Happy Gardening New Year! Here’s hoping your garden grows great, and the grass gets greener but grows more slowly.
What is New Year’s without resolutions to improve or do better? Setting goals is always a good thing, even if we stumble and not carry through all the way.
Here are a few items you from which you could choose to add to your list of resolutions for a greener 2014.
Dress up the front of your home with a fresh planting. Even a small project can have a big impact when well-placed and planned.
Some ideas include replacing ugly, overgrown shrubs along the front of the house with dwarf shrubs that don’t hide your home, and creating an inviting color bed for annuals or a collection of attractive containers to welcome visitors to the front door.
You also could replace struggling, thinning grass in shady spots with ground covers, mulch and shade-tolerant plants.
Winter is a great time to do this kind of project.
You could plant a fruit tree or a few blueberry bushes and enjoy fresh fruits in harvest season.
Now is the time to buy and plant, even though it may be a couple of years before you reap a bounty.
Grow some fresh vegetables. In pots or in the ground — all you need is plenty of sun.
Try a new vegetable, but make sure your family will want to eat it, too. Start preparations now.
You could invest in or replace old, worn-out tools to ease your gardening chores.
You might install a water-saving irrigation system. This could be a drip system for shrubs, the vegetable garden or collection of potted plants.
If you do not install a new one, think about retrofitting inefficient spray heads with rotors.
Start a garden journal. The Smith County Master Gardeners created one that includes a 2014 calendar, monthly tips and helpful articles.
Feed the birds.
This is an enjoyable counterpart to gardening, and can provide hours of viewing pleasure.
Get your kids or grandkids involved in bird watching. Participate in the next Great Backyard Bird Count Feb. 14 to 17. For more information, go to http:// www.birdsource.org/gbbc .
Get your soil tested so you aren’t guessing on your fertilizer application (and therefore over-applying or not putting out the right amount of product).
This is an inexpensive and easy task that can greatly improve your lawn and garden results, and help the environment.
See soiltesting.tamu.edu for forms and instructions.
Enjoy your garden. Strategically place a bench, swing or chairs where you can regularly enjoy the fresh air and the sounds and sights of nature.
An outdoor oasis is relaxing, stimulating to the senses and healthy for the soul and spirit.
Keith Hansen is Smith County horticulturist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. His web page is http://EastTexas Gardening.tamu.edu. His blog is http://agrilife.org/etg.