By Bonnie Manion
Spring is a really busy time for Southern California gardeners. It helps to do some garden prepping now for benefits throughout the year.
Start by cleaning up your tools. Sharpen your shovels, clippers and loppers. If you have a lawn, tune up your lawn mower and have your blades sharpened. Lightly sand your wood handles and apply a light coat of linseed oil.
Next, organize your tool shed by cleaning it out and hanging your tools. Hang a whiteboard for notes and reminders. Add a calendar to mark planting times, harvest dates and other key dates.
Then, plunge into the garden by pruning; weeding; and cleaning up around trees, shrubs and perennials. All these chores have their rewards in creating a healthy garden that continues to thrive as the year unfolds.
Prune trees, shrubs and perennials now, as they come out of winter dormancy, allowing for more sun and air circulation. Remove any trees and plants that died over the winter.
Chip all of your garden trimmings into a pile either for walking path material or mulch. This wonderful mixture of browns and greens also is perfect for composting. To make compost, keep your pile damp, turn it frequently, and keep it covered with a tarp. In a few weeks you’ll have compost to use at the base of your trees, shrubs and perennials.
Remove fallen leaves around your trees, shrubs and perennials. Those leaves can harbor pests and disease. Remove weeds, and create a nice basin at the base of your plants to catch and contain the last of our spring rains and when irrigating later in the year. Amend around these basins with compost to restore valuable nutrients and help your trees and plants retain moisture.
Wash off trees and plants that may harbor aphids, ants and scale. Hand pick, bait or trap earwigs, slugs and snails.
Mulch around your trees, shrubs and perennials to control weeds and retain moisture. Mulching creates an overall dressier, finished look for your garden.
Following these spring chores is sensible prepping for a healthy, beautiful garden the rest of the year.