Homes Plus

April, 2015

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By Sara Rae Lancaster HOMES PLUS CORRESPONDENT WAUKESHA — The arrival of American robins and warmer tem- peratures are tell-tale signs that spring is (finally) here. Gardeners have been waiting all winter to get their hands in the dirt. But before you roll up the sleeves and put on the garden gloves, there are a few things you should do to wake up the garden first. Survey yard and garden beds "Right now people might be tempted on a nice day to start cleaning up some of their garden beds," said Ann Wied, UW Exten- sion Waukesha County horticul- ture educator. But you might want to hold off, she cautioned. "All that stuff that is still there is insulating plant roots so they slowly emerge. Otherwise, the plants might start to shoot up and be subjected to frost," Wied said. Instead, use this time to survey the yard, the garden beds and the lawn, and make note of anything that needs extra TLC, suggested Janet Wintersberger, a University of Wisconsin master gardener. "You're looking for the general health of the plant," Wintersberg- er said. "When it just isn't pro- gressing or if it isn't as large as it should be, showing some signs of rotting, or maybe even showing some dieback, those are things you want to be noticing and address- ing." If something looks suspicious, the UW-Extension offers a phone hotline where experts are avail- able to answer gardeners' ques- tions and help troubleshoot vari- ous concerns and issues. Prune trees and shrubs Sharpen the pruning shears. Early spring is a good time to prune trees and shrubs. "This is a perfect time, the end of the dormant season, to go out and prune," Wied said. "We usually advise pruning up until about April 15, or when the buds begin to show." New to pruning? "The UW-Extension has some great resources and fact sheets on pruning on our website to help you know what to do and what not to do," Wied said. "If you've never pruned before, that's a great place to start." "Just be careful not to cut back flowering plants, like lilac," Win- tersberger added, "or you will lose the blooms for this year." Get a soil test Early spring is the time to get a soil test. Experts advise testing the soil in garden beds about every four years. "Depending on what you are planting, you'll have different soil tests for lawn, vegetables and flow- ers," Wied explained. Soil tests are available at most home and garden stores or through the UW-Extension for a nominal fee. Results will indicate what nutrients the soil lacks, and in the case of the UW-Extension test, provide suggestions of what materials to add to the soil to improve it. "Now is the time we may add some mushroom compost in the flower beds and dig that into the soil. You may also want to add some milorganite if it's not a veg- etable bed," suggested Winters- berger, who volunteers with vari- ous community gardens through- out the Brookfield area, primarily the historic garden at the Dous- man Stagecoach Inn Museum. 242880003 C O N T E N T S Checking your garden list twice Impatiens hybrids promise heat and disease tolerance ■ Are your spring home cleaning products safe? ■ While asphalt remains a popular choice for driveways, explore your options ■ Home heat pumps can lead to big savings Submitted photo You know you want to plant, but hold the urge for now See Patience/Page 2 A publication of the Waukesha Freeman and Oconomowoc Enterprise • April 2015 Special Edition Special Edition Spring Home & Garden

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