Your spring checklist.

Spring Garden Overview
Thomas J. Story

Spring has sprung. Here’s what to do in your garden now, no matter where you are in the West. 


-Create an herb meadow by sprinkling seeds of cilantro, dill, and parsley in sunny garden beds that are close to the kitchen for easy access. 

-For instant impact in warm climates, plant durable barrel cactus. Try Mexican fire barrel (Ferocactus pringlei) for red spines; for yellow, go for the ever-popular golden barrel (Echinocactus grusonii). 

-Plant tomatoes outside once daytime and nighttime temperatures stay above 55°.


Slugs do maximum damage in spring by mowing down tender seedlings as they emerge. Bait for them or kill them as you see them (they’re easy to spot in damp weather or after you water).

-Combat powdery mildew by hosing off foliage in the morning several times a week to wash away fungus spores. Treat outbreaks with a formula of 1 Tbsp. baking soda plus 1 Tbsp. canola oil to 1 gallon of water.

-Use plastic baskets from cherry tomatoes or strawberries to protect newly sprouted seedlings from birds. By the time the seedlings have grown tall enough to reach through the tops of the baskets, they are no longer as tender as the birds prefer. 

-Check for birds’ nests before pruning shrubs and trees; leave them alone until eggs have hatched and baby birds are out of the nest. 

-For easiest removal, hoe weeds in the early morning the day after watering. 


Thomas J. Story


-Replenish organic mulch on planting beds. To prevent evaporation of soil moisture, aim for a mulch layer 2–4 inches deep. Do not pile it around plant stems. 

-Divide overcrowded clumps of ornamental grasses by cutting back their tops and slicing the root ball into sections with a shovel. Transplant divisions immediately and water regularly until the grasses are re-established.

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