February Garden Chores: Get those pruners out

Hello February and longer days. The calculated daylight hours for this Superbowl Sunday is 10 hours and 32 minutes. By the time we've leaped over to March 1st, we'll enjoy 11 hours and 23 minutes of daylight, but who's counting?  (Want to calculate your daylight hours? Click here.)

These longer days have you itching for a trowel in your hand? Here are a few chores to help scratch that itch before the big season descends. On your mark, get set, but not too ready, yet.

Gardening boots by the door, waiting for Spring

Gardening boots by the door, waiting for Spring

Lawn Love ♥

Is the lawn your love? Then you'll want to test the pH now. We carry pH test kits (ranging from 6 to 15 dollars). These DIY kits can be done at home with instant results, or you can bring in soil samples for Ian Farthing, our lawn specialist, to test for you. Contact Ian for details. If you need to raise the pH, try Bonide Turf Turbo High Efficiency Lime. It buffers the pH, helps with nutrient uptake, and develops a stronger root system. It also breaks down within 30 days, perfect timing since March is when you'll start fertilizing or seeding the lawn. 

Spring grass 

Spring grass 

Pruning Love ♥

Sharpen your pruners, because it's time to prune, but not everything. For a detailed calendar of what to prune and when, refer to N.C. State Extension Calendar hereBelow is a brief summary of what plants to focus on now, but when it comes to fertilizing your trees and shrubs, wait for the warmer weather of March. Here's a how-to on pruning.

  • Grape vines and fruit trees.
  • Summer flowering shrubs such as butterfly bush, crape myrtle, Peegee hydrangea, and rose of Sharon.
  • Overgrown foundation shrubs such as hollies, boxwoods, abelia and Otto Luyken cherry laurels.
  • Shade trees and flowering trees.   
  • Trim ornamental grasses like liriope, mondo grass, and pampas grass.
Sowing spring seeds

Sowing spring seeds

 Seed Love ♥

If you've been enjoying the snow and you forgot to buy seeds, do so quickly. Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower plants can be started indoors now. Here's the how-to on starting seeds inside. Onion sets and sugar snap peas are planted out of doors this month, but wait until the soil is dry enough to work. Mucking around in wet, soggy soil tracks mud in the house, but even worse, it's not good for your soil's compaction.

Perennial Love ♥

How about the last season's perennials? Did you forget to cut them back during fall clean-up? Do it while you can, before those herbaceous lovelies start poking up new foliage. It's a good time to start dividing them, too. Rule of thumb: If it's a late-summer-to-fall bloomer, divide in spring. If it's a spring-to-early-summer bloomer, divide in fall. Day lilies are always a good place to start.

Wildlife Love ♥

The birds! Have you been enjoying bird TV this winter? Keeping the bird feeder full has been a challenge. Don't forget to clean and sanitize it. Use a gallon of water to four cups of vinegar, take the bird feeder apart, and soak it for an hour in the mix. And, while we're talking birds, why not use this downtime, before the madness of spring begins to count your birds. Join the Great Backyard Bird Count here, and take 15 minutes during a four day period (Feb. 16-19th) to count birds. This fun activity started in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and National Audubon Society is the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds, then display the results in near real time. Visit the store for extra bird food to lure them near, and get ready to count! If you need help identifying your birds, try the Merlin Bird ID App, or the Audubon Bird's App. And remember to hashtag your Instagram bird pictures #greatbackyardbirdcount so everyone can see.

Houseplant Love ♥

Lastly, don't forget the houseplants.They're probably in need of a shower. Wash off winter's dust, and any aphids or spider mites that showed up while the heat was blasting. Did you know houseplants remove toxins from homes? Here's how.

True Love ♥

And, oh yeah. Valentine's Day is 10 days away, just in case you forgot.♥

 Written by Cinthia Milner, OSA, Garden Coach, and blog writer.

BB Barns Garden Store serves all of Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina and Tennessee. 

(Pictures of squirrel and bird credited to Becky Ewing, BB Barns customer.)