Jan. 2014 To Do List: Upper South

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curving pathAlong with making resolutions for the New Year, why not make some plans for your garden? Sketch out designs for new beds, or those you want to re-work, and think about how to use rhythm, texture, and lines in your landscape.

Rhythm is created by repeating a particular shape, plant, or color. Texture refers to the visual features of plants, such as the size and form of their foliage. For example, if you want to use contrasting textures, you might plant spiky yuccas alongside airy ornamental grasses or ferns with finely-cut foliage.

Lines are used to direct the viewer’s eye. Curved lines are considered relaxing and work nicely with natural or informal plantings. Remember that the eye will follow the complete arc of a curve, so you can control the view of your home and garden by deciding where to put it.

  • As you begin planning for your seeds and seed supplies, decide what is really worth growing. You may want to grow only things that are better direct-seeded than transplanted, or crops you’ll sow in succession, such as beans, peas, squash, pumpkins, leafy greens, cucumbers, root crops, dill, basil, melons and corn.
  • If you’re adding wood ash to your garden to make it more alkaline, do not put it in areas with newly planted seeds or fresh transplants.
  •   Prune hybrid tea roses that are more than 2 years old by removing all but 3 to 5 strong canes and reducing them in height by ½ to ¾. Prune younger hybrid tea roses less heavily.
  • After climbing roses are at least two years old, prune away as much as half their height. Tie the canes so they grow horizontally, allowing for the vertical stems that will produce new growth.
  • Most houseplants need a rest period, so stop fertilizing them and reduce watering during the winter. Check for pests periodically by looking on both sides of the leaves.
  • If the edges of houseplants turn brown, increase the humidity around them by placing them on trays filed with pebbles and a little water. Don’t let the pots touch the water.
  • Prune fruit trees and evergreens that need cutting back. Save some branches to make teepees in the garden for climbing plants like peas or pole beans.
  • If you’re pushing on your chain saw to make it cut, or using the bucking spikes to apply heavy leverage, it’s time to sharpen the chain. Dull chains are a safety hazard.
  • Is your chain saw producing dust instead of nice, square wood chips? That’s another sign that it needs sharpening.
  • Salt and some chemicals used to melt snow and ice can leach into the soil and harm plants. Try sand mixed with fertilizer or kitty litter instead, or look for environmentally friendly products.
  • Put stakes along your driveway and walks to mark them, so you don’t scrape your lawn as you clear paved areas.

Image: Shutterstock/Kevin Hsieh

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