Lately, everyone seems to have the same question, “When is it going to be spring?” The answer to this question is, “Only Mother Nature knows for sure.” However, I can give you some information that helps predict when spring will arrive, along with other answers to common spring gardening questions.

1) When is the frost-free date? The frost-free date is a date in which the chances of avoiding freezing temperatures reach a certain percentage. For example, on May 15th Lovelock has a 50% chance of temperatures being below 32o F. However, on May 29th only a 20% chance that temperatures will be below 32o F. These dates can be found at http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/cliMAIN.pl?nvlove . 

2) Can I put leaves and other organic matter on my garden? Leaves, bark, sawdust, and other organic items can be applied to the garden, AFTER they have gone through the composting process. If applied prior to composting, they will tie up nitrogen and result in yellow, unthrifty garden plants.

3) When do I apply my crabgrass preventer? Before the soil temperatures reach 60-70 degrees or prior to the end of April. Crabgrass preventers stop germination. Warm season annuals like crabgrass will not germinate until the soils warm up. For more information on crabgrass control go to: Best Management Practices in Spring Crabgrass Control in Lawns - https://ext.vt.edu/lawn-garden/turfandgardentips/tips/bmp-spring-crabgrass-control.html

4) Should I soil test my garden or lawn before applying any fertilizer? YES, only a soil test can tell you what your soil needs. It can also tell you the pH of the soil, which is very important and will affect how your plant is able to take up important nutrients. You can waste a lot of money on fertilizers if you do not know what is already in your soil.

5) I have a tree that looks bad. Is it going to die? Probably! The old saying is “a sick tree is like a sick sheep; a sick sheep is a dead sheep!” Wait until it leafs out, and then evaluate it. Many times, the problem with trees are vascular in nature. For various reasons, disease, poor soil conditions, problems with 

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the site or injury, prevent the tree from getting the necessary water and nutrients from the roots up in the tree. These issues are very difficult and expensive to treat.

The following are some tips on how to get your lawn off to a good start this spring.

First, remove any twigs or debris from your lawn so that they don’t get stuck in the mower or dull the mower’s blade.

A spring fertilizer is a great way to green up the yard quickly. Typically, apply three-fourths of a pound per 1,000 square feet of nitrogen using a “slow-release” fertilizer. The slow release will help avoid burning and other injuries to the lawn.

Lingering drought conditions from last year may delay the release of your fertilizer and the lawn may take longer to grow. If you seeded your lawn last fall, it will likely need to be reseeded this spring. The fall drought may have dried out the seedlings.

If you are seeding this spring, avoid applying a crabgrass preventer. Although effective at preventing crabgrass, this product will also keep the regular grass seed from germinating.

Once the lawn starts to green up and the ground is firm, then it is time to take the mower out. Make sure your mower has been properly serviced and the blades are sharp. Also, make sure your mower has been set to a proper height of 2 1/2 – 3 inches.

My best advice for spring garden preparation is get started now, because summer will be here before you know it.