Spring Planting & Planning: What to Do Now

  • Cool season annuals, like pansies, can be arranged in containers now for a spring lift-me-up. It's also time to plant cool-season veggies and think about raised beds for summer harvests. Sue Ryba

    Cool season annuals, like pansies, can be arranged in containers now for a spring lift-me-up. It's also time to plant cool-season veggies and think about raised beds for summer harvests. Sue Ryba

 
 
Updated 4/20/2020 8:38 AM

Whose green thumb is itching to get in the soil this season?

While there are a few weeks to go before the frost-free date in mid-May, some hardy cool-season flowers and edibles can be planted right now.

 

Local landscape pro Bob Bertog offers his pro tips for spring planting and planning:

Garden beds and planter prep: Before planting anything, prep your garden beds, including raised beds and planters. Check for damage or cracks. Pull out weeds. Turn over soil and amend with peat, compost or other amendments. Top-dress with a thin layer of mulch for protection. We've noted more interest in raised beds this year as clients undertake their spring cleanup and summer projects.

Cool crop varieties: The tomatoes will have to wait until mid to late May, but April is a fine time to sow seeds or transplant vegetable seedlings like peas, kale, swiss chard and broccoli, among others. You can also plant root vegetables -- best by seed -- such as beets and carrots. Always check seed packets for instructions and recommended timing.

Hardy spring blooms: Dress up those bare planters and containers with colorful, hardy spring blooms ranging from pansies to violets to bachelor's button. Depending on your taste, you can go with boldly contrasting colors or with palates of varying hues in the same color family. Likewise, you can incorporate a variety of accents for different heights, colors and textures, including pussy willows and red twig dogwood. We also like grouping containers of different sizes and styles for visual interest.

Keep an eye on weather and temperatures. If a hard frost is forecast, bring in containers with flowers and edibles, or cover edibles as you would in the fall.

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Plan for your summer landscape: Within six weeks or so, it will be summer planting season and time to truly enjoy your outdoor surroundings. Plan now for warm weather crops in your vegetable gardens and think about what perennials, annuals, trees, shrubs you'd like to add, along with ideas for new landscape elements including patios, seating areas, fire pits, water features, lighting and more.

As more people are spending time at home this year, outdoor landscapes are coming into renewed focus and appreciation, for beauty, serenity, fresh air and sustenance. Creating beautiful spaces starts in spring.

Bob Bertog is president of Bertog Landscape Co. in Wheeling and a Certified Landscape Professional with the National Association of Landscape Professionals. He is also past president of the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association.

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