Evaporation from bright sun can steal precious water in a sunny garden by as much as 50%. Shaded areas hang on to moisture longer and may become waterlogged. Define the different areas, or zones, of your entire yard or garden. Areas that receive full sun would probably do better with drip or soaker-type irrigation that protects against evaporation, as would areas that are prone to wind. Zones that are constantly shaded should be on a different schedule than those in sun, as they will soon become overwatered compared to the hotter, drier areas.
Where tree or shrub branches have been damaged by cold, snow, and wind, prune back to live stems; use a handsaw for any larger than ½ inch in diameter. Shaping hedges with hand pruners, rather than electric shears, prevents a thick outer layer of growth that prohibits sunlight and air from reaching the shrub's center. At right, Roger neatens up a yew by pruning wayward shoots back to an intersecting branch. Prune summer-flowering shrubs, such as Rose of Sharon, before buds swell, but wait to prune spring bloomers, like forsythia, until after they flower.
Kits combine the components you need for specific applications. You can find kits to create systems for vegetable gardens, flower beds, container plants and landscape plants such as trees and shrubs. Some kits allow you to expand the system as your irrigation needs grow. Other kits provide repair parts or let you convert pop-up sprinklers to drip irrigation.
Squash bugs overwinter as adults. They typically leave the plants to nestle under leaf litter and mulch. Aphids can overwinter as either adults or eggs. And how stinkbugs overwinter depends on the species. The trick is to aim for a balance, especially in the vegetable garden where pests can have a real economical impact. I’d suggest you get rid of any plants you know were heavily infested, but leave any “clean” plants intact because when you get rid of debris, you’re also getting rid of overwintering sites for the predatory beneficial insects that naturally help keep these common pests in check. You want the beneficials to stay in the garden so that you have a natural checks-and-balances system already in place if/when any pest insects survive the winter, too. It’s all about having a good balance.
Now that spring is on our doorstep, many of us are getting anxious to head out to the garden and clean things up. I know I am. We see all the dead ornamental grass stalks, the spent perennial stems, and the autumn leaves collected in our gardens and they give us spring fever. We want to bolt outside and spring clean the garden as soon as we can because we know that as the days get warmer, there will be more and more gardening chores to do. But, don’t head out with your favorite clippers and rake just yet! There’s a right way and a wrong way to do a spring garden clean up.