February is not the ideal time to be outside in the garden. There may be pockets of time you can enjoy being outside, but nothing’s really growing and the weather isn’t typically cooperating. However, February is the perfect month to get ready for what’s just around the corner: Spring!
Here are some ideas for what you should add to your February yardwork and gardening to-do list.
Organize Your Yard and Garden Tools
Before spring gets in full swing, February is the best time to clean and organize your yard and garden tool space. The best strategy starts with pulling everything out of your shed or garage. Next, start by throwing away or finding a specific spot for all of the random things you shoved in there that does not belong with your yard and garden tools. Give the inside of the area a good wipe-down and clean anything that might need to be cleaned. This is also a good time to clean your tools and sharpen your pruners and other cutting tools. Afterwards, put everything back in its place. This allows you to easily take inventory of what you need for my everyday yard work and gardening needs, as well as for any special projects you have planned for the year.
• Prune apple and pear trees now – but postpone peach pruning until mid-March.
• It’s dangerous to spray glyphosate (Roundup, etc) on bermudagrass, even if you think it is completely dormant. Make sure no green bermuda sprouts are near the soil surface.
• Look for blooms on your Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis). Few other plants can supply the year-round interest of this evergreen groundcover.
• Redesign your lawn for easier mowing. Eliminate sharp angles and narrow turf areas. Use mulch, new flower beds or a groundcover like mondo grass there instead.
• Water poinsettia, Christmas cactus and amaryllis plants with houseplant fertilizer diluted to one-half strength. Don’t overwater!
• How much fertilizer or lime does your lawn or garden really need? The only way to know for sure is to call your county Extension office (1-800-ASKUGA-1) and get a soil test kit.
• Prune one-fourth of the branches from your overgrown fig bush. Removing any more will reduce the number of fruit this summer. Concentrate on saving the horizontal ones.
• Bring branches of spirea, forsythia and flowering quince indoors. Placed in a vase, they will bloom in just a few days.
• Remember to turn houseplants 180 degrees every two weeks to prevent uneven growth.
• Remove guy wires, stakes and trunk wraps from small trees you planted last fall.
• The brown foliage on pampas grass and maiden grass can be pruned away now. Leave only a “crew cut” of brown stems twelve inches high.
• Plant sweet pea now for fragrant flowers later. Plant English peas, onions, asparagus or elephant garlic for your spring vegetable garden.
• Overgrown Burford holly shrubs can be pruned severely now. Even if it is reduced to twelve inches tall, this shrub will resprout plenty of new foliage by summer.
• Plant a large container for your patio. A small boxwood surrounded by variegated ivy and blooming pansies would look very nice!
• Plant a winter daphne (Daphne odorum) near your home’s entrance or front walkway. The scent will greet you each day when you arrive at your abode this spring.
• Clean out bird boxes so they will be ready to welcome new residents in a few weeks.
• Build raised beds for vegetables, roses and herbs. It’s easy to do with four pieces of 2×8 wood planks. Choose lengths that fit your space; bolt them together at the corners.
• Reduce the size of your butterfly bush by two thirds to one half to encourage new growth (and big blooms) this summer.
• Time for the first fertilization of fescue for the year. Any brand of turf fertilizer will work well. Next application: April.
• Set your mower to its highest setting and cut off the tattered leaves of liriope (monkey grass). They will quickly regrow in March.
Above all, when it comes to designing your backyard, the most important rule is to do what you like and have fun with it! Always remember your backyard has dreams too, and it is our goal at Dogwood Landscaping to transform those dreams into reality.