Early spring is the ideal time to get container-grown perennials into the ground. Improve soil as you plant by adding a shovel of compost to each planting hole.
Divide perennials that aren't spring-bloomers. If leaves are already knee-high when you're dividing, cut them back by half. Two perennials you should wait to divide: bearded iris, which is best to divide in late summer, and peonies,which rarely need divided, but the right time is early fall. When do peonies require division? If plants aren't growing well, if you want more plants, or if the planting spot has grown shady.
Strike a blow against weeds by adding a pre-emergent weed killer to planting areas. Apply it in early April for long-lasting results. This type of weed killer interferes with seed germination. Do not use it anywhere you plan to plant seeds or hope self-sowing annuals will sprout.
Test Garden Tip: Watch for aphids on young perennial growth. Blast aphids off growth with a strong spray of water. Aphids aren't nimble enough to assemble and regroup, so you've controlled the immediate problem. Keep a watch on tender shoots for future generations.
Continued on page 4: Garden Chores