We gardeners never really come inside for long, even in Michigan winter. If you have a dog to walk, you understand. April, however, usually brings the first real teaser of spring that might linger. It seems likely that snow, if we actually had some, might not provide much more cover or accumulation. Mud is the common denominator in lawns and gardens everywhere.
You see, over winter, a few natural processes work together to create the especially “muddy” mud we face in April. Freezing and thawing happens over and over, all winter long, pulling at and breaking small roots in the soil and moving the soil particles which had settled and packed from the effects of rain, traffic and gravity into less stable positions.
The lovely compost that makes garden soil so beneficial by absorbing and holding water and nutrients does exactly what that soup you put into the freezer does. It expands significantly as the water freezes, pushing against everything it touches with force. The garden and even the lawn may be quite uneven. It looked pretty flat in the fall, but each step leaves you wondering if there is a bottom to the mud, as you try not to trip over the heaved sections. Once all the frost is out of the ground, we hope for a couple of gentle rains to settle everything again. Lawn rollers come out to play about this time, and soon things return to normal.
Now is the time to check flowering bulbs to see if they need to be replanted. Somefirst year perennials may need to be straightened and replanted as well.
This is also the time to check for winter damage from rabbits and deer, as well as to plan for any modifications to make in 2019. You may want to cover some special plants with burlap, or use a deer repellant. Sometimes moving plants to a less accessible area or adding a solid fence is the only real solution. Check the broadleaf evergreens for winter burn and make a note to learn about anti –desiccants before next fall. Each winter is unique and new problems may arise. Take a walk every spring with an eye out for damage that might be averted or minimized with some simple measures next fall.
Take heart, the mud won’t last, and spring flowers are already popping up!