Spring is finally here—and with it has come an order to stay at home for the foreseeable future because of the novel coronavirus. But while this mandate may be monotonous (the same four walls, the same daily routine), it can also be very good news for your garden.
You’ll be sheltering in place, but that still means you can get outside for some fresh air—and garden maintenance—in your backyard. Just be sure to hoe and weed on your own because social distancing is still critical.
No garden yet? “Go online and start planning one for the coming year,” suggests Karen Gray-Plaisted of Design Solutions KGP. Sketch out the space you have to determine where veggies and flowers should go, and then order some seeds so you’ll be ready to plant.
Dig out your work gloves, change into old clothes, and take on the following seven outdoor tasks because the benefits are manifold. You’ll not only get away from your home office for a few hours, but you can wave to a neighbor (from across the street) and add some pretty curb appeal, too.
1. Pull weeds
The yoga studio is closed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t squat down in the dirt and clean up your flower beds. Lay out an old yoga mat or towel to kneel on, and get low to pull some weeds. You could also lay some stones around your flower beds or along walkways in the garden to delineate and highlight your work.
2. Sow seedlings and forced bulbs
Now’s the time to get those bulbs and seedlings in the ground. Plant any water-forced bulbs you’ve been caring for during the colder months, transfer seedlings to outdoor pots, and start the seeds for annuals.
If you’ve got nada to plant, head outside and see what’s blooming, and then bring it back into the house to propagate indoors. Gray-Plaisted recently clipped some forsythia branches to force in some water inside, and she plans to cut apple blossoms next.
3. Pick up sticks
You need to do a spring cleanup anyway, so why not get the whole family to pitch in?
“Clean out your garden beds with a rake, and trim bushes that didn’t get pruned last fall,” says Gray-Plaisted.
Also, do a clean sweep of your lawn. Picking up the sticks that dropped during the winter will make it safer for the lawn mower to pass when it’s time to cut the grass.
4. Organize and clean tools
If the weather’s still not great where you live, head into the garage and assess your gardening gear.
“Go through your toolshed or workbench, and see what you can purge or donate to a community garden group,” suggests Julie Coraccio, an organizing professional and author of “Got Clutter? 365 Journal Prompts.”
Once you’ve determined which shovels and trowels have made the cut, give them a good scrubbing to remove dirt and rust. Dry them carefully, and then store on a peg board.
5. Refresh your mailbox
Let’s face it: Your mailbox could probably use some attention. Whether it’s leaning to one side or nicked all over thanks to repeated dings by the snowplow or your newbie teen driver, it’s time to tackle this eyesore pronto.
Fix any blemishes, and apply a fresh coat of paint or even a new set of house numbers. And for extra curb appeal, plant some brightly colored annuals around the base of the post.
6. Create a gardening tote
Have you ever tried to balance a big bag of potting soil, fertilizer, weed killer, and five other gardening tools? It’s not a pretty sight. The fix: Create a personal gardening bag, either by repurposing an old canvas tote you have or ordering a new one. Get your initials stitched on the outer pocket, or add your own design or iron-on decals.
7. Rehab garden pots
Brown terra cotta is the default at most gardening centers, but this drab look isn’t so exciting once you bring your plants home. To make your pots really stand out, consider giving them a pop of color with either acrylic or spray paint.
To start, wash pots well and let them dry thoroughly in the sun or inside overnight, keeping in mind that it might take more than a day to air out the water. Next, use a clay pot sealer or paint primer as both will help the paint you apply last longer. Dab each one with paint using a foam sponge brush. You’ll probably need a couple of coats for the best color coverage.