Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Garden Tasks to Prepare for Spring by Donna Duffy

Are these “warm” days giving you a case of early Spring Fever? Do you gaze out the window wishing you could get your hands in the soil? With the ground frozen, it’s still too early to get out and dig, but here are a handful of outdoor chores you can do to be prepared when Spring arrives.

1.    Add hardscape to your yard. Now is a great time to plan a walkway, add sculpture, or build garden structures. Design your own stepping stones; there are kits available to help you make them. Thumb through your old landscape and garden magazines for ideas.

2.    Clean your containers. Do you still have containers sitting around with dead plants and last year’s soil? If so, remove the soil and plants from each container, and toss it all in the compost pile. Disinfect your containers by scrubbing with a 10% solution of chlorine bleach to kill any organisms that might survive the winter. They’ll be ready to plant in the warm days of May.

3.    Add mulch to bare spots. If you added wood mulch to your gardens in the fall, chances are that some of that mulch has blown away and been relocated to other parts of your yard. Walk around and note the places where the mulch is thin. Add enough mulch to have a three to four inch layer. This will be especially helpful as we get into the frequent freeze and thaw cycles of early spring.

4.    Give your garden tools a tune-up. Get your hand tools out and clean them up. Sharpen your pruning tools and lawnmower blades. Hardware stores and garden shops are less busy now, and you won’t have to wait in line to get repairs done.

5.    Organize your shed. In the late days of fall, many of us toss everything into the shed, lock it up, and forget about it until Spring. Empty the shed and take a critical look at the pile of stuff. Throw away or recycle items that are broken, useless, or unwanted. Take a look at the inside of your shed, with efficiency and organization in mind. Add shelves, hooks, pegs, and compartments. Restock the shed, keeping like items in groups, and label everything possible.