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First Step to Spring | Recovery & Revitalization

Even if the weather outside is cold and bitter, our green thumbs don't need to go into hibernation. There are several steps we can take during the winter months to ensure our gardens spring to life in the new season.

As we prepare for a vibrant spring, our first step, and task, is to assess the toll winter has taken on our gardens. Winter damage can manifest in various ways, from frost damage on plants to broken branches from heavy snow, and even soil erosion. To ensure a successful start for our growing season, it's essential to assess every nook and corner of our gardens for signs of damage.

In Southwestern Pennsylvania, the best time to start this process is in late February or early March when the snow begins to melt and signs of plant life start to reappear. Keep an eye out for broken branches, damaged buds, or signs of pests and diseases. This early inspection will pave the way for a lush, healthy garden.

To assess winter damage, start by walking through your garden and visually inspecting all plants, shrubs, and trees. 

  • Look for signs of winter injury such as discolored, desiccated, or split bark on trees and shrubs.

  • Clean up old debris and check for pests and disease. Winter can be tough on pests, but some may still survive in the soil or plant debris.

  • Take notice of any frost heaving, which occurs when repeated freeze-thaw cycles lift plants out of the ground. If you notice plants that have been pushed out of the soil, gently replant them and cover the base with mulch to prevent further heaving.

  • Finally, assess your garden soil. If the soil appears compacted or if there are large puddles of standing water, it may be a sign that your soil structure has been compromised over the winter. 

In the upcoming weeks of our 'Step to Spring' series, we will guide you through the process of handling each type of winter damage. We will delve into techniques for pruning and repairing damaged plants, restoring the health of your soil, and what to do if any pests or diseases have been discovered.

By addressing winter damage effectively, we lay a strong foundation for a lush, thriving garden in the spring. So, stay tuned as we navigate this journey together, fostering a space of growth, renewal, and beauty.

But don’t forget! While we’re out in our gardens accessing any winter damage done, we should be looking for positive things too. Like new growth and healthy foliage, and signs of beneficial insects. We might even find early blooming flowers or buds, indicating that our plants are already thriving!


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