Planning a Spring Garden

Planning a Spring Garden

Planning a spring garden is a great way to help you get through the dreary winter months. It may be too cold to start gardening, but there are still quite a few things you can do to make your life easier in the early spring. 

Before you start planning there are still a couple of outdoor tasks to take care of, so make sure you get to those first. 

Late fall and early winter are the perfect time to remove and discard diseased or bug-eaten plants from garden beds. Don’t toss them in the composting bin, however, as that can spread disease to plants the following season. 

Check and see if any plant roots are growing where they shouldn’t be, such as into your septic field or your foundation. Some roots can even buckle your driveway. Make a note of these and have them taken care of asap. 

Early winter is a good time to mulch overwintering plants and vegetables like carrots. Cleaning and storing your garden tools properly is also important so you have them ready for next year.

It’s always a good idea to check your grow zone to help you determine not only what the best plants are for your area, but also when to begin germinating seeds, and how long the plants growing season will be. 

Start creating a garden plan. Sketch out your garden area and plan where you’re going to put your vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Remember to leave room for the plants when they reach adult size so your garden isn’t too crowded!

Break out the seed catalogs. Ordering seeds from reputable companies will mean you get high-quality seeds with a high germination rate. Read up on germination times for each plant so you’ll know the perfect time to start indoor germination. Seed catalogs often contain gardening tips to get the most out of the seeds you order, so make a note of those.  

Check out your local garden center and pick up soil and extra mulch now, when it is often cheaper than in springtime. 

Decide where you’ll want to keep your summer flowers. These are usually going to be planted in pots, so a sunny patio or deck is a perfect home for these plants. You may also want to start shopping for decorative containers for these now, so you’re ready to go once they’re available. 

Finally, determine your goals for your entire yard overall. What do you want to get out of your yard? Are you looking to start a large landscaping project such as installing pathways, water features, and arbors, or do you just want to maintain your vegetable garden? Do you want to create a place for activities, or a calm Zen-like retreat? Working out your goals now will make it easier to create a realistic plan to execute come spring. 

By taking some time to do these things now you’ll be ready to get out there and garden the moment the ground thaws and the weather warms. Remember, a little planning can go a long way, so the sooner you start the more time you’ll have!

Prepping Shrubs for Winter

Every year as fall rolls on you start thinking about winter. More specifically, you start thinking about your plants in winter. While some plants are easy because you can just bring them inside, the plants outside your home are a little more tricky. So how can you prepare your outside plants for winter?

The first thing to know about your trees and woody plants is that if they are bred to survive your hardiness zone you don’t really have to do anything to prepare them. Most local deciduous trees and shrubs can survive on their own with little-to-no intervention on your part. To prepare these shrubs for winter simply remove any dead or diseased branches that may snap under heavy snow and ice. Save the heavy trimming for spring so that you don’t lose any newly developed flower buds.

The exception to this is newly planted trees and woody shrubs that may need more care for the first year or two until their roots settle in. For these plants, you’ll want to mulch heavily, at least 2–3”, around the base to cover the entire root zone of the plant. This will help protect the roots from the constant freezes and thaws that are more damaging than staying frozen. Keep watering through fall, but stop watering them before the ground is frozen. These tips should keep young trees in good shape. If you are worried about branches snapping you may want to use a tree wrap of burlap around the tree for extra protection. You can find burlap at almost any garden center. 

When it comes to evergreen foliage such as arborvitae a burlap wrap is a great idea to protect against snow, wind, and sun particularly for the plant’s first three years of life. Winter sun can activate growth activity in evergreen trees, meaning that when the sun goes down and freezing temperatures return the active areas can be killed. Drying winter winds can pull moisture from these plants leading them to turn brown and sometimes die. The wrap will help keep the shrubs safe until the growing season starts again. You can either wrap directly around the tree or you can create a wind barrier by driving stakes into the ground and then wrapping the burlap around the stakes. If you directly wrap the tree you need to tie off the burlap with twine, and if you use the windbreak method you need to staple the burlap to the stakes. 

With just a small amount of prep work this fall your trees and shrubs will emerge from winter looking great this spring. If you don’t feel comfortable doing your own fall prep, give Organically Green Horticultural Services a call and they can do the job for you!

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