We may only think about gardening when the weather is warm and the sun is bright, but keeping up with seasonal changes in your outdoor areas will promote healthy and vibrant plantings. We spoke with Kristi Wright of Eminent Terrain in North Little Rock, and she created a month-by-month gardening guide to ensure a well-planned and maintained landscape.
Recycle your live Christmas trees and plant them in your garden.
Plan a spring garden or sign up for a spring garden seminar.
Look for new varieties of seeds in garden catalogs.
Keep an eye on houseplants for pests.
Keep your bird feeders full.
Prune back roses and transplant shrubs before they leaf out.
Check for weeds in your beds.
Edge your flowerbeds with a one-inch trench to prevent sod from creeping in.
Make labels for new plants.
Plant spring annuals and top off mulch.
Stake perennials before they become too tall.
Fertilize trees, shrubs and perennials.
Prune spring flowering shrubs that have finished blooming.
Cut back yellowing foliage from bulbs
Spray roses with fungicide. You can make your own fungicide by mixing 1 to 2 teaspoons of baking soda with two to three drops of dish soap in a one-half gallon of water.
Pick up a container of ladybugs at your local nursery and add them to your garden to fight insects. Be sure not to spray pesticides!
Fertilize heavy blooming shrubs once a month until frost.
Deadhead spring bulbs that have faded.
Supplement water in containers and baskets.
Harvest fruits and vegetables regularly.
Deeply water beds and sod every few days to promote root development, as opposed to lightly watering every day.
Cut back dried plant tips and spent blooms to promote healthy new growth.
Remove dead potted plants, if disease free, and chop up to add to compost pile. They will biodegrade and provide rich soil for next spring.
Cut back overgrown trees and shrubs.
Plant fall annuals and bulbs for next spring.
Top off mulch.
Winterize sprinkler system and disconnect water hoses to prevent freezing.
Store clay pots in your garage.
Clean gardening tools and store.
Decorate for Christmas!
Carefully knock any snow or ice off shrubs and ornamental trees.
“Fertilize your flower beds with an all-purpose fertilizer after the danger of frost has passed, which is usually around April 15,” says Chris Olsen of Botanica Gardens in Little Rock.
Jennifer Gibson of the Good Earth Garden Center in Little Rock says March is the time to prepare the soil in your landscape beds with soil amendments such as lime and organic material.
Plant your summer annuals and perennials. “I always try to purchase mine in early April if the weather is warm to get first pick,” says Olsen. This is also a great time to plant tropicals, such as palms, hibiscus and ferns.
Gibson says to prune forsythia, azaleas and other spring blooming plants when they finish blooming.
“After your spring bloomers have bloomed, spray them with Triple Action Plus to prevent fungus, insects and mites,” says Olsen. Repeat as necessary about every four to six weeks throughout the growing season.
“Treat your lawn with a fertilizer during the growing season. The timing for this application starts in April and should be repeated every six to eight weeks,” says Chris Harris of the Green Grass Club of Arkansas in Little Rock. “During this time we spot spray weeds that the pre-emergent process missed. The thicker the lawn, the more difficult it is for weeds to become established. Not to mention, this treatment is what makes the lawn green up!”
“This is the perfect time to sow summer annuals by seed,” Olsen says.
“By May, the soil temperature is warm enough to plant those summer bulbs,” says Gibson.
“Water with Bayer Advanced Tree & Shrub, a 12-month insect preventer,” says Gibson.
Gibson also notes that now is the time to check your sprinkler system and make necessary adjustments.
Olsen notes that this is still a great time to plant tropicals. “Tropical plants love the summer in Arkansas, and they will last all the way up to a hard freeze, which is usually the end of November,” he says.
“Watch for fungus!” warns Olsen. “Fungus loves the humidity, so prevent an infestation by spraying with an all-purpose fungicide on your turf, roses and flowers.”
Olsen suggests fertilizing turf with high nitrogen and a balanced fertilizer during the summer, while Gibson notes that now is also a good time to treat your lawn for grubs if necessary.
In July, Gibson suggests pruning hydrangeas before they begin setting next year’s blooms. “Now is the time to give annuals and perennials a haircut if needed,” she says.
“Keep those beds clean of weeds” says Olsen. “I weed my flower beds every other week and it really is relaxing.”
It’s important during hotter months like July and August to ensure your lawn and garden get plenty of hydration. “Water early in the morning before plants get stressed,” says Gibson. As the temperature heats up, “water, water and then water some more,” she says.
Olsen says that fall is the time to replant your annuals with cold-hardy plants such as pansies, violas, cabbages, kale, Swiss chard and other color foliage plants.
“Keep water features and fish ponds clean of leaves. Decaying leaves absorb the oxygen in the water, thus depriving your fish and plants,” says Olsen. “I like to add Micro Lift to ponds. This is a living bacteria that feeds on decaying matter, and it’s not harmful to plants, fish or any wildlife. This will help water stay clear.”
“Fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs,” says Gibson. “And if you’re planning to rearrange your garden, now is the best time for transplanting.”
Olsen and Gibson agree on the importance of keeping leaves swept up and off your lawn during this time of year. “Not only is leaving them on the lawn unsightly, it can also cause the lawn to thin out,” says Gibson.
“Fertilize your lawn with a winterizer that is a low-nitrogen fertilizer to help with root development,” says Olsen.
“Treat your lawn with a winterization program between October and November,” says Harris. “You’ll need a pre-emergent that controls winter weeds that germinate during cooler weather. I also like using a fertilizer to help strengthen the turf and help it bounce back after a tough winter.”
“Think about purchasing a living Christmas tree this year,” says Jill Steed of River Valley Horticultural Products. “A beautiful Leyland cypress or Savannah holly would make a great addition to any garden!”
“In February, start to clear those late-fallen leaves and mulch all flower beds with your choice of bark,” says Olsen. “I prefer to bark about three-inches thick. This will make for a great weed barrier and moisture saver.”
Olsen says that February is a good time to trim back crepe myrtles if necessary. “I like a crepe myrtle like God intended it to be, and that is in a natural shape and 25-feet tall. But if you don’t have the space, then prune back as needed.”
“Treat your lawn with pre-emergent and fertilizer between February and March,” says Harris. “This treatment will help control the summer annual grasses that germinate in warmer weather, and the fertilizer will help thicken the turf grass so that weeds will have a tough time growing.”
“Fertilize those winter annuals with Blood Meal,” says Olsen. “This fertilizer is organic and works great. Water it after applying since dogs like it as well.”
“Fall and winter are great times to plant trees and woody shrubs,” says Steed. “This gives the dormant plant time to work on establishing roots before the primary need for nutrients turns toward foliage production and blooming. The better the roots are established before growing begins, the more growth you will see from your plant in the first of the year.”
“Even though it’s winter and the temperatures are cooler, don’t forget to water,” says Steed. “Give newly planted trees a good watering.”
“Visit the Arkansas Flower and Garden show in February to get fresh ideas,” says Gibson.