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Everyone is getting antsy about getting outside. The days are getting longer but the nights are still very long and cold. Anything blooming? Camellia Japonica and Helleborus

Spring Prep

Check that pile of tools where you pitched them last fall. Clean your shovels and rakes, sharpen blades, oil with WD-40 and hang neatly so they are available when you need them. Your lawnmower needs service, the blades need sharpening, the oil needs changing and belts need checking.

If it is dry enough, till the soil in the vegetable garden to prevent insects, weeds and nematodes. Add a layer of organic material; cow manure, peat moss, soil conditioner or humus from your compost pile before you till.

You can also send a soil sample to your county extension agent for a soil test.

Lawn Care

Does your Bermuda have green grass starting around walkways and driveways? This grass is called Poa Annua or Annual Bluegrass. Poa Annua is a very invasive weed that reproduces from tiny seed heads that develops later in spring. You need to be aggressive getting rid of it. Pre-emergent herbicides are the best way to control Poa Annua. Starting in September with one application, and doing it again in January will usually control most of your problem. Killing the seed before it germinates is your best defense. Remember also to rake leaves now that they're done falling. Leaf covered lawns are unsightly, but also prone to disease.


Heavy pruning of trees and most shrubs can be done at this time. Do not prune spring flowering plants such as Azaleas,
Forsythia (yellow bell), Dogwoods or Flowering Cherry until after they have bloomed.

Prune apple, pear, and peach trees, removing dead limbs first, then the pencil size vertical (water sprouts) next.

Tip: just for fun take a few of the branches and place in a jar of water to force them to bloom.

Watch out for poison ivy when working outdoors. Even the leafless vine can cause a powerful reaction.


Keep the feeders full and make sure the birds have access to fresh water that is not frozen. Put a birdbath or 2 in the front yard. Remember, food is scarce for wild birds in winter. If you feed them now, they'll keep coming back. 

Cold Weather

If temperatures drop below 20 degrees cover Gardenias and Camellias with burlap or plastic all the way to the ground on all sides. Be sure to remove before the sun hits the plant next morning. Make sure you also have plenty of mulch around landscape plants, and keep them watered, both of which help protect them from freezing temperatures.

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