10 STEPS TO PREP YOUR GARDEN FOR SPRING
Summer-flowering bulbs such as Lilies, Gladiolus and Ranunculus can be planted in early spring for a colorful summer display.
2. Clean up flower beds and borders
When there is a nice day, take the time to clean and remove leaves and other debris from your flower borders, lawns, front/rear yards (gardens) and ponds. You can cut back the old dead growth of deciduous (leaves fall off according to season) grasses and herbaceous (foliage leaf, not woody) perennials. If the soil is workable you can dig down about 2 inches and work a layer of organic matter such as well-rotted manure, compost or recycled green waste into empty garden borders to prep for planting.
3. Sow seeds that need a longer season
In January and February you can start to sow seeds of plants which require a longer growing season, such as Geraniums, Begonias, Antirrhinums, Peppers and Aubergines.
4. Hunt down and get rid of garden pests now--including cats
Hunting down and removing hibernating pests now can save a lot of trouble in the spring and summer. Take a closer look at the crowns of your perennial plants and you may find slugs, snails and aphid colonies sheltering for the winter. If you still haven’t cleared last year’s pots of summer bedding then do this now and be on the look-out for the white vine weevil larvae, which live in the compost and feed on plant roots. A safe way to get rid of those pesky cats who find shelter in your garden and use it for a kitty toilet--cayenne pepper. Once they get it on their paws and place their paws into their mouths, they will surely find a better place to go.
5. Place water cans in your garden
Place water cans or buckets in your garden now to collect seasonal rainfall. Not only does this help the environment but rain water is good for watering ericaceous (acid loving) plants such as Camellias, Rhododendrons and Blueberries (tap water is often slightly alkaline). When placing water cans or buckets make sure it’s positioned below a downpipe to make the most of the rainfall.
6. Move deciduous shrubs
If you have a badly placed deciduous (leaves fall off according to season) shrub then now is the time to move it while it’s dormant. Choose a still day to prevent the roots drying out. Make a wide space around the shrub when digging it up and try to take as much of the root ball as possible for the quickest establishment in its new location. When planting shrubs in their new position, place them at the same level they were previously in the soil, and remember to water them well after planting them.
7. Fix fences, gates and trellis
Although it’s cold outside this is the ideal time of year to get those little jobs out of the way. Any broken structures or tools are best fixed now so you have more time to spend in the garden during spring and summer. Treat your wooden garden structures with a wood preservative during dry periods.
8. Clean gardening tools
Give your tools a clean and a sharpen. Caring for your garden tools not only helps preserve them, it saves you money in the long run and helps prevent the spread of disease. Dirty tools may introduce bacteria and fungi to fresh pruning wounds. Sharpening your tools will also improve their performance; they’ll be easier to work with and will give cleaner pruning cuts.
9. Create a composting area
If you haven’t already then try setting up a compost area in your garden. This could simply be a ready-made compost bin or you could build a compost bin yourself using spare bits of wood. Not only will you have somewhere to put your garden waste but your plants will benefit from the rich compost created when it all breaks down. Make sure you have a good mixture of grass clippings, vegetable peelings, paper and woody stems. To help the process along you’ll need to turn your compost with a garden fork each month to keep it aerated. For compost tips or how to create a compost pile, click on organic gardening.
10. Find or replace pots, watering cans
If you did not get a chance to protect those unused pots, watering cans or window boxes. Now is the time to look for them, replace or clean. Sometimes they may have become cracked or damaged. Very often people have spring stoop sales. You can find some there or at your local garden center.
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