Although winter in Colorado is still upon us, the promise and close reach of spring from glamorous seed catalogs and southern states entices our gardening spirit. Even though the excitement of our beloved growing season is still months away, our project lists can be carefully refined now to ease this transition and avoid unnecessary work or added expenses.
When planning your garden or landscape this far ahead, take a moment to imagine the big picture and the whole timeline. Look at what you have to start with, what the highlights and harvest of the season will bring, as well as the eventual harvesting and turning down toward autumn.
Write down your goals, ideals and items of interest, then work this list in reverse. While following this list back to the beginning, the inevitable brings us to the unappreciated reality of gardening: cleanup, maintenance and site preparation. Start by assessing any larger projects or items that may require additional services such as planting trees, building raised beds, or installing irrigation.
Scheduling visits to nurseries, tree farms and landscape centers can also bring a fresh perspective on what needs to be done. Once your projects have a plan, revisit any areas from last year that may need to be addressed before breaking ground. Removal of unwanted trees, shrubs and hardscape along with repairs to walkways or support structures can be done well in advance of any planting or seeding. If the project is time sensitive, can it be completed before the last frost or will it be a juggle of time as the ground is starting to thaw? Will the addition of a raised bed, a water feature or new layer of mulch be beneficial to build now, or once trees and hedges have been pruned back?
Again, considering the entire scope of your project will save time come spring. After planning a project, think about the care and maintenance that will also be involved. Such as the planting of new trees, shrubs and sod requiring consistent watering for the first few weeks.
Along side a potentially new maintenance schedule should be aligning the time investment needed for these projects with of the rest of the yearly calendar. Many of us would love to vigorously plant before a vacation or work trip and come back to a fuller garden, but the practicality should be to prioritize accordingly. Seeing a neighbor add new sod to their front yard might give you an extra nudge on the schedule, but it may be more beneficial to wait until the foot traffic around other planting slows down.
Just remember, the reward of a stunning yard and bountiful harvest will only be amplified by the satisfaction of foresight and proper planning and execution. Our lawns and gardens are a labor of love, and should be adjusted throughout the seasons.