Outdoor plants and the spring season go hand-in-hand in Northern Utah.
Although our warm season encourages the healthy growth of outdoor shrubs, flowers and plants, you can give them a healthy boost along the way. Whether you have an affinity for annual flowers, perennial plants or a bit of both, here are some tips and tricks for getting them started.
Use Soil Amendments before Planting Shrubs and Flowers
Let’s face the facts; we don’t have the best soil in Northern Utah. Fortunately, when you mix in the right combination of soil amendments, our abysmal native dirt is no longer a problem for your outdoor plants.
The USU Extension recommends breaking your planting bed soil up to a depth of six or eight inches. You must wait long enough into the season for the soil to dry out, however, or you will have to battle the evil dirt clods.
Once you’ve broken up the soil, it’s time to mix in two to three inches of soil amendments. But what kind of soil amendments do my outdoor plants need, you may ask?
Let’s take a look.
Which Soil Amendments Are Right for You?
Although the exact ratio depends on whether your soil is more sandy or more clay-based, the right approach for amending Utah soil requires a large quantity of organic matter, some nitrogen and, in some cases, sand or lime.
For organic matter, you can use manure, compost, peat moss or a host of other options. Some commonly used products cause more harm than good, however. Straw, for example, can create a weed problem, as can some types of manure.
If the organic matter you choose is particularly woody (sawdust, leaves, bark), add nitrogen fertilizer into the mix. Inferior quality manure can also create a problem, unless sufficient nitrogen is incorporated at the time you mix it into the soil.
Sand can benefit those soils with a high clay content. You aren’t likely to need lime in your planting beds, however, unless you know your soils to have a highly acidic nature.
Don’t Skimp on the Mulch
Once you’ve set your outdoor plants, mulch will provide a range of benefits that last throughout the growing season.
The right mulch will hold in precious moisture and regulate soil temperature, while discouraging pests and weeds. Besides that, it looks great. Take care to use only organic mulch however. Inorganic products (typically gravel or larger rocks) provide no benefit to the soil and have a nasty way of working their way into your dirt.
Organic mulch, including bark, sawdust and grass clippings, biodegrade into the soil and improve its quality over time. This is ideal, but it can rob your outdoor plants of precious nutrients (nitrogen, in particular), so remember to add fertilizer as well.
Add about three or four inches around your shade trees and outdoor shrubs, and one to three inches of mulch for annual flowers and perennials. If weeds are a big problem for you, place a weed barrier down first, then top it with mulch.
Millcreek Gardens is Salt Lake City’s premier garden center. Locally owned and operated, we know exactly how to leverage the Northern Utah climate and soils to ensure a robust growing season.
Visit us today for help selecting the ideal soil amendments, fertilizer, garden tools and – of course – annual flowers and outdoor plants.