A favorite time of year for gardeners is when they begin to prepare for the growing season.
Start by ordering seed for your vegetable and flower gardens. Review what plants did well in your gardens and which ones you want to replace.
It is time to take a soil test to check your pH of your soil in your yard and beds if you did not do so this past fall. The reason you check your pH is to make sure that the soil pH is in the proper range for the plants you are growing so you get the maximum return from the fertilizer you will be applying later.
At the same time, you might want to change your landscape around if you had some damage due to hurricanes in the last two years.
Now is a great time to plant any new shrubs or trees you might want to add to your landscape, as the roots will have time to develop a decent system before the summer heat arrives.
It is also time to do severe pruning of shrubs that need to be cut way back to get them back in bounds with the landscape – especially if they have overgrown the roof line, walk ways of a house or are blocking windows.
By pruning now, the plant will be developing some new breaks in about six weeks. Once these new shoots of growth reach the height of 10 to 12 inches, you will need to remove about an inch or two to cause the plants create new growth on the sides, making a fully compact plant. Later you will do another cut once the new growth reaches that 10- to 12-inch length again.
Though you are in the pruning mood, do not give your early spring-blooming plants a cutting, as you will be removing flower buds.
You can cut your crape myrtles back at this time so they will develop new growth later.
Prune your roses now to get them ready for their new growth spurt in the spring. Start by removing dead or diseased limbs and any very thin shoots, then remove the remaining growth depending on how vigorous the plant is.
If it has nice thick shoots, prune them further back (leaving shoots about 12 to 15 inches long), but if the growth is thin then cut your stems longer.
It is time to also time to plant new rose plants into the garden.
Keep removing the leaves from the lawn so the grass will not have too much moisture staying near its runners. This could cause a fungus problem as the grass starts to green up.
But do not drop the lawn mower height to get these leaves. Consider using a old-fashioned rake to gather them up.
If you have not limed your lawn, especially St. Augustine, Bermuda or Zoysia, in the last year or two, do so now.
Edward Poenicke is a retired Chatham County extension agent. This article is provided in collaboration with Lawn Doctor of Beaufort County.