Now that Christmas is behind us, it is time to think about the garden. The catalogs have been arriving in the mail. Before you order, you need to do some work in the garden. 'Tis the season to prepare the yard for planting. Regardless of whether you grow ornamentals or vegetables, there is plenty of clean up to do.
Prune your perennials.
Wait until you have had several hard freezes. The wood will turn black. The perennial is still alive. It is basically sleeping. Cut down the wood until they are about 4 or 5 inches tall. I know it seems drastic, but you will be rewarded later. If you have trees or shrubs that are still green, do not prune them. It will kill them. You will prune those later. While you are out there, clean up any debris from the winter storms. Cut limbs that are dangling and in danger of falling.
Mulch the beds.
Mulching is the addition of plant matter to protect the soil from erosion, weeds, moisture loss, and the cold. It also adds nutrients. There are lots of commercial mulches available. I prefer to use what's readily available and free. Pine straw and leaves are everywhere. These are natural materials that will break down and add nutrients to the soil. When mulching add about 4 to 6 inches of plant matter to the bed. Do not place mulch right around the trunk. This can cause problems for the tree or shrub. Keep the mulch a few inches away.
Clean your flower pots.
If you use pots to grow plants, now is the time to clean them. If your plants had a disease or an infestation, those problems will continue this year. So clean your pots. Dump out the dirt, if you haven't emptied them yet. Bleach and water will kill disease. If your pots where disease free than a chemical free washing is fine. Get a scrubby and wash with water. Set out to dry.
Clean your birdhouses.
Birds will soon be looking for new places to live. Birdhouses need to be cleaned out now, so they have time to dry and air out. When cleaning a birdhouse open the back, or bottom, and take the old nest out. If there are any twigs, trash, or webs take those out as well. Wipe it out with a wet paper towel. Spray with an antibacterial cleaner to kill pests. I use Lysol. Close the house up.
Winter is here. Spring is coming. Seed starting starts in February. Accomplish these tasks now and your garden will be ready to plant by Spring.