Use Winter Months to Plan for Spring Whether you are starting a new landscape or redoing an established one, it is a good idea to get your thoughts and plans down on paper. Involve the whole family and lay out what you want to do outdoors. Consider the overall use of your property. What do you want to have room for? Do you or other family members want open space for catch, Frisbee or other outdoor sports? Is there an interest in water features? Is there any thought about a swimming pool in the foreseeable future? How much interest is there in growing your own herbs and vegetables? Do you like entertaining? How large a patio do you need? After you have developed a list of all your thoughts and dreams, the next step is to draw up the plan. You can do it yourself or obtain the professional help of a landscape architect or designer. If you enlist professionals, expect to pay for the service. Some nurseries and landscape firms may rebate part or all of those charges with the purchase of plants or materials. Talk to friends and neighbors with ideal landscapes for input on who they have used. Discuss the pros and cons of each. Contact the companies rated the highest and obtain a clear understanding of their services and charges. When developing your own design, you can seek guidance from landscaping books, magazines and state horticultural colleges. Winter is also a good time to visit local garden centers. They are generally more available to help develop your ideas. Keep in mind that a landscape should always be a work in progress. Don’t be afraid to substitute new plants for what was originally planned. The important thing is to have a basic idea of what you want and make adjustments as the years go by. If your budget requires you to spread the project over several years, decide the timing of the various aspects of the plan. You will usually want to get the major hardscape features and the plants that are going to take the longest to mature in first. Plan to include some plants for each season as soon as possible to provide optimum variety. You also will want to get any plants for screening unsightly areas in at the earliest stages. Develop your plan for lawn care before the time to get out there and enjoy it. Think back to past problems with your landscape. If you had areas that didn’t grow as well as others or as well as expected, test the soil to see if any particular nutrients are in short supply. Soil test kits are available at garden centers, or you can have the soil tested at your state university or other soil testing lab. If you had particular weed or other pest infestations decide on the best course of action to solve those problems. One very handy tool for this planning is the GreenView Annual Lawn plan. You can get all the details and sign up here. Don’t rush the spring season, but prepare for it so you can receive the most enjoyment from your gardening experiences. You want to make applications at the right time and complete plantings for optimal growth. After temperatures start to warm, and the ground thaws you’ll be ready to take advantage of a new growing season.