Landscape Help for Village Idiots

Rototilling, Pruning Tips for Spring

Don't be a silly goose (image).
Don't be a silly goose, get your landscaping tips from a trusted source. David Beaulieu

The old-timer next door is a real fanatic about his landscaping. He landscapes all day, every day, spring, summer and fall. I'm convinced this old Yankee sprinkles plant fertilizer on his asparagus at mealtime, in lieu of salt! But he's full of landscaping tips for preparing the yard for spring. I became convinced of his wisdom one day as another March came to a close. April Fools' Day was looming large when I overheard a conversation between him (I'll call him "Landscaper") and some passersby sorely in need of landscaping tips (I'll call them the "Village Idiots").

The conversation that spring day between the Landscaper and the Village Idiots went something like this:

 

  • Village Idiots:
  • The ground is thawed now, so we can begin rototilling to prepare the soil in our gardens, can't we?

 

 

  • Landscaper:
  • Not so fast, you hasty Village Idiots! A rule of thumb for rototilling is to pick up a lump of soil, and squeeze it in your hand. If it is dry enough to fall apart slowly, then your gardens are ready for rototilling. Otherwise, it's too muddy, and you'll just end up spending all your time scraping mud off the tines of your machine while you're rototilling.

 

 

  • Village Idiots:
  • Okay, we understand now. You can't rush Mother Nature, and she treats the impatient harshly. You're saying we really can't do anything to hurry along Mother Nature in the garden, right?

 

 

  • Landscaper:
  • Wrong again, you Village Idiots! Refraining from haste doesn't mean refraining from work altogether. If you spread black plastic mulching sheets over the garden area to draw heat to it, you help the soil to warm up faster.

     

     

    • Village Idiots:
    • We see you have your pruning shears out, old Landscaper. This must be a good time for pruning back all your shrubs?

     

     

    • Landscaper:
    • Easy with the pruning, you Village Idiots! Let me give you a landscaping tip. Some flowering shrubs flower on last year's growth, not new growth. So pruning them now means no flowers later. Study your shrubs' growth habits before pruning them!

       

       

      • Village Idiots:
      • We want to eradicate poison ivy from our land this year. With little vegetation around in spring to get in the way, we figure we'll just rip the old poison ivy vines off the trees where they're growing and burn them. Pretty smart thinking, huh?

       

       

      • Landscaper:
      • Dumb thinking, you Village Idiots. Burning poison ivy is dangerous, as you can end up inhaling its poison through the smoke. And even though the spring vines look "old," the poison is still potent. Old things can still be vigorous, you young Village Idiots!

       

       

      • Village Idiots:
      • Old Landscaper, considering your love of flowers, do you find it hard to wait for the flowers to come out, so that you can cut some and bring them in to cheer the house?

       

       

      • Landscaper:
      • You Village Idiots, I do have flowers in my house, already. Forsythia branches can be cut in March and forced to bloom inside. Just stick them in water. But nothing could "force" you to become more savvy about landscaping, you hopeless Village Idiots.

       

      But the old one wasn’t finished furnishing his disciples with landscape help. The conversation between the Landscaper and the Village Idiots continues on Page 2. But will the Village Idiots remain foolish, or give the old man a taste of his own medicine...?

      The old Landscaper and the Village Idiots continue their conversation, begun on Page 1. Our landscaping tips treasure-trove supplies the Village Idiots with sorely needed landscaping tips, to help them get their landscaping off to a good start this spring. The conversation has now turned to mulching:

       

      • Village Idiots:
      • We were smart last year. We spread a thick layer of mulch over all our perennial flower beds and bulb plantings, and now we won't have to pull weeds or spread mulch this year at all. The mulch is already in place, and the perennials and bulb plants will just push up through it.

         

         

        • Landscaper:
        • You lazy Village Idiots! You should already have removed mulch from snowdrops and crocuses so the shoots aren't smothered beneath the mulch layer. Loosen the mulch around daffodils and tulips, but keep enough around the shoots to help protect them against cold, drying winds. Mulch should be removed from perennial beds only gradually, as the season progresses. Keep taking a peek under the mulch to stay abreast of what's happening. When the shoots start coming up, don't allow them to be smothered by the mulch.

         

         

        • Village Idiots:
        • But at least we're cautious about mulching in our annual beds. We buy our annual plants around Memorial Day, then spread mulch all around them. Surely you can't fault us on that score?

         

         

        • Landscaper:
        • Surely I can, you Village Idiots. By leaving your annual garden beds unattended until the end of May, you're practically inviting the weeds to come in and set up housekeeping! Mulch annual beds early; then simply brush the mulch aside while planting your annuals, replacing the mulch immediately after. That way, weeds never stand a chance to….

           

          But before he could finish answering, a neighborhood cur trotted by. The old man yelled at the dog, chasing it off his property. At this turn of events, a murmur swept through the group of Village Idiots, and the expressions on their faces changed. The old man was curious as to what they were whispering about and drew closer to them.

          Still unable to discern the topic of their conversation, he assumed that they were being critical of him for chasing the dog away.

          "You Village Idiots," he thundered, "when mowing season returns, I don't want to have to go out there with a pooper-scooper first, before I can begin mowing. Let that dog deliver his 'little presents' elsewhere!"

          But one of the Village Idiots stepped forth at this point and calmed old Landscaper down, explaining, "Yes, we're aware of the problem. You see, all of us had already begun sprinkling ammonia as a dog repellent along the perimeters of our lawns a week ago! The smell of ammonia is most unpleasant to passing dogs, and they tend to leave our lawns alone."

          Hearing this, old Landscaper scratched his head with the tips of his fingers, looking down at the ground. Then he raised his eyes, a bemused look brightening his harsh features. "Well, I'll be..." he groaned, nodding his head in approval. "You can teach an old dog new tricks -- or at least some landscaping tips. And there's hope yet for you, you Village Idiots."