They say that April showers bring May flowers to a garden, but when it comes to the Hamptons no one likes rain regardless of the season. You can't blame us, as the Hamptons' appeal is built on social gatherings, overnight guests and lots of dining out and parties—all things that are less enjoyable when it's raining. But when liquid sunshine arrives we can get busy coordinating spring clean up, tree service and fence repair to be done when the sun returns. And when it does, take a moment before slipping on your party shoes to get out those Hunter boots
and get busy in the garden. To help you, here is part 2 of my 3-part spring garden chores list; my alMARnac, if you will.
MID- SPRING (APRIL)
Seed the lawn:
Spring and fall are the best times to plant grass, because seeds germinate best when temperatures are consistently between 60 and 80 degrees. Once the soil temperature warms up, this is the ideal time to seed (freezing temperatures will not harm the seed or young seedlings, but will delay emergence by a week or so). Mid-spring planting generally results in better establishment than late spring, as seed will not germinate well once temperatures are consistently above 80 degrees.
For over-seeding, mow the grass closely, then loosen the top quarter-inch of soil in bare patches. If seeding a new lawn, loosen the top 2 to 3 inches of soil. For the best results, spread one-quarter inch of grass seed and rake to smooth out heavy areas. Keep the top half-inch of soil damp by watering twice daily until all seedlings are up. Continue to water once or twice a day until the lawn is fully established, which generally takes six to eight weeks.
This is a great time to divide many perennials as they are emerging in your garden, such as Hosta and Hemerocallis (daylilies). If you find you have too much of one thing, spread the wealth by giving them to your friends or neighbors.
Once all the shrubs have leafed out, look for winter tip kill. Prune off just the dead wood as you spot it.
Set your stakes:
Stake perennials such as peonies, sedum, phlox and delphiniums before they really need it. This will help their growth and protect them from rain damage.
Follow these few steps and you'll be well on your way to an enchanted April. The vibrant colors of spring will be validation of a job well done and you can feel confident that you're ready for the garden season. I'll let you in on my little secret on how to best motivate yourself: pick up a package of Tate's cookies from their Southampton shop. Rather than whistling while I work, I'd prefer to eat!
And there you have it.
Mar is an Emmy Nominated TV Host, Lifestyle Expert and best-selling author of "Life On Mar's, A Four Season Garden," that chronicles the evolution of his Westport, Connecticut garden. www.marjennings.com