As the cold north winds blow and snow accumulates on the land, snuggle up with a hot cup of cocoa and a stack of seed catalogs. Take a mental break from the chill, dream of spring gardening and sun-blessed soil.

Frigid temperatures and frozen ground may keep you indoors. However, the cold winter months provide an excellent time to plan your spring landscaping activities. House and Home Magazine is a great place to inspired as they offer a wealth of photos, landscape designs and innovative ideas to turn your garden into the envy of the neighborhood.

Research And Planning

“Sprucing-up” you landscaping is one of the joys of spring and planning is half the fun. “Gardening isn’t just good for the earth; it’s good for the soul.”

Do the research first. Similar to other “do-it-yourself” projects, it is prudent to plot a strategy for your spring landscaping in advance.

  • Draw a sketch of your yard to focus in on areas that require attention.
  • Do you have a long-range design that you will break it up into stages, or do you intend to hire a landscape professional to help you implement your plans?

When it’s too cold to work in the garden, nurseries and home and garden store employees, have fewer customers. To attract business, merchants promote some great sales. Not only will you find terrific bargains on the tools and supplies you will need come spring, during the slow winter months, staff has time to answer questions and offer guidance; take advantage of their expertise.

Do you want to plant an organic vegetable garden or cultivate a lush, green lawn? Talk to neighbors and other property owners in the community who have beautiful landscaping you admire. Most gardeners are pleased by the compliment and are delighted to share their experience and helpful tips. Visiting with neighbors and seeking their advice is especially helpful if you have recently moved to the community and are not familiar with native plants, pests or gardening challenges unique to the localized area. Joining a local gardening club can provide a wealth of information, an exchange of seeds or plants as well as an opportunity to make new friends with similar interests.

Familiarize yourself with the challenges faced by gardeners in your geographic area as well as in your back yard. Common insects, birds, wildlife or roaming domestic animals can wreck havoc and destroy all your hard work. Planning a defense is the best way to prevent a problem. When you have specific questions about weed control, soil amendment or pest control, your local county extension office can provide the answers.

To enhance the curb-appeal of your front yard, consider adding lighted flagstone walkways to add aesthetic appeal, security and safety to your property and to create attractive and functional pathways to and from your shed, garden or backyard oasis. If you are planning major improvements to your landscape such as adding walkways, fencing, decking, a patio or gazebo, draw up plans now to source and price your materials. With a bit of pre-planning, you can save money and will be ready to start the project as soon as the ground thaws.

Calendar And Climate

Get a “head start” on spring. As the days lengthen and spring draws near, it’s time to start floral and vegetable seedlings indoors. Plant seeds following package directions. Place seed flats in a sunny window or provide grow lights. Be familiar with the climate not just in your geographical area, but your backyard. Avoid moving tender seedlings outdoors until all danger of frost has past.

It is especially important to add new plants, shrubs and trees to the landscape at the appropriate time of year. New plants will thrive for years if planted at the time suggested by horticulturists for your area. Be sure to refer to United States Plant Hardiness Zones charts to determine if a particular flower, shrub or tree will thrive in your area.

Go Native

When selecting new plants and trees to add to the landscape, it is wise to invest in native plants with proven adaptability to local climate and soil conditions. Although exotics may survive a few years, many will die when subjected to climate extremes such an exceptionally cold winter or dry, hot summer. Native species also have the advantage of having already adapted to insect pests or plant diseases prevalent in the region.

Maintenance and Clean-Up

Fierce north winds, snow and ice accumulations can cause extensive damage over a long winter. Grab a broom and the hose and scrub mud and debris off the deck, patio, porch, driveway, sidewalks and rain gutters. A good general “spring-cleaning” of all outdoor areas brings a fresh, bright look and improves the overall visual appearance of your property.

Remove fallen tree limbs and rake dead leaves and grasses from flowerbeds and garden plot. Once the mercury stays above the freezing mark, mulch and protective wrapping may be removed from shrubs and planting beds; allowing plants to unfurl and reach for the sun.

Recycle And Restore

If you are not presently practicing sustainable gardening methods, spring is a great time to start. Start a compost pile for organic yard waste to create a rich source of nutrient-rich mulch for gardens and flowerbeds.

Plan For Growth

When adding shrubs and trees to the landscape, plan for growth and locate new plants in locations that will allow for their full size at maturity. Avoid planting trees in a location where root growth could eventually damage structures, foundations, plumbing lines, and septic tanks or tree height could interfere with overhead utility lines.

Add Instant Color

Add instant color to the landscape with container plantings of colorful annuals and herbs. An assortment of brightly colored pots and containers of various sizes make a bold statement when grouped in the garden or on the deck. Rosemary, thyme, chives, cilantro, basil, dill, and oregano lend themselves well to container plantings and can be moved inside when the weather turns cold in the fall.

Sunset Magazine provides a helpful list of 20 of the best perennials for garden color and easy care.

Attract birds, bees and butterflies to the garden with fragrance and color. Marigolds, petunias and geraniums are but a few of the dozens colorful annuals available to brighten window boxes and borders.

Add vivid color to hanging baskets with trailing nasturtiums. The easy and fun to grow Nasturtium exhibits a breathtaking abundance of brilliant yellow, orange and red flowers. Both the flowers and vivid green leaves are edible and add color and crunch to salads.