Let’s see, what should we put on our pre-spring gardening checklist?
I need your help with this, comment below and let me know what I missed.
1. Get all of the remaining leaves out of my beds.
2. Remove the tops from the perennials, Hosta, Daylily etc.
3. Trim any trees that need trimming while they are still dormant. Dormant pruning is the least stressful kind of pruning you can do.
4. Take a good hard look at the landscape. How many shrubs in the landscape have really and truly outgrown their usefulness? Make a list of the ones that deserve to be cut back to see how they look. Make a list of the ones that really, really need to go.
5. Review Mike’s Instructions for Removing Stumps so come spring I’ll have the right tools.
6. Shrubs that deserve a second chance can be cut back really hard. Take a chance. You might be surprised 6 months from now. Remind me to post some pictures. I have two big, overgrown shrubs to cut back.
7. Get Mike’s “Backyard Cash Machine” Guide because . . . it will make you a much better gardener and it will also allow you to make some extra money doing something you love to do.
8. Promise yourself to do a little gardening each day. It will keep the doctor away!
Okay, I know I missed a ton of things so help me out here. -Mike McGroarty
I’m excited about this year. We got out retail merchants Liscence ! And nursery grower permits.
We have 120 hard wood cuttings in our flats.
And we have ginger and tumeric finally sprouting !!!
The sky’s the limit !
Good for you! Happy growing.
Dennis Roussin says
Would love to hear anything about planting Rose of Sharon, or Hibiscus bushes and trees.
Rose of sharon are easy, no special care needed. They can be propagate in the summer, https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2015/01/easy-summertime-plant-propagation-techniques-can-home/ or the winter, https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2015/01/easy-winter-time-plant-propagation-can-home/
and this; https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2016/09/hardwood-cuttings-winter-of-20152016/
Bob Briggs did an amazing job of compiling a great deal of information on hardwood cuttings in this post; http://backyardgrowers.com/business-center/growers-discussions/all-about-hardwood-cuttings/. They can even be trained into trees.
If you have a compost heap, don’t forget to use that for the leaves that you’re gathering from your beds … making sure that you don’t include those that are infected.
Marshall Reagan says
Mike for those of us who have a greenhouse ,it is time to clean it out & get ready to start growing your seedlings for the garden. I already have lettuce & spinach growing in mine
hello, thought i’d ask if there is an article for starting out? think of it as if for someone who needs everything and needs to know everything about starting up. just for personal use to begin with, nothing big. zone is 5b in central illinois.
keeping in mind i don’t want to take out a loan…:o)
I don’t want anybody to take out a loan. It’s best to learn the system before you put a lot of money at risk. See this page; http://freeplants.com/wanted.htm
Louis Williamson says
Hi I would like to sell 2-3 thousand 2-3 eye stella d ora daylily’s for & 1.00 each It you can help me out thanks Louis
This is truly a question that needs to be answered in our members area when it opens again. http://backyardgrowers.com/join
tree services south jersey says
Really glad I found this great information, thanks
Germaine Morel says
Thanks for all the ideas and counselling Mike. Putting them into practice
Repairing/reinforcing or replacing trellising and support systems. Ok. My brain is busy and there is 18″ of snow on the ground. I’m done for tonight.:)
Is it too late to do organic dormant spraying on fruit trees such as apples that aren’t budding yet? Thinning berry canes(and reinforcing supports as needed) and strawberries? Cutting back vining plants, both landscaping and fruiting. Another BTW, if you have friends who are basket makers, they dearly love getting their hands on these, as well as any willow withies. Preparing beds for asparagus and all those great seedlings?
Juliette Bolton says
Our first stop was to admire his large collection of echium candicans or Pride of Madeira. These stately shrubs reach 5-6 ft tall and 6-10 ft wide so they make quite a show when the huge flower clusters are in full bloom. Being deer resistant and drought tolerant they are perfect for our mountain environment. The color of the spikes varied from pink to lilac, sapphire blue and purple. This gardener is resourceful. He got many of his seedlings along Hwy 17 where they had reseeded after being used as brush to stabilize the slopes after the ’89 earthquake. The bees were really happy visiting the hundreds of blossoms on the beautiful spring day that I was there.
I was just reminded of one more this past weekend. Get to the gym and do some physical exercise to get in a little better shape, so when I cut down a small tree with a hand saw I’m not sore for the next 3 days! Seriously, a few basic exercises like:
And maybe a few others will make the job a little easier and keep my muscles from feeling so sore for days afterwards!
Bob Fortner says
Things I wish I had of done—Im looking around in the cold bitter wind and Ice.At some things I wish I had done in late fall.Like covering and storing my pots.More wire and protection around some of my plants to ward off deer and rabbits.
Lisa Jones says
I would like to know how to purchase the pink dogwood trees, not for resale but just a regular purchase. Is this possible? If so, where do i need to go to make the purchase. Thank you
The Pink Dogwood trees at that price are only available to our members. That’s a wholesale offer that is not available to the general public. It’s just one of the many benefits to those who have my system. Thanks for asking. http://freeplants.com/wanted.htm
Scott Jensen says
Some of these may have been mentioned already, and if so I apologize:
Take the lawn mower to the shop for a tune up/blade sharpen. A lot less backup now than in a couple months
Clean, oil and sharpen pruners, loppers, hedge trimmers, hoes, spades, etc.
Pick a section of the yard to completely relandscape. Draw up a sketch of the section and choose which plants to use in that section and how to arrange them for maximum effect.
Winter sow some seeds in plastic milk cartons
Take some Hardwood cuttings
Stock up on more potting soil
gaill hart says
happy new year from Australia Mike and family. I have to reverse all your ideas, summer and wet here atm!! Would love to come to one of your shindigs but alas too far away. My girlfriend is a bromeliad expert, she attended the world conference a few years back in America..new orleans i think? and has the plants growing through her trees looking spectacular. Do you add these to your tree landscape??
robert heruatmaja says
Mr. mike, thanks a lot give me guidance for my garden in back yard…Indonesia now rainy season!
with my best regards
Sharpen and oil tools. Plan New planting beds. Order your New book.
Cindy, thank you for adding to the list!
peter remington says
I am interested to know whether l can plant red grapes
Peter, I don’t honestly know. If the climate there is similar to northern California I’d say yes!
Glenda Hurd says
permanant markers will fade away!! use paint–might try the liquid embroidery paint pens. I used Tri-chem on something one time with a picture on the other side for my husband to hang on the rearview mirror in his truck and the pic faded away while the green paint was still perfect!! thx for blind tip–i have some!!
Dianne South says
Mike, I love all your tips. You make everything seem so effortless. I am getting ready to move(I think),but if I don’t I think I am going to have to cut down my Golden rain trees. I have an Elder bug problem that you wouldn’t believe. I have been trying to kill them out with insecticidal soap, but thy really have me outnumbered. Any suggestions?
wanda lively says
Mike IAm on a mission trip in Romania so I can’t order anything till April. I do read you email and enjoy it.
To early to think spring yet. Just got 3″ of snow and it’s gonna get cold for a few days.
Maybe next month.
Bill Maitland says
Good time to sharpen shovel and trowel blades. Just covered up daffadil tips with leaves, expecting big cold snap here in south Jersey. Also good time to get out and get supplies needed for spring. Thanks again Mike for all you do!
Take real good care of the little ones. :). Make fence around the garden and turn the pigs in to eat up all the scraps etc. of 2012. 🙂 Teach the little ones their responsibilities and drill them further with love. First unto the Lord and then towards each other and also for their work etc.
As far as I am concerned, you covered everything that would concerns my hubby, well almost We only have a very small totally landscaped garden, that only needs an occasional replacement, no room for new additions. Hubby has taken over my job(I am disabled do to cancer drugs) and he cleans up every debris and trims every unwieldy growth. He does not like a messy look in the spring. What can I say. I am so glad you still keep me on your list, I do love to read everything you have to offer. Thanks, Mike. Have a great gardening year. I wish, I could garden again!!!
We also want nice grass so don’t forget to put out post emergence when the yellow bells start to bloom. When the time comes to mow the grass, I allow the grass to stay on the lawn. It is like fertilizer. Of course, y’all need the proper mower. I do the same with the leaves on the ground. If I have too many leaves, I compose them.
If y’all love to look of tall grasses like I do, wait until the last of February to cut it back to the ground.
Put those coffee grounds out in the compose heap, also egg shells and any other thing from the kitchen that doesn’t have oil or meat it it.
Buy worms if you don’t already have a bed of them. They are like a dream come true to the soil.
If your Azaleas are getting too tall or misshaped, don’t think you can’t cut them to the ground because you can. It will take a couple of years for them to come back to a nice height but they will. I didn’t cut mine to the ground after they bloomed but I did cut them back to about a foot and they did great. Plus, don’t forget to fertile them about 3 times during the summer. Remember to never trim and Azalea any later than six weeks after they stop blooming. Oops, we are talking about now.
Dig lilies that have become crowded if y’all want to see more and more of them. They will thank you for it.
I also separate my hosta just as they leaf out. Most people don’t do this but I do and when I separate them, I have tons to give away. One year I separated just one plant and put them in a out of the way spot. The new spring, I bet I had 25 new plants. The second year and I needed to separate them again.
And the main thing in my way of looking at my garden is to try a new plant every year. I have been here 29 years and have planted something new just about every year. I like doing my planting in beds on the edge of the yard in a curving pattern so that it makes mowing easier. I detest mowing around a bed of plants.
Oh and don’t forget to spray the Japanese Maples before they start to leaf out. I lost two because I failed to. Beetles got to them.
If y’all don’t like using commercial fertilizer, just buy composted manure and put some in a 5 gallon bucket and add water to put around your plants.
Another thing to remember is do not plant tomatoes in the same place each year. Move them around to a different site. It keeps them from getting nematodes.
Oh also plant peas to enrich the soil with nitrogen. If a spot isn’t doing well for plants, that is a good thing to do to make the soil good again.
I sure do enjoy your newsletters. I live near Birmingham, Alabama and this year, I plan to get started earlier because last Feb when it warmed up, it didn’t get cold again. I can cover things up but I can’t get some veggies to grow as long as I wish if I plant too late.
Happy gardening to y’all. We all need to encourage and share our knowledge about gardening veggies with others because I just came home from the grocery store and I am still in shock.
Brenda, thank you for the detail list! This is fantastic. -Mike McGroarty
How about deciding what you want to plant?
Based on that, what amenities do you need to plant that plant? Take care of “Christmas/holiday” plants so they can rebloom. I always have to check if the plant will grow here because some are best not to get and others very invasive. Take care and I too enjoy your newsletters. Rose
Roseanne, great advice. Thank you so much!
I just came in from picking up branches from my Arbutus tree…realized that I either had to change out of my shorts or wait a day or so..It’s a gorgeous day here on the West Coast of Canada, East Coast of Vancouver Island.
I have a spring checklist on my website,if you’ve left out anything! Always happy to share.
Donna Mitchell says
Grandpa said,” pay the grocer or you will pay the pharmacist.” In other words eat healthly! Gardening helps us to do that on so many levels, nourishing both body and soul. And gardening is adjustable, just like bib overalls you can always find a niche for a size that fits you. Thank you for being a good neighbor to all of us. Donna
The two really large bushes you need to trim back can be turned into cuttings and offered as a promotional give away with the purchase of other items. You turn a chore into a proffit making venture.
I purchased your first program and my first priority this spring is to set up beds for seedlings I also purchased Japanese maple seeds and want to experiment with starting maples from seeds. I have limited time until retirement which is a couple years away. Thanks for the encouragement.
Mary, good for you! Go back and review the program and do something everyday to grow your nursery. Get together with the other growers and they’ll offer you all the help you need.
ksue nelson says
Hi Mike!! Thank you for all of your wonderful tips and news!!! We live in Central Illinois and this is the time of year we cut perennial grasses down and vines along with the tree trimming. ALSO we have WASCALLY wittle wabbits that LOVE to eat our weigela down to nothing! So we make sachets outta old tee shirt scraps filled with blood meal!!! wards them and any deer off too! AND the blood meal won’t burn any plants or soil. ALSO put poop on the asparagus beds, and when the tulips pop up, put some loose blood meal right down into the crotch of the plants to keep the bunnies from nibbling! AND READ before you trim or dead head hydrangeas to make sure they are the variety that CAN be trimmed. Roses we do a little later when first green leave buds appear. Otherwise, other than what you have liste that is what we do in our garden. 😉
Ksue, Thank for adding to the list! Good information. -Mike McGroarty
Thank you for the list. I am ordering your backyard growing system. Can’t wait to start.
Thank you so much for ordering my Backyard Growing System, I hope it is a life changing event for you. -Mike McGroarty http://freeplants.com/wanted.htm
Otis Coldren says
I suggest a first till in your vegetable garden if the ground is not to wet after frost is gone. Trim roses aroundMarch and water shrubs around foundation of home, zone 5. Clean and sharpen garden tools and clean patio furniture and pots. I work as an over the road truck driver and it’s hard to get everything accomplish while home only 35 days a year. Check Mike’s web site often.
Otis, great idea on the first till and the roses. Thanks for sharing! -Mike McGroarty
Deb Rebel says
Send off my soil tests
Order a pallet of my favorite startermix so it gets here when my flats have to be uppotted.
Turn compost pile
Start punching all my recycle pots (plastic and styrofoam used and rinsed cups, washed out yogurt cups, etc) and getting them ready.
cut up old hoarded narrow slat window blinds for my plant markers.
When my soil test results come back, get my amendments ordered (I will need gypsum, my soil always needs gypsum)…
Finish tractor overhaul and fluid changes, the BX2200 is due for the major hourly stuff, so it’s ready for patch and bed work. It’s his tractor but he doesn’t have to talk very hard on getting me to agree to a few more attachments this spring!
Check all my fluro and cfc assisting lights and see if I need to fix or replace anything.
Order new plastic for the 3 season frame for third stage growout. (starter flat, uppot, uppot again and finish out to sell)
Check the overwinter beds and see how last years twigs are doing, and with several days in the 60’s, check moisture.
Prep for trims and sticking a new crop of twigs. Aquariums and recycled soda bottle ‘cloches’ cleaned and refurbished.
Clean house and stuff freezer because in a few weeks it will be growing season indoors and I won’t come up for air for a few months. (I’m happiest with potmix in my hairpart and compost in my shoes….)
Order some more of that sweatproof sunblock that works so well, I went through a batch of it last year (as I sit here typing this with the backs of my knees got ‘pinked’ today)
I think I deserve a new sunhat and muckboots, lets’ go shopping for that.
Go visit Mike’s site, often.
Finish design and printoff, and laminate some things, for this season. KISS (keep it simple silly) works but a nice set of signs and the like make customers happy too.
[here I get mid Nov to mid Jan off, I’ve already started on the list above…]
mary plourde says
would have never thought of window blinds as markers. thanks . they are slick will magic marker stay on them though?
Deb, thank you so much for sharing this detailed list. Perfect! Thank you so much. -Mike McGroarty
I didn’t see you mention putting down compost. Is that it?
Rose, putting down compost is a great item to add to the pre-spring check list. Thanks for reminding me.
Michela Madison-Towne says
This is a helpful list, which I’ll start on in February here in GA. Please tell me, will you be selling starts of Henry Lauder’s Walking Stick? Hope that’s a “yes”! 🙂
Michela, I will not be selling small Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick plants. Most of mine will sell for $75.00 or more. Now . . . if you were one of my customers you could buy from the same wholesale sources that I buy from. I’m getting Harry Lauder’s for around $4.00 each wholesale! http://freeplants.com/wanted.htm
Hugh Pierce says
What planting zone will your products survive in ? (Red Dogwood?)
Vermont need a 3 – 4 hardy zone
Hugh, Dogwoods do well in zones 5 through 8. Any warmer or any colder and I don’t think they’d be happy. Zone 4? Maybe. Even here in zone 5 every once in a while we get a cold spell that damages a lot of plants. But we just replant and hope for the best.
Hi Mike. Yeh, bring on Spring! It’s cold and snowy here in the UK at the moment. But, I’ve been trying to cut back some more parts of a long, tall overgrown hedge before the birds’ nesting season begins. I’ve been working on it for about 5 years on dry days during Autumn and Winter. Some of my neighbours are encouraging with their comments, and that’s something we all need. Thanks for your encouragement too. Rob
clyde w holmes says
mike sounds like you just about got it all togather i know when i try to get things down i always forget something seem to just go blank, heather seems to have it right with those dog woods i would love to have a few, maybe a half dozen for my own use my wife puts out some things once in a while i
beleive i could get her to put them out for me, hang in there mike, i enjoy all your mails.
David Lockett. says
G,Day Mike. We are now in Summer here in Australia I live in S.E. QLD. I just love your up-dates on all gardening aspects my love is Roses , I also grow Veggies and my back yard is 4Metres x 1mt. most of the shrubs are Tropical
please keep up the good work and the Tips you send out, all the best . David.
Mike, I purchased your first gardeners program, but put it away until after my eye surgery. I have yet to find where I put it. I am hoping to locate it as now I can finally see better and look forward to tackling my back yard. I enjoy your newsletters and love gardening. My first project this spring (after all the snow is gone) is to build a compost bin out of pallets. My soil is not the greatest here and needs a lot of help. Keep the newsletters coming.
Caroline, The Backyard Growing System that we sell today contains a lot of really good, updated material One of the videos and the new book were just added last September. Good stuff, well worth ordering the updated materials. http://freeplants.com/wanted.htm
Pray for more rain, and cooler summer temperatures.
We live in hot Texas and are in the second year of a drought. Our lakes are drying up and watering our yards is only once a week at set hours…yes, we are suffering. Enjoy reading what all of you have planned…here we don’t make plans…trees are dying and grass is browning.
Thanks for the list Mike, it looks like you have most of it covered. Soon I’ll be digging out the tiller, mower, weedeater etc for tuning, sharpening blades and whatever else they will need. I like to stay a step ahead with that stuff.
Thanks a lot Mike, you are always an inspiration to us.
Bless your hands.
Thank you Elvis, I appreciate that!
Robert Wilson says
We really appreciate the down to earth information you provide in your newsletters. Checking the condition of my hand and power tools. replace broke or cracked handles. Tune up rototiller, lawn mower, edger, trimmer etc. as needed. Sharpen dull tools such as clippers. These are important to my list to be ready for the coming growing season.
Robert, you are right, thank you for adding these to the list of things we need to be doing now! -Mike McGroarty
Love your website, Mike!!
Remove the mulch from the tender perennials
Make a list of the plants you want to divide this year.
Thank you Linda! More great information to add to the list.
When you remove the dead leaves/mulch, it goes to compost, right? And then you work in finished compost for soil amendment? Or don’t you bother with that? How about planting bulbs and dormant perennials? At what point do you do divisions on the salix, cornus, buddleia, etc., or don’t you do divisions on them? What about syringa? Do you bag divisions in favor of cuttings? I’ve always done them in the spring while they’re dormant. Is that wrong? How about cutting back trailing ground covers (limiting rhizomal spread and getting the bonus of a whole bunch of free new plants in the process). What is the best way to confine rhizomal spreading BTW? I’m using pound in metal barriers for now, but they don’t work forever, or go deep enough.
Are the pink dogwoods suitable for growing in central Florida, east coast?
How can I get ahold of Heather to order one of her pink dogwoods?
Patti – Washington
I would like a dozen myself! Plz let me know where she ordered them from! Thx!
Patti, as of now Heather is sold out of Pink Dogwoods at the $3.50 price. I think she sold almost a thousand of them at that price and never advertised them to the general public. To buy at these prices you have to be a member of the trade. How do you do that? In my Backyard Growing System, http://freeplants.com/wanted.htm, I give you all of the details and inside information about buying plants at these deeply discounted prices.
Keith Wallace says
Hi Mike and all,
I’m brand new and just starting a nursery business as per Mike’s course. Mine will be different though. I will be specializing in xeric plants because I live in the Southeast desert of Arizona. Where do I find such plants to get started with? Right now I am propagating a local wild verbena (very hard to propagate but easy with Mike’s methods) and hope to have 200 or more by spring time. They are absolutely gorgeous! And make a very showy ground cover. But where else can I get plants to resell and keep for cuttings? Thank you for your help!
Desert Calls Backyard Nursery
Thanks Keith, sounds like you are off to a flying start! -Mike McGroarty
Order mulch and pots/bags so I am ready to start potting up all those rooted cuttings when the weather breaks.
Order supplies so everything is on-hand before the weather breaks and the warehouses get swamped with calls for product.
Draw up a potential layout for new grow beds and areas so I will know where the bagged/potted stuff is going before I even start bagging. Have a plan and then work the plan.
David, thank you, great advice!
Tammy Walker says
Thanks so much for the list of to do’s. This is also the time of year I am planning any new landscape beds and the plants I want to use. We have a new home that the yard was and still is a blank canvas. Not sure if you want to add this to your “to do” list or not. I’m sure you don’t have anything else to do….(dripping with way too much sarcasm).
Thank you so much for the Pink Dogwood link. I’m super excited over this one!!!
Tammy, you’re right, I don’t have much going on. I wish! You know the drill, even if I were to catch up I’d just find more things to put me behind again. Thanks for the suggestions, we’ll just let folks read them from your post.
Bob Fortner says
LOL Mike,that kinda statement makes me think we might be related somehow..My spring todo list just keeps getting bigger..But try making a list of what all you got done last year.You might be very pleased with your self like me.Your friend Bob
Do you have any vining okra ? or where can I get some ? thank You Nancy
Lori Shellenberger says
Thank you, thank you for the wonderful link to Garden Mash.
LOVE IT! Especially when I am into planting native.
Lori, you’re welcome. Amber does a great job with http://gardenmash.com She adds new information almost daily, digging up some of the most interesting gardening info on the web. I too enjoy the site!
I am not that Shirley. 🙂 Oh well, I did leave one message although, I cannot remember what it was or what was it about.
I do adore your newsletter. I am still waiting for my husband to put up that greenhouse (hoop style, not really very big)however, I have all winter to remind him. We live in zone 3, upper Minnesota so I do have bushes; we have burning bushes, lilacs, pee gees, barberries, chokeberries, red twig dogwoods, and forstyhias. I happened to buy them in a tree farm auction and bought $800 worth and nearly that many. That was in 1999; and I am always anxious if they will live, they have but springs were terrible. Because it would get warm; they budded but then they froze.
Mike love your site and it is helping me a lot as I am starting to landscape my backyard. Your list helps me to keep on track. Thanks for the stump removal info as I have those pesky Chinese Elms that took over my back yard. Once I get rid of those I will have a clean slate to work with. I appreciate you effort in supplying good info to gardeners like myself. Please keep up the good work.