Spring Gardening Tips: Thrill, Fill and Spill

Whether you’ve got a generous backyard garden or a container collection on your apartment patio, it’s time to put your green thumb to work. We get spring planting tips from the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Eliza Fournier.

Container Gardening

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“Plant a few containers, using the tried and true formula: filler, thriller and spiller,” Fournier says.

First, plant the “thriller” – the tallest plant that draws your eye to it. Next, go to “filler” plants – exactly as they sound, they fill in the center of the container. And last, add the “spiller” – some vines that will fall over the edges of your container to complete the look.

Gardeners can continue to plant new perennials and ornamental grasses, as long as it’s past the last frost date – which is hard to determine these days in Chicago.

Tree and Shrubs

Trees and shrubs can still be planted in May, if you can plant on a cloudy day and in the morning, to avoid shocking the plant with too much heat.

You can also prune your boxwood and other shrubs.

Lawn care

It’s not too late to seed your lawn. Just remember: if you add grass seed, don’t use a pre-emergent weed killer in the same area. You can also still fertilize your lawn.

Mow your lawn between 2 and 2.5 inches, removing one-third or less of the leaf blade. And leave the grass clippings on the lawn to return nutrients to the soil or add them to a compost heap. Rake clippings slightly if they are heavy and wet.

Upcoming event at the Botanic Garden

Get Growing Weekend (10 a.m.-4 p.m. May 19 and 20) features a plan sale, garden demonstrations and a marketplace. 

Related stories:

First Planting of Spring in the Chicago Tonight Garden

Spring Planting Starts with Soil Preparation

At Nearly 7 Feet, Corpse Flower Spike Sets Botanic Garden Record

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