Darrell Blackwelder column: Winter is an excellent time to plan for gardening activities

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 29, 2022

The winter is an excellent time to research and plan spring and summer outdoor gardening activities. Preparation is essential for successful gardening. Below are a few mistakes homeowners make that can be avoided with proper planning.

Many fail to measure properly. Take time to correctly measure lawns and landscape beds so fertilizer, herbicides and other pesticides can be applied correctly.

• No soil testing. Soil tests identifies the soil’s nutritional properties maximizing proper fertilization and reducing waste.

• Improper soil preparation. With our tight clay soils, its best to improve the drainage and texture with soil amendments before planting. Incorporating amendments such as ground bark, compost and adding PermaTil improves workability and pore space which promotes root expansion and growth.

• Planting cheap plants. High-quality plants and seed can be expensive, but the extra cost is reflected later in the end results.

• How big will this plant get? Many obtain plants without knowledge of their mature size. Consult with qualified growers or sales persons to learn as much about the plants’ growth before planting.

• Improper pruning. Horning back trees or shrubs create unnatural forms weakening plants predisposing them to insect and disease problems. Take time to learn growth habits before pruning.

• Poor irrigation techniques. Often, homeowners will spend thousands on a landscape and refuse to spend a few hundred more on an irrigation system to ensure its longevity. Trickle systems are inexpensive and easy to install

• Impatient. Planning and patience is very important part of good landscape design. Take your time and ask questions about growth and maintenance. Your landscape is an open book to your personality and which often impacts the value of your home. Consult a real estate agent.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu.