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Gardening: What to plant in early spring

Make your backyard green and inviting with woody plants and perennials.

It may feel like we’ve only just dug ourselves out of the snow and put away our winter boots, but we’re already into planting season.

“Woody plants — shrubs and trees — can be planted as early as mid- to late March. Just make sure there aren’t any below-freezing nights in the immediate future,” advises Jake Kuklick, owner of Mosaic Landscape Restoration in Philadelphia.An added bonus: If you put something in the ground now, it will be ready in time for April showers — which means less watering on your part.

Kuklick, who specializes in ecological design, shared his tips for what to plant now.


What to plant in city backyards

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Shady: "For small, partly shaded yards, I like native shrubs such as Inkberry and Fragrant sumac. If you have a little more room, Winterberry and Ninebarks work well. All have tremendous multi-seasonal interest, and can provide food and a habitat for local birds and insects."

Sunny: "Stay away from too many annuals bought from box stores! They are colorful, but die after one season and then become a mess that needs to be removed. Rather, try Black-Eyed Susan and Purple Coneflower, two native perennials that can be picked up in local nurseries in the city."

Ground or planter?

"Shrubs like it best when planted directly in the ground, but smaller cultivars of these species can survive in larger planters as well. Anyone can be a successful planter: Holes dug in soil ought to be roughly twice as wide, and the same depth, as the root ball of the plant. Water thoroughly — soak the upper 12 inches of the soil — at least once every five days during summer months."


Call in the pros

"Pruning may be required after a couple of years once the plant is established. Contact a local landscaper with knowledge of native plants to keep your shrub looking happy and healthy."

 
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