Articles by Jim Gainan

As published in the Billings Gazette

It's Time to Start Planning Your Yardscape

We all know that spring weather will come to stay; we know it will.  I see evidence of spring in trees budding out, bulb plants pushing out of the ground and the lines at the car washes. Eternal hope, right?
As daylight hours increase, the urge to get outside and start working in the yard becomes more powerful every day. For some, the act of gardening is based in science. For others, it’s a hobby that fills a seasonal need. Still for others, it’s about design and self-expression.
Plants foster an appreciation of growing, living, thriving, reproducing and dying. For me, the outdoor landscape of a home is more than improving curb appeal. Of course, I appreciate the beauty of a manicured yard and botanical perfection, but what I notice is the passion that people exude when they work on their gardens. Have you ever met a gardener who was not passionate about his garden?
Now is the time to think about what has worked and what hasn’t worked in our yards. Did you like the color of your zonal geraniums? Did your hosta get enough shade? Did you or Mother Nature do some tree trimming this year? If so, you will need to consider the light changes. What once thrived in a shady spot will be tortured in an area that is now going to have more sunlight.
Get out some graph paper, pictures of your yard from past seasons, a current picture and start planning. First identify the location of the perennials in the beds. Did you like them? Did they do well? Do you want to move them? Think about what colors and textures you would like to incorporate this year and start identifying plants you would like to add. As we try to get value for every dollar spent, we want to ensure that we purchase healthy plants and place them in an area where they will not just survive, but thrive.
Now that we’ve dreamed about our beds, what else can we do?
We can start the prep work to ensure that we are ready for spring once it finally gets here to stay.
• Amend your soil by adding compost to garden areas
• Clean away leaves and debris from the winter season
• Cut back the dead stems of perennials
• Remove dead annuals from your container gardens and amend or better yet, replace, that soil
• Add a thin layer of bark to freshen the look
• Check out your gardening tools and make sure they are ready for the season – sharpen edges, tune up your lawnmower, replace or repair leaky hoses
• Clean debris from rain gutters
• Edge lawn around the sidewalks, flower beds and driveways
A little effort now will help satisfy your urge to get out in the yard and go a long way to promoting a successful spring season.