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Gardening: Avoid past mistakes and repeat successes when planning spring garden

Ray Ridlen answers questions about gardening and horticulture.
BY Ray Ridlen Published: November 26, 2012

Raking is one of those garden activities that many shy away from, but why should we? As we rake leaves, we get a great aerobic, low impact workout. The leaves we rake up can be added to a compost pile to make “garden gold.” Cool-season grasses, such as tall fescue or perennial rye go downhill quickly when leaves are left. Packed leaves not only kill small grass plants, but they weaken larger plants by blocking sunlight.

Watering is an important garden activity, even in the winter. During years with winter rainfall or snow, the watering is done for us. In dryer years, we need to provide water to newly planted shrubs and trees along with winter annuals like pansies. Check under building eaves more often, since less rain or snow falls in these areas.

Weeding is one of those garden tasks, that only gets harder when ignored. Ignoring weeds does not make them go away and weeds are much easier to remove when they are small. Small weeds can be removed by hand or with a sharp hoe. For larger weeds, you may want to try a long forked hand weeder when the soil is moist.

As you're doing some outdoor tasks, take time to enjoy the winter garden. For starters, evergreen plants provide foliage greenery. Holly and nandina shrubs have berries that add to foliage displays. Pansies provide flower color whenever the weather is mild.

Ray Ridlen is an agriculture/horticulture educator for the Oklahoma County Extension Service. His column addresses frequently asked horticulture questions. For more information, call 713-1125.