Season's Cleaning

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Images courtesy of

Whether you're getting ready for spring or you're getting ready for autumn right now, it's that time of year! There are certain basic things you should be doing.

Perhaps this topic is completely new to you, or maybe you could write this yourself because you're so experienced ... but it's nice to have a reminder once in a while -- and maybe I'll say something you didn't think of before. :)

In any case, here are some things you need to do this month, no matter what side of the equator you're on:

  • Look at your yard -- Has the weather done any damage to your property or trees?

    Some of us have had flooding, wind damage, earthquakes, tornado damage, and other problems like fallen fences that need to be fixed before we can even consider planting.

    Some of your trees or plantings might have died due to severe heat, drought, or disease. If your area freezes, look for heaving of your edgings or sunken pots.

    Take notes on what needs fixing and this month work on these problems.

  • Review your design -- Is there anything which is not working or needs changing?

    If your teenagers no longer use the dollhouse (!) maybe it's time to remove it and put in something they would use? Hmm?

    Or perhaps you put a thorny bush too close to a path, or a plant that you thought wouldn't get so large is now pushing up your driveway.

    Use this time to plan your changes so that next season you can enjoy your yard more.

  • Evaluate what you need to plant -- What would you like to plant this season?

    Do you want to try something new? Are there holes in your edible landscaping that need filling?

    What did you plant last year at this time? Did you discover a particularly bad plant infection that will affect what you plant next?

    If you need to rotate your annual edibles (which I recommend), what will you put into the place of what you had there before?

    Also, this is the time to order any fruit or nut trees that you want to plant this year.

  • Start seeds that need to be started indoors. If you don't have them yet, go buy them and start them ASAP.

  • Sharpen your tools -- If you have spent this past season in the garden (for hot/dry areas, winter is prime growing season!), this is a great time to sharpen your tools. It will make digging, clipping, pruning, and all that much easier.

    (If you don't know how to sharpen your tools and need me to do a lesson on it just let me know.)

  • Do your pruning, if appropriate for your plants.

    Examine your trees, bushes, and canes (roses, brambleberries, etc). Also look at your vines, such as grapes or kiwifruit.

    Note: For some of these, you should only prune when dormant, so if you don't already know how to take care of your plant, look it up.

    (I have the book Pruning, which is where I learned the techniques, but there are lots of good books out there on the subject)

    Basically, what you should remove are
    • dead branches,
    • branches which cross another branch, or
    • ones pointing in a direction you don't want them to (for instance, if you are espaliering a plant along a wall, remove any branches trying to grow into the wall).

  • Check on your potted plants -- Whether you potted up your plants for the winter or had pots as part of your landscape outdoors over the summer, they need tending to once in a while.

    Check for roots poking out of the drainage holes (this indicates that your plant needs to be put into a larger pot) and fertilize. Change the soil and wash the pot before re-potting if your plant has salt build-up on the top of its soil.

Is there anything special you do to prepare for spring or fall that I haven't mentioned? Comments or questions?

Originally written March 1, 2012, updated March 2, 2015

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