The weather has been warmer lately and it’s getting us thinking about being outdoors and enjoying our gardens. Late winter, mid-February until early March, is a great time to get ahead of the game and start to plan and prepare. Here are some simple things you can do right now to get things ready before the lawn-aerating and planting of early Spring.
Soil tests (vegetable gardens, plant beds, lawn) are needed to determine if your soil has all the essential elements for a healthy garden. There are a total of 17 elements are needed, 14 of which are acquired by the soil. The soil should not be wet when taking samples. A professional soil test is recommended every one to three years. It’s also recommended that you test your soil around the same time of year. February is a good time to test the soil because it allows you to avoid the soil test rush that labs experience in early Spring.
Inspect your garden tools and look to see if they need to be sharpened or oiled. Also, look for loose, cracked, or splintered handles and look for corrosion or rust on your tools. You local hardware store/local garden center is a good resource for tool inspection. It’s really important to take good care of your garden tools. They should always be kept in a dry place and hung up properly to avoid moisture getting to them from being left on the floor. A efficient way to keep garden tools clean and in good shape during the garden season, is to have a bucket of sand mixed with a bit of oil in your garage. When you need to clean your tools, just stab the them into the bucket a few times. This way, the tools get cleaned and oiled at the same time. Linseed oil is a good oil to use.
This is the time to clarify your vision and prioritize your gardening projects. You can start to research new varieties of plants in catalogs, online, and at your local garden center. Review the landscape and determine if you’ll need to hire landscapers. If landscapers are needed, schedule them in now before busy season. Also, signing up for some gardening classes at your local garden center will help you improve your skills and knowledge of gardening. Look around your yard for things that need to fixed like broken trellises or fences and raised beds or garden structures that need to be repaired or replaced.
Late winter is the best time to prune most trees and shrubs. Pruning your tress helps to maintain their long-term health and appearance. Remove any torn, broken or dead branches. Maintain one dominant vertical top stem and don’t cut off the tops of trees. Always space the main branches along a dominant trunk. In addition, avoid removing more than 25 percent of the tree’s live branches in one year. In some cases, you may need to hire an insured, licensed and certified arborist.