Gardening Chores to do in the Early Spring
Having trouble waiting for spring to arrive? Here are some gardening chores that can be done right now.
Straighten up a Stacked-Stone Wall
If you have a wall in your yard made of stacked stones (not mortared in place), you probably know they have a tendency to shift over the course of the winter. When spring rolls around, the border can be a bit unsightly and even dangerous.
Late winter or early spring is a perfect time to go around and straighten up stones and make any minor adjustments needed to stabilize the wall. Just a small investment of time and effort pays off big in terms of improved aesthetics and safety.
Level Uneven Stepping Stones
Similarly, stepping stones in the lawn can become unstable during winter months due to repeated periods of freezing and thawing. Leveling them and making them safe to walk on is another task to tackle in early spring. Fixing uneven stepping stones means lifting the stone up and adding gravel or soil underneath. To make sure the stones are even with the ground, use a level.
Fill in Tunnels Created by Garden Pests
In addition to unstable stones, there are other hazards in the yard that can lead to a twisted ankle — tunnels and piles of dirt made by gophers and moles. These obstacles can be leveled with a basic metal rake and then packed down firmly. If your turfgrass is a type that spreads, simply leave the exposed soil as-is. If it isn’t, reseed the bare spots with grass seed.
Spring Clean Birdhouses, Birdbaths & Feeders
Check over birdhouses to ensure they’re still in usable condition and securely mounted. Clean out bird feeders and refill them with seeds. Scrub out birdbaths and refill with fresh water. Lastly, consider gathering a pile of easily accessible nest-making materials to help out your little feathered friends as they find and build new homes.
Take Note of Spring-Flowering Bulbs
Late winter/early spring is a great time to inspect your flower beds and take note of where your bulbs are located. Make a quick sketch to help you later on in the year, when the foliage fades and you start planting other flowers in the bed. That way you’ll have a map to show you where to avoid digging so you don’t damage the bulbs.
Remember, it’s normal for the foliage of early spring-blooming bulbs to appear brown and discolored when temperatures plunge suddenly. Know that the bulbs will remain healthy and flower normally despite the unsightly foliage.
Inspect Your Mulch
Closely examine your mulch, especially its depth. Odds are good that organic mulches have been washed away or started decomposing a bit. To touch up your mulch, take a metal rake and fluff it up a bit and try to level it out over your beds. Take a ruler and assess the average depth of the mulch. Preferably, you want a layer at least 2 inches thick. Three to four inches is acceptable as well, especially in the south.
Tree & Shrub Winter Pruning Hack
For those who haven’t pruned your deciduous trees and shrubs yet, you still have time. In fact, here’s a trick to help you choose which branches to take off and which to keep:
To begin, study the tree or shrub being considered from all different angles and distances, thinking about its desired shape. Next, tie colored twine or string around the limbs you are considering pruning away. Take a few days to absorb your choices and to see if they are going to give you the desired result. If you change your mind, simply remove the string and place it on another limb. Change your mind as many times as it takes to get it right. After a few days of evaluating, you should have a better feel for the tree and be more confident in your pruning decisions.
Other Outdoor Tasks To Tackle
• Clean gutters and prevent water damage.
• Cut back ornamental grasses to approximately 6 inches tall.
• Cut back perennials to just above ground level.
• Get rid of dead wood and suckers from shrubs and trees.
• Plant and/or relocate dormant trees and shrubs.
• Dig up and divide sprouting perennials.
• Clean gardening tools and scrub out clay pots.
• Clean leaves out of the bottom of water features.