February Gardening Tips: Your Pre-Spring Checklist

Those 60 degree February days are truly glorious, aren’t they? Gardening tasks don’t seem like chores if we get to do them while enjoying the sun’s warmth (although tomorrow’s forecast is anything but warm!). Regardless, February is a great month for planning and getting organized. It’s also a big pruning month, so I created a list of tasks to get you started.

Let’s begin with the basics. Be sure to clean, sharpen and tune up all garden tools and equipment. Take a walk through your lawn and garden areas, make notes and maybe even map out areas of concern (i.e. standing water, vole activity, privacy needs, etc.). Don’t forget to clean up those garden beds, too, and remove leaves, weeds and other debris that can allow diseases to grow and spread.

Photo courtesy of Maggie’s Gardens

Cut, Thin and Prune

Once the growing season begins after the last freeze, your shrubs and plants will start growing in a hurry. As a result, you’ll need to cut back and clean up the following:

  • Perennials
  • Liriope (use hand pruners, lawn mower or weed whack)
  • Ornamental grasses – to 1/4 of height (use hand pruners or gas powered shears)
  • Summer flowering shrubs that bloom on new wood (Roses, Hydrangea paniculata, Spirea japonica, Beautyberry)
  • Thin Crape Myrtles by removing dead wood, crossing branches, low hanging branches and suckers. Keep the natural shape of each branch.

As mentioned in our last blog post, Boxwoods are especially susceptible to disease, so thinning them out can increase air circulation and encourage interior growth. And don’t forget those Japanese Maples, Rhododendron and Azaleas! Removing the dead wood from those plants will allow for long-lasting growth as we enter the spring season.

Maggie Burgess is a garden designer, researcher and plant aficionado. She has accumulated significant professional experience working for local garden centers, specialty plant growers, botanical gardens and florists, as well as owning several other businesses. Maggie has a degree in Horticulture from Virginia Tech. She is a Virginia Certified Horticulturist and Professional Landscape Designer. Visit her website at maggiesgardens.com.