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Spring in Bloom: 5 Tips for Amateur Gardeners

From the golden forsythia to the purple haze of red buds, evidence of warmer weather blooms all around us. Finally, spring has come to Brandermill Woods! Whether you’re a beginning gardener or a pro, opportunities abound to work in the dirt.

“I love to see Brandermill Woods residents outside, enjoying the nice weather. This is an active, vibrant place to live and our residents’ green thumbs show,” said Executive Director Charmaine Preiss. “We’ve got a couple of master gardeners among our residents, but many more are hobbyists who take pride in growing flowers or patio vegetables.”

With spring in the air, now is the time to take advantage of the sunshine and get an outdoor workout with these five amateur gardening tips:

1. Clean it up. Take time to clean out dead plants and weeds from last fall. This is a great time to rake out debris and put down new mulch, as needed, for a tidier lawn and garden. Assess what might need to be pruned — but don’t cut back any spring-blooming shrubs or trees until after flowering.

2. Make a plan. Break out your journal and your garden catalog and start planning what to plant to fill in any gaps in your flower beds. Be sure to keep track of what you’ve ordered and diagram where you want it to go. Make sure you order bulbs and seedlings that will work in our Central Virginia climate. Brandermill Woods falls in Zone 7A. The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts a last frost for the Richmond area around April 10. Be sure to wait to plant anything that’s not cold tolerant. Also, don’t forget your container plants. Best bets for the region include: creeping jenny, sedum, petunias, begonias and geraniums. Get more ideas at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

3. Create fertile soil. Give your garden some fuel with a balanced fertilizer (the numbers on the container should read 6-6-6 or 8-8-8). To better understand what your soil needs, get a soil test — available through home improvement stores or Virginia Tech. According to Virginia Tech, “More than a third of garden samples tested have too much lime, creating an alkaline soil that can cause micro-nutrient deficiencies in plants.”

4. Start a compost pile. Enjoy rich soil in the future by saving kitchen and garden scraps. Make sure you don’t include any animal products and include equal part of brown and green materials. Chop up your scraps and debris to create quicker decomposition.

5. Don’t forget about the birds. Invite color and activity into your garden with some feathered friends. Take time now to clean out your bird baths and feeders. You might also like to hang a new bird feeder.

There’s so much to do, but take time to enjoy your hard work. Place a hammock or patio chairs where you can enjoy the great outdoors all year. See you outside!