Seasons in the Landscape

One of the rewards of landscaping is watching how plants change through the seasons. During the dark winter months, you look forward to the bright, fresh flowers of spring. There is nothing as pleasurable as sitting in your yard and garden at a cozy little picnic bench table.Then the lush green foliage of summer is transformed into the blazing colors of fall. Perennials that rest underground in winter can grow head-high by midsummer, and hence a flower bed that looks flat and bare in December becomes a jungle in July.

Any planting that do you will change with the season if you plan ahead to incorporate plants that will bloom and do well in your area. The task of actually tending to the garden will change with the season as well.

Seasonal plants add color to the garden

Plants for Spring

Crocuses, daffodils, and other spring bulbs start blooming in April in the Midwest region, a welcome sign of the end of a long winter. Soon it’s time to start mowing the lawn, and by the end of May all the trees have fresh new leaves. If you have a canopy gazebo or a bench picnic table, you will want to clean them off and maybe give them a coating of stain, paint, or sealant. Many shrubs and perennials, such as the yellow azalea, blue false indigo, and purple siberian iris, bloom in spring. Others that will bloom in summer or fall are just low mounds of foliage now.

Do a thorough garden cleanup about the time the bulbs bloom. Remove last year’s perennial flower stalks and tattered foliage, cut ornamental grasses to the ground, prune shrubs and trees as needed, renew the mulch, and neaten the edges between lawn and beds.

Plants for Summer

In summer, flowering perennials such as the white and purple coneflowers, lilies, and coreopsis,can adds spots of color to the otherwise green landscape. Try your hand at clipping off older blooms as they fade to encourage more flowers. Summer weather is typically hot and humid throughout the midwest region of the country, but droughts are not uncommon. Water new plantings at least once a week during dry spells, and water older plants, also, if the soil gets so dry that they wilt, Pull any weeds that sprout up through the mulch; this is easiest when the soil is moist from rain or watering.

Plants for Fall

Fall foliage season lasts for a month or so in the Midwest region, starting in mid to late September. Trees and shrubs such as the service berry, and burning bush, and azalea, paint the landscape in shades of red, orange, pink, purple, gold, and yellow. Meanwhile, fall-blooming perennials such as asters and chrysanthemums , or the Japanese anemones and October plants, produce colorful flowers that stay fresh-looking for weeks in the cool, crisp autumn weather.

Sometime in October, the first hard frost will kill tender plants to the ground, signaling the time for fall cleanup. Toss frosted annuals on the compost pile if you have one. You can cut perennials and grasses down now or wait until spring. Rake fallen leaves into a pile or bin and save them to use as mulch in spring,

Winter Plants

In winter, when plants are dormant and snow covers the ground, you appreciate the green foliage of conifers such as the juniper, and the twigs and bark of deciduous trees and shrubs. Clumps of rustling grass or shrubs and trees with bright berries are welcome in winter, too.

Spray broad-leaved evergreens with anti-desiccant before the weather gets too cold, and build burlap shelters around any young or exposed evergreens that need extra protection. Once the ground freezes, spread some pine boughs or coarse mulch over newly planted perennials to keep them from frost-heaving.

During the winter, if a heavy snow or an ice storm snaps or crushes some shrubs, you can trim away the broken parts as soon as convenient, but if plants get frozen during a severe cold spell, wait until spring to assess the damage before deciding how far to cut them back.

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