Spring gardening and lawn care from the experts, what you can plant in early spring

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These white purple petunias are an example of a plant that can be planted in the coming weeks, but extra precaution should be taken in the event of a freeze. These are an example of a plant worth covering with a sheet. (WWMT/Will Haenni)

Kalamazoo sees its last freeze in the last few days of April, on average, but the last drop to 32 degrees of the season has been observed as early April 8 and as late at May 27 in Kalamazoo.

With our weather's volatility in West Michigan, planting the first flowers and seeds of the season can come with some hesitation.

"Sometimes people get those winter blues, so you can actually do pansies right now. If it snowed this week, it would be okay for them." Andy Wedel, a gardening and lawn care expert with Wedel's Nursery, Florist and Garden Center, said.

Pansies are a cold crop, meaning they can withstand a temperature drop into the mid- to upper-twenties and still come back. They can be potted, planted in the ground, or put in baskets now.

In the coming weeks, other plants and seeds will be able to be planted. Vegetables like lettuce, potatoes, garlic and onion can be purchased and organized in mid-April, but Wedel said it's best to wait another few weeks to put them in the ground.

There's a simple test to check whether or not your garden beds are ready to plant some of these varieties or lay down your spring layer of mulch.

"Grab a hand full of soil two inches down. Squeeze it and if your finger can push that soil and break it up I'd say right now it's good. Chances are it's not going to be like that, it's going to be wet and stay in a clump," Wedel said.

He said in another couple weeks, he expects the soil condition to improve for most people.

If you didn't put any tulips or daffodils in before the winter, you can buy pre-packaged versions to plant in the coming weeks. Swiss chard and rhubarb plants can also be planted in the coming weeks. It's important, however, to cover these varieties with a bed sheet if the threat of freezing temperatures returns.

He also said to look out for the perennials and ornamental grasses to start coming up in the coming weeks.

Wedel said now is also a great time to plant trees and lay down grass seed and fertilizer. He offered a full season timeline for lawn care.

"Grass seed and fertilizer today, weed control and crab grass next. Summer feeding and fertilization, insect control next, and then do fall feeding later on in August and September," he said. "Go now with your grass seed, it will pay off going with crab grass the first week of May then."

Don't apply crab grass control and seeding at the same time, unless you use specific products for doing just that.

Aerating your lawn is also a great idea in mid to late April. This will help your grass roots breathe and offers a place for new seeds to settle. For those who don't want to aerate, steel raking the lawn will also help give your lawn a fresh breath after winter's snow and cold.

Lastly, Wedel said your lawn care should never be a guessing game. Bringing in a sample of your lawn's soil to Wedel's, you can have it's pH level tested for free. This allows their team to fine tune fertilizers that will be most effective for your lawn.

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