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Spring – A Time to Garden; A Time to Prepare for Storms

tree uprooted due to storm

Prepare for a garden and protect against spring storms

Spring is officially here, and nature confirms its arrival with warming temperatures and the sudden appearance of blooms, buds, and bulbs. As concerns about COVID-19 continue to occupy our thoughts and restrict our movements each day, spring’s arrival offers an opportunity for us to find joy and comfort in the simple pleasures of life. The fragrance of hyacinth, the chirping of the sparrows, and gentle spring breezes are welcome reminders of the good things in life. According to a recent article in Time, spending just 20 minutes each day in the great outdoors can make you happier (in addition to other benefits).

Now is the perfect time to put your energy and creativity to use in your own backyard. Even if you live in a space where outdoor gardening is limited or non-existent, you can still grow herbs and other culinary delights in your windowsill or on your patio. Here are some ideas and tips to help you welcome spring with all its promise of beauty and renewal.

Plan A Spring Cleanup for Your Yard

You’ll be amazed by the sense of satisfaction that comes from this simple annual routine. So, gather your family as well as your supplies – including a tarpaulin or old sheet, before you get started.

  • Remove dead annuals from beds and/or containers
  • Divide and transplant crowded perennials (give any extras away!)
  • Rake mulch beds thoroughly to remove leaves and other debris
  • Uncover patio furniture and wipe down the frames with warm soapy water
  • Hose off the patio (it may be necessary to use a pressure washer)
  • Clean the outdoor grill and use a stainless-steel polish to make it shine (you’ll want to check the propane level, too, in case you need a refill)
  • Prune shrubs and trees, especially any dead or damaged limbs
  • Rake and then rototill your garden in preparation for spring crops
  • Test your soil and amend as necessary for maximum plant health and yield.
  • Add a fresh layer of mulch to your beds
  • Replace patio furniture cushions or purchase new ones for a fresh look

Plan and Plant Your Garden

A good rule of thumb for our area is that warm weather crops and annuals can be planted outdoors safely around Mother’s Day. Conditions vary from year to year, so use care and watch the weather predictions to determine when the last frost will be. In the meantime, you can try your hand at garden design and choose which plants you will grow this year. Some of them can be sown as seeds outside now, while others will thrive more as seedlings introduced next month.

  • Peruse nursery catalogs and websites and choose what you will grow this year
  • Plant lettuces and big leafy greens such as Swiss Chard, kale, spinach, and kohlrabi directly in your garden now
  • Peas, carrots, and radishes are an easy and nutritious spring vegetables that love cool spring temperature
  • Stagger parsley, shallots, and chive plantings every 2 weeks so you’ll have an ongoing and fresh supply

How to Prepare for Spring Rains

Although plants and crops need spring rains in order to flourish during the summer months, excess or heavy rains, or hail, can present significant problems. For example, the sheer force of heavy rain may damage tender crops and plants, as well as homes and buildings. Excessive rainwater can quickly create flooding situations that can threaten lives. Finally, a sudden influx of high volumes of water can overload drainage systems causing flooding in otherwise “safe” areas.

You can’t stop the rain or hail, but you can prepare your home or building prior to a storm. Here’s how:

  • Store outdoor furniture and equipment indoors. Strong winds often accompany spring rainstorms, and unsecured items can be launched effortlessly.
  • Inspect your roof for missing shingles or tiles, and any other areas that show signs of sagging. Hire a reputable contractor to make any necessary repairs.
  • Check your gutters for breaks or leaks. Also, remove any debris or leaves that have collected so that water will flow properly away from your structure.
  • Carefully inspect the seals on exterior doors and windows. Repair any areas with gaps, and make sure they are completely closed and locked before a storm.
  • Make sure your sump pump is working properly. Also, it’s a good idea to have a backup generator in case you lose power.

After the rains have passed, make your way outside to assess any damage. Be careful – trees or branches may have fallen during the storm. Also, watch for downed power lines. (Never go near downed power lines – call your local electric service provider to report any problems). Inspect the exterior of your home and note any damage so that you can schedule repairs quickly.

Be Prepared

You might not be able to stop all potential damage from a strong storm, but you can certainly minimize the effects by taking precautionary steps of preparedness. Any interior damage caused by a leaky roof or poorly sealed windows can quickly add up to an expensive repair cost. Now is the time to do all you can to plan for a smooth spring season.

Even though COVID-19 has limited our activities for a while, there is much to do and experience in your own backyard. Here’s a great collection of DIY projects you can do with your kids, while also cultivating their own love of gardening. So, grab your supplies and head outside to bring beauty and order to your own corner of the world – your spirits will be lifted in the process.