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Our Calendar of Things to Do in the Garden

January/February
• Gently shake HEAVY, WET SNOW off of evergreens including arborvitaes, yews and boxwoods as needed.
• If the area is experiencing a WARM WEATHER SPELL, water evergreens (including arborvitataes, boxwood,
rhododendrons and holly.)
• Check trees and shrubs for ANIMAL DAMAGE. Do this every few weeks. Install fencing, apply wraps or apply
animal repellant to prevent more damage. Reapply animal repellant as necessary.
• Start planning for the future! Daydream over new catalogs and start researching what you will put in your yard
this year.

March
• It’s time to start your spring CLEANUP. Remove leaves, twigs and any other debris that has accumulated during
the winter. This “ounce of prevention” may also help prevent future plant problems later in the season.
• If you haven’t cut your PERENNIAL GRASSES down, get out and do it now!!! They should be cut down by
St. Patrick’s Day.
• Did your crabapple trees suffer from apple scab last year? Either contact a licensed tree company to arrange for
spray services or purchase the appropriate product to have on hand to do the spraying yourself once the
appropriate degree day arrives.
• When cornelian cherry dogwood start blooming (usually the end of March, depending on the weather), it’s time
for the first application of a PRE-EMERGENT which will eliminate the need for future weeding. Mark on calendar
to remember when you did it and when the next application should occur (follow the instructions.)
• Plan to remove any tree wraps or other winter protection once “spring” has officially started. As everyone in the
Chicagoland area knows, the weather here is not governed by the calendar, but by the weather.
• Check which TREES/SHRUBS should be pruned now. Be careful not to prune any spring flowering trees/shrubs.

April
• Start to give your yard a thorough WEEDING now – get them while they’re small!
• Use a PRE-EMERGENT now to eliminate the need for future weeding. Mark on your calendar to remember
when you did it and when the next application should occur (follow the instructions.)
• Apply COMPOST to garden beds now.
• Apply MULCH to garden beds now. Mulch helps to both prevent future weeds from starting and retain moisture in
the soil. In the case of mulch, you CAN get too much of a good thing — you don’t want it to be more than 2 – 3
inches thick. Keep it gently away from the base of the plant.
• SHRUB ROSES – Start pruning now, removing all dead growth (those black stems) using proper rose pruning
techniques (above an apparent bud, on a 45º angle.) Stop, wait a few days and then go back to prune for shape
(once you’ve cut it off, you can’t glue it back on!) Apply an insecticide/pesticide/fertilizer designed especially for
roses at the end of the month.
• BULBS (Tulips/Daffodils) – After they’ve bloomed, wait until the foliage has yellowed and started to wither before
removing. {Note: While tying the foliage in a knot may neaten your yard, it is not recommended. The foliage is
feeding the bulb so it will bloom again next year. The more exposure to sun that the foliage receives, the more
“food” the bulb will get. A better solution is to move your bulbs in the fall so that they are behind something
larger.}
• Be sure to mark where your BULBS are now with a short stake, especially if you plan to divide or move in the fall
(it’s so easy to forget EXACTLY where those tulips were 6 months later.)
• Stake your PEONIES by the end of the month, while it’s still easy.
• Many PERENNIALS can be divided and transplanted now. (Daisies, hostas and most others. Leave irises until
July.)
• Start your lawn program by RESEEDING, FERTILIZING and/or applying HERBICIDES (as needed) to
your LAWN this month
• Prune spring flowering trees and shrubs as soon as the blooms have faded. Prune summer flowering shrubs
before new growth starts to emerge.

May
• Does anything need DEADHEADING yet? (For tulips and daffodils, see last month’s notes about proper
deadheading and care of spring blooming bulbs.)
• Have you staked your PEONIES yet?
• Use a PRE-EMERGENT now to eliminate the need for future weeding (if you haven’t done so already.)
• FERTILIZE your roses (suggest using a combined fertilizer/insecticide) and mark the date on your calendar so
you know when to re-apply.
• Finish applying MULCH to garden beds now.
• Keep WEEDING – get them while they’re small before it becomes a big “project.”
• Apply COMPOST to garden beds if you haven’t done so already.
• Plant ANNUALS (including tender annual bulbs) once the risk of freeze is over. (Note: Average frost free date is
mid-May, but the Chicagoland area has been known to experience freezes as late as the end of the month.)
• Prune spring flowering shrubs and trees as soon as the blossoms have faded.
• What perennials can you divide this month?

June
• DEADHEAD plants to keep them neat starting with PEONIES.
• Try to finish dividing and moving any PERENNIALS by the end of May. New plants from a garden center can still
be planted as their root systems are undisturbed.
• Regularly WATER new plantings – try to water deeply every 2-3 days rather than just top-watering ever day.
• Keep WEEDING a little every day or week – get them while they’re smaller and before it becomes a big “project”.
• Does your PRE-EMERGENT need to be reapplied? (Read the instructions – it depends on when you last
applied.)
• Did you finish applying MULCH in your garden beds? If not, finish it up now so it is in place before the hot
summer weather sets in.

July
• Divide IRISES.
• Regularly WATER new plantings – try to water deeply every 2-3 days rather than just top-watering ever day.
• WEEDS will start going to seed this month making more for next year – get them now!
• Does your PRE-EMERGENT need to be reapplied? Read the instructions. Make a note of when it was last
applied.
• Check which TREES/SHRUBS should be pruned now.

August
• Regularly WATER new plantings – try to water deeply every 2-3 days rather than just top-watering ever day.
• Finish dividing IRISES.
• Start dividing and moving other perennials towards the end of this month.
• Fertilize ROSES for the last time this month (no later than Labor Day) so they can start to harden off before
winter sets in.
• Does your PRE-EMERGENT need to be reapplied? Did you remember to mark the date on your calendar last
month?
• Keep WEEDING.
• Treat lawn for GRUBS and JAPANESE BEETLES.

September
• Continue to regularly WATER new plantings. As the weather starts to cool off, your plants watering needs will
start to be less frequent. (And the amount of natural rainfall the area is receiving may be increasing depending
on the weather.)
• Finish DIVIDING and TRANSPLANTING any PERENNIALS around your yard this month – watch the weather and
use your head. Recent trends indicate you have until the end of the month, but if it starts to cool off more quickly
than in past few years, aim to finish earlier.
• Fertilize ROSES for the last time by Labor Day so that they can start to harden off before winter sets in.
• Plant fall VEGETABLES.
• Keep WEEDING.
• Start FALL CLEANUP by raking leaves and cutting down perennials as appropriate.

October
• Continue to regularly WATER new plantings.
• Finish planting any SPRING BULBS this month.
• Do you have any ANIMAL PROBLEMS in the winter that you need to tend to?
• Continue WEEDING.
• Start FALL CLEANUP in earnest by raking up leaves and other debris and cutting back perennials. Try not to
remove too much MULCH from your garden beds during the process.
• FERTILIZE grass.

November
• Did you accidentally dig up any late blooming perennials last spring? Mark them now so you don’t do it again.
• Tender ROSES (floribunda, tea, etc. — not shrub roses) require winter protection. Wait until it is consistently
cold enough before covering with cones (or whatever your method.)
• Give your yard a thorough CLEANING now to prevent problems next spring. For example, if your crabapples are
prone to apple scab, it’s a very good idea to make sure all of those leaves are removed from your yard now.
• Do you need any more MULCH in your garden beds?

December
• If the area is experiencing a warm weather spell, water evergreens (including arborvitataes, boxwood,
rhododendrons and holly.)
• Gently shake heavy, wet snow off of evergreens including arborvitaes, yews and boxwoods as needed.
• Did any of your plants suffer animal damage last year? Plan ahead and install fencing or apply wraps now. Check
and see if you still have animal repellant on hand or stock up now.

Check the PRUNING SHEET for a list of what should be pruned when.