Many ardent gardeners spend their winter perusing seed catalogs and daydreaming of lush, green landscapes. Yet getting ready for spring takes more than simply planning out vegetable plots or ordering flowers like lilies and gladioli.
Start by clearing out your planting area. Remove any dead perennials and search your compost pile for plant debris that could host diseases or insects.
Now is the time to put away those seed catalogs and think about what you want to grow this spring in your garden. Step one is getting it ready by clearing away debris left behind from winter winds and snowfalls.
Remove weeds, compost and mulch from your beds and rake them to reveal bare soil. If necessary, warm up the soil with a tarp or cold frame in order to help plants start their growing season as early as possible.
Mid- to late winter is also an ideal time for pruning fruit trees and bushes before buds form, to encourage healthy growth and abundant blossoms next summer. Fertilization should also take place now if your soil contains clay or sandy particles, and don’t forget sterilizing tools before using them to cut away at plants in order to prevent disease spread – you could also start sowing various flower seeds now as well.
As the weather warms up, you may find yourself eager to spend more time tending your garden. To prepare them for summer planting, it’s essential that beds and containers be properly organized by clearing away all debris such as dead branches, leaves and old mulch that has collected.
As part of your garden maintenance routine, take this opportunity to replace old, worn-out mulch with fresh, nutrient-rich material. This helps prevent weeds and enhances its visual appeal. Furthermore, now is also an excellent time to inspect and, if necessary, repair any damaged fences or gates in the garden.
As part of your garden maintenance routine, it’s a smart idea to clean and disinfect birdbaths, water containers and any flowerpots used throughout the summer in order to prevent disease-causing bacteria from infiltrating them. Furthermore, watering gardens at cooler times of day such as early in the morning enables more water to seep deeper into the soil without risk of evaporation – something early morning irrigation cannot do as efficiently.
Gardeners can take advantage of cooler temperatures and shorter days by undertaking essential fall gardening tasks such as weeding, adding compost and switching out summer-only flowers with frost-hardy plants in window boxes and garden beds.
Another important task involves trimming perennials that have begun to fade or show signs of disease. By extracting these plants, their energy can be directed into growth rather than disease transmission and any further spread is avoided.
Now is also an opportune time to install frost protection structures like hoop covers or cold frames to shield seedlings and transplants from cold weather damage while they establish themselves. Another option would be sowing winter rye or hairy vetch as green manure that can be turned under in spring for added soil nutrition. Finally, now is an excellent opportunity to add new hedges or shrubs to your landscape before the ground freezes, providing roots a chance to establish themselves quickly before winter comes knocking.
By the end of the season, vegetable gardens can quickly become overgrown with withering plants and weeds. Spending just a little extra time now putting the garden to bed can save both work and effort next spring when spring planting starts up again.
As soon as a hard freeze hits, remove annuals and trim back perennials to ground level – with exception for species such as sedums, ornamental grasses and blackberry lilies that sport beautiful seed heads or other features that look attractive in winter (sedums, ornamental grasses and blackberry lilies are ideal examples of such specimens). This helps prevent pests, their egg masses and diseases from overwintering overwinter.
After draining and cleaning hoses, oiling tools, and organizing all equipment for winter storage, now is also the time to review how well your vegetable plants have performed; if they didn’t perform as you anticipated then consider switching varieties next season. It is also wise to test the soil and add lime as necessary. Finally, if fruit trees are on your mind now is the time to begin researching varieties that thrive in your climate.