Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Western Mountains and High Plains

March, 2006
Regional Report

Start Lawn Care

Avoid the practice of power raking the lawn in early spring. Improper use of a dethatching machine can be destructive to lawn grasses by tearing and killing tender rhizomes just as they are beginning to grow. It is much safer to hand rake areas if accumulations of dead grass clippings are a concern. Mow the lawn short this one time of year to remove dead, brown tips. This allows the new growth to receive more of the spring sun and improves air circulation, both of which encourage vigorous, strong growth.

Begin Soil Preparation

If your garden soil has started to dry out enough so that a squeezed handful will crumble easily and not stay packed together, the time is right for adding compost to loosen heavy, compacted areas. Use a quality bagged compost or your own homemade compost. Avoid material that has a foul smell or that may be contaminated with herbicides or weed seeds.

Add Phosphorus to Garden Soils

If it's been over two years since you added phosphorus, till or spade in 1 pound of superphosphate (0-20-0) per 100 square feet into the top 6 to 8 inches to get ready for spring planting. If you prefer, add bone meal as a source of phosphorus, but be patient for this mineral to become available to the plant.

Remove Protective Mulch Sparingly and Slowly

Carefully remove winter mulch on strawberries, emerging bulbs, roses, and various perennials. Don't remove all the mulch at once or you may end up inviting freeze damage as is often common from late frosts.

Start Warm-Season Crops

Plant seeds for tomatoes, peppers, and other warm-season crops six to eight weeks before the expected date of the last spring frost for your area. These plants do best with bottom heat under the seed-starting container. Once the seeds have germinated, bring them to a cooler location with bright sunlight.


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