February is the time to get the last of the winter gardening chores out of the way in preparation for spring. Many of your plants have been lying dormant these months, protecting themselves from winter’s cold and blankets of snow. Check trees and shrubs for broken branches or animal damage, such as missing bark stripped off by hungry deer in search of food.

Look also at evergreen trees and remove any dead or dried-out branches. Now’s the time to prune holly and other berry bushes to prepare them for next year’s bloom. Don’t go overboard and prune all the bushes, however — it’s too late to trim the ones that will bloom in spring without risking lopping off all the blossoms-to-be.

Tidy Up

Next time you get a milder day, get out your containers, hose them out and clean them up in preparation for your spring plantings. Rake up accumulated debris in the gardens, remembering to leave a protective coating for bulbs such as daffodils, tulips and crocuses.

If it’s been dry where you live, take advantage of the next warmer day to give your plants a good, thorough watering, especially if they’re fairly newly plantings. Young plants can be vulnerable, and a dry winter can spell the end of them. Plan to fertilize trees and shrubs before they sprout new leaves. Use this time to check for any signs of disease on your plants and treat accordingly.

If you’re planning to plant or transplant any trees, it must be done while they’re still in winter dormancy, but after the ground has thawed enough to dig a hole. Don’t miss your window of opportunity!

Start Seeds

No doubt you spent some of your winter hours daydreaming about what you would plant come spring, and now is the time to start those seedlings. Keep them evenly moist in a tray with a plastic dome, or, absent that, a tight-fitting piece of plastic wrap. You want to trick them into believing they’re in a greenhouse! If you have the room for a setup with fluorescent lights over your plants, this encourages quicker growth. If not, a sunny window will do. As the days become warmer, bring your containers outside during the day to get your plants used to outdoor temperatures. But bring them back inside before night falls though — this hardening-off process takes time and you don’t want to shock your plants. Once all danger of frost has passed, you can transplant your carefully nursed progeny outdoors.

Earthworks Landscaping of Layton, Utah, can help you get your garden in shape for spring. They design and build landscapes and hardscapes, install water features and outdoor lighting, and perform needed maintenance. Call them today to find out how they can help you with your February gardening chores.