dip them in bleach between cuts. I don’t go to this extreme.
3. Remove tree leaves that have fallen onto azaleas and other shrubs. This is a job best done by hand, if possible. A leaf blower may help dislodge leaves in shrubs too tall to reach. While you’re inspecting these shrubs, remove any dead or damaged wood.
4. Cut back ornamental grasses and liriope. You can use a string trimmer or lawn mower if you get to this chore right away. If you wait until the new growth sprouts, you will have to use hand trimmers to avoid damaging the tips of this season’s foliage.
6. Apply pre-emergent crabgrass control to kill new crabgrass seedlings as they begin to sprout in the lawn. I loathe crabgrass.
7. Pull weeds! They are easy to spot in the spare garden growth. The earth is soft and moist right now, so pulling them is easy. The weeds you pull now will not be able to flower and produce seeds, which means fewer weeds later in the season.