First Quarter Checklist for the Atlanta Garden


  • Register for the Annual Spring Perennial Symposium, usually held in February at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Check under "Special Events" for details.
  • Check soil for heaving after snow or ice. Make sure there is mulch cover, except on cold-loving plants, such as peonies.
  • Feed and water the birds. Remember that birdseed sprouts in the garden, so keep out of beds or clean up beneath feeders.
  • Plant trees and shrubs, especially winter-flowering, fragrant shrubs like winter sweet (Chimonanthus praecox), winter Daphne (Daphne odora) and winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima).
  • Add manure or compost to your garden and turn it under if possible to prepare the garden for spring. If you cannot turn the soil, use the amendments as a mulch.
  • Recycle your Christmas tree by using the branches as mulch.
  • Plant bulbs, such as crocus, daffodils, Dutch iris, hyacinths and tulips before the end of the month.
  • Prune summer-flowering shrubs.
  • Remove damaged foliage from hellebores.
  • Order garden seeds for spring sowing and plants for spring delivery. The best selection is available early.
  • Prune or deadhead pansies. Feed, water and add new ones as needed.
  • Prune roses in late February.
  • For Arbor Day plant a new tree at home, or donate and plant a new tree at a local school or green space, with permission, of course.
  • Pre-emergent can be applied to the garden between February 15 and March 15 in order to prevent weeds. Do not apply it to areas where reseeding of annuals is desired.
  • Resist starting seed indoors until the recommended time on the package. Seedlings will grow leggy and weak without enough light if kept inside too long.
  • Begin Spring cleanup.
  • Most perennials will bloom more prolifically if given a boost of 12-6-6 or 15-15-15 fertilizer around the base of the plant. Avoid the crown.
  • Bare-root roses in plastic bags have roots wrapped in moss. Avoid those with new growth. Remove the covering and soak the plant overnight before planting.
  • Nasturtium seeds planted now will yield colorful mounds of blossoms to add to spring salads. The buds add a peppery flavor.
  • When daffodils and other bulbs finish blooming, cut back spent blooms but not the foliage. It absorbs energy for next year's bloom.
  • Wait until the last frost date to plant annuals.
  • Start seed indoors that require 4 to 6 weeks lead time. Give them bottom heat and strong light.