Gardener’s Calendar

Winter Garden Tips - Jan to Feb:

Brush snow from evergreens as soon as possible after a storm. Use a broom in aN upward, sweeping motion. Serious damage may be caused by heavy snow or ice accumulating on the branches.

Give suet to the birds to help give them energy. Peanut and berry flavors are the best sellers.

If you have some time this winter, paint the handles of your garden tools red or orange. This will preserve the wood and make the tools easier to locate next summer when you lay them down in the garden or lawn.

Phelps Nursery for new garden seeds. Stopping in to our sunny greenhouse on a cold winter day will give you an instant feeling of spring.

Garden Tips - February:

Houseplants with large leaves and smooth foliage such as philodendrons, dracaena and rubber plants benefit from having their leaves washed to remove dust and grime.

When using salt to melt ice on walks and driveways, spread it carefully to avoid damage to nearby shrubs and plants; consider using sand instead.

Consider purchasing a notebook to keep records of all your gardening information. Include information such as seeds planted, favorite vegetable varieties, warranties on shrubs and trees from Design by Lee , and yardage of mulch used to make it easy to order next year.

Phelps Nursery for new garden seeds. Stopping in to our sunny greenhouse on a cold winter day will give you an instant feeling of spring.

Turn the compost pile.

  1. Once the snow has melted, clear away leaves, twigs and any debris that has accumulated over the winter. Keep tender plants such as roses covered until mid-April.
  2. Remove last years' spent foliage growth from perennials and cut your ornamental grasses back to 4-6 inches from the ground. 
  3. Fertilize trees and shrubs, especially if they did not get fed last Fall. This will give the root systems valuable nutrients for that Spring growth. Use HOLLY TONE on acid loving shrubs like Holly, Azalea, Rhododendron, Hydrangea and Dogwood. (We have a great sale on Holly Tone 40 lb. bags, see our Specials tab) Use TREE TONE on most other trees.
  4. Prune summer flowering shrubs before new growth begins. Wait to prune spring flowering until after they have bloomed.
  5. Apply Dormant Oil spray on fruit and shade trees to prevent insect infestation. Temperatures must be above freezing for several days before applying. 
  6. Apply BULB TONE or BONE MEAL to emerging Spring bulb growth (tulips, daffodils, crocus) to bring on more beautiful blooms. 
  7. Begin to use deer repellents to train deer away from your flower beds. Our customers recommend LIQUID FENCE spray and/or DEER SCRAM granular. Remember when using sprays to spray often as bulbs grow fast and the new growth must be treated. TULIPS ARE DEER CANDY 
  8. Begin your 4 Phase Lawn Program by applying BONIDE PHASE 1 CRABGRASS PREVENTER. This is an important step to prevent crabgrass germination in your lawn. If you plan on reseeding or planting new grass, use the Seed Starting weed control from Bonide. 
  9. Apply Mushroom Manure Compost on all of your perennial and garden beds in a 2-3 inch layer. This will add needed nutrients to the soil and provide moisture retention as well as weed control. This is easiest to do now before the perennials emerge. Apply PLANT TONE around your perennials at the same time to give a boost to the new growth as it emerges.
  10. Apply mulch around any perennials that are showing signs of frost heave to protect the root system until next month when you can replant them.
  11. Think about testing the soil in your garden, lawn and flower beds to determine which nutrients need to be replaced next month.
  12. Perform tool maintenance. Take inventory of gloves, hand tools, containers and fertilizers and restock now to be prepared.
  13. Start planning your gardens, make rough sketches of what you want to see this year. Bring pictures and drawings to us for advice or questions now. Plan your work, then work your plan !
  14. Start indoor seeds NOW. We have everything you need to start a great vegetable garden and Perennials started from seed now will take off in your garden in May. See our Seed Starting tab for more information.
  15. Feed your houseplants with Bonide Liquid Plant Food and repot them if necessary. Make new plants by taking cuttings from your existing plants and rooting them. Use BONIDE ROOTING POWDER for the best results. Stop into the store for instructions.


  16. The grubs will be awakening from winter now through May. They will begin feeding on grass roots and destroying your lawn. Use BONIDE GRUB BEATER soon, one application is all it takes to control grubs all season long.


  17. Apply Preen weed preventer to flower, landscape and garden beds to prevent weeds all season long.
  1. We know you are anxious to plant gorgeous annuals and great vegetable gardens. It is still too early to safely do this ! Remember, SAFE on Mothers' Day, SAFEST on Memorial Day !
  2. Decorate your front entrance with a Spring wreath, new colorful doormat and Spring Flag !
  3. Plant trees, shrubs, perennials and Pansies NOW ! You can also plant those potted Easter Flower bulbs (tulips, daffodils, hyacinths etc…) after enjoying them in your home for the holiday.
  4. Begin planting cool-season vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, broccoli, carrots, beets, cabbage-kale, onions, potatoes and radishes.
  5. Add organic mushroom manure compost to your flower and vegetable beds, mix with existing soil to add much needed nutrients. Get ready for those heavy feeding tomatoes and peppers by working Garden Tone fertilizer into your vegetable gardens with mushroom manure compost.
  6. Clean out last years' containers and rejuvenate the soil by adding Bumper Crop soil so you are ready to plant next month. 
  7. If you planted garlic last Fall, keep the flowers pinched off. This will direct all the plants' energy towards growing larger bulbs. Garlic is ready to harvest as soon as the foliage turns brown and falls over.
  8. DO NOT cut off daffodil foliage ! You can remove the spent blooms, leaving the foliage in place to recharge the bulbs. Apply Bulb Tone or Bone Meal around all Spring blooming bulbs for more blooms next year. 
  9. Replant any frost-heaved perennials, divide and transplant any crowded perennials such as Hosta, Iris, Daylily and groundcovers.
  10. Sprinkle Plant Tone around all perennial beds, apply mushroom manure compost and then mulch. 
  11. 11. Remember to use Preen before mulching to prevent new weeds from sprouting.
  12. Get rid of existing weeds by pulling out by root or spraying with Kleenup. It is especially important to keep up with the weeds now so you are not overwhelmed later on.
  13. Cut back last years' dead foliage on all perennials and clean up any leaves around them so that they can rise up with no obstruction. If you haven't already, cut off ornamental grasses.
  14. If you haven't applied Crabgrass Preventer to your lawn, do it now so that you can apply Weed & Feed at the end of the month.   
  15. If you did apply Crabgrass Preventer last month you can start reseeding bare patches or top dress your lawn. See our Lawn Care page for more information.
  16. FERTILIZE! Now is the time to feed all of your trees, shrubs, perennials and roses as they awaken and are hungry.
  17. Address any signs of insects as soon as you spot them. Due to the early warm weather, insects are much more prevalent this year ! Set up a Stink Bug Trap!
  18. Start more seeds indoors so that you have nice sized seedlings to transplant into the garden next month.
  19. Clean out water features and ponds. Scrub out the birdfeeders also.
  20. Trim hedges and prune evergreens. Don't prune Spring flowering trees and shrubs until they are finished blooming.
  21. Keep up with applying Deer Repellants to protect your plant investments! 
  22. Sign up for our Newsletter for weekly reminders and information as well as special savings !
  23. Review March's Gardening Tips below to complete anything you did not have time for !

The month of May is a time when the weather can either turn your garden into an Eden…or a wasteland. Be aware of the weather forecasts for frost and freeze warnings. If a frost is in the forecast, protect your annuals and vegetables with light cloth. If the weather is sunny and dry, be sure to water your plants. Most flowers and shrubs need about an inch of water a week to perform well and newly planted things will perish if their roots are allowed to dry out.

Hopefully, you have done all of your PLANNING, because this is the month for PLANTING!

  1. Remember that the soil is the foundation for strong, healthy plants. Add Bumper Crop Soil Amendment or Mushroom Manure compost to all of your flower and vegetable beds before planting. The soil from last year is just dirt…all of the nutrients that feed your plants has been used up…you need to replace them. 
  2. It is still not too late to fertilize your trees and shrubs. Use Holly Tone on evergreens, Rose Tone on roses, Plant Tone on perennials and Tree Tone on trees and other shrubs. Be sure to water in after applying.
  3. Early flowering deciduous shrubs, such as forsythia, should be pruned back when they are finished blooming. If you wait until Fall to prune, you will lose next years' blooms.
  4. Remove the wilting seed heads from rhododendrons and azaleas so that the plants' energy can go to new foliage growth and next years flowers.
  5. Work lime into the soil around your Hydrangeas to produce pink flowers, or HydraBluefor blue flowers.
  6. Remove any sucker growth from fruit trees as soon as they appear.
  7. Keep a vigilant eye on your roses for insects and disease. Pretreat with Bonide RoseRXnow and again in 6 weeks to prevent common rose problems such as black spot, aphids and rust.
  8. Pines and other conifers can be kept to a compact size by pinching off the new growth (candles).
  9. Feed your lilacs with 10-10-10 fertilizer for better blooms.
  10. Plant summer blooming bulbs, such as dahlia, Lily, Canna and Gladiola, NOW.
  11. Trim off wilting Daffodil and Tulip blooms, but leave the foliage intact until it turns brown.
  12. Promptly remove spent flowers from any plant, unless your intent is to harvest the seeds. (Deadhead) Removing dead blooms will promote further blooms.
  13. Wait until late May to plant warm weather crops, such as tomatoes, peppers, squash and cucumbers.
  14. Repair your lawn. Set your mower for a higher cut during the Spring months to help the grass grow in fuller and choke out weeds.
  15. Check those houseplants before putting outside, they may need a larger pot.
  16. Give your entryway an easy facelift with large pots of colorful flowers and a new Welcome mat.
  18. Now is the time to wage war against slugs and snails to prevent future damage to your garden and, especially, your Hostas. Stop in and ask us how.
  19. SIGN UP for our newsletter for great weekly information and gardening tips throughout the month of May. Valuable coupons, found only in the newsletter, can help you get those extra plants you want In your landscape.
  20. Stock up on Bud & Bloom, with a 10-52-8 punch of nutrients for all of your blooming plants. Remember that every time you water a hanging basket or container, you are basically washing the nutrients out of the soil. You need to replace those nutrients to feed your flowers. 



Remove old flower heads from annual bedding plants to keep them blooming. Watch for black spot and powdery mildew on rose bushes. Spray them with Rose Rx to prevent these diseases from occurring. Avoid watering the leaves as this will cause the disease to spread more rapidly.

Now is the time to feed your azaleas and rhododendrons with Espoma Hollytone. This will increase next year's flowers.

Be alert for snail or slug damage in your hosta garden. Leaves will have many holes, especially near the edges. Thin leafed varieties are more desirable to snails and slugs than thick, puckery-leafed varieties. Use Slug Magic at the first sign of damage.

Give your flowers a boost with Design by Lee Bloom Master about once a month. This will provide you with a bounty of flowers for the rest of the summer.

Birds love blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries as much as we do! Protect your berries with netting before they ripen and are eaten by the birds.

Check often to see if containers are receiving adequate water. As the temperatures rise, plants will need more water.

When cutting flowers for bouquets, use a sharp knife or shears for best results. Cut on an angle to provide more stem surface area for receiving water. Put cut flowers immediately into water, a basket is not the best thing to use.

For fall harvest of lettuce, radish, carrots, beets, turnips, kale and spinach, sow seeds in late July to early August.

Begin scouting for Japanese beetles, especially on roses, rose of Sharon, birch, and linden trees. Use Bonide Eight for a quick kill.

This is the month when hydrangeas are looking their best. Spread 2 1/4 cups of Espoma 'Soil Acidifier' or aluminum sulfate around the base of the plant and water in. This will lower the pH of the soil, promote dark green foliage, and turn the pink flowers to blue.

During the hot summer months, mulch can be especially useful for conserving water. Add a thin layer of shredded hardwood mulch to your perennial beds and in your landscape.

Pick zucchini and summer squash every day or two to keep the plants producing.

Letting your lawn go dormant and dry in the summer months can discourage Japanese beetles from laying eggs in your lawn, which hatch into turf-damaging grubs. Try to limit watering to every 2-3 weeks.

You may notice a dust or talcum-like powder on your roses, lilacs or phlox this month. Applying a fungicide, such as Fung-onil will aid in the reduction of this powdery mildew.

Use BBQ grill ashes in vegetable gardens and flower beds. These ashes contain phosphorus, potassium, and calcium.

Hot peppers will keep best if stored after they dry. Thread the peppers on a string and hang in a cool, dry place.

If you are harvesting more vegetables than you can eat, bring them to Design by Lee and we will drop off at the Palatine Food Pantry.

Plant trees, shrubs, and evergreens now. Fall is an excellent time to finish any landscape projects that were put off because of the heat.

Control creeping Charlie, dandelions, and other broadleaf weeds in your lawn with Bonide Weed Beater. Spraying in the fall will give you much better results than waiting until next spring.

Feed your lawn with Phelps Nursery 12-19-22; this is a complete fertilizer with trace elements that is excellent for building a thick turf. Also at this time we want to check for grubs; we recommend Dylox pest control for eradication. 

Resist the urge to trim azaleas, rhododendrons, lilacs, forsythias and other early spring blooming shrubs. They have already set their flower buds for next year's bloom.

Bring in houseplants before they start getting used to the cold weather.

Fall is a good time to improve the soil in your vegetable garden. Use 3-n-1 or Sweet Peet to increase the organic matter for luscious rich soil.

Winter pansies, flowering kale, cabbage, and fall mums may be planted now to give a little color to the garden when summer flowers have faded away.

Protect your evergreens, including boxwood, azaleas, and rhododendrons from the drying winter winds by applying Wilt Stop in November. This will provide a protective layer on the foliage to help prevent moisture loss.

Add a little fragrance to your spring garden. Try planting hyacinth bulbs now and their soft perfume will fill the spring air. Varieties such as Woodstock, White Pearl, Sky Jacket and Blue Pearl are all deer resistant and bloom in mid-spring.

Before you put away all of your garden tools, make sure they are cleaned. Rusty, non-functioning tools are no fun to play with in the spring.

Leave the seed heads on black-eyed Susans, coneflowers and ornamental grasses. Not only do they look great in the winter, but they'll provide food for the birds.

Map out open spaces in your garden to plant spring flowering bulbs. Tulips, daffodils, and many more bulbs will be here Labor Day weekend.

Your lawn is hungry! Give it its last boost before winter. Fertilize with Knupper Winterizer to help strengthen your lawn for winter and ensure a healthier lawn in the spring.

Protect your evergreens, including holly, boxwood, azaleas, and rhododendrons from the drying winds of winter. Spray them later this month with Wilt-Stop. This provides a protective layer on the foliage that will help prevent moisture loss.

Keep your valuable landscape plants from becoming a "bunny buffet" by applying a repellant such as Bonide Repels-All or Liquid Fence. To keep the animals from damaging the trunks of your young trees, wrap them with tree wrap or vinyl tree guards.

This is the best time of year for pruning trees. Now that the leaves are gone, you can see the framework of the tree. Use the DDD rule. Cut any damaged, diseased, or dead branches.

Before you put away all of your garden tools, make sure they are cleaned, and your pruners and shears sharpened. Rusty, non-functioning tools are no fun to play with in the spring.

Protect your roses from winter winds and cold temperatures. After the first hard frost, wrap a rose collar around each plant and fill it with straw, shredded leaves or mulch. If possible, wait until new growth appears next spring before cutting back the canes. 

Going away for the holidays? If you can't find a plant sitter, consider using Hydro Spikes. They will provide your plants with water while you are away. 

Deer and rabbit proof your valuable trees and shrubs by spraying them now with Repels-All or Liquid Fence. 

Mulch tender perennials and newly planted shrubs to protect tender roots from extreme cold and fluctuating temperatures. Use loose organic material such as shredded bark or cotton burr compost. 

Have you raked up those felled leaves yet? Your lawn still needs as much light as possible to prepare for winter. Also, leaves don't make good mulch for perennials and should be raked or blown off perennial beds.