Try welcoming the growing season by planting cold tolerant annuals in containers.
Creating these spring containers starts with the plants. They need to be hardy and able to withstand the occasional cold dips in temperature so common in spring. Here is a short list of great plants to try....
Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritime)
Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)
Stock (Matthiola incana)
Larkspur (Consolida ambigua)
Lobelia (Lobelia erinus)
Cape daisy (Osteospermum)
China pinks (Dianthus chinensis)
Combine these plants in containers as soon as frost has left the ground or temperatures at night are consistently around the freezing point, usually around the first part of April in Iowa. Once planted, water them in well. Combine plants with various heights, colors and textures to create interest. Add cut branches of willow, forsythia or red-twigged dogwood for height. Consider painting the container or branches a bright spring color. All of these plants will tolerate an occasional light frost not below 28°F, but pull containers inside if night temperatures get any lower.
The end of winter is finally in sight, and it is time to celebrate at Reiman Gardens! On Saturday, April 19 the Ames Jaycees will be hosting a Spring Egg Hunt at Reiman Gardens.
Spring Lawn Care
Clean-up. Rake and remove matted leaves and debris from the lawn.
Mowing. Cool temperatures and abundant moisture promote rapid growth of the cool-season grasses. Remove no more than a third of the leaf blade with each mowing. Mow at 2 or 3 inches (or even higher!) and use sharp blades.
Weed Control. For most lawn weeds, this is best done in the fall. However, the use of a preemergence herbicide to control crabgrass should be applied in the spring. Apply when the soil temperatures are at 55°F. You can check the soil temperature in your area by visiting this website: http://extension.agron.iastate.edu/npknowledge/soiltemphistory.html
Fertilizer. Fall is a better time to apply fertilizers, but you can apply in spring at the rate of one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet using a fertilizer high in nitrogen, like 20-6-10.
Seeding. Fall is better time to do it, but you can do it in the spring. Often lawns sown in the spring have abundant weed growth. With proper weed control and frequent light irrigation, however, lawns can be successfully seeded in the spring.
Watering. Resist the urge to water your lawn in the spring. In Iowa, it rains enough in a typical spring to support good growth. Abundant watering will promote a shallow root system that will not be prepared to deal with the stressful dry, hot conditions coming in summer.