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In the News

Fall Back or Spring Forward

Suzanne White

Every spring, I have at some point felt behind when it comes to my yard. This is easily explained because when the temperature rises and the ground (and my body) thaws, I want to be spending time outside running or walking my dogs, or doing anything besides what can be classified as work. So early spring for me means neglecting my garden until I have my fill of other more enjoyable activities.

And then I tell myself, "Ashley, you really need to do better next year!" Until next year rolls around, and the cycle repeats. So, I'm giving up on being the early-bird spring gardener. And I'm fine with that!

I have decided to take the advice of wiser gardeners I have met: If you have time, do as much as you can to prep the year before spring arrives. This makes complete sense but we really need to think about what can realistically be done the year before spring to make things better/easier for the home gardener. 

So what does this mean in August in the height of heat and summer? For me it means mapping out my yard with what plants I have and where my available space is. I keep a garden journal and draw my flower beds and raised vegetable gardens to document which plants I have where. This is especially helpful for planning next year's vegetable locations to ensure I'm rotating adequately. It also allows me to remember where my annuals live before they die off and I forget about them. A great addition to a map is a photo or video gallery. Photos can be printed and drawn on with a marker to label each plant or a video can show each area with audio dictation about plants and how well they did - that is assuming you remember the names of all your plants, which sometimes is a challenge for me!

Now is also the perfect time to mark perennial flowers with flags or stakes before cutting the green leaves back in the fall. I stake around bulbs I may forget about so I don't treat for weeds around those areas. You can use different color flags for bulbs you want to dig up in a few months to transplant to a new location. This can be done in the fall before the ground freezes. Transplanting bulbs in the fall also helps ensure they will bloom in the spring, rather than waiting until the spring, in which case they usually won't bloom for another year.

When it comes to trees, I like to take a good look at each one while they are actively growing with a full canopy in order to determine which trees need to be thinned or removed when winter rolls around. Mark each tree with a flag or yard ribbon and make notes if you have lots of trees to tend to later.

There also may be some bushes you want to prune in the fall or winter depending on the variety. For instance, I thin and cut my knock out roses back significantly in January to encourage healthy new growth during the spring and summer. 

This year looks to be a productive one for me as I prepare my yard ahead of the game for the spring. That is until I decide that there are more enjoyable things to do this summer and fall!