Friday, February 13, 2015

Common Sense Gardening: Five outdoor tasks you can do right now

The recent unseasonably warm weather is allowing for more opportunities to get outside and do some yard work. You may be wondering what kind of tasks should be done this time of year when the weather is so mild. Well, we’ve made a list to answer that question!

1. Pull weeds and mulch. You probably don’t have a huge amount of weeds right now. So this is a great time to get ahead of them. Once you’ve weeded an area, lay mulch (straw, woodchips, leaves, or compost) on top, leaving space around the plants. This helps keep future weeds from sprouting.

2. Prune trees and shrubs if needed. Prune dead branches any time.  Prune trees and shrubs for shape, to encourage flowers or fruit, or in some cases to improve the health of the plant. WSU Pruning Landscape Trees discusses about the pros and cons of different pruning times on page 8.

3. Transplant trees and shrubs. Prepare a hole that is twice as wide as the plant’s root system but only deep enough to fit the roots. Set the plant at the same level it was previously growing and fill in with the native soil. Research has shown it is better not to mix compost or additional organic matter into the planting hole to encourage the plant to root firmly into the soil.  Be sure to water right away.  Adding mulch on top of the soil helps conserve moisture.  Read more in the WSU publication Planting Trees and Shrubs in the Landscape.

4. Clean and organize tools. Take some time to go through your yard and garden tools. This is a good time to sharpen blades, replace handles, and toss out those old work gloves you never use anymore.

5. Plant roses. Late winter or early spring are the months to plant roses. Our Common Sense Gardening Guide to Roses can help you choose the varieties that grow best in Thurston County. It also has great tips to help you grow beautiful roses… that hopefully the deer don’t find out about.

And the sixth unofficial task is daydream of beautiful spring and summer days spent enjoying your yard and garden!

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