Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

February, 2001
Regional Report

Mark Cracked Sidewalks

If the sidewalk in front of your house has lifted or is uneven due to surface tree roots, mark the uneven areas with brightly colored paint so that pedestrians have ample warning of the uneven surface. Encourage tree roots to grow deeper into the soil with occasional deep waterings.

Prune Deciduous Trees

Prune and shape deciduous trees while they're still dormant. Use a pole pruner to remove any high dead, diseased, or injured wood first. Next, remove any growth that crosses through the center of the branching structure to improve air circulation. Double trunks or weak crotches should be identified and removed. When removing large branches, make your cut on the outer side of the branching collar - an area of slightly wrinkled wood at the base of each branch. That's a fast-growing bark that covers wounds quickly.

Improve Garden Beds

It's almost planting season. This is the perfect opportunity to improve the existing soil in your garden beds by adding organic compost. Organic compost will improve any kind of garden soil including clay and sand. It's available at garden centers and nursery supply stores, or, even better, make your own from garden debris and kitchen scraps. If the garden is too wet, simply lay the compost on the soil surface to till in later when the soil is workable.

Plant Spring-Blooming Annuals

While the soil is still cool, plant early spring-blooming annuals such as calendula, English daisy, fairy primrose, Iceland poppies, pansies, snapdragons, stock, and violas from nursery cell packs. These plants will brighten your winter-dreary garden. Use a slow- release fertilizer in the soil at planting time to get the young plants off to a good start.

Prune Fuchsias

Prune frost-tender fuchsias just as winter comes to an end. Pruning stimulates new growth, so by waiting until late in the season, you eliminate the danger of frost damage. Fuchsias can withstand severe pruning. Hanging plants can be cut back to several inches from the surface of the soil. Leave a five-branch framework so the new growth has a good shape.


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