Tuesday, Apr 24, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Kelly Heidbreder

Form a winning game plan for springtime

Just because the big game is over doesn't mean you can take a nap.

Get off that couch and grab your jersey and protective gear, because we have some warming up to do for our own Spring Bowl.

Preparation is vital. Use these gray, wet and cold days to get your tool shed in shape. Spend an afternoon in there hanging up tools and organizing so you can see the floor again.

Make a list of tools that need to be repaired, take the chainsaw blade and mower blade to be sharpened. Fill a bucket halfway with sand. This will help sharpen shovels and small trowels.

Drizzle some light oil on the blades of digging tools, then shove them down in the sand a few times to clean them. The gritty sand will help keep them sharp.

If they haven't been sharpened in years, you may need to grab a file or a grinder. But before you begin those drills, make sure you suit up with the proper eye protection.

Try recruiting a few free agents. The right ones can help you win right away. Potted annuals can be two-way threats - filling some holes in the landscape or on the porch. Some people don't like to get all dirty and dig up the whole yard. This is another great opportunity for some new recruits.

Find some beautiful pots that complement the porch. Make sure they have drainage holes in the bottom. Put a three-inch layer of packing peanuts in the bottom of the pot to help the water drain out.

Add a mixture of potting soil, peat moss, and vermiculite to keep the pot light. That mixture should also include a little slow-release fertilizer and water moisturizer pellets like Soil Moist to prevent constant trips with the hose.

Update your playbook. Ours has all kinds of landscape drawings and plans. If you don't have one, start one. I like to do one main drawing that includes the entire property, then detailed drawings of planting areas.

You might have a page that has the front yard, a page for the sunny side of the house that includes a sidewalk, and a page for the driveway side of the house. Your backyard may need two or three pages: one for the planting around the back of the house, and another that includes details for a future pond, volleyball court and hot tub area, or Victorian cutting garden.

Once you have sketched the basic shape and main players in each area, make some copies of the templates and start dreaming up some new plays. Try a few safe plays like adding some ground covers. Or go long and dig up a whole new area in the yard and add a wall of variegated red twig dogwood shrubs, a Japanese maple, three barberry bushes, and a ground cover of white Nancy.

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