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Time To Prepare The Garden For Spring, Experts Say

ALBERTSON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Mild temperatures have optimists thinking of spring, but the garden experts say now it is time to think about planting preps.

CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported Monday on ways to get working in the garden.

Winter, of course, is not done with us yet. But there are already signs of spring if you look closely. The 12 acres of the Clark Botanic Garden in Albertson, Long Island are coming to life.

"Right now, we are starting to see some bulbs pop; some heathers and heaths flowering right here," said North Hempstead Town Parks Commissioner Jill Weber.

Mild temperatures are waking up witch hazel, and opening snowdrops. Crocuses are cropping up, and forsythias swelling.

And if you have spring fever and a green thumb, it is time to get busy.

"We can prune. This is a great time to prune," said North Hempstead Town Horticulturalist Bonnie Klein. "You can see the plants, the shrubs and the framework of all the plants."
Experts advise that you should be careful not to cut off any buds. You can also clean up leaves, and even seed your lawn.

"If you have lawns, you'd want to seed," Klein said. "Right now is a great time to seed -- a perennial rye."

It is also time to feed the vegetable garden with the compost bag.

"It's a good time to add organic matter like any of the leaf compost. Get that organic matter in and down by the root zone," said Michael Ireland, General Manager at Heritage Farm & Garden center in Muttontown.

The experts at Heritage Farm & Garden said you can also start seeds indoors for early spring planting – including lettuce, peas, kale, broccoli, and peppers.

It is also time to explore new trends. Plants such as lavender attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.

"It's a real trend for products indoors and outdoors, because bees… we need to protect the bees and help the environment," said Wendy Dubner Master of Heritage Farm & Garden.

Zen gardens are also growing. Look for plants that reduce stress and aid in sleeping.

Deer-resistant plants such as boxwoods are also big.

One thing not to do is worry about bulbs and hydrangea buds making an early appearance.

Things like bulbs are insulated. They're OK. They're going to be on their own natural time clock," Ireland said.

Experts said because of the wet winter, flowering plants are well hydrated and will bounce back even if there is another hard freeze. The area is on track for a colorful spring.

It is also a good time to feed birds. Their food sources are in short supply in the late winter and early spring.

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