Trees / Shrubs – Apply wood chips or shredded bark mulch one inch deep over existing beds or three to four inches in new areas for weed control and moisture retention.
Flowers – Warm spring temperatures allow for clean up in perennial and annual gardens. Withered foliage and debris should be composted away from the garden. Leaf litter can harbor diseases and insect eggs that can re-infect your plants. If cultivating annual beds, avoid days when the soil is soaking wet to avoid compaction.
Lawns – Get a lawn soil test before you make fertilizer or lime applications this spring. Some Garden centers offer this service as well as your local MSU Extension Office. A crabgrass preventative can be applied to problem areas about the time the forsythia blooms.
Vegetables and Fruit – Winter vegetables can be planted outdoors now. Kale, cabbage, broccoli, radish and spinach. Salad veggies can be sown in patches every two weeks to ensure a steady harvest. Indoors tomatoes, peppers and eggplant can be started.
Pesky Bugs – Gypsy Moth may be a problem in your area. Young larvae can hatch anytime during mid April to May. Bacillus thuriengensis (BT) is used as a biological insecticide to reduce levels of this pest. Check with your Township or County to see if there is a control program in the area.
Planting – Plant bare root, balled and burlapped, balled and potted, and container-grown ornamental landscape plants. Bare root plants should be dormant. Spring has become a traditional time for planting because environmental conditions favor planting. Soil and air temperatures should be above freezing. Plants adapt readily to the intensity of spring sunlight and are less likely to be stressed by dry weather.
Transplanting – Dig plants that were root pruned in the fall. Deciduous plants may be moved bare root before bud break, but broadleaf & narrowleaf evergreens should be moved balled & burlapped or balled & potted. Moving may be done whenever soil and air temperatures are above freezing. Root prune plants that you intend to move in September or October.
Pruning – Thin and rejuvenate overgrown or unhealthy deciduous plants to direct and control new growth.
Fertilizing – Fertilizer may be broadcast around ornamental landscape plants as the ground begins to thaw.
Watering – Irrigate newly planted, actively growing ornamentals any time there is less than 1 inch of weekly rainfall. Apply water at the rate of 1 quart per square foot of planting area on poorly drained soils. On well drained soils, use a half-gallon of water per square foot. Newly planted ornamentals not yet actively growing can be injured by overwatering.
Plant protection – For newly planted ornamentals, you may apply a pre-emergence herbicide before spreading a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch over the soil in the bed or around trees. Level winter mulch and use the excess to thicken thin spots in beds and around trees for a summer mulch to conserve moisture and prevent weed seed germination. Rodent tree trunk guards, rose cones and fabric wind screens around evergreens should be removed when freezing temperatures are no longer a threat.
Source: Rebecca Finneran – MSU Extension & Bulletin E-1947