Spring is March 20th, 50 days away (but who’s counting?). Planting isn’t on the chore list yet, but prepping the garden for spring planting is. Here are your February garden chores. Let’s start with vegetable gardens.

1. Vegetable Gardens

First, when to plant. Get these dates on your calendar:

Next, prep your beds now. Begin by getting a soil test to determine what your soil needs nutritionally.

Our SC locations serve as drop-off locales for your soil samples.

Add amendments to your garden, as suggested by the soil test. Amendments can be confusing, so ask staff to help determine your garden’s product needs. We carry several that will improve soil quality. Here’s a link to a few of our favorite products. Daddy Pete’s and Espoma Organic Garden Products

Start with these cool-season veggies:

  • Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower plants can be started indoors now. Please read here about starting seeds inside.
  • Plant English peas, onions, Irish potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, spinach, kale, turnips, and carrots outdoors in February. Look for cool-season veggies to start arriving in stores soon.

2. Fertilize and Pre-Emergents

  • You can fertilize trees, shrubs, and emerging bulbs in February or March. Use  Holly Tone or Plant Tone depending on the plants (acid-loving plants receive Holly Tone, neutral plants receive Plant Tone).
  • Start spreading pre-emergents in mid-February in your garden beds to get ahead of seasonal weeds.

3. Lawn Care

4. Pruning: 

  • Pruning is a primary focus for your February garden chores. For more information on when and how to prune: Pruning Calendar
  • Prune fruit trees, bushes, and vines.
  • Prune dormant deciduous shade trees and evergreens.
  • Prune summer-blooming shrubs such as ‘Limelight’ hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata), crape myrtles, butterfly bush, and Rose of Sharon. Do not prune Hydrangea macrophylla 
  • Do not prune spring-blooming shrubs such as rhododendrons, azaleas, lilacs, and climbing roses until after blooming.

Pro-tip: You will not kill a plant by pruning it—or you’d have to try very hard to do so—but it is possible to remove the blooms for this year, as many plants bloom on old wood (last season’s growth). Look up your shrubs (the internet has tons of information) on your blooming shrubs and trees before pruning to ensure you’re pruning it at the right time and not cutting off this season’s blooms. This can get all kinds of confusing, so if you find yourself shaking your head, don’t prune a flowering shrub until immediately after it blooms. Just lump them all into the same category. It will be fine.

4. Transplanting

Rule of thumb: Spring and early summer blooming perennials transplant in fall. Late summer and fall blooming flowers transplant in spring. Wait until you can see the green leaves emerging before transplanting, and follow these instructions.

5. Mulching

Now is the time to mulch your landscape before perennials are poking up and making it challenging to mulch around—tips on mulching.

6. Start Cleaning Up

  • Rake out mucky leaves.
  • Pick up sticks and twigs.
  • Cut back perennials left from last year,
  • Clear out invasives when the competition is less, and it’s easier to pull and not destroy other wanted plants (think ivy vines, unwanted privet sprouts, bittersweet vines, etc.)

7. Miscellaneous Chores

February Garden Chores BB Barns

  • Cut back last year’s hellebore leaves and plant more now. To learn about hellebores and why you need them, read here.
  • Add primroses to your garden. They bloom in early spring and are great perennials. To learn more about this garden perennial, read here.
  • Clean out bluebird boxes.
  • Wash out bird feeders.
  • Sharpen garden tools. (Look for information in our newsletter regarding tool sharpening.)
  • Do any needed repairs now. Fences, patios, rock walls—those projects that are forgotten the minute we can start planting.

The February Garden Chores list is long, mostly preparation for spring’s return but anticipation is half the fun.

Written by Cinthia Milner, Landscape Consultant and blog writer.

B. B. Barns Garden Center serves  Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina, and Tennessee.