You should know by now if your flower gardens need some help. If a shrub isn’t showing leaves yet, even one like the rose of Sharon that wakes up late in the spring, you can be pretty sure it is dead.

In addition to replacing plants that the wicked winter killed, inspect your garden. Has anything grown so large it should come out? Has anything stopped blooming? My wife and I just removed a Japanese tree lilac we planted 20 years ago that had not bloomed for four years. Tree lilacs need sun, which we lost when a neighbor let some Norway maples get huge.

The upside of plant problems is that you get to go shopping. You can plant woodies (what industry insiders call trees and shrubs) any time from April to November, but now is a good time to assess what you need. Also, the nurseries have a great selection now.

Planting woodies requires physical effort and adherence to a few rules, but the plants are forgiving.

Dig a hole only as deep as the root ball is tall or as high as the soil comes in the pot. You want the bottom of the plant soil ball sitting on undisturbed soil. Dig a hole at least twice as wide as the root ball. Check to make sure the nursery left the soil at the proper height along the trunk – if it is a tree or single-stem shrub. A bit of flare, where the trunk gets wider, should show above the soil.

Fill the plant hole with water and let it drain. Place the plant in the center of the hole. Create a mixture of two-thirds soil you took from the hole and one-third compost, and fill the hole to the top of the root ball. Water again and pack the soil, then fill it with more soil to the proper height. Build a soil rim around the plant to create a saucer that holds water, and water again.

Water heavily at least every other day until the ground freezes. The plant should last until it gets too big, you get sick of it or something like a wicked winter or a neighbor’s shade trees kill it.