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Despite chilly temps, its time to plant spring gardens

The calendar says it’s officially spring, even if winter is reluctant to let go of its grip. Although the temperatures have remained chilly of late, that itch to get out into the garden can still be scratched. There is plenty to do.

According to Paul Lively of the award winning Lively Landscape Company, this is a good time to get out in the yard and garden to begin cleaning up winter’s scatter and cutting back old growth on plants and bushes like crepe myrtle, liriope and rose bushes.

Trees and bushes may be planted almost any time of the year, but there is less maintenance if they are planted in the fall or early spring. It’s also a good time to aerate grass, over seed fescue, put in perennials and the change from winter to summer annuals can start around the middle of April.

“It comes down to water,” Lively said. When they are planted in late spring or summer, “It’s a lot more work on the homeowner’s part making sure the plants get enough water, even with an irrigation system. Planting in early spring  allows the plants to adapt to their location when the nights are still cool. The cooler night temperatures reduce the loss of water and stress which allows time for plants to recuperate from the transplant.”

This is also a good time to spread pre-emergent herbicide like Preen on lawns and in gardens, Lively said. That prevents weed seed from germinating reduces weed time later on.

“It makes a huge difference,” Lively said.

Pre-emergent herbicide should be spread twice a year using Mother Nature’s time table, Lively suggested. In the spring, the trigger is when the forsythia bloom and in the fall it’s when the tree and shrub fall color begins.

It’s also a good time to fertilize shrubs and tress. Lively suggests a slow release 14-14-14 mix fertilizer.

For a home surrounded by shade trees, “Shade gardening can be fun,” Lively said. “There are plenty of shade plant matter – hydrangea, ferns, different host as and perennial ground cover.” New home sales have begun to bounce back. This is a perfect time for new homeowners to put their own touch to the landscaping package that came with the house. For a bit of shade, Lively suggests the summer blooming Natchez crepe myrtle for smaller lots. Crepe myrtle comes in a variety of colors, but the Natchez is the only one with a cinnamon-stick colored bark.

The Yoshino Cherry tree has a “cheery pinky-white color” in the spring.

October Glory Red Maple is better for a larger lot. It can grow up to 40 feet tall and have a 35-foot-wide canopy

“It’s one of my favorites,”  Lively said. “It has brilliant red fall color and is one of the last maples to go into leaf color so its stunning color has nothing competing with it.”

Homeowners who want to do something more elaborate than planting a few trees, shrubs and fl owers are advised to create a plan or work with a professional to evaluate the property, Lively said.

“We take cues from the architecture and scale of the house, the lay of the land and the lifestyle of the client,” Lively said. “A lot of times, package plans will overgrow the house and loose a very important key element of the landscape.”

At the annual Nashville lawn and Garden Show in early March, Lively Landscape, located in Fairview, was awarded the Best in Show award for its exhibit booth. Other Williamson County winners include Willow Branch Landscaping and Cottage Garden both located in Franklin.

For project ideas, visit Lively may be reached at 615-266-2173 or


Posted on: 4/3/2013


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