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Your Spring Gardening Checklist

It’s officially spring –  work off some that winter cabin fever energy and start to tackle your great outdoors!   If you are considering a home remodel or an addition, this is a good time to inspect foundations and check for ponding or pooling water – you may have drainage issues best addressed by a licensed contractor or design build firm.

Stony Repairs

Inspect your stone walls and brick or flagstone borders or paths. These natural materials can have a tendency to shift with the intrusion of snow or ice. Early spring is an ideal time to reposition or replace materials. Sometimes minor adjustments are all that’s needed to stabilize walls- simply moving the larger stones with smaller ones can stabilize them.  Paths or borders may require that you actually lift the bricks and add soil or gravel beneath them. Use a level to verify that they are even with the ground. It doesn’t take all that much time or effort, and the payoff is worth it in terms of enhanced aesthetics and safety.

Get Rid of Tunnels Made by Garden Pests

Unstable stones aren’t the only hazards that can lead to a sprained ankle. There are also tunnels and mounds of dirt created by moles and gophers. They too should be leveled with a metal rake and tamped firmly.

Clean Birdhouses

Inspect birdhouses to make sure they’re firmly mounted. Clean feeders and fill them with fresh seed once dry. Give birdbaths a scrubbing and refill with water. Create a pile of ready-for-the-taking nesting materials to make life a little easier for your feathered friends.

Touch Up Mulch

Inspect mulch, especially its depth. Chances are organic mulches have decomposed or have been washed away by rain or carried away with melting snowpack. With a metal rake, fluff your mulch and try to level it out over your beds. Use a ruler to determine the average depth of the mulch. Ideally, you want at least a 2-4 inch layer.

Winter/Spring Pruning Trick

If you haven’t already completed pruning your deciduous trees and shrubs – here’s an expert tip:

  • Look at the tree or shrub in question with an eye toward its desired shape from several perspectives from a distance and at various angles, from just a few feet away, and even looking up into the canopy.
  • Before pruning, tie colored ribbon or twine around each limb or branch you want to prune – over the course of several days, look at it again from different angles and various distances and try to imagine what it will ultimately look like after pruning.
  • Feel free to change your mind. If you’re not sure about one of the limbs you’ve selected, remove the ribbon or move it to another limb and re-evaluate your selection(s). You’ll get a feel for your prospective pruning cuts and increase your chances of success.

Other Tasks to Complete

  • Clean gutters
  • Cut back ornamental grasses to @ 6 inches
  • Cut back perennials almost to ground level
  • Remove dead wood and suckers from trees and shrubs, both evergreen and deciduous
  • Plant dormant trees and shrubs
  • Move dormant plants
  • Dig and divide emerging perennials
  • Clean clay pots and toss cracked or broken containers
  • Clean tools
  • Remove leaves from the bottom of ponds or other water features
  • Scrub decks – remove mold and mildew
  • Touch up paint on fences or other painted surfaces

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