It’s March and the days are longer. Plants are being purchased in high anticipation of warm sunshine. Spring will soon be sprung. But in Colorado, what does that mean? We sat down with Jennifer Miller, a horticulturist at Denver Botanic Gardens, and Merry Johnson of Country Fair Garden Center to discuss the do’s and don’ts of prepping your garden. Here’s their five-step process.
1Make a decision
If you are new to gardening, the first thing you should do is decide what kind of garden you want—based on the space available to you and the levels of sun and shade. Unfortunately, at high altitude, there isn’t a fool-proof method of gardening. So, you just have to start.
2Test your soil
It’s important to remember that different kinds of plants need different kinds of soil. Once you’ve determined what kind of garden you want, test your soil before adding any fertilizer or other amendments.
3Check the label
After you’ve made your decision for what kind of garden you want, get out your calendar and start planning. Knowing what you want to plant will save you time, money and effort. If you are planting with seeds, check out the label on the packet and that will tell you the best time to plant based on the average frost date from the previous year.
4Prune your shrubs
Next, make note of when to prune flowering shrubs. Lilac, forsythia, and viburnum are all popular choices to plant around homes in Denver. Pruning these isn’t completely necessary, and you shouldn’t consider pruning until after the bushes bloom in spring. Prune too soon and you will cut off the buds.
Mid-March is a good time to sow tomato, sweet pepper, and sweet pea seeds indoors. Move them outdoors after the weather starts to warm up. Lettuce and spinach can be planted outside around the third week of March, but only after slowly introducing them to colder weather. It’s also a good idea to look at other gardens around your home and repeat what others have done successfully. Connecting with other gardeners will help you learn what grows best.