1. Prune evergreens, not Spring bloomers
2. Get your soil tested
3. Start adding soil amendments
4. Plan your garden – what’s getting planted, when, and where
5. Refresh mulch
6. Prune Japanese Maples
7. Sharpen and/or replace tools – Sharp tools make happy plants
8. Plant your seeds
9. Clean and refill bird feeders
While the weather in February may still be a little less than desirable, you still have some things to do to get ready for a bright, colorful, and healthy spring. February is one of those months that constantly leaves us guessing – is it going to be freezing, hot, or somewhere in between? Because of the looming possibility of frost, you have to be somewhat selective when it comes to gardening tasks. If you have some cold sensitive shrubs or perennials, it’s best to leave them alone. Trust me, I know what they look like, and I want to cut them back, too, but don’t! Leave them ugly. Save the pruning for some of the heartier evergreens. Arborvitaes more than others get some brown leaves on them in the winter. Sometimes it’s as easy as gently pulling them off, but sometimes it isn’t. If it doesn’t go willingly with a gentle tug, get the pruners, but don’t get carried away with cutting. This is going to promote some new growth, which will help with overall plant health, and a lusher appearance. Broad-leafed hollies are ripe for pruning right now as well. Once the blooms on camellias are done, they can be cut off, and the plant can be lightly shaped and/or trained.
Things to avoid - anything that is going to bloom in the next three months. This one is two-fold: Pruning will trigger new growth, which will be very susceptible to frost. Second, cutting the ends from shrubs that are going to bloom will most likely cut off the buds, eliminating the blooms for the season.
Get your soil tested. Think of this as a yearly doctor’s visit for your garden. We can walk you through the very simple and inexpensive process. Finding out now that you need to supplement your soil with nutrients is ideal. Don’t wait until new plants don’t bloom, wilt, or die. Once you have the results of your soil test, start taking the necessary steps for healthier soil, which will lead to healthier plants.
Start designing your garden or let us help you get it designed. Planning your layout now gives you a better idea of what’s going to fit, how things will be layered, and gives you a chance to experiment with different layouts. It’s ok to change your mind, but it’s easier to do it before things are planted.
For perennial beds, shrub beds, islands, and anywhere that’s not getting a complete overhaul, make sure your mulch/straw is still good. Natural mulches breaks down over time, but faster in extreme weather and excessive rain. Add to the existing now, and you’ll have less to do later.
Prune Japanese Maples – This gets a little tricky. If you’re comfortable with it, go for it. If you’re on the fence, call us.
Take care of your tools. When pruning, digging, or anything else, make sure you’re using sharp, clean tools. We offer a sharpening service for just about anything that cuts – shears, pruners, scissors, knives, etc…
Start your seeds. It’s time! Be sure to use a good quality seed starting medium that not only encourages root growth, but also feeds the seeds from the beginning. We recommend FoxFarm Soils' Light Warrior. Research minimum air temperatures for the seeds you are planting, and make sure you can accommodate.
Closer to the end of the month, start adding food to bird feeders, if you haven’t already.
As always, reach out to us for help with any of these things!