, Newburyport, MA

April 3, 2013

Tim's Tips: Help spring fever by planting pansies

Tim's Tips
Tim Lamprey

---- — I was out walking the dog the other morning and I was surprised at how much snow had melted away in just four days. You have to love the strength of the sun to melt snow even when we think it feels cold outside!

We have received a couple of shipments of pansies. The question that always comes up at this time of the year concerns the temperature, and if it is safe to put pansies outside now. Pansies are one of the most cold tolerant of the early spring flowers.

I have seen times when the plants freeze solid during the night and the next morning they thaw out and the flowers continue to bloom. If you have spring fever and want to fill those planters with spring flowers, now is the time to get those pansies in the ground.

For many of you, the snow has finally disappeared from your yard. Now you can think about getting the lawn in shape for the spring.

When the snow is gone, the ground will stay wet for a few days. If it is wet, the grass can get pulled up when you rake up winter debris. If your soil is very wet, give it a few days before you begin to rake. Metal leaf rakes are great for pulling up the dead crabgrass, but plastic or bamboo rakes will do a better job of cleaning up any other debris without causing damage.

Once you have the debris cleaned up, it is time to apply lime to your lawn. If you are not sure if your lawn needs lime, you can do a simple soil test that will tell you the pH of the soil. We sell the kits in our store. Once you have completed the test, you will know how much lime to apply.

The skunks have been active lately. They are digging up the lawns in search of grubs. The grubs are the “baby” stage of the Japanese beetles, and they will do major damage to the lawn by eating many of the roots. The damage to the lawn becomes apparent when the weather warms up and the lawn needs to pull more water out of the soil.

Since the grubs have eaten the roots, the grass cannot take up water and the lawn dies very quickly. If the skunks are digging in your lawn, they are actually doing you a favor by letting you know that you have grubs. Now is the time to apply a grub control.

It is a little early to apply crabgrass control to your lawn. Soil temperatures are still cool and the soil will need to warm up more before the crabgrass seeds will sprout. You can apply just a basic lawn fertilizer now to help your lawn to spring back from the winter.

Well that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.


Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.