WRAPPING UP FROM LAST MONTH
- Beds and borders: Over the winter, you may have come up with changes you’d like to see in your yard this year, including new beds and borders. You can hire someone to execute these projects or work on them yourself, though action can’t be taken until the soil has stopped freezing. Eventually, it will be warm enough to work on beds and borders, however, so solidify your plans and think through the steps it will take to reorganize your yard. If you’d like to tackle beds and borders yourself, sand gradually dispensed from a bottle can mark the outlines you want to put in place. To ready the ground within those boundaries for new plants, first remove the old top layer of greenery. Next, dig over the soil, adding rich organic material as you go. Finally, compost extra turf that’s no longer needed.
- Bird-friendly plants: If you’ve enjoyed watching the birds attracted to your feeders and houses all winter, entice them to stay a while longer by introducing animal-friendly trees and shrubs to your yard. Birds love plants like crabapples and hawthorns, finding shelter and fruit in their boughs. When located on the opposite side of the yard, these plants can also distract birds from the products of your fruit garden.
- Plant trees: In general, trees make great focal points for yards. The period where trees lie dormant is actually the best for planting new trees. For best results, research the variety you’re interested in planting; following instructions regarding the appropriate depth and watering routine for your tree will guarantee success!
- Prune: Winter is at an end, meaning that it’s time to prune deciduous trees. Improve trees’ appearance and health by ridding them of unhealthy limbs and extra sprouts. When it comes to fruit trees and grapes, these plants could use a good pruning after the worst of winter weather seems to have passed but before blossoms begin to grow. As long as a variety tends to bloom after June 1, it can probably be pruned at this time. Since there are some exceptions to this rule, do some homework before you get started.
- Fertilize: While you’re pruning fruit trees during this period, take a minute to fertilize them as well. Meanwhile, it’s also a good idea to fertilize cool-weather grasses, such as fescue, during the month of February.
- Soil: To encourage plant growth, soil will need to be worked before spring arrives. There’s an easy way to make sure that soil is dry enough to be turned. Grab a handful of soil to see if it crumbles naturally. If it doesn’t, the soil is probably too sticky to be tilled or spaded just now.
- Irrigate: Surprisingly, lawns can dry out even in winter. If there was a four week stretch recently where your lawn received very little water, it probably needs a good dose now. Quench plant life with an inch of water on a warm day this month. This way, the soil stays heated and warm-climate grasses stay alive.
- Animals: While birds may be welcome in your yard, some animals can damage gardens. Keep an eye out for hungry squirrels and deer, which will begin to appear. If they become a problem, you may need to research humane ways of discouraging them from getting into plants, vegetables, and fruit.
- Cold frames: Cold frames are small enclosures that protect plants from bad weather and animals. Get ahead of spring and deter pests by purchasing or building a cold frame for your property. With a cold frame, you can extend planting season much longer than nature dictates.
PREPARING FOR NEXT MONTH
- Paint: Get crafty! Repaint garden implements and accessories that could use an extra coat. Painting not only refurbishes worn-out items, it can make them easier to find. Brightly colored objects call attention to themselves, so paint gardening tool handles so you never lose one again.
- Experiment!: It’s a new year; break out of your routine by trying new flowers, vegetables, and fruit in your garden. There’s still time to study unique varieties, such as dwarf vegetables, so think outside the box if you’d like to keep things interesting.
- Gardening schedule: Keep yourself on task by putting together a gardening itinerary outlining the best dates for incorporating favorite plants into your garden. Putting some work into this document now will pay off down the line.