Friday, February 14, 2014

10 things to do to prep your yard & garden for spring

Cabin fever setting in? Spring will be here in no time and the pace will pick up for growing – we promise!  Here are some ideas to be ready when it all begins to bloom.

1. Plan/day dream/get inspired!
It’s important to spend time thinking about what worked well last year, what the biggest challenges were, and give yourself time to plan the changes you want to make.  Garden shows, seed catalogs, Thurston County’s Plant List, and nurseries are fun ways to begin to imagine your spring garden, today.

2. Weed, weed, weed
Any weeding done now means fewer weeds in the future!

3. Mulch
Leaves, compost, wood chips all make great mulch.  Place mulch around plants, not against trunks or stems to help prevent spring’s weeds. 
Ready to make a new planting bed or take out some lawn?  Sheet mulch with cardboard, add compost, cover with leaves and you’ll be ready to plant this summer!

4. Cover crop
Didn’t get everything covered before winter set in?  Clover, buckwheat, or vetch can be planted now to help keep soil and nutrients in place.  With lengthening sunlight and thawing soils, seeds will sprout quickly and seeing green will bring hope back to your cold winter heart!  Turn cover crops into the soil with a shovel or rototiller before planting desired plants in late-spring to add nutrients and organic matter to the soil.

5. Prepare lawn mower
Gasoline that has been left in the mower over the winter should be drained and taken to HazoHouse. Mower blades work best when sharpened every year. Take care of mowers now and you’ll be ready to mow as soon as grass is dry enough to not stick to the wheels!

6. Prune
Fruit, flowering and shade trees can be pruned in dry weather while temperatures are above freezing. DO NOT prune spring flowering plants such as azaleas or rhododendrons.  Those plants are best pruned just after they flower, in late-spring.

7. Soil test
Plan fertilizer needs now by getting a professional soil test.  Thurston Conservation District provides soil tests – see their web site at
Black Lake Organic also provides soil test – more information at

 8. Tool maintenance

Clean tools store best – wipe down, oil wooden handles, sharpen blades as needed.

9. Transplant small trees, shrubs, and perennials
Prepare the hole twice as wide as the root system.  Mix compost into the top six inches of soil and water deeply.

10. Plant starts for seed
Start seeds in a warm window sill or greenhouse
Get a head start on warm weather plants now!

Get your hands dirty, observe what is already growing, and breath in the wet freshness of late winter to get you and your garden ready for spring!

What do you do to get your patch of paradise ready for spring?  Share in the comments!

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