Tasks you can do in WNY’s warm spring weather

hyacinths and daffodils in Amherst New York
One of your spring tasks should be enjoying the spring flowers in your garden–or your neighbors’ gardens! Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

It looks like we will have a week of warm spring weather in Western New York! It’s a great time to get outside and enjoy some gardening tasks.

But don’t get ahead of yourself–some tasks should wait a little longer.

See what’s happening in your yard

See what plants have started to grow. Pick up any trash that blew into your yard. Look for damage from rabbitsdeer or moles and voles. Check for winter storm damage.

Some things you can plant now

There is a group of vegetables that can take cool or even cold weather. Depending on where in Western New York you live, you can plant them now. See all the details here. When planting outdoors, you always have to check whether your soil is dry enough to plant. If you scoop up a handful of soil and it clumps, it’s too wet. If you can break it apart, it’s ready to be worked.

You should be able to start seeds inside now for tender vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers. Again, it depends on where you are in Western New York. See details here.

There are also some cool weather annual flowers that you can have outside now, such as pansies.

Hook up your rain barrel

In the winter we have to unhook our rain barrels from the drain pipe. If we don’t, the rain water will freeze and crack the barrel. If you haven’t already done it, hook up your rain barrel again.

Rain barrels not only give you a convenient source of water, they help the environment by reducing stormwater runoff. That runoff hits streets and other surfaces, collecting oil, animal waste, litter, salt, pesticides, fertilizers, soil and other pollutants. Those pollutants are transported through the storm sewers directly into our waterways. The more rain water that stays where it lands (like in a rain barrel), the less polluted rain water we have going into our storm sewers and waterways.

Weed your garden

The top of the soil is thawed, and the soil is wet enough that the roots come out easily. It’s great to get a head start on weeds such as creeping Charlie. The more weeds you pull now means fewer weeds to pull later when you are busy planting. Tip: Try not to step in your garden. If you walk on it now, the wet soil will compact. That isn’t good for your garden.

Wait to rake and mow

It’s so tempting to clear out leaf litter now, but if you do that, you may be harming bees, said Pamela A. Moore, Master Gardener.

“In my Master Gardener class we were told to avoid raking until we ACTUALLY observed bees flying about,” Moore said. “Other sources state that there should be no raking until there have been SUSTAINED temperatures above 50 degrees. Personally, I follow the temperature guidelines combined WITH observation. That is the best way to know that you are not unintentionally disturbing the queen bees that spend the winter in small holes ON or just below the surface.”

To help pollinators, you may also wait until the end of May to mow your lawn. We talked about No Mow May last year, and I will give you an update next week on how Western New York gardeners are promoting this movement.

7 Comments on “Tasks you can do in WNY’s warm spring weather

  1. Hi Cathy, the important thing behind No Mow is to get people thinking about how their lawn interacts with the rest of the environment. We can all do what we can. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for the No Mow idea…I missed that last year….will have to see how long it gets( 5-6 inches is hard on my lawn team’s push mowers). But I can certainly steer them clear of the violets etc. where I can).

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