“A warm day in March can inspire a kind of madness in gardeners. It can cause them to burst out the door, desperate after months cooped up by cold and snow, and start work way too soon.
“Be careful what you do right now,” said Sharon Yiesla, plant knowledge specialist at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. “There are things it’s just too early for.”
Here are some do’s and don’ts for early spring gardening:
Do get rid of tree wrap. If you wrapped the trunk of a young tree to protect it from animals over the winter, unwrap it now. “Leaving tree wrap on too long can trap moisture and encourage disease,” Yiesla said.
Don’t walk on or dig in wet soil. “That can compact the soil, which smothers plant roots,” Yiesla said. “Compacted soil is a very difficult condition to correct.” Even as the soil thaws at the surface, a hidden layer of impermeable ice often remains below, trapping water like a soup bowl. Wait until the soil has thawed all the way down and water is draining freely through it before you start digging or even walking on any part of the yard, including the lawn.
Do force branches of flowering shrubs. Cut branches of forsythia, flowering quince or other spring bloomers and stand them in a vase of warm water to encourage them to bloom indoors. “Just make sure you prune carefully and leave the overall shape of the shrub looking good,” Yiesla said.”