Getting your Garden Ready for Spring

redbudforsythiaOur garage is not attached to our house. I need to walk through the garden to get inside. My husband claims that this time of year it takes me an extra 20 minutes to walk the 15 yards. He’s probably right. I’m observing the garden and giving it a thorough inspection. I’m looking for the first signs of spring, determining what debris needs to be cleared, what pruning to do. I see I need to clean the bird houses and decide which new plants I can fit into my small space. I love gardening and since becoming a Green Spring Master Gardener I know a lot more about what needs to be accomplished. Whatever its size, a garden needs to be readied for spring.

Spring seems far away but isn’t. Every morning I ask Alexa, “How many days till spring?” I read the plant catalogs that arrive daily and am anxious to get started. Today I saw a few daffodils (Nacissus) pushing through the dirt. I saw some early snow drops (Leucojum aestivum) at Green Springs Gardens the other day and expect their appearance in my garden anytime. I will begin cleaning the beds and amending the soil before too many more bulbs and plants appear. I don’t want to step on them as I work. I’ll add compost or manure now so it has time to mix with the soil to avoid burning the roots of the new tender plants. I’m getting ready to start seeds indoor and making a plan on how to use more native plants.

This is a good time to prune some plants but all plants are not pruned alike! Late winter is a perfect time to prune summer-blooming shrubs like certain species of hydrangea, spirea or clethra. Spring-flowering trees and shrubs like dogwood, forsythia and azaleas should not be pruned until after their flowers fade in the spring. Clear away and compost the dead stalks of perennials. They provided winter seeds and nesting for the birds, insects and wildlife but now it’s time to clear them away. Dead or dying limbs can be removed at any time.

ojcwinklerThere is a vast collection of gardening books at the Green Spring Gardens Library. It’s a perfect place to conduct research if you have gardening questions and like to find your own answers. If you want expert help look into the March 17 lecture, given by Green Spring Master Gardeners, “Spring Garden Kickoff”. Go to for more information.

What else can you do to prepare your garden? Prep your garden tools. Clean with soap and water and apply mineral spirits on wood handles. As you make your gardening plans, be certain you know your planting zone. If you have a lawn rake it to remove fall and winter debris. This also helps get air to the root zone. Get out your pitch fork and turn over your compost pile. The bottom has the best organic matter. Don’t do this if it’s covered with snow. Wait until snow clears.

The time you spend now will ensure healthy plants and shrubs. You’ll be ready for spring and everything blooming.

Happy Gardening!

Gioia Caiola Forman

Green Spring Gardens Master Gardener


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About Fairfax County Park Authority

About Fairfax County Park Authority HISTORY: On December 6, 1950, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. To date, 13 park bond referenda have been approved between 1959 and 2016. Today, the Park Authority has 427 parks on more than 23,000 acres of land. We offer 325 miles of trails, our most popular amenity. FACILITIES: The Park system is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services including: • Nine indoor RECenters with swimming pools, fitness rooms, gyms and class spaces. Cub Run features an indoor water park and on-site naturalist • Eight golf courses from par-3 to championship level, four driving ranges including the new state-of-the-art heated, covered range at Burke Lake Golf Center • Five nature and visitor centers. Also nine Off-Leash Dog Activity areas • Three lakefront parks including Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Burke Lake, with campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax. The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax, Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee as well as an indoor water park at Cub Run RECenter • Clemyjontri Park, a fully accessible playground in Great Falls featuring two acres of family friendly fun and a carousel, as well as Chessie’s Big Backyard and a carousel at the Family Recreation Area at Lee District Park • An ice skating rink at Mount Vernon RECenter and the Skate Park in Wakefield Park adjacent to Audrey Moore RECenter • Kidwell Farm, a working farm of the 1930s-era at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, now with historic carousel • Eight distinctive historic properties available for rent • A working grist mill at Colvin Run in Great Falls and a restored 18th century home at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly • A horticulture center at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale • Natural and cultural resources protected by the Natural Resource Management Plan and Cultural Resource Plans, plus an Invasive Management Area program that targets alien plants and utilizes volunteers in restoring native vegetation throughout our community • Picnic shelters, tennis courts, miniature golf courses, disc golf courses, off-leash dog parks, amphitheaters, a marina, kayaking/canoeing center • Provides 263 athletic fields, including 39 synthetic turf fields, and manages athletic field maintenance services at 417 school athletic fields. PARK AUTHORITY BOARD: A 12-member citizen board, appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, sets policies and priorities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. Visit for Fairfax County Government's Comment Policy.

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