February 7, 2022

During the winter, even one of our mild ones, it’s unlikely that you’re giving much thought to gardening. But it won’t be long before the outdoors is calling again, and a little planning now can make a big difference as the annual cycle enters its next phase. Here are a few ideas that will get you off to a good start this spring.

Prepare a Space for Compost

Tidy up, gathering any fallen leaves, branches, and other plant materials that have accumulated since the last time you did a sweep, and use them to start this year’s compost pile. If you’ve never composted in your current location (or at all), it’s relatively easy to construct a rudimentary fence with scrap wood. Alternatively, if you’d prefer a more decorative enclosure, plenty of materials are available at your local garden supply store or online.

Set Up Water Collection

Late winter is a good time to arrange containers around your yard to collect rainfall. In addition to being environmentally friendly, distributing more rainwater, which tends to be slightly acidic, helps to balance the effects of mildly alkaline tap water. The combination helps all plants, but especially those like blueberries and camellias that prefer a little more acid in their drinks.

Conduct a Pest Inspection

As you read this, it may still be a little chilly for a comprehensive survey to provide much information – at least above ground. Many of the insects that make our lives difficult during the spring are still hibernating at this time of year. If you want to get ahead of aphids, slugs, snails, and weevils, churn your topsoil. If you see signs of trouble, talk to us about stopping them before they can get started.

Check Your Soil

While you’re down in the dirt, why not run the most basic test of soil condition? Collect about a cupful and pack it into a sphere that’s roughly the size of a baseball. Then you have a choice: Either try to break it apart with your hands, or hold it about three feet above the ground and drop it. In either case, if it divides into solid sections instead of just crumbling, it contains more water than is optimal. The follow-up test consists of rubbing it. Soil that mostly consists of clay will feel slick if it contains excess water. If you find this is the case for your soil, consult with your technician about conducting a more comprehensive thorough evaluation.

Pick Out Your Seeds for Spring and Summer

This task probably has the best fun-to-work ratio on our list. We know that when you look out across a drab gray landscape, you start thinking about all the colors you want to see bursting out of that space. Set aside an evening (or two) to spend under a warm blanket with your catalogs (or websites, but it’s just not the same). Order early so you’ll have your favorites in hand when conditions are right for planting. 

These few simple tasks will line up everything you need to start gardening this spring: fresh compost, extra water, and healthy, pest-free soil. Preparation now buys you extra time to work at your own pace when conditions are right for planting instead of rushing to catch up. As always, we at Southern Lawns are always happy to answer your questions and help in any ways we can.