Palo Alto Weekly

Real Estate - February 4, 2011

Garden tips for February

Time to get ready for spring: Dare to ditch the dying and declining

by Jack McKinnon

There is plenty of gardening to do and plenty of different ways to get it done. This is the best time of year to plan the spring you have always dreamed of.

Many of the tips I will give this month are preparation-related but some will give immediate results too. Get ready to start digging, shopping, planting and detailing your garden for spring.

Here are the tips:

1. Clean out all the dead, dying and declining plants in your yard. This takes courage but you will be glad you did it in a month.

2. Rake leaves, finish — or start and finish — your pruning and compost or green waste everything that isn't going to be part of the spring show.

3. Make a sketch of where you are going to plant new plants, repair pathways, add sprinklers, lights and other garden features.

4. Think about water features such as bird baths, fountains, waterfalls and ponds.

5. If you don't already have some, consider sculpture in your garden. Outdoor art is back in style and chosen carefully, set correctly and landscaped around makes a stunning feature unique to your yard.

6. Visit nurseries to shop for new plants. I recommend leaving your checkbook home for the first visit. Bring a pad and pen and write down what inspires you. When you get home, look up your list and see if those plants will complement your plan. Check size at maturity, shade/sun tolerance and season of bloom or fruiting.

7. Consider the maintenance you will be incurring before you buy any plants. Know who will be doing it and how much will be needed. Think about labor involved in watering and weeding.

8. Purchase your plants only as fast as you can install them. When you get home with your trees, shrubs, perennials, groundcovers and annuals, plant them as soon as possible. The timing is important so the plants get established before the weather warms up.

9. Be sure not to plant too deep. This is really important because you will kill your new plants if they have soil over the stem. Plant them at the same depth they were in their nursery pots.

10. Baby them along with water, fertilizer and a good mulching. This will get them off to a good start and your beautiful spring will be well on its way.

Good Gardening.

Garden coach Jack McKinnon can be reached at 650-455-0687 (cell), by e-mail at jack@jackthegardencoach.com. Visit his website at www.jackthegardencoach.com.

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