9 Ways to Get Your Green Thumb Ready Gardening

spring flowers

It appears the battle between spring and winter is over! With temperatures rising and spring bulbs poking through the earth, we offer these tips/services to get your lawn and garden ready for spring.


#1: Look for Damage

The wild ride of temperatures in February and March could play havoc on some plants and shrubs. According to our master gardeners, you should first thoroughly inspect your greenery before your prune. “You are looking particularly for both browned or blackened leaves and buds, and especially for signs of life and growth, even on damaged foliage,” says Adria Bordas, a master gardener. “In my opinion, I think it is too early (in mid March) to determine the full extent of damage and I have been advising people to leave their plants alone for now. If by mid-May you do not see any signs of recovery, then you should remove any dead branches.”


#2: Spring Cleaning

Do you have insecticides, weed killers or other household hazardous waste you want to get rid of safely? We’ll take those corrosive, ignitable, toxic and reactive materials items for free at our I-66 and I-95 recycling locations.

View List of Acceptable Items


#3: Fertilizer Tips

If you think you need to fertilize your lawn, don’t—don’t fertilize in the spring if you have cool-season grass, like tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass. Most grasses in Northern Virginia are cool-season grasses.

Feeding your lawn at the wrong time of year can actually hurt your grass in the long run. Fertilizer runoff harms our creeks, streams and the Chesapeake Bay.


#4: Seedling Sale

Get rid of some of your lawn, and replace it with native plants, shrubs and trees. They often need less water, tolerate hot, dry summers, and offer food for wildlife.

How about planting some Viburnum dentatum or Physocarpus opulifolius? In other words, how about planting some native seedlings that are appropriate for this part of Virginia? The shrub and small tree package features 10 seedlings for $16.95. The tree package includes 6 seedlings sold for $11.95. A full, nonrefundable payment must accompany your order by Wednesday, April 12, or until supplies run out.

Order Seedlings


You can also check out these lists of recommended native and wildlife friendly plants and bulbs for our area.


#5: Make Your Own Rain Barrel

Rain barrels can be placed under your downspouts to capture runoff from the roof, so come to a class and learn how to make your own rain barrel at classes offered by the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District. Classes run from March 25 through July 29.

Register for Rain Barrel Workshop


Why use a rain barrel?

  1. Provide your plants with natural water they will love!
  2. Save money and water!
  3. Protect the Chesapeake Bay!


#6: Free Mulch

Applying a layer of organic mulch in spring will help maintain soil moisture and control weeds. Mulching also insulates soils keeping them warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

We operate a brush grinding operation, which produces double-shredded wood mulch for residents. The mulch is free, clean, and of good quality. Wood mulch is usually available at the I-95 and I-66 locations. Call 703-324-5995, TTY 711 to check on current supply.

A few guidelines for good mulching:

  • Everything is better in moderation, even mulch. Apply a 2-4 inch mulch layer.
  • If you don’t need it, don’t do it! Hardwood or bark mulches may not need replacing every year.
  • Despite the appeal of those attractive mulch mountains, don’t pile mulch against tree trunks or plant stems. It can stress plants causing insect and disease problems.


#7: Need Advice? Contact a Master Gardener

For 40 years, the Fairfax County Master Gardeners Association has served as the area’s experts in helping local gardeners with a host of horticultural conundrums—from selecting the right plants and understanding how to care for them, to conducting home soil tests and helping address pest issues.

Do you need advice? Call/email or attend a plant clinic:


#8: Go to the Library

Yes, go to the library to get the best out of your lawn and garden. There are more than 1,300 “gardening” titles available to check out.

Search for Gardening Books


#9: Mark Your Calendars

With spring here, here are two key dates to put on your calendars:


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